Amazon’s ‘New World’ online game bans nearly 8,000 accounts for ‘botting’
The developers of New World, Amazon Games’ flagship project, announced on Thursday that it banned thousands of accounts for automated gathering activity, or “botting.”
In New World, as with many other massively-multiplayer online games, players are encouraged to gather resources from the environment like herbs, ore, leather, fish, and meat, which can be crafted into useful in-game items like armor, weapons, food, and potions. Alternatively, the resources can be, and often are, sold to other players for a profit.
That often results in the creation of third-party programs that automate the process, known in the community as “botting.” These programs are specifically prohibited by most games’ terms of service, but they still tend to crop up in any sufficiently popular MMO. It allows a player to set up a script so their character, the “bot,” will go in circles collecting resources while the player does something else.
Unlike many other MMOs, New World allows players to pursue every type of resource gathering at once, which has already created unique deflationary issues. Now, on top of that, its players have reported a big influx of botting on many servers, which has further cratered the value of in-game goods.
After a report on the epidemic ran on PC Gamer on Monday, Amazon Games has taken action. Its representatives offered the following statement to GeekWire:
“We’re aware of player reports about increased bot activity in New World. Bots pose a persistent challenge for MMOs, and our team has deployed dedicated resources and tooling to identify and combat them. We are committed to continuous improvement in our fight against bots, and yesterday [Dec. 1] alone, we banned over 7,700 accounts for using bots. Our goal is to ensure New World is fun and fair for all players.”
Before Amazon itself took action, players of New World had amused themselves by finding their own ways to deal with the bot problem. Since bots’ scripting typically isn’t particularly elaborate, players have been able to break their patterns by putting obstacles in their path or getting them into fights.
This newest wave of bans from Amazon comes a little over two weeks after the discovery of a “duping” exploit, which allowed players to freely duplicate items in their inventory, including coins, which was effectively an infinite-money cheat. The New World development team permanently banned “over 1,200 players” for duping as of Nov. 15, which also required the temporary shutdown of the entire in-game economy.
After several delays over the course of the year, Amazon released New World in late September to middling reviews but a startlingly positive fan reaction. It briefly peaked at over 913,000 concurrent players on Steam at launch, a record-setting number, but like any MMO, that figure dwindled over the course of the next few weeks.
As of Thursday morning, the New World player count seems to have stabilized at around 130,000 to 140,000, peaking during the middle of the week. Its last major content update, Into the Void, arrived on Nov. 18, which features a new weapon, a new class of enemy in the invading Varangian Knights, and new player-vs-player modes.
New World is only the third original video game from Amazon Game Studios, despite years of effort and false starts, and its launch has widely been perceived as a make-it-or-break-it moment for Amazon’s ambitions as a mainstream game developer.