Just a month after launch, Lost Ark is deploying one of the largest ban waves we've seen in a game, removing "over a million" accounts for botting in a single day. No wonder there were complaints about bots, eh?
Following the MMO's wide release on February 11, it hit an astounding 1,324,761 peak concurrent players, which puts it second only to PUBG on the all-time Steam concurrents leaderboard. Those were presumably legitimate players who wanted to try out the free-to-play action RPG, which had already been popular in Korea for a couple years before Amazon booted up servers in Europe and the Americas. But with over a million accounts now deleted, we might see a dip relative to its average concurrents so far, which Steam Charts clocks at around 683,509.
One player said on Twitter that they've already seen a Lost Ark server queue drop from over 8,000 to 950, though whether that's a result of the bans is uncertain.
Botting is a common MMO behavior, and refers to the use of software to automate repetitive behaviors—eg, grinding starter zone enemies to level characters, often with the intent to turn a profit on them. New World is another game that's suffered from botting, but the last time we heard about a ban wave in that $40 game, the figure was 7,700.
Lost Ark being free-to-play makes it a much easier target for botters, who don't lose an investment if they're banned, which partially explains the scale here. PUBG, which is also free-to-play, once reported 13 million cheater bans in a little over a year. At a rate of a million bans per month, Lost Ark is currently on pace to match that, although if Amazon and Smilegate are really so good at detecting bots, at least some of those operating them will presumably give up.
Our team has been hard at work on crafting tools and methods to identify and remove bots from the game. Today (3/4) we will be removing over a million illegitimate accounts that have been determined to be running bots.Complete details below!https://t.co/SQktz7IM56March 4, 2022
"Maintaining a fair and fun gameplay experience for our players is a top priority for the team," according to a statement posted by the developers today. "While we intend to make a massive impact with this ban wave, we know that there is more work to be done and want players to know that this is only one step in what will be an active and ongoing process. Looking ahead, we will continue our work on detecting and removing botting, cheating, and harmful behavior from Lost Ark at scale, which includes expanding our anti-cheat tools, improving bot identification methods, and rolling out more ban waves as frequently as is necessary."
The Lost Ark team also acknowledged that "it is possible that a small number of players may be erroneously identified as bots." Anyone who thinks they were swept up in the million-bot wave despite being a legitimate player can appeal their ban with an Amazon Games support ticket.