Elder Scrolls Online has been hit by a game-breaking exploit that lets players attain almost unlimited wealth in the game. It seems that the bug's been fixed by a new patch, though.
The item dupe bug apparently involved the guild bank. After placing an item in their guild's bank, a player could withdraw it over and over again. The duper could speed up the process by downloading an auto-clicking mod, allowing them to acquire millions of copies of the same item.
"Players in full legendary gear, billions of gold (From duping mats and selling them to vendors over and over), and so much more," one player said on the lengthy Reddit thread about the bug. "Money, items, etc is completely worthless."
This sort of bug has huge implications for the MMORPG, It disrupts the balance of the game's three-way PvP war in Cyrodiil if players are walking around with best-in-slot gear. It also means that these well-geared players will be able to steamroll the most advanced PvE content and easily top the leaderboards for the 12-person Trials. The economy can be disrupted by the flood of duplicated crafting materials as well.
ZeniMax reportedly fixed the issue with Patch 1.0.4, which went live this morning. The patch notes mention the exploit only vaguely, though:
Changed the functionality of auto-stacking in guild banks. You will now have to stack items in your inventory before placing them in the guild bank.
Just stopping future item duplication doesn't fix the issue, though. It doesn't remove the duped items currently in the game. The optimal solution seems to be to ban anyone who used the exploit or at least remove the duplicated items. However, it may be hard to track down all the offenders or their ill-gotten gains.
"[Whether] it is spending duped gold, selling duped items, laundering stuff over multiple accounts, hiding it in pending mail, pending auction house retrievals, dead guilds, etc. You name it," a player said on the ESO forums. "There is absolutely no way to track all major consequences emanating from this. Hell, even the accelerated progression of people due to dropped market prices will have severe negative impacts on the game's future."
Rolling back everyone's progress in the game to an earlier time wouldn't necessarily fix the problem, either. Players claim that the bug in question has existed since closed beta. Relaunching the game with the fix in place would remove all of the duplicated items from the game but the entire player base would lose dozens of hours of progress through such a reset. It's punishing everyone to punish a few. What's more, there's always the possibility that cheaters will find another way to dupe items - making all the hardship of a reset pointless.
ZeniMax didn't comment on this specific exploit. However, they issued a statement last week claiming that they were in the process of banning any cheaters they find.
"Today, we made our first major strike against those who choose to cheat in ESO, permanently banning thousands," the company said at the time. "This is only the beginning of our ongoing efforts to keep the game free from botters, speed hackers, and gold spammers. We want to thank everyone who has sent in-game reports about these individuals in ESO—your reports helped us identify many of the accounts we banned today. Please continue to report any botters, gold spammers, and speed hackers you see in-game, and we’ll continue our efforts to keep them out of Tamriel."
Here's hoping that they're able to root out as many of these item dupers and their creations as possible.