As you might remember, in summer we released a Team Security update where we talked about RMTers, botters, fraud, and other related topics, followed by a Q&A session in the official EVE discord. We are tremendously grateful for all your attention, questions, reports, and your engagement with us. The questions were tough sometimes, but hopefully we managed to provide some answers.
Summer and autumn have been rather busy for Team Security, as there are always more bots, RMTers, and account hackings to tackle. Your help in identifying these is, as always, tremendously important.
In this entry we'd like to talk about some rules and policies, to clarify and to discuss the End User License Agreement (EULA) and hopefully make it more clear. There are many rumors within the community – and we thought it’d be nice to clear up the more contentious ones. After all, the EULA is so complex that sometimes even we forget where to look for a certain passage – so without further ado, let's jump in!
EULA: "You may not share your Account with anyone, or allow anyone other than you personally (or your minor child, if you have registered an Account on behalf of your minor child) to access or use your Account. Joint or shared ownership or use of an Account by more than one user is prohibited."
- “If I share an account with my beloved friend, the vigilantes from Team Security will ban me at once.”
- “Nothing will ever happen if I share my login details with that guy who I totally know and trust.”
In reality, account sharing is a complex topic. We do not encourage it, but it is also not something we actively pursue. Essentially, sharing an account is not a problem for Team Security until it is. It can seem natural to trust a friend to organize your skill queue when you are away, to get you ready for an important fight, etc – but the more people have access to an account, the higher the chance that very unfortunate situations will occur. Account sharing can go unnoticed for many years and there might be no issues at all. But there have been thousands of cases when the character that was shared for many years became a source of quick cash or got into other's possession permanently. And this is where the problem starts.
Some of you might have been unlucky to return after an extensive break, only to discover that your character has been left with 5 million skill points; some might have discovered it sooner. There are many stories where trust between pilots has been broken, and we have heard all those stories, unfortunately. Team Security will not be able to help you in cases like these.
It may seem appealing to claim that your account was hacked and damaged by hackers – but hacked accounts and shared accounts are very different cases, and we can easily see this difference when the investigation starts. We cannot share more details of how exactly this is determined, but this is always identifiable to us.
To conclude, account sharing is a EULA violation and always done at your own risk. If this ever goes wrong, we will not be able to help you.
Here are some statistics to give you a perspective. Mind that some shared accounts are represented in these statistics. While we do not treat them as hacked, they contributed to the final numbers:
EULA: "You may not transfer, sell or auction, or buy or accept any offer to transfer, sell or auction (or offer to do any of the foregoing), any content appearing within the Game environment, including without limitation characters, character attributes, items, currency, and objects, other than via a permitted Character Transfer. The buying, selling or auctioning (or any attempt at doing so) of characters, character attributes, items, currency, or objects, whether through online auctions, newsgroups, postings on message boards or any other means is prohibited by the EULA and a violation of CCP's proprietary rights in the Game."
- “Nothing will happen if I buy ISK from this cool-looking website and will get a ship that I always dreamed of.”
- “This is just another fellow player earning money by selling their excess wealth.”
- “No one will ever know!”
We've touched on ISK buying in our previous blog, in our last Fanfest presentation, and in the Team Security Q&A. We want to stress once again that there are no legitimate methods of RMT. All the ISKs and items that are purchased on the third-party websites are gained through illicit means. They come from credit card frauds, hacked accounts and bot farms. No exception.
Whenever the account gets hacked and the character gets extracted - all those extractors go to someone who has purchased them on the third-party websites. Stolen credit cards are used to purchase PLEX which is distributed to the same buyers later. Botters create hundreds of accounts and generate ISK by using all sorts of automation. This is how RMT is funded.
Buying ISK is a EULA violation. While we do try to fight with the source and eliminate it, the easy ISK gain seems like a good idea to many.
Many buyers eventually face the complete deduction of the purchased goods (sometimes billions of ISK). Accounts get banned, penalties are applied, and something that seemed like a simple way of gaining an advantage can turn into a massive drawback. There have been many stories where we had to recover illicitly purchased items and relocate them to their original owners, leaving the buyer with neither ISK nor the money they spent, as well as harsh penalties on their accounts.
As with the account sharing, we always see the illegitimacy of the transaction no matter the claims and we are always familiar with two sides of one story. ISK buyers are reported just as sellers are, and all exchanges eventually come to light.
Here is a simple example to make things clearer (because we love examples!). Let's say player A has purchased ISK on the illegitimate website from the seller. We have caught this seller, he has contacted us and confessed to all his wrongdoings. We know why he did it, we know the bot farm that supplied him, and we know all his clients. Player A has contacted us as well, claiming that unfortunately their cat walked over the keyboard, resulting in a purchase that he was not aware of. Player A is not aware of our investigations behind the curtain and the confession of a seller.
Another example: Player A has decided to purchase a shiny character on a shady website. He receives the character, and everything seems to be perfect – except that in a couple of days or weeks, his account gets banned. We inform Player A that the character he purchased (legitimately, he thought) had been taken from a hacked account, and will be returned to its original owner. Even if Player A paid thousands of dollars to a third party, the character still goes back to where it belongs, and Player A is left with neither money nor a new character.
Overall, Player A does not seem to be having a good week.
We cannot stress enough that you should never buy ISK or other assets from third parties, as it hurts your fellow players more than you can imagine, and can hurt you as well. In the long run the momentarily gain might get you locked out of many features and in-game possibilities. And in the end we, Team Security, really want you to enjoy the game and be safe while doing so.
