Lost Ark: Thoughts on Discouraging RMT and Bots

So reading about the issues that Lost Ark is going through in terms of RMT/Bots, I started thinking about potential solutions that would solve this. Now, some might just flat out kill the economy while others would hurt SmileGate/Amazon’s business model. But I think the risk in the short term is better than the long term effect of the game dying a horrible death, which inevitably will happen once people get discouraged and the queues create an unplayable mess.

Remove the Ability to Trade Gold

This probably is the single most important thing to practically killing RMT and Bots. This will prevent high end players from making gold through their services but I honestly don’t care about them. This is about destroying a segment of the population that is being enabled because of a flaw in the system. For this to occur, the game would pretty much prevent players from sending each other gold. Only automated systems like the Auction House or Auctions like bids on books from a Chaos Gate boss would be allowed here.

Of course, that means the Auction House would be totally screwed up too because many of the sellers use the auction house to trade gold on otherwise worthless items. I think the only way to temporarily handle this issue is to enforce a set price and remove the ability to bid entirely. People can still make gold off their items but it will have to be for legitimate items with a predetermined value. While botting still may enable botters to acquire these items, it will plummet their ability to sell at high prices and make it far harder for them to sell things.

I think eventually this methodology will make running bots unprofitable so there will be more inactivity and those accounts that suddenly go black can be flagged as potentially being previous bots that can be removed. Sure, the accessibility for getting better items will exist but I’d prefer that where the average person does not feel the need to reach out to an RMT site and being able to use their own gold rather than having the existing problem.

Straight Out Selling Gold At Low Prices

I think the confusing mixed currency has really hurt the game with the idea of having Crystals, Royal Crystals and the ability to convert from one currency to another. Instead of doing any of this, just put a raw price on gold like say $10 for 20k worth of gold. If players already are going to hit RMT sites that means that they will never spend money directly for a convoluted currency system if they know they can find something competitive. And while it might hurt the short term profits, the reality is that $10 per month probably will be more than what SmileGate/Amazon etc see coming directly into the game because that number seems far more reasonable than what they want. And frankly, I think more people would be comfortable spending a reasonable amount rather than going to a shady site if given a choice. Also, I’d prefer to see the developers spending time on more important problems with the game as opposed to wasting time a design flaw caused by hubris. You’re going to be beaten by the secondary market no matter what so you might as well get used to the idea of being competitive at least.

Getting Rid of Bound Items

I’ve read that there was “internal discussions” about changing the status of bound items to roster bound. I can tell you that from day one having something be bound was a clear mistake. It was going to kill the game just like it killed World of Warcraft and Diablo 3. And with all the various artificially decided gates in place, all SmileGate/Amazon have done is killed off their casual audience or at least injected their own poison into a well that they run. So the best thing they can do is eliminating the idea of character bound items.

Why would this be significant? The thing is that for all the intents that SmileGate have put in regarding long grinds, it’s just an anti-pattern to behavior for all but addicts. Most people will recognize the poisonous game loop and slowly ween themselves away as the deep biting cynicism sets in upon realizing that the gates are no fun. There’s no real “challenge” to these gates outside of time gating, which only aggrandizes an internal, deep growing resentment that eventually surfaces as Stockholm Syndrome that the addict finally understands and rapidly escapes. Then no matter what, that customer won’t ever come back because they’ll find a better form of addiction.

So the “little” bit of giving that a greedy company like SmileGate can provide back to the customer is needed to demonstrate good will. In particular, the swap from Bound to Roster Bound items at the very least makes having alts, and thus investing more time into the game, seem worth it rather than having one stare at a bunch of unused materials sitting around in their bank account collecting dust. No one likes waste in this world and digital waste seems even more offensive than real waste. Also, this will discourage people from feeling like they are being forced to turn to the auction house and thus the RMT market which in turn encourages the presence of bots.

