Bots and real-world trading

Over the last couple of weeks we've had a sudden increase in reports of people apparently using 'bots' to play the game automatically (which is in breach of Rule 7). Firstly, we want to let all our honest players (and that's the vast majority of you) know that we are aware of this problem, and that we are taking immediate steps to tackle it. We currently ban about 8000 accounts every week for trying this sort of cheating, and for a long time that kept things under control. Things have clearly moved on, however, and that is no longer enough, so we are in the process of upgrading our detection and prevention systems. We also have logs of historical activity, so we'll be able to make sure that dishonesty doesn't pay. Please bear with us while we sort it out! There are also ways you can help us, so please read on.

What's happening is more complex than it first seems. What's actually going on is that the VAST majority of the level-3 characters you see playing the game repetitively and not talking to anyone, are actually people from countries such as China and Korea, who are trying to collect RuneScape gold to sell for real world money (obviously against the rules). Some of them aren't even using bots, they are just playing the game very repetitively with a single-minded purpose to collect gold. These people have no interest in playing the game properly, and therefore don't care if they get banned. The final effect is the same, though – it spoils the game for everyone else.

We can (and do) ban them - including using IP bans - but they still find ways to make accounts. We seized 6 billion in RuneScape gold by banning real-world traders last week! Unfortunately, these people are obliged to work such long hours and are paid such low wages that if even a tiny fraction of gold makes it to the market, those running the sweatshops will be encouraged to continue. This is why we are now further increasing our efforts.

So how to stop it? The answer is clearly to tackle the black market. As long as there is the potential to make money, they won't stop trying, even though it damages the game for everyone else. Of course, if nobody spent real world money on RuneScape gold these unwelcome groups would just switch to a different game.

Therefore, we are going to be cracking down HARD on people who breach Rule 12 (no real world trading). We can catch people who break this rule, because we have a sophisticated trade monitoring system and we can trace suspicious activity all the way back to the original bot accounts.

If you break Rule 12 and buy RuneScape gold you are directly funding this problem. You are funding underground gangs who run Chinese sweatshops, and creating the black market which causes this botting problem. Therefore, this rule will now be enforced as a priority, with no second chances. If you break Rule 12 and we catch you, then you will not only lose the money you spent, but also your entire account. Obviously, we will always be careful to make sure nobody is banned in error.

Finally, we have noticed some 3rd party sites, which call themselves 'fansites', but then advertise black market trading sites. This will no longer be tolerated. By running such advertising these sites are directly supporting these gangs, and are thus causing the botting problems they then complain about! We don't consider sites that encourage our players to break the rules and endanger their own users to be 'fansites'. (i.e. They're advertising things to their users, which, if the advertising works, will serve to get their users banned!) We consider them cheat sites, and they will be treated accordingly. True fans of the game don’t encourage cheating!

This brings us to the last point. HOW YOU CAN HELP! You can help us by:

  1. Using the in-game 'report abuse' facility to tell us about players you see breaking rule 7. Of course we're not going to ban anyone just on the basis of a player report and will always thoroughly check them ourselves, too - but such reports still help us know who we should be checking up on.
  2. Boycott any corrupt 'fansites' which advertise RuneScape gold for sale. There are plenty of genuine fansites out there who don't support cheating in this way, and we fully support those sites. Use those ones instead. Also, don't advertise, link to, or talk about any of these corrupt fansites. Obviously, if they stop supporting cheating, you can start using them again.
  3. Under absolutely no circumstances buy RuneScape gold/items for real money! Doing so causes this whole problem, and we'll ban you if we catch you doing it.

The number of honest players still far, far outweighs the tiny minority causing trouble. Now we’re on the case you can be sure we’ll have this sorted out asap.

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