When people talk about “Free to play” titles, there is usually a reference to removing barriers. Removing them from the entry to the game, purchase costs, monthly subscriptions, etc.
While this has a positive benefits in terms of players and accessibility, removal of these entry level barriers means that those looking to exploit a game can just roll new accounts when they get found out.
Come with me into the Past
Let me take you back in time to 2006, this was before the free to play model was fully embraced as a viable business model and subscription was the order of the day.
To encourage more gamers to try out Planetside (1), SoE introduced a feature called Reserves for a period of 1 year. This allowed anyone to create a SoE account and earn 6 battle ranks levels and 2 command levels before they stopped gaining XP.
On the whole there were high-hopes that this would drive more players into picking up the game. However this single act, resulted in a massive influx of persons out to abuse the system. The worst part was that the continued free access granted them the ability to test out different hacks and “so we are led to believe” develop/use tools to achieve various hacks on the fly.
Sadly this wasn’t the revamp that Planetside needed and effectively paved the path for continued exploits and ongoing problems that plagued the game forever more.
Over the last week in PS2 I have encountered a player on three separate occasions who appeared to be using a wall/clipping hack combined with increased damage output, meaning you would be killed by an “invisible” enemy with 1 shot.
In a purely PvP orientated game like Planetside 1 or 2, the floodgates are wide opened for cheaters and trolls to apply their “trade”, thanks to the removal of barriers.
I am rather surprised that SoE didn’t seem to take anything away from the reserves experiment. Even their hacking detection seems to be as lacklustre as it was in 2006/2007, relying more on other players to report these events over actively seeking them out in real time.