It took me exactly 3 minutes to find and locate a working bot program for Guild Wars 2. The bot in question allows you to increase your magic find to 500% at the flick of a switch (whether this does or doesn't work), increase your movement speed on a sliding scale, your field of view, as well as teleport to any location on the current map, this also includes appearing instantly next to undiscovered vista’s, waypoints or points of interest.
While the fact bots exist isn’t anything extraordinary (I’m sure we’ve all encountered botters in game) the willingness of actual players to create, use and distribute them, rather than it being just gold sellers, is something I wasn’t readily expecting. A warren of forums openly and freely distributes such bots alongside sub forums that contain page after page of exploits. Although I won’t repeat it here, there is already an exploit for obtaining the pumpkin carving achievement in only a matter of moments, which also provides you with 20 silver during the process.
It’s also apparent that there are several bots that assist the player in structured PvP, with one in particular showing the location of the opposing team on the map, allowing you and your party to coordinate to devastating effects. Another bot (script, hack- whatever you wish to call it) of clever ingenuity points out a mesmer player amongst its illusions. What is most worrying in all of this is the fact that these players are going undetected. I know they’re going undetected because every patch or update that ArenaNet deliver, the bot developers sweep the client for any changes that might detect the bot; the phrase “all clean” rearing its head all too often.
These aren’t individuals partaking in open bot use, this is a calculated, reclusive and extensive network of individuals working together (though playing independently) to ensure that the programs created continue to go undetected while the gold farmers take the heat. One prominent bot, launched on the 25th August this year has seen its download page visited more than 30,000 times. The leading bot download on this particular forum, launching only two days later, was visited 47,000 times. Both of these bots (there are countless others) are working as of today.
Curiously, several bots are also subscription based, with permission to use the bot on the basis that you credit its creator $9.99 per month, with the guarantee that you won’t be detected. Having combed several threads and forums for this particular bot, not one paying user has ever been banned since Guild Wars 2 launched. Some have cited that it stopped working, but this was readily fixed by the developer within a matter of hours of the user error being reported.
One might argue that a download page for a single bot or bots being visited 77,000 times isn’t indicative of every person having downloaded it, actually using it. However, what I’m keen to stress here is that this is only the statics on two bots, on a single forum. Having visited many forums and the download pages for the bots on those, I totalled over 650,000 bots/hacks having been downloaded, though I expect the real number to be double that based on the fact I cannot access every forum. As to what extent the individuals used these bots is obviously unknown (many could have simply used the field of view hack) though I suspect most will have found it hard to resist turning on other elements.
This editorial might be stating the obvious to the many reading and I am sure that ArenaNet are aware of the scale of the problem. However, my greater concern isn’t the gold sellers who are easily seen and reported, but those that stay under the radar using these tools, because all eyes are on gold sellers and not private users. These individuals are safe in the knowledge that they aren’t being caught because restrained use of the tools, on low population servers, put the odds of not being caught squarely in their favour.
Unless ArenaNet spread their net wider, to take an active approach externally to Guild Wars 2 (downloading these bots, reading the forums and investigating from the outside) there will be hundreds of thousands of players continuing to gain a huge advantage over those of us who play by the rules.
Combating these bots, hackers and those who exploit will be a perpetual issue for ArenaNet that bares similarities to developer attempts at curbing file sharing; time consuming, expensive and predominantly fruitless. If all this wasn't enough to worry, a hack group are making claims that they are due to release an item duplicator by 3rd November. Whether that ever sees the light of day is another matter. Here's hoping it doesn't.