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Expert opinion

on the influences of bots on the economy and gaming enjoyment in MMORPGs

Version dated
29th March 2012

Compiled by
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Wolfgang Broll

on behalf of
Bossland GmbH
Leipziger Strasse 72
08056 Zwickau

Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Expert opinion on the influence of bots on the economy and gaming enjoyment in MMORPGS

Contents
1. Executive Summary ......................................................................................................1
2. Commissioning and sources of information .................................................................5
3. Introduction ..................................................................................................................6
3.1.

Online games ........................................................................................................6

3.2.

MMORPGs .............................................................................................................6

3.3.

Bots .......................................................................................................................7

3.4.

Procedure .............................................................................................................8

4. The economy in MMORPGs .........................................................................................9


4.1.

The internal gaming economy ..............................................................................9

4.2.

The relationship between gaming economies and the real economy ................11

4.3.

Conclusions .................................................................................................12

5. Bonuses and the entertainment experience in MMORPGs .......................................13


5.1.

Duration of use ....................................................................................................13

5.2.

Gaming motivation and usage experience ..........................................................13

5.3.

The relationship between players and their avatar ............................................14

5.4.

Conclusions ............................................................................................15

6. The influence of bots on gaming enjoyment in MMORPGs ..........................................16


6.1.

Regulations concerning bots in the conditions for use .......................................16

6.2.

Use of bots to maintain and increase gaming enjoyment ................16

6.3.

Use of bots to maintain social contacts ..............................................17

6.4.

Use of bots for stronger identification with the game avatar ........................19

6.5.

Conclusions .............................................................................................20

7. The influence of bots on the economy in MMORPGs ...............................................22


7.1.

Effects of bots on the internal gaming economy ......................................22

7.2.

Effects of bots on the relationship between the virtual and real economies .......23

7.3.

Conclusions..............................................................................................24

8. Critical apreciation of Dr. Edward Castronovas expert opinion (2007) ..................25


8.1.

The legality of bot production ......................................................................25

8.2.

Bots skills and effects on other players ..............................25

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Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

8.3.

Length of use for players and bots ...............................................................................26

8.4.

The influence of deflationary and inflationary effects ------.......................................26

8.5.

Problematisation of bots on the basis of user complaints .........................27

8.6.

Calculation of the amount of loss .......................................................................27

8.7.

Classification of bots .............................................................................................28

8.8.

Conclusions ..............................................................................................28

9. Final statement .................................................................................................29


Signature ..........................................................................................................................31
Sources .....................................................................................................................................32
Glossary ...............................................................................................................................35

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Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Expert opinion on the influence of bots on the economy and gaming enjoyment in MMORPGS

1. Executive Summary
MMORPGs Massive(ly) Multi-Player Online Games are role-plays enacted online over
the Internet in which the player with his protagonist (as the avatar which represents him)
dives into a virtual fantasy world. The object of the game is to solve tasks or missions (socalled quests) to increase the status of his protagonist in terms of the game level reached
and gather possessions, but also to raise his status in relation to other players. Part of
the tasks or missions frequently involves procuring raw materials, producing virtual objects or
defeating virtual opponents. This happens less often as individual players and mainly in
groups, often known as guilds. Online games and especially MMORPGs rank as the most
successful entertaining media products of our time. This is true on the one hand from a use
perspective, i.e. the use of such new media products is very widespread in society and
generally accepted, and on the other hand from an economic perspective, i.e. these games are
generally highly attractive financially for the operators.
As with computer games, the main users of MMORPGs are generally mainly young people
and mostly male. A slightly compensatory development can, however, be observed. Despite a
generally limited amount of leisure time, MMORPGs are often played by their users for
several hours a day every day. The players are also prepared to pay to use MMORPGs. For
this, providers use various business models, especially with regard to long-term customer
loyalty. Due to the entertaining experiences, MMORPGs are mostly highly motivating as
regards use and readiness to pay.
Bots (short for robots) are software programmes for the automated performance of user
activities. In terms of MMORPGs, these are offered by independent providers and permit
the player to perform certain activities in the virtual world, specifically the excavation of
raw materials, the production of goods and the defeating of equally automated computer
opponents regardless of user input. Bots relieve the player exclusively of such tasks as he
could also perform himself as part of normal use.
A major aspect of computer games is the co-called flow. This guarantees that players
are not overwhelmed by the complexity of the tasks on the one hand and that the tasks
and activities to be performed are not too easy to master on the other. Players are
quickly frustrated by the former and bored by the latter. Both lead to a significant
reduction in gaming enjoyment and thus to a qualitative deterioration of the gaming
experience itself.

Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

In order to maintain the players motivation to keep on playing, computer games are
ideally conceived so that the player moves within an area which challenges him more
than before without overwhelming him.
In MMORPGs, it is normally imperative to collect experience and goods or virtual
currency in order to progress within the game. Motivation flags very quickly if this is done
by means of repeatedly performing the same or similar tasks. This is usually based on
inadequate flow control. To avoid this, players use the aforementioned bots, which
then take over uninteresting activities for the player. The positive gaming experience is
thus preserved despite the deficits in the game design and the game is still played.
The gaming worlds in MMORPGs are based on the real world in terms of physics and
economics. A gaming economy can get out of balance just like the real economy. This
happens all the more easily the more limited the fundamental model is. Basically, a
gaming world can only represent a simplified reflection of reality. However, there must
be mechanisms in place to even out imbalances in the gaming economy and to
counteract the mechanisms which trigger them. If, for example, the quantity of virtual
money which can be produced is not limited this leads to inflation just like in the real
world. If, on the other hand, manufacturing is not limited on the basis of the available
resources, this leads to a surplus of certain virtual merchandise and goods, and thus to
a deflation of the gaming currency. A further effect is the loss of the usefulness of
virtual goods due to the price crash on the one hand but also specifically the
introduction of new, more valuable and powerful objects. The interaction of these
factors is also known as mudflation. Unlike the real world, however, the games
operator has unlimited possibilities for defining, controlling and, if necessary, adjusting
the quantity of both money and resources as well as the consumption of goods for
production processes and financial payments for actions and services at any time. This
is specifically necessary if virtual goods can be freely traded and can thus also have a
real value outside of the game.
Providers of MMORPGs sometimes have access to a very complex gaming infrastructure. In
many cases, this infrastructure represents a high hurdle for market entry for competitors. At
the same time, providers mainly attempt to prevent use of the software by third parties
with end user licence agreements (EULA). Apart from the EULA, which according to
current law is ineffective at least in Europe, the legality of this procedure is also at best
questionable with regard to the European Computer Programs Directive (Article 6).

Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Expert opinion on the influence of bots on the economy and gaming enjoyment in MMORPGS

In the expert opinion compiled by Dr. Castranova in connection with the influence of bots
on WoW, it is noticeable that most theories proposed are neither obvious nor provable.
The basis of assumptions and calculations appear to a large extent rather arbitrary or
even contradictory. The alleged calculated loss totals are based on the business model
used in WoW for the game subscription without taking into account that this could be
modified by the operator at any time with very little effort in such a way that the
allegedly decisive effect described can never occur.
In summary, it remains to be said that based on current knowledge bots (unlike hacks
and cheats) have no appreciable negative influence on MMORPGs. Specifically, they
permit players to even out deficits in game design which results in a positive effect with
regard to gaming motivation with a simultaneously increased entertainment
experience. This usually leads to longer use duration by players and thus directly to
increased income by operators of subscription-based MMORPGs. At the same time, it
appears questionable as to whether the compensating of game deficits by means of
third-party software could be prohibited in terms of EULA and general terms and
conditions. There is no direct contractual relationship between the providers of bots
and operators of the MMORPG infrastructure. Prohibition of the production of software
by third parties, insofar as this does not conflict with legal regulations, therefore
appears without basis. Obvious inadequacies in the game design with regard to the
gaming economy appear unsuitable as a reason for market foreclosure by the providers.

Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

2. Commissioning and sources of information


An expert opinion on the influence of bots on the economy and gaming enjoyment in
MMORPGs (specifically World of Warcraft (WoW)), taking special account of the
differences between the real and gaming economies and the possible influence of bots on
them, was commissioned by Bossland GmbH, Zwickau.
The commissioning party made the following documents available for the assessment:

Usage numbers for Bossland GmbH bots in the period from 24/11 to 03/12/2011
Two product analyses by Terapeak on WoW gold trading on eBay (dated 29/11/2011)
Certified translation of Dr. Edward Castranovas expert opinion on the effects of
botting on WoW
In addition, two scientific articles will be made available which are, however,
generally available and therefore included in the list of references as normal.

In addition to the sources mentioned above, the expert opinion is specifically


based on scientific and other freely available sources. These are referenced within
the opinion and listed individually in the appendix.
The expert opinion was compiled with the assistance of Dr. Daniel Schultheiss, Ilmenau.

Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

3. Introduction
3.1. Online games
Definitions for online games continue to be handled in different ways. For this expert
opinion, online games can be defined as digital games which are used in networks with
several players. Several years ago, the differentiation between local networks and the
Internet played an even greater role in the definition. With the massive spread of the
Internet, the bandwidth now available and the resulting consequence that almost all local
networks are connected to the Internet, this is no longer relevant. Solely differences in
latency with data transmission may possibly still play a role here. Digital games played
together over the Internet are therefore generally referred to as online games (see Chan
& Vorderer 2006). Ultimately, there are several broader definitions for games which are
played alone or together with others against one or more opponents (person/machine)
over the connection to a data network (Jckel 2007) or playable with the assistance of
or via the Internet (Schmidt, Dreyer and Lampert 2008).
For this expert opinion, playing with or against one or more opponents is above all of
significance. It can involve both human and computer-controlled gaming figures.
The broad use-related and economic success of online games is unquestionable.
More than a fifth of all Germans over ten years old play online games (see BUI e.V.
2010). A high degree of computer use (see BITKOM 2011a) and the high degree of
coverage with broadband Internet (see BMWi 2010) as well as the associated
intensive Internet use in all segments of the population (see BITKOM 2011b) made
this development possible in the first place. Particularly the younger target group
spends a large proportion of its leisure budget on digital games and specifically online
games (see e.g. Caplan, Williams & Yee 2009, Williams, Yee & Caplan 2008, Seifert &
Jckel 2008, etc.). Their entertainment function thus supplements and replaces
above all other media offers such as television, radio and print media. Nevertheless,
target groups outside of the stereotypical computer gamer are also ever more
frequently active in virtual worlds and online games.
3.2. MMORPGs
MMORPGs are multi-player online games which are designed for a large number of
players (masses) and are generally regarded as a further development of text-based
MUDs (Multi-User-Dimension/Dungeon, see Bartle 2004, Yee 2006b). Any limitation of
the number of players, if at all, is done for technical reasons due to limited server
capacity (see Seifert & Jckel 2008).

Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

Popular and commercially successful games are normally designed for several thousand
or more players who can be online simultaneously (Chan & Vorderer 2006). The
currently most successful MMORPG, at times with more than 12 million subscribers
worldwide (Blizzard 2010), is World of Warcraft (abbreviated here to WoW, see Blizzard
Entertainment 2012).
Complex MMORPGs are mostly installed on the computers used for playing and have a
persistent gaming world with high-quality graphic design (see Yee 2006a); this means that
players register for the game and log in to use it. The gaming world continues to exist
even if a certain player does not take any active part in it at a certain point in time as it is
populated at this particular point in time by other players. The game can therefore be
used for a long time theoretically for an infinite period of time without the gaming
world ceasing to exist. In the gaming world, which is supposedly based on the real world
in terms of its physical (e.g. flora, fauna, physical laws such as gravity, etc., see Chan &
Vorderer 2006) and economic (see Castronova 2006) properties, players interact and
collaborate by means of avatars (gaming figures, see Yee 2006b, Chan & Vorderer 2006).
An avatar represents a player in the game by means of a virtual character. This can be
controlled by the player in various ways predetermined by the game provider (walking,
flying, swimming, etc.).
In many cases, the use of MMORPGs involves paying a fee. One-off payments to buy the
game are just as much a possibility as subscriptions and combinations of both revenue
models. In the case of the main MMORPG examined, Blizzard Entertainments World-ofWarcraft, a monthly subscription is required for online access to the gaming world in
most countries.
3.3. Bots
Bot originates from the English term robot. In the context of MMORPGs, bots are
software programmes which can take over real players tasks. The automated repetition
of tasks can be regarded as bots main use. Usually, bots can take over exclusively the
same activities in the game which a human player can take on. Bots can therefore be
very clearly differentiated from cheating or hacking (cheating by means of greater
influence on the game than the game software allows). This expert opinion looks
exclusively at bots which take on tasks which a human player could also do.

Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

3.4. Procedure
This expert opinion focusses on a particular type of online game Massive(ly) Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). Specifically, the MMORPG World of
Warcraft (WoW) is examined in each case as a media entertainment offering, the
influences of tools on the economy and gaming pleasure in this particular game, and
equally the differences between the real and the gaming economy and a possible
influence of bots on these. For this, the economy in MMORPGs and their relation to
the real economy are examined. This is followed by discussion of the motivations and
entertainment experiences of MMORPGs. The question of the influence of bots on
gaming pleasure as well as on the virtual economy and its relationship to the real
economy is the main focus of these deliberations. This is followed by critical appraisal
of Dr. Edward Castranovas expert opinion of the effects of bots on WoW. The opinion
concludes with a final statement on the central findings and the factual influence of
bots.

Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

4. The economy in MMORPGs


4.1. The internal gaming economy
Most MMORPGs contain living virtual economies which are generally based on real
economies. As with other aspects of virtual worlds, the respective gaming economy is a
more or less simplified version in relation to reality. Accordingly, almost identical
versions of certain economic aspects can be equally observed in a virtual economy
whilst others can be depicted either only partially or not at all. This also applies
specifically to WoWs games economy.
In the virtual worlds, virtual objects and virtual means of payment must normally be
acquired by playing the respective game or by achieving certain game objectives. In
practice, programmed opponents are conquered in most MMORPGs to attain objects
and gaming currency. These activities can be performed repeatedly and often represent
a significant part of the overall game in MMORPGs. This means that these virtual goods
have a certain (initially ideal) value for the players. However, many MMORPGs contain
the possibility of individual trading or even offer special market platforms for this
purpose, i.e. virtual goods are traded against virtual currency.
Specifically, the following transactions are possible:

Bartering of virtual objects for virtual objects


Bartering of virtual objects for virtual currency

Trading with objects and virtual (gaming) means of payment also theoretically gives them a
monetary value within the respective game. This value also actually comes into existence in an
economic sense through a proven supply and demand market for virtual goods (see
Castronova 2006). If players can, for example, freely trade with objects, skills, etc. for gaming
currency, effects which are in part identical to reality can be observed: the virtual price is
fundamentally based on supply and demand and goods can be sold at vastly inflated prices by
cartels, monopolies or oligopolies, etc.
However, there is a fundamental difference between virtual and real economies: In
virtual economies, virtual goods or other resources and virtual currency can often be
created out of nothing without any limitations on the quantity.

Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

An example gameplay with economic components could look like this:

The player kills one or more virtual computer-controlled opponents.


The player receives armour and a certain quantity of money for these tasks.
The armour can either be worn or sold. The remaining gold is also invested in
the avatars equipment (e.g. a better weapon).
The cycle recommences at point 1 with the player turning his attention to
stronger opponents.

It is immediately clear here that the gameplay described can basically be performed
without any quantitative limitation. This also means that the player can create virtual
currency without any limitations by the provider, as the virtual gaming currency of gold is
provided in unlimited quantities in the form of an unlimited number of virtual opponents.
There is therefore no effective money supply limit.
If steps are not taken to counteract this effect it leads to uncontrolled growth of the
virtual currency and thus to inflation of the currency. For example, a devaluation of 92%
of WoWs virtual currency could be demonstrated between 2005 and 2009 % (see Heeks
2010). Admittedly, this kind of resource generation also brings a decline in prices at the
same time, i.e. a deflationary effect in the area of the virtual goods thus obtained, as they
are available in very large quantities and are offered correspondingly cheaply. The latter
is admittedly often associated with a drastic reduction in the usefulness of these objects.
This combination is therefore also referred to as Mudflation (Ondrejka 2004). This effect
is strengthened by the introduction of new goods (such as special materials or higher
quality weapons, etc.) in extensions to existing MMORPGs.
It is generally the case that in case of an imbalance in an economy, appropriate
measures must be taken to restore the balance. Of course, this also applies for a gaming
economy. From the point of view of the game providers, there are essentially two
possible strategies for this: either the inadequacies of the games economy are replaced
by a corresponding better model which rectifies the existing problems or at least
significantly decreases their effects on the game, or trading is correspondingly more
strictly regulated. The former strategy includes measures to reduce the virtual money
supply again and to effectively limit its growth. Examples for the former strategy would
be the raising of virtual taxes (which is, for example, practised in WoW) or the levying of
fees. The second strategy includes the limitation of free trading by prohibiting the
transfer of certain objects, for example,

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Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

(so-called soul binding) or the increasing of costs for things which the player is forced to
acquire, for example from NPCs. This was, for example, done in the Second Life (SL) virtual
world by artificially increasing the price for plots of land on which the operator had a
monopoly.
As individual examples of MMORPGs show (e.g. Dofus, http://www.dofus.com/de),
inflation or mudflation can be kept in check effectively with a careful conception of the
virtual economy in which the quantity of virtual goods and money cannot increase
infinitely.
4.2. The relationship between gaming economies and the real economy
If the game provider either intentionally or rather unintentionally allows but at least
does nothing to prevent trading in virtual currencies or goods with real currencies (RMT
Real Money Trading, see Heeks 2009), the influence of the virtual economy actually
crosses the divide into our real economy. In case no effective countermeasures are
taken by the provider, this means that the following transactions in MMORPGs and
their environment are possible in addition to the two already mentioned above:

Bartering of real currency for virtual objects


Bartering of real currency for virtual currency

Even if the transgressive bartering between the real and the virtual world is not
planned by the provider, it can usually be assumed that players will nevertheless still
perform such transactions. External platforms such as Ebay are then used for this. This
is true for all MMORPGs with very few exceptions.
The phenomenon of gold farming the professional generation of gaming currency for
the purpose of selling it is definitely still a worthwhile source of income for
professional players in certain low-income parts of the world (above all in Asia). In many
MMORPGs this also leads to the personal financial situation having an enormous influence
on the success of a player because they can then possess more virtual currency and better
virtual objects than a player who has to acquire this themselves by playing the game.
This means that the affluence of players in the real economy influences affluence in the
virtual economy. The game economy is thus generally influenced by external factors.
However, according to Kaminski, in 2006 both inflation and deflation could be observed
depending on the virtual goods and the point in time, which fundamentally confirms
the above observations. It is, however, noticeable that in times of high gold farming
activities

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Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

inflation tended to decline. As Heeks pointed out in 2009, it therefore cannot inevitably be
assumed that gold farming actually has any appreciable effect on the mudflation
immanent in most MMORPGs.
From a technical point of view it would be relatively simple for a game provider to
prohibit gold farming or to make it financially significantly less attractive than this is
still currently the case. With most existing MMORPGs, as with WoW, such measures
have to the greatest possible extent not been taken so far. A possible influence on
the games economy is obviously consciously accepted or at least tolerated.
4.3. Conclusions
The basic economic problems of many MMORPGs which originate from the uncontrolled
production of values and the devaluation of goods and which manifest themselves as
mudflation are obviously combatted only half-heartedly by most game operators. They
are rather taken as an opportunity to attribute a decisive influence on the game
economy by certain external factors which cannot, however, be definitively proven in
scientific examinations (see Heeks 2009). It appears particularly remarkable that insofar
as a corresponding influence is assumed it is not primarily eliminated or at least
significantly limited by obvious technical measures (limitation of online time, automatic
monitoring of transactions as in the real world, to name but two examples). This leads to
the assumption that at least from an economic point of view, the overall effects for the
relevant game operators are not so detrimental as is sometimes claimed.

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Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

5. Bonuses and the entertainment experience in MMORPGs


The terms bonuses, motive and motivation are mainly used to answer the question as
to why MMORPGs are used as entertaining media offerings by players. The
entertainment experience is also a major reason for the reception which MMORPGs
receive.
5.1. Duration of use
With the most extensive research into MMORPG players so far, in which more than
40,000 players were surveyed between 2002 and 2009, Yee supplied a deep insight into
the usage behaviour and the playing motivations in MMORPGs (see Yee 2006a, Yee
2006b, Yee 2006c). Others followed him and supplemented his research. MMORPGs
are meanwhile the best-researched form of online games. It has been shown that on
average MMORPGs are used daily for between 2.5 (Schultheiss 2010) and 3.2 hours
(Yee 2006a). Another study specifically of WoW actually indicates 3.7 hours average
usage duration (Seifert 2006). It should, however, be noted that these values are
average data across all players. If the data is examined more closely here an extremely
high variance becomes visible, i.e. a strong fluctuation with regard to the actual usage
duration of individual players. Some players play extremely little, i.e. they spend
correspondingly little time in online worlds, others on the other hand an extremely
high amount. A picture of usage across the entire spectrum thus becomes clear which
on the one hand shows players who play for just a few hours a week and on the other
also contains players who demonstrate usage of up to 12 hours a day (in individual
cases even more).
5.2. Gaming motivation and usage experience
With regard to play motivations in MMORPGs it can be said that, in addition to the social
dimension, above all the progress of the game regularly plays the most significant role (see
Yee 2006a, Seifert & Jckel 2008). This shows how important the players wish for gameplay
progress is and how much this motivates them to continue playing. Motivation factors such as
game mechanics (Yee 2006a, Seifert & Jckel 2008) or transfer (Schultheiss 2010), which
above all contain the use of external software tools (tools), play a subordinate but still
significant role.
There are also numerous relevant studies on usage experience for popular types of
game like MMORPGs. The most frequently used approach in the context of experiencing
the game is the device of a river (engl. flow) (see Csikszentmihalyi 1975), which can be
intensively monitored. In one digital game, a corresponding flow control is intended to
guarantee at all times that the tasks to be performed by the player

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Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

are solvable one the one hand but also represent a challenge on the other (see Fig. 1). If
the tasks to be performed are too difficult and if the player fails time and again, he
quickly becomes frustrated. If tasks are too simple on the other hand, for example
because they are repeated continuously in the same or a similar form, the player is
bored accordingly. In both cases the game experience is reduced and the motivation to
continue playing disturbed.

