Banning of accounts in FFXI

I just came across this piece of reporting in Blues News:

This Press Release announces the banning of over 700 accounts for actions related to “Real Money Trading,” or RMT. The art of farming for game currency and selling it for real cash had caused near runaway inflation in the game, but as a result of what Square Enix describes as RMT Countermeasures, over 300 billion gil has been removed from the game’s economy, and that item prices have begun to subside. Perhaps Alan Greenspan has become a game master since retiring from the fed.

The press release referred to states this:

Since the end of last year, item values have risen astronomically on all Worlds due to the manipulation of prices by a small percentage of the player base. The development team and the GMs carried out a detailed investigation of this problem, and discovered the existence of a group using illicit methods to produce large amounts of gil that are later sold in the real world (Real Money Trading). We would like to take this opportunity to outline the measures that have been taken to correct this issue.

http://www.playonline.com/ff11us/information/060209.html

I’m not sure if Blues News has fairly interpreted ‘illicit methods’ to mean farming, though. I would have thought ‘illicit methods’ would seem to be more a reference to ‘duping’.

Anyone playing FFXI can comment? The slant that I’m a little concerned with is that Blues News seems to have used the press release to conclude farming = bad. I’m open to proof of this, but this particular press release doesn’t seem to be it.

They didn’t ban the accounts in conjunction with any particular means of raising the money; rather, they banned the accounts for selling the money in real life.

And man, is it ever sending shockwaves through the market. IGE’s prices have more than doubled, along with every other gilseller except for mogs.com, which is sold out. Prices in-game are dropping like crazy; I was lucky enough to have heard about this before it was widely reported, so I sold my Leaping Boots (high value item) before the prices started dropping. The Emperor’s Hairpin that was 13 million a month ago was 4.5 mil last night, and it’s 3.5 mil this morning. It’s insane. Everyone is trying to divest themselves of anything that’s worth anything in a hurry, before the prices get even lower. The Lower Jeuno Auction House is so jam packed with people that my poor machine drops to single-digit framerates and sometimes takes a good 10-15 seconds to just open a dialog with the auction counter.

The market is crashing. This is the Great Depression of FFXI, I shit you not. It’s awesome, though, because I’m going to end up with an amazing piece of equip that seemed completely out of range and would have cost me like $70 in real money for 500k in like a week. It’s absolutely unreal.

Edit: just so we’re clear, farming is not the problem in FFXI that it is in WoW. Everyone farms, legitimately or illegitimately, unless they have a tradeskill levelled or are buying gil, and it doesn’t interfere with other players, for the most part.

There was a change made late last year to reduce the incidence of MPKing. Basically, if you tow a mob away from its usual spawning area and die or zone or whatever, after a period of time, it now just vanishes and reappears back in its spawning area, instead of running amok where you left it. However, the mob that is recreated is not the original mob, just another instance of that mob type. (As an aside, Beastmasters hate this change, because it makes it much harder for them to manage their pets. And so it is commonly called the “Beastmaster nerf”.)

Organised groups of gil farmers were exploiting this behaviour to steal valuable items from certain mobs, tow them to the zone exit, and respawn them back in their original location–where they would once again be carrying a stealable item. From a report I read on Allakhazam, I get the impression that a lot of this activity was being botted. There were some well-known areas where this sort of activity was taking place practically 24/7, with couriers standing by to transport stacks of items to the cities for sale. (I’m not sure whether they were being auctioned or just vendored.) Square-Enix made some changes to make this particular activity less lucrative, back in mid-January.

It is possible, though I have no direct evidence, that this is the sort of exploitation that was taking place late last year. It is also possible that other exploits were being used.

Prices zoomed to unbelievable levels on my server around the holidays, and stayed high. We’re talking increases of 200-300% in a lot of cases. Prices are still rather inflated, but I have seen a downward trend on Phoenix lately.

I’m glad that this has worked out well for the players. I guess this is a fairly good example of exploits being utilised by gold farmers to destabilise economies, although I believe we’ve yet to see a similar inflation on WoW servers yet.

AFAIK, gilsellers in FFXI don’t use any exploits to make their gil. Aside from being online 24/7, that is. I think the biggest thing that is influencing prices is just the sheer amount of money that was sucked out of the economy. Imagine if the US government took three hundred billion dollars out of the federal reserve, and burned it.

Someone should try a game with a mercantilist economy, where there is a set amount of wealth, fixed total numbers of all items, and no way to hoard either. Just to see how it would play out.

UO did something very similar when the game launched. Limited resources that could be completely depleted by players, merchants with finite inventories and gold, etc. It would be a significant understatement to say that it didn’t work out very well.

I can see why that would be worse than the inflation caused when people learn to exploit the abudance of wealth in modern games.