Sunday, February 22, 2015

Account Sharing in the Mythic Race

Congratulations to Method for getting the World First Blackhand kill!

However, World First races would not be themselves without random drama. The drama this time around revolves around account sharing. More accurately, it's around the practice of transferring characters between unrelated accounts. Essentially, in order to stack classes at the very edge fights, edge guilds sometimes transfer geared alts from one player to another.

This is a clear violation of the Terms of Service. As well, Blizzard recently made an example of a couple prominent streamers for doing something similar, handing out permanent bans. So naturally there is a call for Blizzard to do the same thing to high-end raiders who transfer characters.

The argument in favor of punishment is straight-forward. Rules are rules. This practice is against the rules, and thus should be punished.

The high-end raider argument is actually rather interesting. They argue that though the actions are against the letter of the rules, they are not against the spirit of the rules.

Account sharing is banned for two reasons. First, it can often cause customer service issues. Anna uses Betty's character and then disenchants all her gear. Betty complains to customer service. The second reason is that account sharing and character transfers are often used for "boosting". Betty gives her character to Anna. Anna then power-levels the character, gets a high PvP rating, or gets a Mythic achievement for Betty. Betty is able to enjoy the rewards of such achievements, without putting in the work to earn them.

The high-end raiders point out that neither of these reasons apply. There won't be any customer service issues. There is also no boosting going on. Before the transfer, there are 20 players. After the transfer, there are the same 20 players in the raid, just one is on a different character.

They also point out that the secondary effects of a "zero tolerance" policy might be negative. Guilds might start requiring that players have and gear up even more extra characters. Or they might start to sport larger rosters, with a much larger bench that is only brought in when class stacking is required. This bench, of course, would drawn from the guilds directly below them, and they in turn would need to poach more people from the groups below. All this just for an extra ten or fifteen people who barely get to raid.

I find myself torn between the two arguments. Rules are rules, and it is essential for the rules to be applied impartially in a game. Yet at the same time, I think the high end argument is essentially right. What they are doing is not the same underlying negative behavior the rules were meant to guard against.

My Solution - Disallow Class-Stacking

My solution, as normal, is extreme. The root of the problem is class-stacking. So let's disallow class-stacking in Mythic. Mythic already has one strict restriction requiring a maximum of 20 players.

Let's add another restriction: a raid can have a maximum of 3 characters of any given class in a Mythic instance. Three druids, three paladins, three monks, three warlocks, etc.

This cuts off class-stacking at the knees. Mythic is already for the most experienced and skilled players, so another restriction is not going to faze them. It reduces the number of alts required by the high end, maybe even making life a little easier.

Then Blizzard can stop turning a blind eye to account sharing or character transfer at the high end. The rules could be applied impartially.


  1. "This cuts off class-stacking at the knees."

    It...actually doesn't. Apparently Boomkins are amazing on Mythic Blackhand, right?

    Well, now you'll be guaranteed to have three Boomkins and no Ferals/Guardians/Restos. You'll be forced to bring other classes to be healers/tanks. Which leads to that whole problem where a tank needs to have a tank of every class and a healer needs to have a healer of every class.

    Your solution makes more sense if it was something like a rogue/hunter/mage/warlock that was amazing, because those can ONLY DPS.

  2. @Balkoth: this can be prevented by not limiting classes in general, but classes per role. In a 20-man raid, there are 2 tanks, 3-5 healers and 13-15 damage dealers. The limitations are:
    - tanks can't be the same class
    - max 2 healers can be of the same class
    - max 3 damage dealers can be of the same class
    So you can have 1 bear, 3 moonkins and 2 restos, but can't have 2 bears, 3 restos or 4 moonkins.

    @Rohan: the whole problem is just a symptom of excess alting, along with gear funneling and so on. Any solution will harm lesser guilds who can't kill mythic first boss, because they have 5 hunters. No, they don't stack hunters, they just have 5 members who like hunters.

    I think the ultimate solution to all kind of problems discussed here is "only your main can take part in current Mythic content". You select one char as "main" and the others are limited to heroic and old content. You can change main only if no character on your account have entered current mythic yet (this resets with every new raid), or if you deleted (not transferred) your old main.

    Sure, extremists can start to have 8 accounts, but at least they pay for their nonsense.

