Final Fantasy XIV Had A Major But Quiet Hiccup Some Time Ago. Here’s What It Was.

By Eugene . November 3, 2013 . 5:00pm


Every online game has its flaws and exploits. From headshot cheaters in Battlefield to that hilarious mass death and disease in World of Warcraft, it’s practically par for the course to have such things happen and get patched/fixed for the rest of us legal denizens. (We’re all playing online games properly here, right folks?)


And then, sometimes, things just go boom. Final Fantasy XIV had its own (very quiet) explosion that was stealth fixed earlier in October. The problem? A client-side exploit that allowed players to pretty much stumble upon the alchemical equivalent of turning lead into gold. Imagine being able to take a bunch of Hi-Potions and turning it into the best gold source in the game. Or giving yourself, oh, say, more gil than the entire server combined and then some. Or instantly max-leveling your character and all professions.


The video above shows shows one of the (now patched) exploits in action, and below you can see a screenshot of leveling in another version of the exploit.


Unlike most forms of exploits, which generally impact only the cheater and those they cheat against/prey upon, this form of exploit moves to do one very dangerous thing – destabilize the in-game economy. Imagine as a legitimate player how hard it must be to earn a few hundred thousand gil, only to have someone, with a wave of his or her wand, generate a few billion gil.


This floods the market with in-game cash, in-game cash that’s then re-sold to real money traders (completely illegal, mind you) who then pass it on to players who purchase that gil. From what we understand, that’s exactly what happened—exploiters generated gold, sold it to RMT traders, and gained an actual (very illegal) profit out of it. The RMT traders were happy, too, having just been sold magic gil that they could then resell for a higher price to players. Win-Win for everyone except the game’s legit players as it drives up costs for goods, and makes much of the game trivial. Why spend hours trying to kill a boss when I can wave a wand and get it immediately?


Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn’s little incident has, of course, been patched. In his latest “Letter from the Producer” Q&A, producer Naoki Yoshida stated, “We take cheating very seriously, and plan to do everything we can to ban cheaters as we continue to address this issue. As subscription based games are on the decline, [real money transactions] are gathering by the masses in the games that a lot of people are playing. Because free to play games already have items you can buy for real money, RMT cannot make money off of these games.”


Yoshida elaborates, “Right now, the most notable form of cheating is the use of bots that automatically defeat enemies, gather materials, and warp around. Warp cheating is a game of cat and mouse due to the fact that once we perform countermeasures, they find new methods, then we implement countermeasures against this new method, and they find yet another way to do it, but we are proactively addressing this. As for other types of bots, we are placing importance on not making false accusations, so we’re carefully handling each report made with thorough investigations, and we’re cracking down on hundreds of accounts every day.”

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  • Ty Austin

    I had read somewhere (when this exploite was first discovered) that this was something to do with the client end of the game and not the server. They can patch the exploits, but more work arounds can be found due to the way SE has this infrastructured (IE a simple patch won’t make this particular issue gone for good.)

    Hopefully this isn’t true and we don’t see anymore of this. FF14 is an amazing game.

  • Monterossa

    Don’t know why some people want to buy gil in the game that gil doesn’t mean shit. I have 5 millions and don’t know what to buy.

    • Brotato Chip

      I think when housing comes out gil will be somewhat more important, but as of now i agree

      • Enma_Kozato

        Housing would be my guess as well since it’s been confirmed they won’t come cheap. My significant other has been saving as much gil as possible in order to get our Free Company house ASAP. Laughably, his main income is the in-game item called… coke.

        • Ferrick

          iirc you need FC points to purchase the house too

          • Enma_Kozato

            Yeah, your FC has to be a certain rank to get housing. Thankfully, I’ve been catering to that.

          • Ferrick

            ah, you came prepared i see ;D

          • Enma_Kozato

            Unwittingly so at first, haha.

  • Lumi

    RMT can make money on free to play MMOs. They farm ingame money with bots, sell them for real money at a rate cheaper than what legit cash players can get by buying cash only items from the cash shops and sell them to other players.

  • KiTA

    The exploit was that they did not add any Database security to the server. That is, you could, if you read the data files for the game (which were apparently not even encrypted) to get the Database address and login information.

    You could then upload your own database commands. Like changing your XP value. Or adding additional gold to your character, without limit.

    Yes, that’s as boneheadedly stupid as it sounds.

    It shows a lack of even basic security and mmorpg design strategy. But then again this is the same company that doesn’t seem to believe in making it even remotely possible to report gold spammers, block them without going through hell, or implement even the most basic of anti-RMT measures.

    Someone once said that Yoshi-P had his dev team go play WOW for a year to see how a modern MMORPG client works. Unfortunately, they appear to have missed some of the quality of life changes (right-click-report-gold-spam, for example) that were added over the years.

  • Nier

    Probably wont get this game for awhile, so this sort of thing can get sorted out in the meanwhile.

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