Mike Lewis on the War Against the Bots

by Mike Lewis on December 12, 2012

Grrr... bots!

Hello, fellow Guild Wars 2 citizens! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mike Lewis, and I’m the security coordinator for Guild Wars 2 here at ArenaNet. One of my responsibilities is to actively combat botting in the game, and I’m proud to say we’ve been making some serious headway on this front.

First off, I’d like to thank all of our players for your part in making Guild Wars 2 the popular and successful endeavor that it has been thus far. Unfortunately, the popularity of our game has spilled over into less savory portions of the gaming world, and the presence of that element has been felt all across Tyria. I know many of you have seen the impact of bots in the game, and rest assured, we have been watching closely as well.

The bot occupation, I am happy to report, has been dealt a decisive blow.

Over time, we have heavily reinforced our initiatives to eliminate botting from Guild Wars 2. We have been seriously pursuing the botting issue since the launch of the game, and the results of our ongoing efforts are palpable.

In the month of November, we terminated over 34,000 accounts for operating bots in Guild Wars 2. Moreover, we have observed a serious decrease in the population of bots in the game – and so have you, our players. The number of bots reported every hour worldwide has dropped from more than 2,000 in October to a much healthier 20 as of this writing.

I want to take a minute to sincerely thank everyone who has reported bots in-game. Your information has helped us make this tremendous stride forward. All your diligent reporting has paid off; as you can see from these statistics, your vigilance has been deeply effective and is very much appreciated. Please continue to report any bots you may run across in the future—these reports are key to our ability to remove bots from the game.

I’d like to briefly outline the steps that we have taken to shut down botting.

Collecting and analyzing data is very important to us at ArenaNet. Data is the most powerful weapon in our arsenal against bots. We’ve gathered massive amounts of information about the habits of both normal players and automated bot players. We contracted a team of data specialists to help us build comprehensive tools that comb through this data and find effective ways to single out and terminate bot accounts. Automating this process has been a major focus of the ArenaNet security team, and we’re now seeing the considerable fruits of this labor.

Another way we identify and combat bots is through manual observation. Our GM staff is equipped to monitor the game around the clock and detect bots from within the game itself. We have a considerable task force assigned to patrolling the world and eliminating bots, as well as helping us continue to improve and refine our automatic detection tools.

Last but not least, we’re in a good position to monitor and investigate bot reports as they arrive from players. Aided by our analysis tools and strengthened by manual investigation as necessary, GMs are able to react quickly and efficiently to bot reports and terminate offending accounts in short order.

The combination of these resources is formidable, and  we’ll continue to expand and refine our tools and processes as time goes on.

Thank you all for your dedication to the world of Tyria, for helping us to overcome this challenge, and for your continued support in making Guild Wars 2 the wonderful place that it has become. We’ve made great progress in freeing our community from the scourge of bots, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

I look forward to seeing you all in-game.