Monday, April 16, 2012

Ethical discussion on the botting/duping explosion

The preparation for Mists of Panderia series of posts have not stopped. I am currently working on the next
part of the series. The previous two parts are available below and look for part three soon™.
Mists of Panderia Preparation Pt1 - Enchanting
Mists of Panderia Preparation Pt2 - Space Management

Today though, I wanted to discuss another dilemma we are facing while making end of expansion gold
and preparing for Mists – Gold seller activity is expanding greatly. If it hasn’t hit your smaller server yet, it
, up until a few days ago I noticed no increased suspicious activity and now out of no where you can’t
use the AH or stand in Stormwind/Orgrimmar without being bombarded by players breaking the Terms of
Service. I want to start by stating I would never condone using methods to break the ToS or buying
gold from these services – This post is meant to stir discussion about how to deal with their presence.

Recognizing the Issue

Anyone that has tried mining top level spots for any length of time has more than likely become
accustomed to miners following very robotic routes showing up in waves and ‘mysteriously’ disappearing
and reappearing over the life of an expansion. It is important to note that these are usually individuals
and small potato operations that we naturally deal with as methods slip under Blizzard radar and then
get zapped over time. What we are dealing with now is a massive influx of activity including account
compromising, speed/terrain hacks, item duplication, and all the other things little goblins are taught are
just ghost tales so that they can go to sleep at night without the lights on worrying. If every few days a
random level 1 character is posting 500 stacks of ore at 2/3rd the AH going price it is hard to stay in the
dark about what is happening.

That is not what it is limited too now though. Herbs are being posted 500 stacks at a time under 1g
each. Some servers are showing leather being done the same way. Duplication has removed the need for “farming” so things typically not farmed like epic gems are being sold 1/3rd normal price, rare mounts like the Crimson Deathcharger are showing up in undercut wars, and generally nothing popular is safe from the corruption anymore. The sellers are getting brave and now even barking in Trade Chat and talking to people, even setting up deals to sale in bulk to buyers that know what they are doing. This would have almost never happened before – Trade chat barking was reserved for advertising sites and actual sales happened on silent accounts that moved inventory and gold quickly. It should be a little alarming. I get the visual of gang activity that’s grown enough and wields enough power they conduct their business right out in the open instead of hiding in alleys. Though the analogy doesn’t work too great because gold seller activity always happens in waves and they will get squashed eventually and reappear some time in the future.


The main question posed is ‘should we be contributing to these transactions?‘ While that usually sparks
some discussion yay or nay…I think its shades of grey instead of black and white like that. The problem
is any created item be it a gem, glyph, potion, or otherwise has a good chance of having started life in its most
raw form as a product of a gold seller. You can’t really tell people to farm and make all this themselves to
avoid “tainted” materials (and you wouldn’t want too anyway because most of us make our WoW-livings
off the heavy markup on these type items). So where do you draw the line personally?

Do you try to avoid the most obvious goods? If those 500 stacks of ore are posted at 40g ea who would
skip buying those and instead buy the 30 stacks listed at 60g ea? I imagine not many of us would even knowing the origins of the ore. One scenario that is easier to avoid because of cost would be a rare mount that you know once the loopholes are closed will return to very high prices, do you think it is “bad” to buy them to stock for MoP? What if the buyer was not aware of what was going on, does that change it any? How many people have bought cheap stacks of epic gems from trade chat? All of these have some level of risk for gold making as the items can be taken back, or prices may not stabilize after they are gone, etc. Do you think it is any different if you are gold maker than if you were a guild leader just buying them up with guild funds to (epic)gem out your poor raid team? A lot of questions I know…

It wouldn't be fair to ask all this and not give my side. I accept their presence in our economy because they've always been there influencing how we play the economy and always will be. I've profited heavily from ore/herb shuffling I know wouldn't have been possible without the hundreds of stacks bots bring in. I will not go as far as to have direct dealings with them though (through setting up bulk deals for the goods, etc) because I've seen the bad trend for games that allow the back-alley black market activities to spill over into the main streets and let normal people in on what is happening. When random Betty Sues and Johns start thinking in the murky waters of duping, speed hacks, etc then it explodes and it is hard for the game to ever return to a balance. Blizzard has done an excellent job so far keeping botting that "minor annoyance" as you are farming or playing low level Warsong Gulch. I don't want to contribute to tipping that balance.