For curious readers, these are the approximate numbers of bans that we have issued from June/July through the end of September:
EULA: "You may not use your own or any third-party software, macros or other stored rapid keystrokes or other patterns of play that facilitate acquisition of items, currency, objects, character attributes, rank or status at an accelerated rate when compared with ordinary Game play. You may not rewrite or modify the user interface or otherwise manipulate data in any way to acquire items, currency, objects, character attributes or beneficial actions not actually acquired or achieved in the Game.”
- “I will just try this super safe program that my buddy has recommended.”
- “It's only a temporarily ban, I can wait it out.”
- “Team Security does not have the tools to prove me guilty.”
- “If someone reported me through bot reports, I will be banned immediately.”
In past months, our team has been prioritizing bot hunting, as our old tools and procedures were in need of a review – and while we have not remade them from scratch, we have adjusted them and iterated on our process to better tackle botting. Now we would like to cover what happens when someone decides to start botting.
Our take is quite simple. We treat it as a two-strike policy:
- 1st offence: 3-day ban and certain limitations for the account.
- 2nd offence: permanent ban.
Macro usage is very much obvious, even if the process is being concealed. The logs do in fact show a lot, and we wish we could share them without the risk of exposing our methods – but sadly, it is not possible. But ultimately any configuration and any change is very much visible to us and our tools.
Fun fact about bot reports: they do get looked at, but the action itself is not automated, meaning that the report on its own won't do anything if there is no violation. We do not issue bans just because someone was reported through this tool; every player who has been reported is checked the same way as any potential bot. It is simply a different way of receiving information, that's it. Long story short: if you are being reported by someone, but you know for a fact that you did not use any macros or third-party software, you have nothing to worry about. The only time we take action is when the report corelates with our internal data and the tools show that something shifty has been happening.
Speaking of shifty things, let's talk about REPORTING:
The best way to report something is still a ticket. At this time, there is no email inbox being actively monitored by Team Security, and we can only take action against bots through in-game reports – or via support ticket, if you'd like to report something specific. If you need to let us know about something shady happening, please send us a ticket instead of an email, and we will investigate it as soon as humanly possible.
EULA: “You may not transfer, sell or auction, or buy or accept any offer to transfer, sell or auction (or offer to do any of the foregoing), any content appearing within the Game environment, including without limitation characters, character attributes, items, currency, and objects, other than via a permitted Character Transfer as described in section 3 above. You may not encourage or induce any other person to participate in such a prohibited transaction. The buying, selling or auctioning (or any attempt at doing so) of characters, character attributes, items, currency, or objects, whether through online auctions, newsgroups, postings on message boards or any other means is prohibited by the EULA and a violation of CCP's proprietary rights in the Game.”
- “They'll never find out!”
- “I know someone who’s selling ISK on a side, and they’ve never been caught, so this is totally safe.”
- “CCP is allowing this to happen.”
- “Selling a character on a third-party website is not RMT.”
- “If I sell my character, he/she will live on when I quit EVE. My legacy stays.”
There is a lot of ground to cover here. No matter how much we talk about ISK selling and RMT in general, there will always be more questions, and we in Team Security welcome them all. So, let's talk about rumors:
RMT is a large problem and no, it is not permitted in any form. Some of the saddest RMT stories in New Eden involve players who start selling ISK on the side, growing wealthy in the process, building a corporation, training characters, forming connections and friendships, and more – only to one day find out that everything is gone. It’s the human factor - people tend to relax when there are no immediate consequences to their actions. And though initially players that decide to get involved in shady business may have no emotional investment in their characters or the game, it can change with time.
We differentiate RMT, as we briefly mentioned in our Fanfest presentation – so let's try to cover these types with more details and examples.
Organized RMT groups are the easiest type to cover. You see this very often – worthless contracts in Jita, blown up rookie ships packed with skill injectors, etc. Those contracts, ships and everything behind them is connected with bot farms, hacked accounts and credit card frauds. Their trail is easy to follow, and the offenders are always banned for good. They do come back eventually with new accounts and new ideas of how to make themselves invisible on our radar, but they are inevitably rediscovered. Many RMTers are banned with tremendous quantities of ISK in their pockets, which also means that involved ISK does not get distributed further.
Next, we have the curious capsuleers of New Eden who want to try and get a bit of cash on the side, selling skill injectors, perhaps a titan, or even beloved characters. While this type isn't as consistent as organized groups might be, this is precisely the type of player who gets into trouble most of the time. Many characters who are sold for real money have their skills completely extracted, which is no secret, but we still want to emphasize it. This is particularly sad to see in the case of characters created ten, fifteen, or even nearly twenty years ago, as they have a very real history and lots of assets that may be worthless on the market, but carry sentimental value. As soon as an account or characters are sold on a third-party website, Team Security will not be able to help, not to mention that the seller also risks the following:
Compromised transactions. There is a high chance that buyers will claim back the price they paid for a character with a chargeback through their bank/paypal/another payment platform. This is more common than you might think and it leaves the seller with neither money nor their character. Team Security will not be able to intervene and restore justice for obvious reasons.
Compromised hardware. Earlier we established that sold characters will most likely be extracted sooner or later. Injectors go to ISK buyers, and these deals can pop up on our radar immediately. Investigations will inevitably lead us back to the player who sold the character, and then the trouble starts. In most cases involving RMT, we will be forced to cut off the seller's access to the game and treat their hardware as malicious, making it difficult to return to EVE.
If we didn’t manage to cover something you’re still curious about, we welcome you to ask questions on the Forums. Mind you, there may be some edge cases where other things are being taken into consideration; we are always happy to discuss these as well, but the conversation might be a bit more brief.
The EULA is dark and full of terrors, but we hope we have been able to clear some things up for you today.
Fly safe & secure, pilots – we'll see you in space!