Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blizzard bans 250,000 players for exploiting Whiptail spawn bug

If you just panicked, you are probably aware that patch 4.0.6 introduced a bug in the spawn rate of Whiptail in Uldum, making it possible for a large number of players to farm huge amounts of that herb in a short time. The headline isn't true. Yet. But I think it is a good opportunity to discuss exploits.

The spawn rate of Whiptail right now clearly is a bug. It would stretch credulity for anyone to claim that he wasn't aware that being able to gather 30 stacks of herbs in an hour in spite of heavy competition was working as intended. But everybody's reaction on hearing about the bug is to rush to Uldum and participate in exploiting it, before Blizzard hotfixes it.

This is clearly exploiting, and a bannable offense. If Blizzard actually *would* ban everybody involved, they would have every right to. They just probably won't ban, because it affects too many people, and the damage is limited to what will probably end up as a small crash in prices of that herb, inks, and Darkmoon cards. If Blizzard hotfixes the bug soon, there is no lasting damage done.

Nevertheless we have to ask ourselves why we are willing to exploit such bugs. Some commenters will probably come up with sophisticated justifications, but at the heart of the matter exploiting bugs is cheating. The rule that exploiting a bug is bannable is there because no game company can guarantee that they'll never have an exploitable bug. Now a fast spawn rate for one sort of herb isn't all that serious, but how eager people are to exploit this shows us that they'll probably also would exploit more serious bugs. Star Wars Galaxies once had a serious gold duping bug, which led to a mass banning of players and a huge rollback.

So, what do you do about bugs like these? Report them, or exploit them?

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