If you stumble upon a chest full of high level loot which respawns every so often, would you revisit it? Now ask yourself if you think this is technically cheating.
That’s the situation happening with Star Wars: The Old Republic right now. If players below level 40 visit the planet of Ilum, they’ll find chests containing valuable, high level loot. And the process can be repeated apparently. Meanwhile, the helper monkeys over at Bioware have ways of detecting this kind of frequent looting and have temp-banned players who try to abuse this exploit on grounds that what they’re doing can damage the in-game economy.
The thing is though, there aren’t any real restrictions to this act. It’s one thing to illicitly gain access to an area containing valuable loot and taking it, but it’s another when you practically take the cookie jar off the high shelf and put it on the end table in the living room.
Bioware has a defense ready and the issue isn’t clearly black and white.
“It’s important to remember that our Terms of Service team is extremely careful and thorough in their investigation of any potential exploit or unusual activity in-game. Working closely with the development team and using extensive metrics based on player activity, they are able to determine what is normal player activity, what is unusual and what is exploiting. Our goal is always to ensure a fair game experience for all players while also protecting the rights of individuals, and if people are disrupting the play experience for others action will be taken.”
On one hand, the developer should simply restrict the loot if it’s important but they clearly aren’t. On the other hand, the developer has a point since we’re talking about an MMO, a medium which isn’t static but ever changing. And making one of its element even more volatile then everything else could throw the balance of nature out of whack. The ball is in Bioware’s court, so I hope they make the smart decision.