Content Type: Gaming News
Date: May 20, 2014
ESO bots are a troublesome problem, but what can be done?
In last month’s State of the Game Address, Matt Firor (Game Director for The Elder Scrolls Online) acknowledged the problem of ESO bots and the ongoing fight to squash black market activities. In the Address he said that:
Fighting black market activity like gold selling spam and farming bots is a marathon, not a sprint, but we will do whatever we can to reduce their impact on the game.
But what exactly are ESO bots? In simple terms, ESO bots are automated characters used for the sole purpose of cheating. This is how the scam works:
- Criminals, using stolen credit cards, create accounts in The Elder Scrolls Online to unleash bots.
- The bots infest the game and mine gold.
- The mined gold is then sold to buyers for real cash.
Based on the number of ESO bots infesting the game at any given time, it appears that botting is a lucrative activity for the bad guys. Unfortunately, this criminal practice not only rips off the victims of stolen credit cards, it damages the in-game economy of The Elder Scrolls Online itself.
ESO bots are a menace, and some legitimate players are starting to get angry as you can see from this official Elder Scrolls Online forum post. In roughly 15 minutes, the original poster reported somewhere between 20 and 30 bots. In frustration he calls out the game’s developers and says: “Grow a pair and do something about the problem.” His original video was pulled from the forums, but can be seen here:
Who Is To Blame?
Depending on how you look at the situation, the blame for ESO bots can be placed on either:
- The criminals who created the bots in the first place,
- The cheating buyers who pay for gold and keep the criminals in business,
- The game’s developers for not stopping the botting practice.
What Can Be Done?
Bots aren’t an exclusive problem to The Elder Scrolls Online, and in fact other MMORPGs have to deal with similar black market activities. Regardless, ZeniMax Online Studios has to shoulder the responsibility of dealing with the ESO bot problem, and the buck stops with them.
Thankfully, the ESO devs are taking the matter seriously. Matt Firor tells us that the accounts of offenders are being banned on a regular basis. This is a good step, but banning accounts is a reactive response to the problem, and doesn’t solve the issue. As soon as accounts are banned, new ones are created.
Obviously, we’re not privy to all that is being done behind the scenes, but proactive measures are needed to combat ESO bots. For starters, the devs could:
- Strengthen the account authentication and payment processing system to better flag stolen credit cards.
- Sick their legal team after known gold spamming outfits, hopefully putting them out of business.
- Improve systems to better identify players who buy gold and penalize their accounts.
- Increase the number of in-game moderators to police the game.
The entire problem is a difficult one to be sure, and there are no easy fixes. In the meantime, our only recourse as players is to continue to report botters and hope for the best.
So what do you think about ESO bots? Is the problem getting out of hand in your opinion? If so, do you have any solutions? Share your thoughts and ideas in the Speak Your Mind section below or in our forums.