Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Partial Victory For Blizzard

Due to internet problems, I didn't notice until yesterday that Bossland withdrew support for the use of the Honorbuddy bot in World of Warcraft's PvP arenas on Monday. Withdrew support means the software shuts down when a character enters an arena. On Tuesday, Bossland published the following statement:
"Many of you wonder, why we have said, that Arena will no longer will be available.

"Actually, since the beginning of Honorbuddy, Arena was the only section of the game where we actually never wanted our bot to be. There where many requests in the forums and we always declined them. We did not want to automate Arena. The main reason for this was, that this is the only thing in WOW that had the one-on-one spirit of competition. And we wanted to leave it that way. The decision came from above, from Bossland and from Hawker.

"As you can see in one of the typical requests, we always declined to involve HB with the Arena*:


"If you search harder you will most likely find many such posts.

"Why the recent change then? Again it is not a change, it is something we decided long ago but did not enforce.

"We are now just making sure it stays the way it was supposed to be since 2010. That said, we are also looking into Battlegrounds.

"We approved Honorbuddy to be used in Battlegrounds since its first release but we will look into that again and tell you if we have a change of mind very soon. Or maybe, just maybe Blizzard opens the "Bottlegrounds" with patch 6.2., exclusively for us paying customers.

"I am also very sorry about the censorship that took place in this forum, i have reopened most of the threads. You are always free to discuss relevant matters in our forums."
HonorBuddy, as used in WoW's arenas, isn't a bot in the true sense of the word. What HonorBuddy did in arenas is provide a feature called combat rotations (CR), which pushes the keys for HonorBuddy users more effectively than the users themselves. In EVE Online, what HonorBuddy does is considered a macro. But since WoW has a macro system in place, players tend to call everything a bot. Perhaps "automated cheating" is a better term.

When asked if users could still use CRs in battlegrounds, a developer replied:
"Yes for now. It is not sustainable to have BGs with too many of the players being bots and we are reviewing how to handle this. I am hoping that removing BGBuddy from trial keys will remove the users who buy a trial and bot continuously for 72 hours and get their full epic set."
The strategy is clear. Bossland hopes that reducing the visibility of the cheat to average players will result in fewer complaints to Blizzard. Fewer complaints means less pressure on Blizzard to go after the PvE users of Honorbuddy. Bossland is not alone about concerns about PvP use drawing Blizzard's attention. The manager of Soapbox Rotations made the following statement on another forum on why Soapbox will not support PvP:
"I get it you guys are looking for a PVP program with the recent banning of HB and them closing their doors if not temporarily or forever. I do not develop, or support development on anything thats intent is to directly impacts the gameplay of other players. I am not sure what about the HB ban has all the sudden made everyone a 'Warden Expert', but I do things a certain way here for a reason, and it has worked quite well so far. 
"Its not just about having protection, its about not ruffling too many feathers. Like I said I get that you guys want something for PVP, I am sure someone will eventually fill that demand but for the safety and longevity of my product, it will not be me. It is nothing that I can be convinced otherwise either, there are more than enough people that prefer PVE rotations and I certainly enjoy focusing my time and effort into that crowds wants, instead of one that would just contribute to more problems in the botting community."
One of my favorite sayings is that people hate losing to software. In a PvP environment, players don't mind losing (much) to players with more skill. But losing to players with less skill using a cheat, especially one clearly against the rules? Then players start complaining. Loudly. For these two developers, the obvious answer is to restrict, if not prohibit, the use of their products in PvP.

Hopefully, a pullback by Bossland away from PvP will not reduce Blizzard's efforts at stopping botting in PvE. If my monitoring of the gold selling sites is any indication, the illicit RMT operations took a hit as the supply of gold available to sell fell after the ban wave two weeks ago. Bossland's retreat from PvP is a sign of Blizzard's effectiveness. I really hope Blizzard keeps up the pressure.


  1. While the WoW token clearly attacks the business model of the RMT sites, do you think there is a risk that it encourages "mom & pop" botting by giving players an avenue to play for free if they run a bot at night to farm gold?

  2. Yes I do, which is why I think trying to introduce something like the WoW Token or PLEX probably shouldn't be done when a game first launches. Usually when games launch the feature, botting and RMT is already a problem so there are more positive effects than negative.

  3. Also, if you can unleash a ban wave at around about the same time (as Blizzard did), it should hopefully be fresh in the minds of casual players who might consider looking into one of them there "bot" things to pay their sub with. ;-)