CCP Drops the Hammer With "Unholy Rage"

| 24 Aug 2009 15:49

EVE Online developer CCP struck a blow for the good guys when it banned over 6000 accounts in one fell swoop known as "Unholy Rage."

Like many MMOGs, EVE Online is plagued by people who buy and sell in-game currency for the purpose of earning real money profits. It's particularly problematic in EVE, however, because of the game's heavy reliance on a functioning, player-driven economy to keep everything running smoothly.

"RMT operators take up a lot of server power. They use macros to run missions, rat (grind PvE) and mine 23/7," EVE GM Einar Hreiðarsson told Ars Technica. "This adversely affects other players' chances of making a simulated living as all sweet-spots for this sort of activity are totally overrun with RMT (real-money trading)-type users."

Less obvious but possibly even more damaging is the impact of RMT-driven criminal activity; Hreiðarsson said "practically all" instances of credit card fraud suffered by CCP result from money traders who use stolen cards to register throwaway accounts that are then used for things like spamming ads for currency sales. Thus, after several weeks of studying the problem, CCP unleashed "Unholy Rage," banning 6200 accounts at once during a scheduled maintenance run.

The cull went off with "surgical precision," according to Hreiðarsson, . "We are quite confident that false positives are practically non-existent, but we examine all requests for review," he said. "So far less than a dozen have been found to be false positives."

There's been something of an unexpected but pleasant side-effect to the bans as well: The load on game servers has been reduced far out of proportion to the relatively small number of users who were cut. "While the number of accounts banned in the opening phase of the operation constituted around 2 percent of the total active registered accounts, the CPU per user usage was cut by a good 30 percent," Hreiðarsson wrote on the EVE Online dev blog. "That is a whole lot of CPU for the rest of you to play with, people."

It's interesting to see such a strong stand being taken by a studio notorious for its hands-off approach even in the face of some of the most dastardly shenanigans ever seen in an online game. But while back-stabbing, assassinations and epic larceny are perfectly acceptable within the context of the game, bad behavior outside those boundaries most definitely is not. "Real-money trading and most of the activity involved with it is against our published policy, and even international law in the case of credit card fraud," Hreiðarsson said. "That is really where we draw the line - keep it in-game."

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