I would appreciate any feedback from those that reach the page. You can reach me here in the comments, on Twitter @formerruling, and on my YouTube channel FormerRuling


  1. I would definitely buy all the herbs and ore off the AH. In my opinion, even if you don't want to, you're forced to. If your competitors can get ore/herbs at half the price you can, they can profit selling at your cost level. The mass amounts farmed basically put you between a rock and a hard place.

    I'm both afraid and skeptical of buying epic gems. I was going to buy a stack of queens garnet off trade about a week ago at 1k/gem. This was about 400 under the market, and I wasn't going to resell I was going to use em. Decided not to and now they've gone as low as 700g on my server.

    I really enjoyed the bots when the elementium/obsidium shuffle was at it's peak because there were times when the AH had nothing below 100g/stack, and whenever there was an influx of botters I was making more gold. I think the farming bots are good for crafters, bad for farmers, and that's basically what it comes down to. They can definitely be an asset to a small server's economy, especially to top tier gold makers who want to process a lot of raw materials.

    1. Over the last few months I've seen at least three different AH "dumps" by bots. Both times I spent the next few HOURS milling herbs... My last haul? 340 stacks of Whiptail bought for <20g/stack. After milling, over 3k inks, all going to my reserve stash for MoP.

      I agree completely that bots do more harm than good for the economy (the next few days after each dump whiptail jumped to over 6g/herb...), but that doesn't mean I can't profit off of it. As you said, if I don't, someone else WILL.

  2. Makes me think about the old saying, don't worry about the refs, just go out there and play the game to the best of your ability. We can't control (beyond reporting) how quickly blizzard addresses the issue of the scammers and hackers, but we can control what we do. I'm thinking the same as Phat Lewts if you don't buy it up your competitor will. But for sure, report everything you deem an obvious farmer.

  3. I agree with Phat Lewts about buying everything. I had an experience in wotlk where i was basically holding back the tide of herbs for a few months, but what happened was i began to lose my bargaining power near the end of my agreement with a "farmer". Whatever i did not take (100's of stacks/week) would be posted on the AH at our agreed price + 10-20%. This kinda drove me to buying more herbs than i could ever hope to process in fact i've still got 1000+ stacks of icethorn today lol. i've avoided fishy epic gems this time but dabbled with them in wotlk.

    There are other ways of making gold outside ore/herbs and ofc bots do sometimes get banned. It was hilarious to see big players on my realm flail around in 4.3 when ore dried up and all they could do was watch from the sidelines :)

    1. Yeah 100%, the Wrath epic gems were (and still are) more fun to play with! I hope they're more lax with epic gems in the next patch, didn't really like how they did it in Cata, but only time will tell.

  4. Phat and Beech have the right of it.

    Regardless of if you *want to buy duped / bot farmed goods you have to buy them or go out of business because if you don't buy them your competition will.

  5. I'm back in town. Thanks for all the discussion - one last question I've pondered on is this: Most people skipped over the duped epic gems this time was this choice economic (fear of price bottoming) or fear of ramifications from them being obvious dupes?

  6. I buy it all and mill/stash any that don't flip. In my opinion, once the item is in the economy, it's fair game. How it got there is terribly unethical and weakens the game, but to not buy it is to cut my own throat, professionally. There is no whistle blowing this to Blizzard. They will fight what they can (with our help, of course, whenever we witness possible botting), but in the meantime, we just have to play as we would if it was all legit.

    Not to further justify, but just a thought. I feel like I'm helping to soften the blow to the economy a bit by stashing it away for later. Durotan-Horde can't handle 500+ stacks of Whiptail at 15g. I bought it all up, sold some to the Ally side for profit (Ally needed it), and helped keep the Horde supply at a stable price, while saving for Mists.

  7. I think Blizzard got ride of most cheaters nowadays - ofcourse, they are still here, but many of them are missed in action ^^