About a week ago, news got out that the creators of one of the most popular bots in Runescape had decided to make the most of the reintroduction of free trade by cleaning out the banks of all their customers, using the login data they collected from their client. Through their knowledge of Runescape's mechanics, they have robbed about 75 billion GP's worth of cash and items from an estimated 14,000 accounts.
The first reaction of most players (the ones who didn't have their banks cleaned out at least) was an understandable schadenfreude. After all, these people sought to cheat the system and gain unfair advantages over players who were willing to invest the time and effort to level their skills. While it's hard to say for certain, one can probably assume that most of the items that were lost were paid for with money that was earned by skills that were levelled up by botting.
And while I agree that it's funny that these people have lost their ill-gotten gains, I think people have lost track of the fact that while the short term losers in this scenario are the botters, in the long term we are all losers in this. The current street price for Runescape gold stands at $0.50 for 1 million GP, meaning that the writers of this bot just made an estimated $37,500. This money will be used to further invest into setting up a corporate structure that will make it very hard for Jagex to take legal action against these people.
But that's not all. All the Runescape cash and items that were lost in this operation will end up in the hands of professional real world traders, who will resell these items to Runescape's players at a price increase of 100% or more. This means that like the botters, the RWT-ers now have tens of thousands of dollars in their pocket to fortify their position and defend themselves against Jagex's legal team.
What this means for us, the regular, rule-abiding Runescape players, is that in the following months we will see an increase in botting and real world trading. These services will become harder for Jagex to shut down, and will become much more aggressive in their advertising. More people will bot, and more people will walk around wearing equipment that they paid for with credit cards rather than earned GP.
Although I'll admit it's hilarious to see players who thought they could cheat the system lose everything, we shouldn't forget that the only winners in this scenario are the two groups of people who have been poison to the game for years now, the botters and the real world traders. This incident has put thousands of dollars in the pockets of these groups, money that will be used to reinforce their efforts to ruin this game for everyone.
While we are busy pointing and laughing, they are investing their new-found wealth to make their bots harder to detect, their advertising more obnoxious, and their companies harder to shut down through legal means. In the end, we are the losers in this incident.