A couple weeks ago something interesting happend in the MMO world. And with interesting I actually mean something outrageous. Apparently Guild Wars 2 used data collected from spyware to carry out their latest major ban wave. Considering that the company didn’t properly brief their users that they are getting spied on, this is fairly troubling. I mean, ArenaNet just like any other publisher is probably backed up by some lousy paragraph in their ToS (“§X.y: We can do whatever the fuck we want and you agree by playing our game. So fuck off, hahahahaha!”), but let’s just say it’s not standard procedure to install spyware. There’s also at least legitimate concern whether this is even legal in parts of Europe.
By the way, don’t feel to safe in Neverwinter, because the corresponding paragraph form the Perfect World Terms of Service reads like this:
Cheating over Privacy?
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To be honest, this is already messed up shit. I guess most of us are against cheating, but nobody wants some sneaky ass software to submit whatever ArenaNet or some other publisher thinks is harmful to their game. Privacy matters, especially in times of Cambridge Analytica and all that craziness. In the end we’re just playing an online game for enjoyment. No cheating is so disastrous that it warrants digging deep into our HDDs and memory.
Anyway, that’s one thing. It gets worse however if you include that ArenaNet wasn’t even sure that they were tackling cheaters. They just banned anyone who had certain software installed on their system, no matter whether or not it was used in conjunction with Guild Wars 2. I mean, why would you even do that? You have to know that there’s a good chance you’re banning a bunch of innocents in the process.
Remind you of something?
Which actually brings us back to Neverwinter, because in case you weren’t around a year ago, let me give you a little recap what happened back then. The devs evidentially carried out a ban wave that hit a large number of innocent players. Apparently an automated script went overboard and classified a lot of legit activities as botting-like behavior. Instead of owning up to their mistake, Perfect World instead issued a statement that they were “releasing players on probation” while handing out VIP compensation packages as apology for wrongful bans behind the scenes. That made released players cheaters in the public eye, while support all but confirmed the exact opposite. It was horrible.
Back then, I sacrificed a forum account over at Arcgames to write a honest but also very clear private message to Julia and Thomas Foss that this just can’t happen. The account got banned immediately, and I never heard back. But it was also not something I couldn’t do, because I felt somebody had to hold them accountable. I see why this might be classified as classic “troublemaker” behavior, but coming back to the Guild Wars 2 incident, I actually got backed off by the MassivelyOP crew. Here’s what Justin said on one of their weekly pods:
This is important. I mean there’s no agenda here other than trying to put the truth out there. It’s kind of checks and balances. If studios think they can get away with something, because nobody is reporting it, nobody is watching it, it makes it easier for them the next time and the next time and the next time.
Uncensored Is Your Watchdog for Neverwinter
All I’m gonna say is: Thank you, exactly! If you’re not sure why we’re posting exploits, point out legit bullshit and call out the company, go listen to that segment in the post. We do it, not because we want to harm Perfect World, Cryptic, or the game itself, but because it’s an important aspect of coverage. This is especially true for Neverwinter, where ANY talk about such things is tightly moderated on the official subreddit and message board. If you can’t bring up these things anywhere, who is going to hold them accountable? Guess what, your biggest Neverwinter fansite does.
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