It is already circling the social-sphere that close to 100,000 accounts were recently banned from world of Warcraft due to what seems to be an unusually high amount of bot users.
The problem seemed to have been uncovered in large part by the release of a video showing the evident complete overtaking of a PvP battle arena by player bots. While the notice of an unprecedented amount of simultaneous bannings is news enough, what is more glaring is the light shown on how players, in large, are opting to play their online games.
Typically, the use of bots is in reaction to having an extreme amount of grinding be necessary in order to properly progress in an MMO. The development of content which requires large amounts of grinding is a tactic generally included as a way to cause individuals to spend more time logged in between large patch releases. The promise (or requirement) of a severe amount of time investment in order to progress creates a constant need for players to log in regularly in order to maintain battle readiness.
WoW is not alone in it’s general use of maximizing grinding for profit. Most MMOs employ this tactic, which could be compared to the pay-to-win mobile games in which an individual can choose to take the long path to winning, or alternatively, spend real money in order to skip ahead. As a result, large amounts of grinding is most evident in free-to-play games. Many individuals look down on “pay-to-win” model in MMOs due to the lack of division between level of effort via experience vs simply spending money to get around said effort. This hasn’t stopped the model from spreading wildly as a way of supporting a game what’s only alternative for cash flow would be a monthly subscription. Games that continue to use a monthly subscription such as WoW or FFXIV are not immune to this, however, as it behooves developers to create infinite loops of time intensive content in order to rope in continuous subscription funds and avoid subscriber drop-off between patches.
This is not to say that there are not players who chiefly use the services as a way to pass time and welcome the “time wasting,” but this does bring up a point that it may be time to really research the percentage of players who actually prefer the “grind.” Perhaps, we have gotten to the point as a community where these number of players are out-numbered by the “casual” players and individuals without a constant set of free time to invest in order to be successful.
Given the general increase in casual and entry gamers it may, indeed, be time to reassess the populace as a whole with regard to MMO users and decide if the “pay-to-grind” model is really just wasting the time of players and forcing them to look outside the game for reasonable solutions. This can easily been seen if you just look at something as popular as Hearthstone.
What do you think? Has grinding started to see it’s end? Will botting perhaps turn in to the norm?