Jul 022014


Our  team produced an excellent podcast in Episode 54 that covered all of the fun stuff about the world of Nexus as well as a great discussion on how spammers, bots, and hackers are currently impacting the Wildstar game play.  It was great to hear a discussion between players who truly care about the game express their opinions, concerns, and solutions to improve game play through better security safeguards.

I am a security guy.  I have been working in the information security field for over a decade and can understand the frustration with Carbine for not doing more about stopping those pesky spammers, bots, and hackers, but here’s the thing about security: Security is a Balance between keeping the players safe & happy and staying profitable to keep the business up and running.

The Yin Yang of Security and Software

A good point was made during the podcast that Carbine looks to be playing catch-up with getting a handle on all the bad-foo that is is currently going on in the game and that it was most likely released before the polish could be applied and buffed.  I think they hit the nail on the head and the unfortunate truth is security usually takes a backseat when it comes to revenue generation.  Carbine, as any other software company, has a difficult task in balancing the risk-reward ratio for their product.  It comes down to a simple question: Does delaying the release of the game due to an exploit outweigh the reward of releasing the game?  Should Carbine have delayed the Wildstar release date because their security, monitoring, and detection weren’t at 100%?  Think about that for a minute and how ravenous you were to start playing the game.

The Yin Yang of Detection and Banning

Detecting bots and spammers as well as managing the incoming reports of bots and spammers is not a simple question of weight ratio, it depends on how Carbine grips it!  Here’s another balancing act that Carbine has to perform as every spam report costs them a bit of cash to handle and resolve (time = money).  If every player sent a single spam report once a day, every day, you end up with very long to-do list.  Now, it’s true that you could filter out multiple reports on the same player, but you still need some staff interaction to investigate the claims of abuse. For example: 1 staffer (paid $10/hour) and can process 100 claims per day (8 hours) so each claim will cost Carbine…wait for it….80¢.  That doesn’t sound like a big number, but take that 80¢ and apply it to ALL of the claims that come in and it adds up to chunk of overhead.  Carbine, like every other company, does not have the luxury of an infinite number of staffers so things tend to back up over time and that is why they send out those trite “The devs are listening” emails.

All is not lost!  Carbine wants to attract new players and retain their current players so you can bet that they are working hard behind the scenes to improve their Über-secret monitoring and detection foo.  We’ll revisit this topic in a month or so to check to see how the security and the player experience have improved.

As always, post a comment! It’s become unfashionable to monitor your brain directly.

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