Why Amazon may never win the battle with the Lost Ark robots

The Lost Ark has a bot problem. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who’s launched the game since it launched earlier this year, whether they’re a Mokoko Seed Hunter, a gold-breaking tier 3 gear honoree, or your humble casual gamer practicing Level up at their own pace and explore the world of Arkesia in no rush.

Whether it’s high-priced items on the auction house, illegal spam in regional chats from Rethramis to Papunika, or hordes of berserkers speeding through the exploration area without even trying to hide their sketchy approach, they’re all bots. botting, if you’re not clear, refers to an AI-controlled character or account that can go out and complete various tasks, such as upgrading to the max, farming resource nodes, selling items in the game marketplace, etc. Bots destroy the economy and reduce the need for Rewards that require a lot of farming to achieve, and generally give a bad name to the game they plague.

Installation and cheating aren’t unique to Lost Ark. Any popular multiplayer game with a good community has a dark corner full of exploitative salesmen. Since Lost Ark still attracts over 400,000 concurrent players on Steam even today, the market is still ripe for those looking to make money by distributing this stuff. In layman’s terms, this is annoying.

So, I figured I’d dive into the dark waters surrounding one of the major releases in 2022 to find out why the robotics scene is popping up, and whether the actions the folks at Amazon Studios took had any impact on the issue. , and maybe even learn more about the current sentiment of bot sellers. All names remain anonymous and references will be attributed via pseudo aliases.

My first interviewee was a bot dealer who advertised their services on popular cheat forums (often used to get cheats for FPS games). From there, I joined their Discord server to sell the software to interested parties. For Lost Ark, like most games these days, Discord is a great hub for finding and buying these dubious products.

“No bans have been recorded since my cheats were posted,” “Paul” claimed when asked if his service was affected by the recent wave of bans. “Most people were using a Chinese version that sent too many packets to the server, which made it detectable, and people reported the count,” Paul claims. “Even if there was a ban, that wouldn’t be a problem. The bots that do everything automatically transfer the gold to another account, which is then sold on platforms like g2g.com. There are a lot of bots in the game, and I honestly don’t even Know if there is a real ban.”

So, if we take these claims at face value, how can these robots possibly hide from the ever-present eyes of Easy Anti Cheat? This super popular anti-cheat option kicks in every time you run Lost Ark, constantly scanning your computer for malicious programs affecting the games it’s connected to. In theory, as long as Easy Anti Cheat runs next to Lost Ark, it should catch any crap.

Paul talked about how their own software has remained undiscovered to this day, claiming that their software “doesn’t send any malicious packets to the server, and the filename changes every 0.1 seconds as a background process”. Additionally, the program automatically jumps to less populated channels to avoid manual reports from other players. surreptitiously.

Another interviewee, a reseller of the Chinese robotics software used on the Western version of Lost Ark, we’ll call him “Patrick” hereafter, also claimed that the much-hyped wave of bans had no effect on the software they offered. As for the software they offer Are they worried about future anti-cheat measures, they also claim that “as long as you play like a human” it’s ok, suggesting that overly blatant attacks – like speed hacks – put you in the fire when it comes to account suspensions and bans Time.

Aerial shot of Port Annika

So what can be done? If all of the above is true, it paints a dire chess-playing situation for players who want to play Lost Ark honestly. I asked the dealers themselves, in their perspective, what sometimes needs to happen to get tough, and while Patrick was reluctant to comment, Paul was more than happy to elaborate.

“For Amazon to end this, it needs to shut down all platforms that sell in-game currency and find every developer who makes bots in their games. The company certainly has the money to do that, but will it? Most likely not.

“Amazon could try to ban as many users as possible. The only practical way to stop massive bots is to sell Lost Ark to make money, not give it away for free. I have a bot that creates unlimited Steam accounts for free and it creates thousands of them every minute account.

“The bots are still here to stay in this situation, but not as much as they are now. What would I do if that happened? I would spend money on the game — and still use the bots. Of course, I could There is a limit to what can be done, but there is always a way to solve everything.” In an interview, Paul claimed to earn between 300 and 500 euros a day.