Difficulty

Frustration

Game flow

Boredom
Experience
Fig. 1: Optimum game flow
Entertainment, thrills and competition can be named as dominant experiences in
MMORPGs. The gaming experience was also examined in detail for WoW. The authors
(Seifert & Jckel 2008) came to the conclusion that the gaming experience can be
depicted with four central experience factors: challenge, joint or shared experience,
thrills and relaxation. In addition, the aforementioned experience factors are positively
influenced by different usage motivations transfer and game mechanics motivations are
especially significant in the context of this expert opinion (see Seifert & Jckel 2008,
Schultheiss 2010). That means that the more pronounced these motivations are the more
pronouncedly the MMORPG will be experienced as entertaining. It can be assumed that
the more entertaining a player finds a media offering the more intensively and longer he
will use it.
5.3. The relationship between players and their avatar
In virtual worlds, especially in games and here in turn especially in MMORPGs, the
player identifies strongly with his avatar, i.e. his representation in the virtual world. The
experience construct of identification or character binding (sometimes also called
character attachment or CA) is therefore especially pronounced with MMORPGs (see
Lewis, Weber & Bowman 2008). The latest studies show that identification and CA have a
pronounced effect on the gaming motivations of MMORPG players (see Bowman,

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Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

Schultheiss & Schumann 2012), which in turn can lead to a more intensive and longer use
of the respective game. However, players only bind themselves intensively to a gaming
character or avatar if it corresponds to their vision or expectations regarding success and
performance. This means that the better the avatar is in the view of the player the more
pronounced the binding to it and the longer the respective game is used.
5.4. Conclusions
To summarise, it can be said that MMORPGs are used because of a series of different play
motivations which in turn exert an influence on the intensity of the players entertainment
experience. An intensive entertainment experience, on the other hand, has a pronouncedly
positive effect on how intensively players use MMORPGs in future.

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Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

6. The influence of bots on gaming enjoyment in MMORPGs


6.1. Regulations concerning bots in the conditions for use
As has already been explained, bots take over the automatic performance of gaming
actions in games without the users intervention. The activities are performed within
the online world exactly as a real user could perform them. It is also extremely difficult
or impossible for games operators to differentiate bots from regular users by means of
their use behaviour. Bots are therefore explicitly prohibited in most MMORPGs,
specifically in WoW, by the conditions for use which players must agree to when they
install the software. To what extent end user agreements (EULA or Terms of Service TOS) are binding for European and German users of international providers software is
at any rate legally disputable. The recognised opinion is that EULAs are only part of the
agreement if they are agreed between the vendor and the buyer before buying. This is,
however, not usually the case with games software. Assent by the user during
installation of the gaming software also has no effect. Whether these conditions also
apply for access to online gaming servers such as that for WoW has not been finally
legally adjudged. It can, however, be assumed that even valid EULAs which would be
equivalent to general terms and conditions regulations in German law have no binding
effect for providers of external software tools such as bots since no contractual
relationship exists between the provider of the bot and the provider of the game.
6.2. Use of bots to maintain and increase gaming enjoyment
A large proportion of gaming for MMORPGs in general and for WoW in particular
consists of performing repetitive tasks to increase the game avatars skills and finding
and defeating software-controlled enemies. The objects are transferred into the
possession of the players avatar by the virtual killing of these enemies. These objects
typically include weapons, clothing, medicine and units of a virtual gaming currency. In
the case of WoW, this currency is gold. These activities are extremely boring but
necessary to achieve progress in the game in the form of increasing your own avatars
skills on the one hand and the acquisition of virtual objects and virtual currency on the
other.
However, the repetitive performance of the same or similar tasks diminishes the
gaming experience and gaming fun and is therefore not desirable from either the players
or the developers point of view (see Bates 2008). Specifically, the ideal game flow is
interrupted and the player becomes bored, i.e. the players motivation sinks rapidly (see
also James, 2008) (see Fig. 2).

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Difficulty
Game flow

Frustration
(2)

X
(1)

Boredom
Experience

Fig. 2: Flow with recurring tasks without (1) and with (2) the use of a bot
A bot can relieve the player of these tasks by continuously performing them even if
the player is not present. In this way, the software therefore takes over rather
unattractive and boring tasks for the player whilst he can concentrate on more
entertaining, interesting and challenging tasks during the time he has available. This
means that although his virtual protagonist repeatedly leaves the ideal game flow, it
appears to the player that he is constantly following the ideal game flow.
6.3. Use of bots to maintain social contacts
As Lehdonvirta & Ernkvist in their report Knowledge Map of the Virtual Economy by
means of a case study on the topic of Purchasing virtual currency for World of Warcraft
impressively demonstrated in 2010, the motivation for players can, however, most
definitely be of a different kind: in MMORPGs like WoW, many of the tasks/missions set
cannot be solved by one player alone but require the co-operation of several players.
Players join forces in more or less fixed groups, in WoW in so-called guilds. It can be
assumed that for a player who is accepted into a guild, the other members and remaining
in the guild as well as other group activities become important in the course of solving
several tasks together. However, it is unavoidable that individual players cannot play to the
usual extent for a certain period of time for professional or private reasons or because of
illness. Their development in relation to experience and thus also the skills of their
protagonist do not keep pace with those of other group members as a result. Since
tasks/missions are typically designed so that players acting together all reach the same or
at least a similar development level, a longer absence from the gaming world means that
the player cannot take part in the group tasks/missions or only to a limited extent (see

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Fig. 3) 1. Whilst such effects are by all means tolerated temporarily to a certain extent
by a group, or the player is perhaps even actively helped by being given objects or
virtual currency (Chen & Duh 2007), this is of course not an acceptable state of affairs
in the long term. Rather it causes dissatisfaction for both sides and often leads to a

Frustration
Difficulty

Game flow

Return of the player

Group
development
level

Boredom
Experience
player leaving or even being excluded from the respective group. It can be presumed
that such players often leave the game completely due to the lack of gaming enjoyment
and the loss of the other players.
Fig. 3: Flow in player groups and discrepancies in experience on returning to the
difficulty level of the other group members following an absence

Frustration
Difficulty
Difficulty of the task

Game flow

Boredom
Experience
Fig. 4: Flow in player groups and discrepancies in experience when individual players
have different amounts of time available to play

In WoW, for example, a certain experience level is a prerequisite for involvement in certain missions