A Real Pay-2-Win Solution

If players were presented with the ability to pay $15-20 to be given a shit ton of honing materials, gold and/or gear so that they can get into the highest level of content, don’t you think they would take it? Especially if the company selling the game is the one providing this service? If the game was easy, the players would not turn to RMT solutions to push themselves to the next level. I think people would pay a small fee so that they can be caught up with their friends. I think a lot of the big time players already are swiping one way or another to get ahead. Only the most arrogant, hardlined, stuck up players who deny what they want laugh at the pay-2-win solution.

But let’s be real. If you want to be at a high level, you’re going to be paying no matter what. You can’t tell me that there’s a high end guild or player that exist who hasn’t done something to give a few bucks to this company from the start. Even stuff like the Founder Packs should be considered in this category. The real issue is who cares? Why is this a big deal when your design is flawed from the start?

The season pass that they tried to introduce was okay but it was too short and the rewards were crap. The upper echelon of the season pass was transmog but who cares? I feel like this company is so stupid that they’re doing the old “throw every existing idea on the wall to see what sticks” method. I say fuck it. Allow people to pay $20 to have their gear. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s their prerogative if they want to spend the money to play catch up or feel like they can participate in content rather than being verbally abused by 13 year olds who think they’re hardcore but in reality their mommies haven’t handed them their allowance for the month. Fuck them.

Since you didn’t from the start decide to charge customers for a base game and expansions packs, you’ve already screwed yourself because you’re relying on a chance theory that people eventually will become invested enough in the game to start dishing out money to advance their characters. Let me tell you something. The addict only stays an addict if something really is worth it. This game isn’t worth it. The quality of the game, the gates, the queues, etc. all tell me the base system is rubbish because you have amateur hour cosplaying as real designers in doing the worst form of fan servicing I have seen in years next to the Warcraft Movie. Stop kidding yourselves. Your best aspects to the game are a semi-rewarding combat system. The rest of the game is utter trash because there’s nothing original, nothing to really differentiate itself and make itself into an industry leader, nothing really worth buying beyond the character expansion slots (which is again why you want roster bound items at the very least) and a slew of terrible UI/UX that is an embarrassment for a contemporary game. So if you’re that much of the shits as a game company, you might as well just bite the bullet and allow people to pay for the gear to beat content because you ain’t turning heads, not when a game like Elden Ring has virtually killed it in all of these categories (and for that record, I do not play Elden Ring).

Stop trying to be delusional in looking like the so-called good guy in siding with the worthless hardcore audience. The hardcore audience are nothing but a group of toxic people who do nothing to help your game. In fact, all these people do is alienate others so that they alone can be the super star when in fact they are nothing more than a legitimate reason why abortion should not only be legalized but mandatory in many cases.

You’re already on the losing battle in all of this. You will lose to the bots because your developers are simply not talented/smart enough to figure out how to ban them. The bot creators will outpace you just like in an arms race. So the only way to beat them is by conceding to the pay-2-win market, allowing players to buy the gear they need to feel like they can progress again. That way, they start leading the pack, bragging to their friends how now they are the ones capable of carrying groups because of their super gear that they bought and can help their friends get back into the game. You have all the psychology worked out incorrectly. It’s never been about making the boss as challenging as possible in order to sucker people into thinking that they need to grind harder for better gear. It’s about creating the illusion of a hard boss but giving the gear away so that the players know they can beat them so that they can feel they can progress and move on with their lives. You aren’t going to retain people grinding days on days. Instead, you want to leave a good impression so that these people can go back to their normal jobs, feel as though they can have lives but still return to the game at any day they want to enjoy it with their friends when they are ready.

If you have this system in place, the bots won’t exist. You’ll have some whiny little brat who is poor complaining that they hate P2W because in truth they have no money. But you just need to allow the system to be flexible enough from both sides so that both viewpoints don’t feel one side or another provide that much more of an advantage or that one version can still enjoy what they do without it becoming an absolute requirement.

I really don’t understand how people just can’t see this.


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