Are you a bot? If you were a bot, would you even know it? What is it that reliably and measurably separates us from mere emulations of ourselves? It’s a deep and far reaching philosophical dilemma the answer to which is disputed by theologians, scholars and – oh hold on, Blizzard has its hand up. What’s that Blizzard? Anybody who starts lots of games of Diablo 3 within a short space of time is probably a bot? And Diablo 3 game limits are being re-enabled to curb botting? Well that’s that one sorted. Nice run, Descartes, now pack up your stuff and go home.
Yes, Blizzard’s next step in combating Diablo 3 bots is to re-introduce the limit on how many games of Diablo 3 players may start within a given period. Why? Because bots operate by re-running the game’s most profitable areas over and over again, quitting out once they complete a run and then restarting at that area’s beginning. By doing this, they’ve generated enough gold to easily undercut Blizzard in their own auction house.The number of games you can create and the time period in which you may create them remain a closely guarded Blizzard secret, at the risk of botters discovering the limits by which they must auto-abide.
This poses a problem to regular users who, quite legitimately, farm Diablo 3’s most lucrative runs by replaying areas precisely as bots do. It is, after all, a form of grinding and very much part of Diablo’s core design. So surely we’re back to square one? How can Blizzard differentiate between two very similar signals of repetive behaviour?
Previously, under these limitations, honest players would often find themselves unfairly locked out of their game. Blizzard should be seeking to avoid a repeat of these scenes.
“Once this change goes live,” the Blizzard post continues, “we’re looking for your feedback to help ensure that the limit is working as intended. If you encounter the “Input limit reached” message and feel you should not have, please let us know how many games you were creating and why. This information will help us ensure the limit minimally impacts legitimate players while still protecting the game against bots.”
Here’s that post in full. There’s no doubt that this shotgun approach to bot-detection will snag real users alongside fakes. Once the change goes live, what will matter is to what extent Blizzard can mitigate those problems.