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The alternative here is the acquisition of corresponding objects or virtual currency by


using additional real money. As Heeks showed in 2009, the uncontrolled RMT market as
it exists, for example, for WoW is definitely off-putting for many players due to the
associated uncertainties. In such and comparable situations, bots represent virtually the
only possibility of catching up with the current state of the player group and thus to
maintain both social contacts and gaming enjoyment. These findings can also be
generalised insofar that within groups, individual players have at least temporarily
different amounts of time and thus possibilities for gaining experience available. This can
ultimately lead to such heterogeneity within a group that it will fall apart (see Fig. 4).
This effect can be countered through targeted RMT and botting.
Since players pay to use bots, the scarce amount of time available for proceeding
within the game is actually substituted for money by means of bot use, a process
which is also common in daily life. If a landowner has no time to look after the lawn
or he finds doing so boring, he employs a gardener or uses a lawnmowing robot. This
principle is used intensively in many online games, in both MMORPGs and even more
in social games, and in the case of the free-to-play approach even represents the core
of the business model.
6.4. Using bots for stronger identification with the game avatar
As already mentioned, gaming motivation and gaming experience in MMORPGs such as
WoW are closely connected with the success, experience and performance of the game
avatar. In WoW, the avatars experience is expressed by their level (approximately his
development level). It is possible to increase the level by collecting experience points.
This in turn is done by virtually killing computer-controlled opponents as already
mentioned. A bot therefore makes it easier for the player to reach higher levels in some
circumstances by relieving the player of the task of repeatedly defeating opponents. It
must be emphasized once again that this can only take place via a bot to the same
extent that the player themselves could do it themselves by actively using the gaming
software. However, the player saves themselves the increased amount of time
necessary and can achieve the desired game level with the help of a bot. The game
avatar further developed in this way indicates a pronounced increase in the gaming
experience and gaming motivation with regard to future game use. In addition, players
identify more strongly with advanced avatars which correspond to their expectations of
a high-quality gaming figure. This intensive identification also leads to a more intensive
binding of the players to the game. Numerous mainly positive effects can be inferred
from this for games providers. Since, for example, WoWs business model is based on a
subscription, a longer period playing the game leads directly to increased income

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for the provider.


6.5. Conclusions
The players who ultimately decide to use bots do not do so out of a wish to maliciously
manipulate, as is perhaps usually the case with a hack, but to improve their own gaming
experience. Necessary time and effort is substituted for bot software with financial
means in order to ensure that personal gaming pleasure is maintained. Many games
providers, especially those who work to the free-to-play principle (for example most
browser and social games) but also providers of MMORPGs therefore make it possible to
obtain game objects (item selling), gaming progress or gaming currency by buying them
with real currency (RMT). As Lehdonvirta & Ernkvist (2010) note, the motivation behind
this is not primarily to see real gaming success squeezed out by monetary payments by
those who are financially better off but rather compensation to maintain the gaming
balance (see also Bates 2008) for those players who do not have the same amount of time
available as other players. It is therefore remarkable that providers such as Blizzard in the
case of WoW have at least not yet considered such a possibility.
Especially against this background, the successful technical and partly judicial
enforcement of the closing off of WoW game infrastructure for providers of software
tools (see Glider und Spiro bots) is at best questionable in relation to their lawfulness
bearing in mind the resulting limitation of use potentials for players in relation to their
lawfulness. Just Article 6 of the EUs Computer Programs Directive of the EU,
implemented in Germany in Section 69e of the Copyright Act, is mentioned here as a
possible starting point. As has already been demonstrated, the lawfulness of the EULA is
just as questionable at the very least. However, even if players are notified of validity in
terms of the general terms and conditions before they buy, this would not necessarily
have any effect due to a unilateral discrimination against the end user in excluding the
use of tools in conjunction with the acquired or licensed client software by exploiting a
position which could be regarded as monopolistic in the field of games infrastructure.
In conclusion, it can be said that bots relieve the player of work which they could also do
themselves. They do not do this any more intensively than a hardcore player. It has been
proven that there is a demand for such tools for an at least not insignificant number of
players for the possibilities for maintaining gaming fun which they offer. The use of bots
can thus even positively influence customer loyalty and the use duration of MMORPGs.
Ultimately, providers such as Blizzard in the case of WoW have so far failed

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to introduce a system themselves which permits players to be just as successful in the


game as other players who have more leisure time and therefore opportunity to play
whilst investing less time (and more money). To conclude from this that this should
also not be possible for third party providers to the detriment of these users seems
questionable.

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7. The influence of bots on the economy in MMORPGs


7.1. Effects of bots on the internal gaming economy
Apart from increasing players avatars experience, bots are used to acquire virtual
goods and virtual currency. This is generally achieved by defeating the same or similar
computer-controlled opponents in a certain region of the gaming world. As already
described, the opponents possessions are transferred to the player following each
virtual killing. From the players point of view, these are also extremely monotonous
and boring activities. These are, however, necessary in for example WoW to obtain
goods and gold. In the case of amassing of virtual possessions the bot therefore again
takes over a task which has little entertainment value in order to give the player the
opportunity to spend his normally extremely limited time on more entertaining,
interesting and challenging gameplaying activities.
As Blizzard Entertainment themselves say (see Castronovas expert opinion from 2007)
the economic system is designed for normal or typical players. This is, however, a
very generalised assessment as there is no such thing as a normal player. Average
player behaviour certainly exists which can be expressed above all in the arithmetical
average of the length of time for which the game is used. As with all statistical
information, upward and downward deviations should not, however, be
underestimated. As already described, there are players who use WoW on average for
anything between a few minutes and many hours a day (see Section 5.1). It is by no
means obvious which of those are supposed to be normal players.
Again, in this case, a bot cannot collect goods any differently and in no greater quantity
than the player could themselves within the same period of time, i.e. the effective online
playing time is basically the same in both cases. From the providers point of view, this
does not inevitably mean a reduction in chargeable online time and therefore in income
unless this is consciously tolerated by means of a flat-rate invoicing model as is, for
example, the case with WoW in most countries.
On the other hand, it must be remembered that of course the effect which using bots
has on the gaming economy (resulting in mudflation) is the same as with every nonbot user (see Section 4.1). It only remains to judge the effect that farmspots may be
possibly at least temporarily extremely highly frequented due to bots. This effect is,
however, countered with the argument that more goods farmed there are
accordingly offered for sale (as, for example, with WoW in the internal Auctioneer
add-on) and their price there decreases accordingly.

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On the basis of the argument that bots or their providers represent the cause of a
distortion in the gaming economy, it would be possible to do precisely the same with players
who play very little, play especially often or who play especially unilaterally. This list could be
added to ad infinitum. However, like every supplier of a product, it is the game provider who
is responsible for reacting to new developments and trends whatever they may be by
adapting their product.
7.2. Effects of bots on the relationship between the virtual and real economies
As Heeks describes in his study (2009), prices for virtual currency are declining. This
means that a massive devaluation of gaming currencies against real currencies is taking
place2. According to the study, however, the cause is not bots but the fragmentation of
the gold farming sector: due to the competition (higher supply) and the absence of
further large cost-saving potentials, it is no longer possible to skim off profits of the
same magnitude as in the past.
It remains to be examined whether, and if necessary, what effect the use of bots has on
this. According to Lehdonvirta & Ernkvists study (2010), the price for gaming currency on
offer by RMT (illustrated with WoW gold as an example) is made up of income for the
professional player or players, the costs of the game studios and also the fees of several
intermediaries. The game studios costs here include subscription fees for gold farming
and the provision of infrastructure, etc.
It could therefore easily be concluded that users perform a simple economic calculation
of the costs for the reduced time and effort in the game. The result is then the decision
to use a bot or to obtain the goods or gaming currency in the form of RMT. This could
further increase competition in the gold farming sector and thus the devaluation of the
gaming currency (against real currencies). The cause would not, however, lie directly
with the bots and those who use them but classic economic effects (sinking price with
sinking demand) of the real economy.
For players who wish to acquire a certain object or a certain amount in the virtual
currency or wish to increase their protagonists level of experience, the benefit is also
relevant in addition to the cost. On the one hand, the gaming characters experience (level)
cannot be increased exclusively by using gold. On the other hand, the greater contract
2

Whilst the prices for the virtual WoW gold currency were around up to 300 for 300,000 WoW gold units in August
2011, the price had sunk to below 100 by March 2012, which would mean an inflation rate of
more than 200% for WoW gold within just a few months.

