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reviews /  member game review
member content by: member
Warcraft - Bot programs are back
by: iainmay  02 january 08
rating: rating of 4 and 1/2

All is not well in the World of Warcraft
Activision Blizzards immensely successful World of Warcraft has attracted a published player base of 9 million subscribers, that’s a lot of voices to hear. Lately they seem to have been having trouble with their hearing, despite the growing chorus of dissent from the masses.

With the release of “The Burning Crusade” expansion pack back in January 2006, Activision Blizzard (or Blizzard, as it was back then) introduced mountains of new content and 10 more “levels” to explore.

Listening to the players, they expanded the player versus player (pvp) content, with the introduction of the new “Arena” system. Groups of top level adventurers could now pit their skills against each other to gain access to new armour and weaponry, as well as a competing in European and American knockout tournaments for titles and peer recognition.

These knockout tournaments are organised into seasons, and the Warcraft community has just embarked on season 3. Now naturally, the prizes and plunder from these seasons improves as each season passes. This gives existing players something to compete for and everyone including new players, something to aim for. The problem is that new players that are fresh into the arena have little to no chance to compete against a veteran team, in any meaningful way.

Happily (or not) the newly formed Activision Blizzard came up with a solution, they would use the existing and much loved Battleground system of contained, organised and rewarded PvP to provide new top level players with a way of earning the old Season 1 rewards. This looked fine on paper, new players could get slightly inferior equipment to the arena veterans but good enough to compete.

Naturally, some of the existing arena community were annoyed by this move, after all, they had to work hard in the smaller more competitive arena environment to get that season 1 gear, why should a new player get this all so much easier?

As it turned out, this was the smaller of the problems created by this new system. Rearing its ugly head again from the past, the automatic play programs (referred in game as Bot’s) started appearing in the battlegrounds. These bots could earn the player using them (while sleeping, working doing anything apart from actually playing) large amounts of honour points, to spend on this newly and apparently freely available arena rewards.

Some of the larger battlegrounds had and still have upwards of 80% of the playing participants as bots, leaving the remaining 20% utterly unable to win the game and claim their points. Now this annoyed everyone with the exception of the bot users, which have become known as “leeches” amongst other more unprintable names.

Most players expected Blizzard to fix this problem quickly. After all they had performed some swift justice in the past on such outlawed software banning over one hundred thousand accounts back in 2005. Surely the same would happen this time...

Alas, the player base were furnished with a reporting system that enables them to mark a player as away from keyboard, this has the effect of stopping them gaining any honour points from that game. The only problem is it just fails to work. Either the renegade player is using such an advanced bot that it can become involved in combat (removing the report) or there is simply not enough players actually “playing” to report those that choose to cheat.

Blizzard have been aware of this problem for nearly two months, and their website forums are littered with pages and pages of posts asking for a resolution, an acknowledgement, a hope.

They are met with a wall of silence on the forums, and when they complain to the game masters within Warcraft itself they are referred back to the very system that does not work in the first place.

As many readers will be aware, the Massive Online Gaming (MoG) world is due for some new introductions this year, with the emergence of Conan by Funcom and Warhammer online. Can Activision Blizzard and their shareholders really afford to be this arrogant and ignorant with their impressive and profitable base of users?

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