Hacks vs. Exploits: When Should Devs Ban Bad Gamers?

Last week, a ban-wave issued by ArenaNet saw 3000 Guild Wars 2 players lose access to a game they paid upwards of $60 for. Banning players who abuse exploits is not an uncommon activity in multiplayer games — Blizzard banned WoW players for abusing the Looking for Raid exploit, Rocket and Tonic banned DayZ players who exploited the Debug Forest, and XBL banned Modern Warfare 2 players who exploited the Javelin glitch.

While none can argue that the intent behind these bans is to protect the legitimacy of the multiplayer gaming environment, does the punishment fit the crime?

First, a definition: an exploit is the advantageous use of some element within a game that was not intended by the developers. Exploiting does not involve third-party-software, “hacking” of game files, or anything at all that cannot be accomplished in-game. It is entirely possible for a player to unknowingly make use of an exploit.

In the case of Guild Wars 2, the exploit took the form of a powerful weapon available for purchase from a vendor. The weapon was incorrectly priced at a fraction of its intended value. Given vendors have infinite supplies of items, some savvy players took advantage of this pricing mistake and purchased inordinate quantities of the weapon, an action that could have widespread effects on the game’s fledgling economy.

But while some players clearly knew they were exploiting the game, the same cannot be said for everyone. Imagine yourself an innocent MMO novice, strapped for in-game cash, who happens upon this fantastic deal. “Why is this weapon priced so low?” you wonder, as you try to compare it to the other items for sale. “It doesn’t seem much worse than these other weapons… I guess I really don’t understand this game. Unless… Maybe it’s meant to be used to help us level up our crafting skills. I guess I’ll buy a dozen or so and get to work.”

Exploits exist as a result of a failure on the part of the developer’s quality assurance. Is it reasonable to expect a developer to find every single little error in a game before release? Perhaps not. But is it reasonable for a developer to ban paying customers because the developer failed to find a mistake it created?

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

20 Comments on Hacks vs. Exploits: When Should Devs Ban Bad Gamers?


On September 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm

My car can go 150 mph, doesn’t mean I should.

Same with video games, just because you can exploit something doesn’t mean you should.


On September 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Just like what I tell the police, I didn’t know I couldnt do that. Works every time.


On September 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I’m glad they where banned, the devs already said they would unban anyone willing to give up the items so in my mind there being really nice about it.


On September 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm


Bad analogy. There’s a posted speed limit that you would be breaking if you went 150. This situation would be more akin to you seeing a sign that actually read “150 MPH”, you proceeding to travel 150, and then a police officer pulling you over and taking away your licence, because the posted speed limit wasn’t what they INTENDED for it to be. It’s their responsibility to get something like this correct. Gamers shouldn’t have to constantly question whether or not they’re doing something that devs intended. Making it the fault of the gamer is a failure on the part of ArenaNet, IMO.

If they were being really “nice” about it…they would have worried about resolving a situation that was not the fault of the players without banning people less than 2 weeks after selling them a $60 game. They weren’t nice about jack squat. They were vindictive, and blaming the wrong people.


On September 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I’m kinda torn on this, but leaning towards gw2 position on this. I read somewhere (don’t remember where) that they only permabanned those who bought massive amounts of these items, who with any shred of intelligence would know was not intended. And they temp banned those that had bought a large, above normal amount. While not punishing those that only bought a few “normal” amount. If that is true I don’t have too big of an issue with that. Personally I’d still rather see a 1-2 week ban for an exploit than a permaban…but I’d take a permaban over no action at all. And the whole dev Q/A argument? Really? Let’s get real no dev team is ever going to have a 100% bug free game…EVER! No matter how many people or resources they through at Q/A. Could gw2 have more…sure. But gamers will always have have to use common sense and some of those will be lacking. Hopefully those banned will learn from their lack of judgement (doubtful).
The same goes apparently for their pretty strict in game language enforcement. I was reading the forums and it appears the 1st offense is 3 day ban, second is 14 days and third is permaban. While I absolutely hate to see permaban in there (1-2 week cap for repeat offenses would be enough imo), it’s good to see some sort of enforcement and should make for a better more mature community….hopefully.


