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F2P Import Death Watch - Blade and Soul

Posted by Ozzallos Wednesday October 22 2014 at 3:01AM
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While my coverage of Archeage has left me thoroughly disgusted with both Trion and XLgames, it simultaneously serves as its own object lesson and insight for anybody looking to drop large sums of cash on a franchise that may or may not ever deliver.  In the world of F2P, past actions are truly the best indicator of future behavior, which is why every last one of us should have seen Trion's bot and hacking typhoon on the horizon...

...And avoided those stupid expensive $150 early access packages like the plague.

Reddit has been a great 20/20 hindsight resources that frankly should have seen all of this coming and sounded the alarm instead of feeding the hype, but one post in particular caught my eye as the forums continued to rage all over Archeage--

Aeolius write: "Most f2p games from Asia are like this. WHy do you think Blade and Soul isn't being released in the states? NCSoft KNOWS all of this and they dont want to ruin their reputation."

Now I've lusted after Blade and Soul for a while and each month without news as to its import status has left me with a painful longing... Or perhaps that was just gas, but it was a franchise I desperately wanted to see come to the United States. Sex did not even begin to describe the game for me, and I'm not talking about the fan service. It looked like everything I could possibly want in an MMO-- The Soul Caliber of MMORPGs. Fuck yes, I was on board with that.

And then I realized I had put those very same fanboy driven blinders on that afflicted many when it came to Archeage. While I could take issue with that near blanket statement being made about the quality of all of those MMOs from that place generically known as "Asia," Archeage had left me with a certain deficit of naivety. I did some digging.

There is now a frown on my face.

I'm not going to dig into as much detail as I did with Archeage, but I'm going to preemptively put Blade and Soul on my caution list as an unsafe purchase. It also leads me to ask the question: What the hell is wrong with these people that they don't put the most basic of security in place to prevent this sort of exploiting? In the many links you can sift through in those google results, you'll see the exact same behavior as Archeage-- Bots teleporting here and there, willy-nilly as if the game code were made of toilet paper and the threat of enforcement almost nonexistent. One of those youtube vids states that it has been the status quo for over a year, which mean significant change is unlikely... Not unlike Archeage, which had a year run-up to the NA and European markets.

Now I know there are people who will groan at the mere mention of World of Warcraft and the franchise is not without it's own bots, but the code was tight enough as to disallow something as basic as teleporting and blatant item duplication. I found bots. I reported bots (without the use of labor you XL dumbasses) and anything as obvious as the exploits featured in the games above usually resulted in foot put to ass by Blizzard, so I gotta ask: What the fuck is going on, Korea? I know f2p margins are tight, but packet insertion hacks are amongst the most basic there is.

I've heard a number of theories thrown around concerning this failure to secure client side data. The most popular seems to be that Korea requires their players to register the equivalent of a social security number before playing any MMO, thus causing the developer placing less emphasis on application side security. It's easy to go after the hacker when you have their state sponsored ID number, right? And in other news, I have a tough time believing somebody can be that naive.

The only thing I have left after that are conspiracy theories. If it should be standard operating procedure to secure against the most basic of exploits and you're not so naive as to think you state ID is going to cross the international dateline to catch that Chinese gold farmer, the only thing I'm turning up is that these games are being built to the bear minimum security standards because it benefits the company in some way. All that hack traffic has to be doing something and some of it even has to be paying to get the ball rolling for the hacker... The cost of business, so to speak. Are these developers purposely neglecting security in the hopes that not only will the legitimate gamer will tolerate it, but the fact that it actually benefits the developer themselves in some nebulous way? They can certainly broadcast that they have five billion players on the banner ad spamming your eyeballs as a way to entice more legitimate traffic, which may stay for a bit before burning out while providing bot fuel like Archeage does.

Like I said, conspiracy theories. I'd be interested in your opinion, because I'm at a loss. In the end, it could be something as simple as just being too cheap to develop real security, but with the backlash facing Archeage, it seems to be an increasingly risky strategy. In the end, I suspect the only reason Blade and Soul has endured it for so long is that it has enough of that unique quality about it that helps the legitmate player ignore it as long as it is convenient to do so.

Even so, I'm almost in agreement Aeolius-- A domestic US and EU release is becoming increasingly unlikely and even if such a thing did happen, we had all better scrutinize it long and hard before succumbing to the early access cash shop land grab urges that afflicted us in Archeage, because there's a good chance you'll get bent over again.