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Elder Scrolls Online director Matt Firor revealed during his "state of the game" address that the MMO's gold spammers and bots are by far the most common customer service complaint about the game.
"The scope of the black market activity accounts for up to 85% of Customer Service emails/calls," Firor said on the game's forum. "Because of this huge influx of contact relating to this one issue, our CS team has been slower to react to other problems than planned – our sincere apologies if you have been held up for a long period of time waiting for CS to respond to you. Again, our goal is to keep this activity away from you so you don’t have to contact Customer Service in the first place."
Bots are programs that put characters on autopilot, letting them kill mobs over and over for hours to accumulate XP and gold even though the player's not at the computer. In some cases, these bots sit at the end of public dungeons and kill quest mobs over and over.
Gold spammers, meanwhile, are people mass-advertising the sale of in-game currency for real-world cash. In many cases these spammers aren't actually selling gold - they're just trying to bait players into giving up their account and credit card information.
"I play the game every day; I see them too, and yes, they drive me crazy," Firor said. "We have had a daily running battle with them ever since the game launched – moving them from global chat, to in-game email, to creating bogus guilds and inviting players – and we continue to take measures to keep them away from players, even when it isn’t always apparent that we are."
He added that they've banned many accounts involved in spamming or botting. The development team at ZeniMax Online Studios is also refining their methods for identifying these offenders.
Fixing exploits in the game is also a major priority for ZeniMax. The most prominent example was the item duplication bug from last week, which allowed players to amass huge amounts of wealth with little effort. ZeniMax removed the exploit with Patch 1.0.4.
"We fixed the problem and banned the accounts of the worst offenders. And yes, we erroneously caught up some legitimate accounts in that ban, for which we apologize – all erroneously banned accounts were reinstated within about 8 hours. Contrary to some reports, exploitation of this bug did not result in destabilizing the ESO economy in any way. We did turn off guild banks to limit the spread of the problem, but that was only until we put up a new version of the game that fixed the exploit later that evening."
Firor added that the team wants to reduce downtime for the game. They've had more maintenance periods than expected but hope to shorten the length of these periods so players can jump back into the game as soon as possible.
In addition to fixing the existing content of ESO, the development team is also working on some new gameplay activities for players. The first major update, which introduces the adventure zone Craglorn for high-level players, will be released on the Play Test Server soon. It will stay on the PTS for 7-10 days before then being pushed to the public servers.