On September 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Nobody that abused this exploit was unaware of what they were doing. I was in game, standing there explaining to these people what they were doing. Many acknowledged it and proceeded. I took screenshots and submitted many tickets regarding the exploiters and botters too. Using the exploit, these asshats just kept on reeling in massive amounts of gold and mailing it to people left and right.

It took DAYS for ArenaNet to get rid of the botters, which sucks (they were getting to level 80 in 72 hours), but at least their unattended gameplay didn’t kill the economy . Now requiring players to delete the items and gold they obtained from their inventory to be unbanned? HA! That accomplishes nothing. The damage was done. The game economy was ruined within a week of launch. ArenaNet even shut down player mail to prevent abuse, but it was too late! Next time you’re logged in to guild wars 2 and you see a person with, oh, let’s say the 100 gold commander badge. Do question how they obtained it, because it probably wasn’t legit. These are the same people that upon the trading post coming back online five days ago bought up every commodity and fixed the prices.

God damn cheaters ruin everything. Exploiters are in the same category. They deserve no pity and no forgiveness. The players should not only have been banned, but their personal information plastered on a wall of shame.


On September 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Wow, people, it’s 100% the fault of the devs if people can use exploits. Exploiters should never be banned. They should fix the bugs that give unfair advantages and stop blaming people for seeing a chance to do something that advantages them.


On September 6, 2012 at 9:13 pm

see here is a giant problem that isn’t going to go anywhere fast. yes cheating is bad. yes exploiting a game default is bad. terrible even. but the approach which is being taken is, while with good intention, being done a little heavy handedly.

i think cheaters are horrible people. and people who willingly exploit a game feature just as bad. but i don’t think its fair to blame a gamer for something the developer can hot fix. yes there is a problem with the game economy now because of it, but other than a hard reset, there’s not a whole lot we can do about that now is there? and aside from that, the economy is always going to be screwed up because there will always be botters and there will always be cheaters.

i think maplestory is a good example of that


On September 7, 2012 at 12:42 am

@Derek so what you are saying is you were on every server at the same time 24/7 typing to everyone who cam near you that the item was an exploit, which would in turn create more exploiters than there were originally? your whole argument is extremely improbable and idiotic. I really get annoyed by people who don’t read the whole article properly or don’t full understand it and then post a one sided comment that makes no sense, please GTFO the internet and learn to read and understand complicated subjects.

The Only Important Comment

On September 7, 2012 at 2:14 am

Some of the comments on here are laughable. It is not the gamer’s job to pretend there are no glitches in videogames. If a developer rushes a game out onto the shelves because they’re either too lazy or too incompetent to fix the bugs and think they can just go and patch it later on, I have absolutely no sympathy for them when their half-finished binary gets exploited. Same goes for editing saves by switching files within the save without using any programs other than Explorer – again, these are developmental, production faults. The buck stops with the developer, if they didn’t want their own data to be used against them then they should have done better QA testing. Hacking with third-party tools, on the other hand, should result in a ban or at least a suspension.

By the way, don’t even bother replying to ‘lol’. Anyone who chooses that name has nothing relevant to say and should stick to the sheep at IGN, plus I remember him writing fatuous drivel weeks ago about Mass Effect 3 and how the backlash was a ‘small minority’ who didn’t understand ‘art’ or some such drivel. Nothing more than a mainstream mouthpiece spewing opinions that aren’t his own.


On September 7, 2012 at 4:35 am

Glitches and bugs should be fixed ASAP.
Cheaters should be banned.


On September 7, 2012 at 6:38 am

I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with this article. I find it extremely hard to believe that any of the people that were banned were just casually buying these items in vast quantities without a clear understanding that they were taking advantage of something that wasn’t right. I do agree that a perm ban was an over-the-top punishment for this, but some sort of punishment in the form of a temp ban was necessary. But perhaps the fact they were so heavy-handed the first time around will seriously make people think twice about exploiting in the future as opposed to reporting it, which is what people should be doing.


On September 7, 2012 at 7:10 am

What happened is- I’m not buying Guild Wars 2. Because of like this. Hooray! I must congratulate the developers on sternly informing me how miserable they’ve made their play environment; why, I might have BOUGHT their game otherwise!