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certainty can, however, be a decisive factor for bot users when making their decision.
Due to the fragmented gold farming market (see Heeks 2009), there are few recognised
and reliable dealers. Contact to small providers, however, often exists only via a
corresponding non-descript website. Bot providers, on the other hand, were often
based in the past in countries which came significantly closer to the wishes of most
players for sound business practice.
However, whether and how players make a decision for or against using bots or for or
against RMT of WoW gold is not known. It is also possible that due to unknown factors a
movement from gold purchases from commercial providers towards individual bot use
will take place. This effect is caused by players normal economic calculations and the
aforementioned weaknesses in the virtual economy which cause or make possible the
aforementioned effects.
It is, however, not to be expected in any use scenario that the price for virtual currency
and goods on the RMT market will sink further arbitrarily as the costs for the period of
use and the infrastructure always accrue. In conclusion, the effect of bots on the
relationship between the virtual and the real economy can only be mentioned
speculatively according to the current state of research.
7.3. Conclusions
As illustrated, bots have an effect on the economy within MMORPGs in the same way
as real players. This is logical as they perform exactly the same tasks as a real player. In
relation to the widespread mudflation this means, however, that they neither
appreciably accelerate nor decelerate nor otherwise change this as far as can be
postulated without extensive empirical investigation.
In contrast, it can be conjectured that the use of bots can further accelerate consolidation
in the gold farming sector. However, it remains to be seen whether this external
relationship of the gaming currency is only relevant for gold farmers, their customers and
potential botters. Possible effects were also not the cause of bot use. All other players
who use neither bots nor acquire gold from the RMT market are initially not affected.

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8. Critical appreciation of Dr. Edward Castronovas expert opinion


(2007)
In the expert opinion entitled Effects of botting on World of Warcraft (original dated
13/11/2007; certified translation dated 04/11/2001), Dr. Edward Castronova deals with
the use of the Glider bot and its influence on the business activities of Blizzard
Entertainment. Whilst the expert opinion seems to follow an apparently consistent and
coherent line of argument, on more intensive examination a series of contradictions
and imprecisions become visible which cause significant doubts about the expert
opinions results and conclusions, as will be shown in the following.
8.1. The legality of bot production
In the conclusion of his expert opinion, Dr. Castranova writes that Blizzard
Entertainments and WoWs conditions for use prohibit Glider and also all other kinds of
bot. This statement is false or at least inapplicably formulated in this form. A software
producers conditions for use basically cannot prohibit the production of software by
another provider.
The production of certain software could only be prohibited judicially as is the case in Europe
for software which bypasses copy protection. However, Blizzard Entertainment prohibits the
use of bots by its players in its conditions for use. This is, however, a decisive difference
because this makes clear that the producers of bots are not and may not be limited in their
entrepreneurial activities by Blizzard. Regardless of this, the applicability of the conditions for
use still remains questionable, at least for European and German users, as already stated.
8.2. Bots skills and effects on other players
The expert opinion concludes in general terms that bot users climb their gaming figures
levels significantly faster and that other players tend to get frustrated as a result. This is
factually inaccurate because the bot can act neither faster nor differently to a player. In
addition, a significantly higher use period than frequent players (see below) cannot
necessarily be assumed. In general, players are certainly familiar with the fact that there
are other players who develop faster and also slower. The successful dissemination of
the free-to-play model in recent years means that players are also used to players being
able to buy gaming advantages and time savings by using gold.

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8.3. Length of use for players and bots


The expert opinion (see also below) argues that regular players would only play
approximately two hours a day whilst bots are in operation 24 hours a day in other
words continuously. The conclusion drawn from this is that bot users would have
finished playing the game after a twelfth of the time (2/24 = 1/12). Apart from the fact
that the figures for average length of use are considerably below those established in
other studies (see Schultheiss 2010 and Yee 2006a), it is proven that there are players
who spend 12 hours and more every day in WoW. Here, the factor already shrinks to a
factor of . Even if there are currently no results available as to how long bots are in
use on average per day it can be assumed that insofar as bots are used by players they
do not run continuously (i.e. significantly less than 24 hours per day). This may partly
be because the relevant computer is temporarily used by other users, is currently not
switched on, etc. But even if these difficult-to-quantify effects are disregarded, a player
will want to play themselves for a certain amount of time without bots to experience
the fun of the game because as has been shown, this is the primary motivation for
players to use bots.
8.4. The influence of deflationary and inflationary effects
The expert opinion describes two effects of botting: on the one hand, an excess supply of
goods with the corresponding decline of the internal game prices, i.e. deflation. It is
argued that this would no longer allow normal players to receive a corresponding
countervalue in the gaming currency for their produced or hard-won goods. On the
other hand, an excess supply of virtual gaming currency (gold) with a corresponding
increase of the internal game goods prices, i.e. inflation. Here it is argued that players
would no longer be able to afford the corresponding goods. However, since both effects
are mutually opposing, it remains to be seen whether they actually have any appreciable
effect overall. The fact that the fluctuation in the number of active players can also have a
much greater influence on the value of virtual money and goods is also disregarded. It is
also postulated that the sale value of objects has been fixed by Blizzards and that the
gaming economy would only function on this basis. If this were the case, there would be
no free trading system in WoW in which players can themselves negotiate the price for
objects but a form of centralised planned economy in which prices for individual goods would
be defined centrally (by the game provider). The economy in WoW was, however,
consciously designed so that prices can initially develop freely according to supply and
demand, even though it is of course possible for the game operator to influence the
quantity of money and resources at any time by introducing new sources of money (e.g.
the WoW Daily Quests)

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or new (more powerful) objects are introduced which need new or different raw
materials (see also Heeks 2009).
8.5. Problematisation of bots on the basis of user complaints
Furthermore, the expert opinion lists 300 thousand complaints about bots and time and
effort expended by Blizzard in relation to checks and pursuance. It must be assumed
that most players are familiar with the existence and the basic function of bots. As is
further described in the expert opinion, it is virtually impossible to differentiate between
bots and players whose method of playing is similar to a bot. It therefore remains
unclear whether the complaints can actually be attributed to botting or whether it is
partly players who are dissatisfied with the game including other players for other
reasons and expressing this here. Overall, it should be recorded that with 12 million
users (Blizzard 2010), the number corresponds to just 2.5% of users, assuming a
maximum of one single message per user (which is certainly a very conservative
estimate). The conclusions listed are therefore to be regarded as at least extremely
speculative.
8.6. Calculation of the amount of loss
The calculation of the monetary loss due to bot users ($105 per user) does not seem to
be sufficiently substantiated.

