Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Global War On Illicit RMT: Blizzard Slams Honorbuddy

A lot of people think that the introduction of the WoW Token alone will bring an end to gold sellers in World of Warcraft. Ha! If ending the selling of black market virtual currency in MMORPGs was that easy, CCP would have ended the practice in EVE Online years ago when it introduced PLEX.

I've criticized Blizzard for having a lax ban policy in the past, especially when compared to CCP. However, with the introduction of the WoW Token, which should have the top down effect of putting a cap on how much black market gold sellers can charge, I wondered about Blizzard's efforts at trying to choke off the flow of gold at the farming/botting level.

Things have changed. When I clicked on the link to visit the "penalty volcano", I discovered the link redirected me to a new page created on 1 April.  I followed the links on the page to Blizzard's new "Exploitation Policy". I call the policy new as the page shows a last modified date of 3 April.  Nowhere do I see any references to lengths of bans.

I then went to the forums for the Honorbuddy bot looking for reactions to the news of the release of the WoW Token. Honorbuddy is famous as Blizzard paid €650,000 in 2013 in order to halt the sale of the bot in Germany. Instead of finding a lot of talk about the new item, I found a lot of reports of bans.

According to what I read, a tripwire event occurred on 19 March. A tripwire event in one, like an update to the Warden anti-bot software, that causes all of the bots in operation to immediately shut down. Apparently, the emergency shutdown didn't work as many botters were banned for six months for their (supposedly) first offense. Six months for a first offense? Well, apparently, as you'll soon read, creating new accounts is quite easy.

Did I type "soon read"? Yes I did. I found some quality botter and RMTer tears on the Honorbuddy forums. Since the operator of the forums was kind enough to leave the forums open to the public, I thought I'd go ahead and share some of the feedback Honorbuddy botters left. Remember, the term "Abuse of the Economy" is the reason Blizzard gives for banning a player for conducting black market RMT. Also, I'm going to copy the posts "as is", complete with all spelling, punctuation, and grammer mistakes.

22 March

wesleysniper - "Summary : 5 accounts and 5 expansions bought from not from that cheap battlechest link. all safe. applied codes and got 90 level boosts. paladin tank / hunter / shaman / druid and holy priest for the sake of looking normal.all of them have crafted items bought from AH or some 665 BOE items again for the sake of looking normal and casual. 

"Lately i've been experimenting with 5 boosted chars. i leveled them up to 100 and sic them to wod normal dungeons. they barely made it 2 weeks straight in wod dungeons - and barely pay off their costs. this morning all of them are banned with the total of 100k gold which is made in 2-3 days ( and yes very very low gph overall )

"i dont know you all but from this moment on botting with honorbuddy is finished for me. and i dont know the plans of the developers or programmers but their product is compromised big time. 

"you cant level your toons / cant send them to BGs / cant send them to Dungeons / no solo dungeons / no grindings so whats the use of hb ? and from what i understand is you just dont neccessarily be reported to a GM cos ppl get banned in their garrisons. so its something else. 

"Can someone from programmers / developers side care to eleborate a little bit more of events happening lately because we'Re paid customers and i feel like we're deliberetely kept in the dark for the sake of not losing customers..

"Anyways TL : DR i'm shutting down my operations for sometime. me and my friend have lost more then 60 accounts in 1-2 weeks time and its not worth it anymore."

27 March

misterneko - "Yeah, another vanilla account banned. I use legit HB key, Millz/Kingwow2 of store, and still got the hammer. Seems 6 month is the standart. This is real..."

narusu - "I got the ban hammer pretty hard today a few hours ago. I had lost a few last week but the final 7 all went down at the same time today. All exploitation of economy. Seems a common thread today especially on US. I made an account to post this because i thought everyone should know the frequency of bans on US is high. Some of my accounts were 7-9 days old... ALL were online during trip wire event....o.O."

Note: this user lost 13 out of 13 accounts.

30 March

AlexCosmos - "My 6 trial acc was closed for goldselling. OMG, blizz are crazy? how can i sell anything on trial?"

31 March

dragonbuddy - "mule banned overnight, then set my 5/5 dungeon buddy and 1/1 anzul Gundrak too who is a separate account farm while i goto shops for 1hr,come back all banned. old school perma banned, all for bots as per usual letter."

Macatho - "Used WoD Trial on 5 accounts that had been without game time for months, they ran for 2-3 days then they got banned when they were off line. I'm seriously starting to question how to bot nowadays, botting for profit is just increasingly difficult."

1 April

Malice213 - "Only two soldiers left...and they are going to go dark until the game is worth playing again."

Note: The user had 11 of 13 accounts banned.

2 April

HBL0V3 - "42/42 eu accounts banned today abuse of eco"

3 April

233286 - "Not here the fill in a usual report, just stating that over the past 2 days I lost 34 account.
First lost 15 due to Eco exploiting, few hours later I checked and another 10 on EU were banned aswell for automated software.

"Next day I started off making 5 new raf accounts and had 4 left overs who I ran through instances (note: they did not run the same instances). These 4 accounts where banned the same day in about 2 hours. Other 5 who ran on other VM where still intact. They got 85, next morning set them up, banned after 3/4 hours.

"Now this was over the last 2 days, I have lost alot more but these went out with enough profit so I usually do not care to post. Now suddenly I am getting targetted hard? Or something else I have no idea.
<2 computers.="" different="" each="" ip="" mac="" modems="" multiple="" running="" vm="">

"That is it for me for a while. Will cooldown alittle and start again."

happyfriet - "Was trying to figure out what to do in WoD because of all the heat atm, so I made 3 WoD accounts, each on 1 pc with it's own IP.

"All 3 were doing (self-made) profiles after dinging level 100.

"Aaaand their gone... fml - they weren't connected in ANY way nor involved in gold selling.

"Ir pissed yo."

Mario27 - "i gues i was to greedy i already had botted 10 classes to 100 it was weird that i even came this far normally i was banned at questing lvl 15 and i dont get a 6 month or anything my bans are permantly evrytime with no Suspension i dont get that why but i was bored with the game anyways if i played for 1 hour i was done i play more on my ps4 then wow now those days wel that was it for me with wow i might come back onetime when the wow token comes out but then i wont be botting again"

v1go - "12/12 eu accounts banned today abuse of eco. 100 lvl, private grind profiles."

6 April

masterwow - "My main acc got banned last week, got a perma ban then i apealed and nothing they insist on perma ban, i never got any suspensions on that acc before, i dont know what to do!"

milouchoa - "I just get banned in my first attempt to sell gold. It was only 50k gold but they caught me. I´m trying to revert the ban, but I have no hope."

These are just some of the ban reports that weren't just filling out a questionnaire. Some of the numbers are quite surprising, given the scale I'm used to in EVE. But given the scale of botting and RMT in WoW, Blizzard has a lot of work ahead of it if it wants to make the WoW Token truly effective in fighting illicit RMT.


  1. God those tears are delicious. I think I need a cigar after reading that.

  2. EvE RMTer tears were good but those oO Are they really surprised that using a bot to sell gold is not allowed.
    The "how to bot safely now" is just.... Oo

  3. All it took for a game company to care about botting was for the bots to threaten Blizzards new income stream. If only the developers, or even better the board members, played battlegrounds.

  4. Great to see this as I thought it would hurt them and its all good