On September 7, 2012 at 7:46 am

This article is inflammatory and sensationalist and I’m a bit disappointed in gamefront for once.

Exploiters ruin the game for everyone else and, in my opinion, should be removed from the community. The only people who received bans in the first place were those who bought hundreds of these items and knew perfectly well what they were doing.

When this news first came out (you’re late to the party), I have to admit that I was a bit frightened by the idea of receiving a ban myself. Not because I’ve done anything wrong, but because of the terror of losing $60 plus $50 in gems (I wanted 8 character slots and some bank space) AND the time I’ve invested in my characters. However, I quickly moved past this as these exploiters have been obviously in the wrong and I, like most people, am capable of the proper judgement required to not take advantage of clearly game breaking exploits.

TR the Dr

On September 7, 2012 at 10:04 am

This is absolutely the fault of the game developer. People paid money for this game and now they have to constantly second guess every action that they do just cuz someone screwed up when making the game. Sure, where is the fun in exploiting, gaming should be overcoming challenges in a legitamate fashion. However, its the developer that screwed up, and they the ones that should pay for their mistake. If it’s exploitable, and they worry about other gamers losing the fun experience of the game, eventually everyone will have the ability to exploit and then it’ll even out. It’s not like a hack where only one player has the opportunity to create the benefits. yes hackers should be banned from the game, exploiters should not. As this article puts it also, innocent until proven guilty. Do not just ban w/o finding out the evidence. Its unfair bs.


On September 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

OMG, I can’t beleave some of the comments posted here. These people knew what they were doing. Just because the dev screwed up and let this happen doesn’t make it right. Yeah right people. Look, the cashier left the cash register open, lets take the money, after all it the cashiers fault. He left it open. Doesn’t freekin matter. They still go to jail.
What about the poor guy who’s wallet falls out of his pocket and someone sees it. Does the watcher 1. Take the wallet back to the guy, or 2. Wait for him to walk away then snag the wallet. After all, finders keepers.
Point is right is right and wrong is still wrong no matter who screwed up. No, people who feel the need to do this kind of cr– , deserve what they get. I hate cheaters no matter what form they take. If you have to cheat, you don’t need to be there. Too many people doing things the right way to worry about those who choose there own fate.


On September 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm

IMO players should not be banned from online games for actions that are physically made possible within the game (note, this excludes botting and hacking). One exception could be for verbal abuse through the in-game chat. Otherwise, players should be allowed to use exploits and even to publicize them, while developers should simply focus on closing the exploits as fast as possible. Alternatively, if there is some in-game notification system, then players could be notified of the exploit and forbidden to use it – only then would bans be acceptable. In summary, it is not acceptable to say “don’t break the rules” if that is your only rule.


On October 16, 2012 at 10:07 am

wallydog1 – You’re adorable. Please enter the real world. Exploiting a glitch in a videogame and stealing from an open till aren’t even comparable. Try again when you get a clue.


On October 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Realist Morals are morals whether your cheating in a game or cheating in real life. Just goes to show ones character. Just like you just showed yours, and yes just because you wont go to jail for this kind of cheat doesn’t make it right. It’s called moral restraint. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. You should try it sometime, not to mention honesty and integrity.
You’re the kind who pirates games and thinks it’s ok as long as you don’t get caught. Basically a low life thief. Don’t worry, Karma is a .


On October 17, 2012 at 2:50 am

Wait. You mean in games, where the purpose is to min max, so one is the best at what they can do, so that they can complete challenges in the most straight forward path possible, people should be permanently banned from somethign they payed for when applying reasonable logic to a situation?

None of the players attacked the NPC and stole from his unlimited supply of goods.
Nobody had their items stolen and resold or anything.

This ‘exploit’ is a bug and an overlooked pricing, no one was deprived of anything because of this situation, what happened was more material then intended was pumped into an artificial economy.

An incorect price is not even really the same as an exploit, it’s like a dev banning players for having come up with an imbalanced build with character skills. They did exactly what was optimal for play.

How many of you would be screaming that people should be banned from a game like WoW for playing a broken character build?