The war dancer from the Lost Ark, posing in a fighting stance.

My third and final interviewee is not the provider of the Lost Ark robot, but a subject matter expert familiar with the environment around the Lost Ark robot economy and how it works. They acted as fixers, provided me with links to several other reseller Discord servers, and conveyed a completely different story than my previous contacts. From what they’ve told me, using the Lost Ark robot isn’t as hassle-free as the dealers say.

“All these people are selling the same bot, and it contains a rootkit and a password grabber. If you want to run it, use a virtual machine,” Alex said. “Every dealer I’ve bought from every dealer has the same stuff. There’s really only one bot on the market right now for leveling up and chaos dungeons, and that’s the Chinese bots those guys are selling. When you’re in the leveling area When you see all the berserkers, it’s this Chinese robot.”

You’ll see that if you want to buy this robot, the price is going down — and it’s going down fast. According to Alex, the price dropped from around $90 to $30/$40 in a month, which you can see if you search Discords for a bot reseller account. Our second respondent, Patrick, currently sells robots to multiple customers for $39, which is a significant drop from the previous asking price.When asked why the price dropped, they only replied “You can buy from me because of this [is the] Best price now”.

So why is this so? Do dealers often undercut each other’s prices? Or is the wave of Amazon bans actually affecting demand? According to Alex, it’s a combination of two factors.

“Resellers are just guys with Alipay/WeChat accounts who can go into QQ groups and buy from developers,” they explained. “As more people use the bot, they become more competitive. Let’s say the developer sells it for $10. If I’m the only one who has it, I can charge $90 — whoever For me? But now, other people have found the source, and they’re starting to sell it for $70, less than mine…well, now I have to sell it for $65, and so on. Not only that, Amazon Games and Smilegate are also popular; detecting hackers and avoiding kernel-space anti-cheats like Easy Anti Cheat (EAC) is an ongoing game of cat and mouse.

“If you cheat, all you have to do is patch a trusted kernel driver so you can execute commands in kernel mode. If you can patch the driver, you can mess with the EAC so that it cannot read certain A memory address. In this case, you are manipulating it so that it cannot scan the address space where your cheater is actually running.

“EAC caught this and changed the config so that the hook was somewhere else. Now I can’t confuse my cheats anymore, so we repeat the process and go round and round.”

So, what does this actually mean? Well, that means the risk to bot users is getting higher and higher over time. Even disregarding claims that these bots contain malware, with the constant back-and-forth between Easy Anti Cheat and the developers of the bot’s software, the chances of players getting caught on the web will only increase over time. To keep people interested, prices have been dropping, and more features (such as covering multiple customers with one purchase) have been added to sweeten the deal.

A ship in the Lost Ark, heading towards the horizon.

We reached out to a statement from Amazon Gaming to ask if it had updated its ban data and what future steps it plans to take to curb the ongoing problems. In this regard, the publisher cites a recent blog post, published on April 1st — after my interview.

In it, Amazon states that it has established a new policy that limits the ability to trade on Steam accounts with limited purchase history. While the company believes this will discourage bots and in-game fraud, it acknowledges that free-to-play players may be affected and encourages submission of feedback.

“While bots are still common in Lost Ark and we’re still working on it, we can report that we’ve seen an improvement in the number of bots we’ve seen in the game, and continue to focus on those that are able to stay. Take action,” said Amazon, implying some level of success against those who use and produce robots. I contacted my first respondent, Paul, to see if this would affect the business, but they didn’t respond.

Bots and cheating situations have switched back and forth between developers and evil parties, with regular players caught in the middle. It’s clear that in The Lost Ark, the robots aren’t going anywhere. In the future, it looks like they might come in waves, just as their anti-cheat software has been broken in Warzone, World of Warcraft, and many other multiplayer games currently.

Maybe Amazon can get in on the action, go after the vendor, and file a lawsuit like EA has done in the past against Apex Legends cheaters. It’s sure to be a long and expensive hunt for the party hiding in obscure forums and discord servers. Even if that happens, the tug-of-war is likely to continue, with the number of cheaters surging before being pushed back. For now, there seems to be no end. Fasten your seat belt for long distances.