  3. Maybe I'm missing something here, but how do you transfer characters between accounts?

  4. Thought about this some more last night.

    While their intent may not to break the spirit of rule #1, they are in fact breaking the spirit of that rule.

    Character transfers are only allowed between accounts where the owner has the same name. So there is an account in Anna's name and Betty is logged in and playing on it.

    It *probably* won't happen... but lets imagine that Betty get's kicked out of the guild. There's some sort of drama involved and she is pissed that she received the kick.

    Seeking vengeance, Betty now logs into as many accounts as she can and shards all the gear. Anna is "only" losing an alt (presumably)... but we're talking an alt geared for mythic content.

    So yeah, customer service nightmare.

    The example you give, with the two players account sharing is pretty much identical. The original intent of account sharing may have been legitimate in both cases. However the end result is the same.

    Life-ban ALL of them.

  5. Carson 63000, you make a second with the same personal information as your own and add a wow subscription. Then you need to know the secret question/answer to both accounts and can transfer chars as you like.

    The way I see it Blizzard cannot let Method go unpunished (if the allegations are true) because it basically means giving their OK to selling chars.

  6. I have a much easier solution. Use the challenge mode downscale system for mythtic raids. Scale them all down to 630 and don't drop any loot on mythic raids.

    Problem solved. Gearing up a mythtic ready alt is now trivial.

  7. @Balkoth, as Gevlon says, you can switch the restriction to 2 per spec or similar.

    @Gevlon, I don't think that's a good solution. Eve Online shows that people are willing to run multiple accounts. Second, it doesn't account for inflating rosters with extra people with the necessary alts.

    Third, it will hit all the guilds at the low end of the scale who do things like log an alt tank because one of the regular tanks couldn't make the raid.

    Fourth, it would hamper Blizzard from making Mythic fights which require a specific class ability like a Priest's Mind Control. There would be the chance that a raid has no Priest mains, and would be simply unable to do the fight.

  8. "it basically means giving their OK to selling chars."

    *Technically* it wouldn't since there's no real life money being transferred here -- would be more accurate to say it would mean giving permission to gift characters.

    "@Balkoth, as Gevlon says, you can switch the restriction to 2 per spec or similar."

    True. Seems it might get convoluted but, in all fairness, Mythic is aimed at the people who can deal with that anyway. Not exactly a huge issue.

    I don't know -- seems it would basically be Blizzard blatantly admitting they can't balance classes when it matters most. Not sure they'd be willing to say that.

    I still remember watching guilds try to poach like half a dozen mages with Tarecgosa's staff for Heroic Spine of go along with their half a dozen rogues.

  9. I don't know, I'm kind of torn on this. Why are gaming companies for example allowed to restrict my rights in such a way?
    I can write certificate of authority (hope that's the correct technical term) to let a friend/spouse/relative get money from my bank account/do stuff with my belongings/whatever but not play my character?
    I know, this is kind of overblown - but some of these don't make sense at all. It's like "if you're married, you can share an account, also with your kids" - but not with your live-in girl/boyfriend or housemate?
    I know, most of the times it's the grey area and they can't even check it - but it rubs me the wrong way in some form.

  10. "Why are gaming companies for example allowed to restrict my rights in such a way?"

    Because, according to the rules, it's actually Blizzard's character. You're simply paying them for the privilege to access their servers. As soon as you, personally, own the character and the character is treated as having real world value things become trickier for Blizzard -- for example, if you legally own the character, then can Blizzard legally shut down their servers eventually? If you legally own the character with real money worth, it gets hacked, and Blizzard can't restore it...can you sue them for compensation?

    So it's more like Blizzard's given YOU a certificate to use their servers...but you don't have the authority to then grant such a certificate to a friend on Blizzard's behalf.

  11. @Rohan - actually even your solution might hit the low end Mythic guilds somewhat.

    I'm constantly recruiting to keep the team at a level where we reliably have 20 people for each raid, and it's not that uncommon that we have to bring one or two socials or pugs to make up the numbers, and restricting the classes you can bring would make that even more painful...

    Maybe the restrictions could only apply on bosses that had been killed fewer than X times, where X is large enough that no race anyone cares about is affected by serious class stacking, but small enough that super-casual guilds like mine can carry on progression for more than a month without having to make our 4th hunter reroll?