Laying down the banhammer.
In continuing with the trend of talking about MMORPGs I now turn to some recent events in Guild Wars 2, which came out just last week. As is general with new MMOs being launched there are going to be some glitches and bugs to be worked out and patched, even a large team and a beta can't hope to catch absolutely everything after all. Considering that such a large number of people signed up for this game that ArenaNet had to suspend first party sales of the game from their website (still down at the time of this writing actually) it's not shocking that the first real exploit was found within two days of the game going live.
While not of a game breaking nature such as the Diablo 3 exploit that turned wizards invincible, the fact that this exploit revolved around currency meant that it was still of an incredibly destructive potential nature. I'm not privy to the complete details of the exploit, but from what I've read it revolved around a mispriced item from a vendor that could be bought for a drastically lower price than should have been allowable, then broken down and sold as its component parts for a tidy profit. People were allegedly making thousands of gold from this, in a game where even high level characters only tend to get a few gold at a time.
As such, it wasn't terribly surprising when a couple thousand players were banned for getting massive amounts of gold in this manner.
What has been somewhat surprising, to me at least, is that the bans have been permanent in nature. That's sort of a misnomer though; if a person was banned under the blanket of this exploit, then they can agree to delete all of the gold and items that they received from their account to reduce their ban from a permanent one to a (comparatively) smaller one of 72 hours. Basically ArenaNet will unban them and then check in later to see if they have indeed deleted the items and gold, and if not the permanent ban will be reinstated. I would also assume that they do have ways of checking to see that a person hasn't merely passed the items and gold on to someone else.
This action has, as one might expect, resulted in somewhat of a schism forming around the community and the Internet in general. While many are either pleased or simply apathetic about this turn of events, others have said that it is unfair for ArenaNet to ban people, especially permanently so, for using a flaw in the game that originated from ArenaNet itself.
To me that latter argument seems quite foolish. After all, if you see something that's clearly out of place, then if you choose to act to gain an advantage that you wouldn't have otherwise had by using it, then should it really be so surprising that you may suffer repercussions for it? Consider that there have been literally hundreds of thousands of people playing Guild Wars 2 since it came out, and yet only three thousand have been affected by this ban. I can understand people being off-put that the reaction seems so severe, but to me the fact that ArenaNet is offering clemency for those willing to delete the items and gold they got using the exploit seems to run counter to that.
To be honest, I find ArenaNet's choice of action, banning rather than rolling back, to be refreshing. It shows that they are willing to take a hard stance on these kinds of things when necessary. Considering that the ban is only as permanent as those it has fallen upon are willing to let it be, I can't really fault the way they've handled this case. It's better to establish this sort of precedent early on than to send mixed messages after all, and I'd argue this has sent one hell of a strong message.