Monday, September 30, 2013

Global War On RMT: ISK Falls, Gil Climbs

The stories about RMT are coming fast and furious and that doesn't include the recent happenings concerning the sites selling EVE Online ISK.  Following shortly on the heels of Jagex introducing Bonds, Square Enix launched a ban wave aimed at RMT in Final Fantasy XIV.  But first let me discuss the latest effects of CCP's War on Botting and RMT and why I believe prices on some ISK-selling sites have recently dropped.

What can't go on forever, won't.  On 22 September the median price of ISK on the sites I monitor was higher than the price of going to the CCP website, purchasing 2 PLEX, and selling the PLEX in EVE's main trade hub of Jita.  At that time, two of the websites, IGE and MOGS, stopped selling ISK.  MOGS, as of last night, had completely removed EVE Online from its list of games while IGE has just removed the ability to order ISK.  They did this on or shortly before the 22nd.

I waited a week before reporting the news, not only to make sure the sites were not experiencing technical difficulties but to also see how the rest of the market would react.  As expected, when two companies exit the business, the affiliates (aka botters) supplying the companies then had to find another company to sell their ISK.  That caused an increase in available supply and the RMT sites, trying to remain competitive with CCP, passed along savings to their customers.

I should add that this week's numbers on the chart still represent 12 ISK sellers selling from 14 web sites.  I added two new websites to the watch list.

Seen on a gil selling site on 29 September 2013

Next comes news from Final Fantasy XIV, and not just because I get to post a nice graphic.  From what I gather SE has a policy of "ban'em all, let customer service sort it out" when the subject is any of their game's economies.  According to a thread on Reddit anyone with more than 8 million gil (the FFXIV currency) on a non-legacy shard received a 72 hour ban.

Using the same Google Ad technique I used to compile a list of Runescape gold sellers, I created a list of FFXIV gil sellers.  On Friday, just after I found out about the banwave, the median price of gil was $11.46/million gil on the non-legacy North American Behemoth shard.  On Sunday morning, the median price listed on my watchlist of 14 websites had climbed to $26.09/million gil.  A 127.7% increase in price in 48 hours?  Also, in addition to the website displayed above, one other site did not have a supply of gil in-stock for all servers.  I'd say that Square Enix hit the gil sellers hard.

But I hope that people don't expect that one swing of a banhammer will solve all problems.  As I'm coming to expect with any new game, the bots, hacks and RMTers are overcoming SE's initial efforts.  I found a bot called Viper for FFXIV and someone apparently representing the bot sounds awfully cocky on OwnedCore, a site featuring RMT and botting for many MMORPG's.

23 September:

ladygamer - "hi viper,

"how bad is the ban rate on ffxiv? Any bans given yet for the bots? I know all bots is a risk, but just wondering before i dove on this one. I've been botting runescape, d3, wow in the past."

viperbot - "What bans? I mean if you login to ffxiv, you can see people teleporting for hours, and speed running non stop. Pick any zone, and you can see them."

24 September:

opure95 - "What's this game like for gold farming exactly? I am interested in purchasing this bot, have just bought the game and have been looking into the economy and rmt potential of the game. Cheers."

KefkaBot"Has anyone been banned yet for this bot or any bot for that matter?  Or has anyone had a friend banned for anything yet, just curious."

viperbot - "Just look at all of the speedhacking and teleporting going on in game. They are not looking at least not yet..but If I had to guess, I would think the teleporting gatherers, will be the first ones in a blanket ban wave. Its just too easy to detect. Its one of the reasons I have not added teleporting to any of the viper bots. Does it cost me some money, yep, because people want to teleport. But I'd rather not get people banned."

But those are tears of joy.  Here is some reactions from when the banwave hit.

27 September:

tonic316 - "Bought 5 mil from pvpbank 2 weeks ago, and 14mil from a player auctions person 2 days ago. Got suspended early this morning. Hope they just take the gil and let me keep on playing.  Guess I'm playing GTA V until they figure out what to do with me. Sucks because its my weekend to "

pyromanci420 - "You also bought from one of the groups who spam in you in game. Big mistake."

tonic316 - "Yea. but that was the 5 mil. So hopefully they take the 5 mil but leave me the 14 mil."

jellyneo23 - "How would you explain having 14 million in your account? Even people selling Titan runs etc are only hovering around 2 million."

28 September: 

nippel - "hillarious, they really auto-banned everyone who was indirectly connected to some RMT over the auctionhause! Where the hell should you know that the guy selling in the AH got his money from RMT or is connected to that in any way ?! funny guys, but it is not a ban it is a temporary suspension they say...lets wait -.-"

I don't plan on getting into the FFXIV bot tears business.  I've spent a couple of years watching CCP's efforts at fighting RMT and I'm a lot more interested in seeing whether the companies adapting a variation of the PLEX model can duplicate CCP's success at suppressing botting and RMT activity.  Hopefully someone will step in and fill the gap because bot tears are the best tears.


  1. So if I understand your article properly, 2 sites stopped selling ISK, but there are still 12 sellers through 14 sites? I know you were going to try to do some investigation, to get an idea of the actual volume of ISK being sold to these sites.

    Any luck on that front?

    1. I'm not going to be able to do it. Just trying to wade through all the RMT sites trying to figure out if they really sell ISK is a major hurdle. Then add in the botting/RMT communities, player auction sites and the like and it's unmanageable. Add in trying to do it in multiple languages I don't speak and just that part is impossible.

      But that's just the ISK selling. Then there are the item sellers, power levelers (or faction grinders) and those who rent out null sec systems for real life cash. And on that last item, don't anyone try to tell me I'm falling for PL propaganda. That type of thing was brought up as a concern by UAxDEATH at one of the CSM 7 summit meetings.

      And I should add there are a lot more than 12 sites selling ISK. I just picked the 12 English-language sites that look the most active and are easiest for people to select when doing a Google search.

      But if you want some idea of scale of operations currently, remember where I estimated that CCP had seized $50-60,000 worth of ISK and assets from RMTers based on CCP Stillman's presentation this year? When Sreegs was relaunching the War of Bots after the 2011 layoffs, he said in a dev blog in April 2012 that he expected to seize the equivalent of $100,000 every month.

      That's part of the reason why I've been tracking the RMT sites. Is CCP getting worse at detection or is there just not as much RMT isk out there? Given the way the prices behaved on the sites on my watchlist, I'd have to say there just isn't as much ISK out there anymore. Of course, those are English language sites, so there could be a huge number of ISK sellers operating sites with absolutely no problems.

  2. Well now the FFXIV ban wave hasn't seemed to have much effect on the gil spammers in city chat. Every time I go into a city I end up adding 2-3 names to my blacklist, just wish they had a right click name "report spammer&blacklist option. 30 people on my list in 3 days most are normal names not "dfghfg dfgsh" nonsense suggesting they are using hacked accounts.

    1. Hacked accounts? That would explain the availability of so much gil after only a month.

  3. hacked accounts is my personal guess sense I can't see them using normal names for accounts they know will get banned for spamming. SOE should do a better job advertising their security app for phones that generate one time passwords (authenticator) I have seen more info about the key fob version that you have to order than the free app version. One time password generators aren't perfect but they are better than just user generated passwords.