When you think of scammers in video games, you might think of those people who are out to get your password and steal your account in order to sell it off bit by bit for real world money — which will then likely be used to expand some gold farming empire. But what about those games where scams are actually a feature of gameplay?
In these games, the devs overlook things like one player cheating another during a trade deal. Tricking other players and walking away with their stuff is perfectly okay. And, infiltrating a group to rob them of everything they own is considered next level gameplay. Hell, if you’re good enough, some games — like EVE Online — will be telling your story forever.
Earlier this week, the news broke about Trion reversing one of these scams in ArcheAge, a game that more or less allows just this kind of villainy. A live streamer had been robbed during a trade that occurred while he was streaming for charity. The reason Trion gave for the reversal was simple; the scammer in question broke the game’s terms of service by impersonating one of the streamer’s friends.
Now, let’s get something out of the way here before we get into the nitty gritty of all this. First of all… Okay, if the player broke the ToS, fine. Trion has us there and are well within their rights to reverse the scam. It’s a judgement call… They made it. And let’s ignore the arguments about this streamer being popular and the stream being for charity. That’s not relevant to what I’m about to say here.
See… I don’t think it’s the call I would have made. As a fan of this kind of deliciously evil gameplay, I love games that allow it to happen. But I feel that if you’re going to allow “scamming,” you can’t say one kind is okay while another is not. Let’s face it. In the real world, THIS is exactly how someone might scam you. They pretend to be someone they’re not — and even worse, someone you might actually know. It happens all the time with people trying to gain access to email accounts. You get an email that looks like it’s from Google — or your email provider of choice — it says that you’ve just tried to change your password and that you need to click the link to finish the process. Clicking the link takes you to a fake site where you put in your password and suddenly someone else has access to your account.
Now… If you’re a smart and careful person, you’re immediately suspicious. Rather than clicking on any links, you inspect the email header, see the email isn’t legit and instead navigate to your gmail via the web browser to change your password and check your security settings… Just in case. You’re smart enough to be suspicious and protect yourself.
This is where my problem lies with this reversal. If scams are allowed in a game, then it’s up to the potential scamees to be careful. Here you have someone who didn’t even look closely enough to verify that this was really his friend trying to trade with him. He just click “okay” and went on. I mean… I don’t know about you guys, but I can typically tell who my friends are in game by the way they “speak” in chat. And there is generally some sort of discussion before any trades happen. Even if it’s just, “Sup.” I’m very diligent about anything that involves me handing my hard earned goods over to someone else and am of the opinion that everyone else should be as well.
This may seem a bit harsh to some players. But from a gameplay perspective it feels like the right thing to do. Otherwise, where’s the actual risk?
That said, if the other player had broken into his account… Or stole his friend’s account in order to pull the scam off, I would be all for that being set right. There is a line between playing the hard game and literal cheating. But, in a game where scamming is allowed, caution should be the order of the day… and something like this should be considered a lesson learned.
Another interesting thing of note on this topic is that Trion admitted that — as they put it — the particular policy that prompted this reversal had “not been made public in the past.” To be fair… No one ever reads the ToS. Ain’t no one got time for that… So it’s totally believable that this particular clause exists and has existed. It’s also believable that this same call has been made before and that we’re just now hearing about it because of the victim being “high profile” this time around. But, at the same time, it seems like something that should have been made common knowledge up front, considering the nature of the game.
Finally, I would like to note that despite the fact that I’m not really on board with Trion’s reversal here, that doesn’t make the scammer in question any less of a jerk… But then, that’s pretty much the definition of a scammer, isn’t it?