The basis of the calculation appears to be arbitrary. According to the findings of various
studies (see above), the proven average use period of WoW lies above the two hours a
day mentioned and not proven by Castronova. It is also unclear whether the bot users
are average, occasional or frequent players if they were to take over the constantly
recurring tasks in the game themselves. This knowledge would, however, be necessary
for a factually correct calculation.
Likewise, the theory that players cancel their subscription immediately on reaching
the current highest level also appears more than doubtful. The contrary effect
should rather be assumed because the gaming fun is demonstrably much more
intense with a strong gaming character (see Section 5.3) and players continue to
use WoW. This would make comparable income for the operator as would be the
case with a non-bot user.
The loss total of $20 million stated which also contains further costs for customer
support, monitoring and development apart from the fictive share of bot users which is
demonstrably factually incorrect is in any case doubtful, since neither partial costs nor
the basis for the calculation have been disclosed.

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Even assuming that Blizzard would actually suffer such a loss due to the user
behaviour described, it remains open as to why in this case Blizzard has not adapted
the invoicing model accordingly: a simple change in the invoicing model for the
subscription (for example on an hourly basis) would have reduced the alleged loss to
zero and would simultaneously have a positive aspect for so-called power players.
Blizzard does in fact already use such an invoicing model in China, i.e. it has already
been implemented from a technical point of view and could therefore be extended
to other countries with relatively little effort.

8.7. Classification of bots


Ultimately, Dr. Castronova appears very negatively prejudiced against bots in his expert
opinion. Amongst other things, he speaks of a bot with its annoying and destructive
behaviour. Annoyances and destruction in any shape or form can in no way be
associated with bot software such as Glider, Honorbuddy or Gatherbuddy. These bots
can only influence the virtual world in the same way as a real human player no
differently and also no faster. Such bots should not be mistaken for cheats or cracks
where the client software is deliberately manipulated to acquire skills in the game which
other players do not have (teleportation, flying, invulnerability, etc.), to do things faster
than other users can or to directly manipulate virtual amounts of money.
8.8. Conclusion
The expert opinion in question seems at least for the German market to start from
false assumptions and throws out unprovable theories and loss figures. This creates the
overall impression that the author is unfortunately not quite objective. The statements
and conclusions are therefore fundamentally questionable.
In addition, the calculated loss total is based on an invoicing model which Blizzard has at
least in China already replaced with one (see Daeity 2010) with which it is totally
impossible for this theoretical and unproven reduced revenue to accrue. That this has
not happened in other countries despite the existing software solutions makes it appear
probable that the game operator expects to gain no appreciable increase in revenue
from this. This permits the reverse conclusion that it can be assumed that there are no
appreciable losses due to gold farming and bots in these countries, since otherwise the
motivation for the extension of the invoicing model would have to be extremely high.

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9. Final statement
The aim of this expert opinion was to investigate the influences of tools on the
economy and gaming enjoyment in MMORPGS (specifically World of Warcraft), paying
particular consideration to the differences between the real and the gaming economy
and the possible influence of bots on them. The results of this analysis are summarised
below.

WoWS virtual economy is based on real economies but has serious


weaknesses (above all an unlimited money supply which leads to mudflation, a
special variant of (hyper-) inflation).
Fundamental deficits in WoWS economy have not been rectified by Blizzard.
This particularly applies to the missing limitation of money supply growth and the
resulting (hyper-) inflation.
Rapid game progress motivates WoW players and encourages game use for a
longer period of time.
Using a bot can permit game progress to the same realistic degree as
other players who play more intensively can have. Here the necessary
expenditure of time is, however, substituted with a financial contribution.
Bots can rectify deficits in game design, especially in the area of flow
control, which improve gaming enjoyment and the gaming experience
for the player.
Prohibiting the rectification of game deficits by the use of external software
tools in the EULA or terms and conditions appears to be a unilateral exploitation
of the contract.
Blizzard itself offers no such tools but attempts to isolate its own game
infrastructure from other software providers through the creation of market
entry barriers and by judicial means. This appears to directly contradict
relevant legal regulations (e.g. the European Computer Programs Directive).
Bots are typically used exclusively to the same extent as human players could be.
Extremely deviant use patterns are not to be expected.
The attachment to an advanced game avatar is stronger than to a weaker one.
A strong attachment to the avatar increases gaming motivation and the entertainment
experienced in the game. This leads to longer periods of use.
The use of external tools can have a positive influence on gaming motivation, the gaming
experience and WoW players use intensity.

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Players who use bots experience more pronounced gaming pleasure and play WoW longer.
Bots as external tools have no appreciable negative influence on the virtual
economy in WoW.
Gold farming in MMORPGs is a main cause of the devaluation of the virtual currency
against real currency. This aspect is, however, of no relevance for players who neither
want to buy or sell virtual currency. Blizzard takes no technical measures against gold
farming although this appears possible.
A general inflation of the game currency due to bot activities cannot be assumed.
Whilst an increased money supply does indeed encourage inflation, the larger supply
of virtual goods counteracts it so that in some MMORPGs deflation can be observed.
Other aspects mainly come into consideration as the cause of so-called mudflation,
specifically the unregulated increase in virtual currency and goods in itself.
The assumptions made in Edward Castranovas expert opinion cannot be confirmed
or can even be disproved to some extent by the current data situation. The conclusions
drawn there are therefore to be regarded as questionable. Even the alleged direct
financial loss could be completely rectified by Blizzard with a modest adjustment of the
invoicing model.
Blizzard Entertainment suffers no directly or indirectly quantifiable loss through
the use of bots.

After deeper analysis of the MMORPG game type in general, of World of Warcraft in
particular, of the economy, gaming motivation and gaming experience and also their
mutual influences on each other, it remains to note that no direct negative influence
on the economy of World of Warcraft attributable to bots can be proven; on the
contrary, a positive influence on long-term gaming motivation and thus longer periods
of use of the game itself is to be expected.

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Signature
This expert opinion was compiled impartially and in all conscience on the basis of the
sources listed.

Erfurt, 28th March 2012


Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Wolfgang Broll
Professor for virtual worlds and
digitale games at the University of
Ilmenau

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Sources
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Ackermann, S.; W nderlich, N.V.; von
Wangenheim, F.: Geschftsmodelle in virtuellen Spielewelten, Mnchen, 2009

Bartle 2004

Bartle, R.A.: Designing virtual worlds. Indianapolis, Ind [New Riders Pub.]
2004

Bates 2004

Bates, B.: Game Design, Course Technology PTR; 2 edition, 2004

BITKOM 2011a

BITKOM: Computernutzung nimmt weiter zu.


http://www.bitkom.org/de/presse/8477_67616.aspx, 2011

BITKOM 2011b

BITKOM: Erstmals mehr als 50 Millionen Deutsche im Internet.


http://www.bitkom.org/de/presse/8477_67654.aspx, 2011

Blizzard 2010

Billard Entertainment: Pressemeldung: Chinese release of Wrath of the Lich


King pushes MMO to latest milestone (W oW berschreitet 12 Mio.
Nutzergrenze), s.a.http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2010-10-07-world-ofwarcraft-subscribers-pass-12-million, 2010

