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.”