Have you ever wondered why MMO devs do (or don’t do) certain things? I have, and my latest bit of wondering concerns The Elder Scrolls Online and its bot problem. “Problem” is used somewhat subjectively here, because the infestation of AFK players in Tamriel hasn’t harmed my personal play to any measurable degree, though I’m sure it’s doing no favors for the long-term health of the in-game economy.
But when I see a cluster of five or six AFK melee bots around every single public dungeon boss, “problem” is the only word that comes to mind. I’m not exaggerating, either, I have literally seen 24/7 bot camps in all of the public dungeons from Glenumbra to the Alik’r desert.
Yeah, ZeniMax says it’s aware of the problem and is doing something about it. But, let’s get back to my wondering in the opening paragraph up there. What, exactly, is the company doing about it? ESO is a subscription game, which means that all of those bots entered credit card numbers that can be immediately and permanently banned. Is ZeniMax doing this? If so, why not say that instead of the nebulous devspeak in yesterday’s update letter. If not, why not?
I understand the futility of trying to ban bots in a F2P game where new accounts are as easy as a new Gmail address and an IP spoof, but I don’t understand how so many of them can continue to exist in a game that requires a CC for access. And hey, I would ask ZeniMax myself if I thought I would get anything other than a PR non-answer. So instead, I’m asking you, Massively readers! What do you think? How can bots be so prevalent in a sub game? Bonus points if you have any relevant development insights to share in the comments.