Blizzard 2012

Blizzard Entertainment: Activision Blizzard Announces Record Fourth Quarter


and Calendar Year 2011 Earnings.
http://investor.activision.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=647732, 2012

BMWi 2011

BMWi: Breitbandportal des BMWi - Breitbandatlas. http://www.zukunftbreitband.de/BBA/Navigation/breitbandatlas.html, 2011

Bowmann, Schultheiss, & Schumann 2012


Bowman, N.D.; Schultheiss, D.; Schumann, C.:
"I'm Attached, And I'm A Good Guy/Gal!": How Character Attachment
Influences Pro- and Anti-Social Motivations To Play MMORPGs. In:
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking,
http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cyber.2011.0311, 2012

BUI 2010

BUI - Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware e.V.: Spielplatz


Internet 2010. Marktzahlen zu Online-Abonnements, Premium-Accounts und
virtuellen Zusatzinhalten, 2010

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Behavior, 25 (6), 2009, S. 13121319

Castranova 2006 Castronova, E.: Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games.
University Of Chicago Press, 2006

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Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

Chan & Vorderer 2006 Chan, E.; Vorderer, P.: Massively Multiplayer Online Games. In: Vorderer,
P.; Bryant, J. (Hrsg.): Playing video games. Motives, responses, and
consequences. Mahwah, NJ [Lawrence Erlbaum] 2006, S. 7790

Chen & Duh 2007 Chen, V.H. & Duh, H.B.; Understanding social interaction in world of warcraft.
In Proceedings of the international conference on Advances in computer
entertainment technology (ACE '07). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 21-24.
http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1255047.1255052, 2007

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Csikszentmihalyi 1991 Csikszentmihalyi, M.: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.


Harper Perennial; 1991

Daeity 2010

Facts about W oW China, http://daeity.blogspot.de/2010/08/world-of-warcraftchina-interesting_17.html

Fullerton 2008

Fullerton, T.: Game Design Workshop, Morgan Kaufmann, 2

Heeks 2009

Heeks, R.: Understanding "Gold Farming" and Real-Money Trading as the


Intersection of Real and Virtual Economies. Journal of Virtual Worlds
Research, Vol 2, No 4, 2009

Jckel 2007

Jckel, S.: Onlinespiele. Eine konzeptuelle Abgrenzung verschiedener


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Kaminski, S.: The Impacts of Farming and Crafting on MMO Economics.


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nd

Ed., 2008

Lehdonvirta & Ernkvist 2010


Lehdonvirta. V.; Ernkvist, M.: Converting the Virtual Economy into
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Ondrejka 2004

Ondrejka, C.R.; Living on the Edge: Digital W orlds Which Embrace the Real
World (June 5, 2004). http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.555661, 2004

Schell 2008

Schell, J.: The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses, Morgan Kaufmann,
2008

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Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

Schmidt, Dreyer & Lampert 2008


Schmidt J.; Dreyer, S.; Lampert, C.: Spielen im Netz. Zur
Systematisierung des Phnomens "Online-Games". Hamburg [Hans-BredowInst. fr Medienforschung an der Univ. Hamburg] 2008

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Ilmenau] 2010

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Seifert, R.: Flow in Azeroth: Eine Analyse von Spielerfahrungen in


MMO(RP)Gs am Beispiel von World of Warcraft, 2006

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zur Nutzung von Computergames 2008, S. 297312

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Yee 2006a

Yee, N.: The Demographics, Motivations and Derived Experiences of Users of


Massively-Multiuser Online Graphical Environments. In: Presence:
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Yee, N.: The Psychology of Massively Multi-User Online Role-Playing Games.


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Environments, 2006b, S. 187207

Yee 2006c

Yee, N.: Motivations for Play in Online Games. In: CyberPsychology &
Behavior, 9 (6), 2006c, S. 772775

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Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

Glossary
AGB

General terms and conditions: pre-formulated contractual conditions. The


corresponding regulations and prescriptions are regulated Europe-wide but
individually implemented in individual EU countries. In Germany, this is done
by the General Terms and Conditions Act.

Bots

Abbreviation for robot. Bots are computer programmes which can perform a
recurring task in the background without the intervention of the user. In
online multi-player computer games, bots partly take over control of human
players avatars. They are also used to control NPCs (non-player characters).

CA

Character Attachment: attachment of a player to the protagonist of the


game. Especially pronounced with virtual worlds such as MMORPGs, where
each user is represented by their personal avatar whose appearance and
characteristics can be customised.

Cheat

Use of external programmes to influence the game flow in a non-regular,


i.e. game-conform manner to gain a personal advantage.

EULA

End User License Agreement.


Licence agreement to use software. Is mostly displayed during software
installation and must be explicitly confirmed. In this case in Germany not
binding for the purchaser as it does not form part of the contract. Insofar as
they were made available to the purchaser before buying, they correspond
to the General Terms and Conditions and are subject to the appropriate
regulations.

Free-2-Play-Modell Also known as F2P. Free use of games and game content. Usually
obtained via download. The business model is based on interspersing advertising
and buying game items or other additional offers (e.g. further levels, extended
functionality, etc.). Purchasing is similar to RMT but in contrast the game
provider is the sole vendor.
Gold Farming The professional generation of a gaming currency for the purpose of
its sale against real currency.
Hack

In the context of computer games, a hack is the exploitation of an access


type not originally foreseen by the manufacturer to manipulate the game or
perform extended functionality. It is similar to a Cheat

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Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

MMORPG Massive(ly) Multi-Player Online Role Playing Game describes a role-play game
playable via the Internet. These sometimes have several million users,
although usually only a much smaller share of players is active. The player is
represented by an avatar in a virtual world. The game is managed and game
persistence is ensured by means of several servers. Users connect to this
player infrastructure via corresponding client software on their computer,
games console or mobile device. Depending on the licence model there are
one-off fees for the acquisition of the client software and possibly regular
payments for use.
MUD

Multi-User Dungeon. Multi-user games which, viewed historically, can be


regarded as forerunners of todays MMORPGs. Unlike MMORPGs, MUDs are,
however, purely text-based.

Mudflation

Artificial word constructed from MUD and inflation. Describes the special
form of loss in value as it occurs in in MUDs or nowadays mainly in
MMORPGs. The unlimited influence of virtual currency and virtual goods
mean that both decline in value. Goods additionally often lose their
usefulness. The effect is accelerated in particular by games in which
extensions with new, more powerful equipment are introduced which causes
the value of other goods to drop rapidly and earlier missions can be
performed with significantly less time and effort.

NPC

Non-player character. In computer games a computer-controlled game figure

Quest

Task or mission which must be mastered in a game by one or more players.

RMT

Real Money Trading: The sale of a MMORPGs virtual goods against real
money. RMT can be permitted by a MMORPG operator or even supported
with internal trading platforms or also explicitly prohibited (at least by means
of the EULA). As long as the game provider themselves offers goods and services
here there are crossovers to free- to-play.

TOS

Terms of Service, see also: EULA

WoW

Common abbreviation for the World of Warcraft Massive Multi-player Online Game
from Blizzard Entertainment. A monthly fee is levied for use

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Prof. Dr. W. Broll

Gutachten zum Einfluss von Bots auf Spielspa und konomie in MMORPGS

According to Blizzard, the game has had more than 12 million


subscribers.

37