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China-Based Aion Kinah Traders Will Be IP Blocked
Aion developer NCsoft announced over the weekend its new weapon in the war against Aion Kinah sellers and other players involved in real money trading (RMT): IP blocking.
In layman's terms, each computer that uses the internet gets assigned a unique IP and developers will use this designated IP to tag and block suspected Aion Kinah sellers. In this case, the initial targets will be China-based internet users who are creating new Aion accounts for the purpose of RMT activities.
China IP addresses blocked
"In our ongoing efforts to combat RMT, the Aion team will begin blocking IP addresses from China from Account Creation due to high RMT traffic. In the coming days we will closely monitor the effects of this action," said NCsoft in a blog post.
It's a widely known fact that most RMT activity - from gold farming to gold selling and all virtual services in between - comes from China. But not all Aion players from China engage in RMT, which led NCsoft to apologize in advance to "any innocent players" who might be affected when the IP blocks hit the Mainland.
Existing accounts also get a big reprieve. The developer said the initial round of IP blocks will be restricted to account creation services only, meaning "existing accounts playing from a Chinese IP address may continue to play at this time."
NCsoft also said that it can and will expand its IP blocks on a "country-by-country basis." While we find it hard to imagine that China-based RMT operators will relocate to foreign shores, this is meant to assure fans that the developer is dedicated to fighting Aion Kinah trading no matter the geolocation.
Distinguishing between proxies
What about proxies? NCsoft said it can distinguish between legitimate proxies used for improving lag, which it allows wholeheartedly, and duping proxies used to mask IP addresses in order to participate in RMT undetected, which it plans to root out.
"Please note that proxies have become an integral tool for illicit behavior in MMOs, and as a result we do target them when we undertake anti-RMT efforts. However, legitimate latency reduction services are recognized, and a proxy will not be banned unless it is confirmed to be part of unsanctioned behavior," said NCsoft.
Farmers neutralized but at what revenue cost?
Commenting on the Aion IP bans, Wings of Atreia columnist MJ Guthrie said that "with this change, not only will new farmers be neutralized, but there should be a drop in current ones as their accounts get banned."
Guthrie rightly noted though that the IP blocks will likely cost NCsoft noticeable revenue losses. RMT operators do spend cash when purchasing the new accounts that the developer will now be blocking. Not to mention the legitimate players that will be caught in the crossfire.
"Banning the IPs of an entire country might very well cost the company a chunk of future players, but it demonstrates that NCsoft understands how destructive the practice is to the health of the game. Let's just hope it pans out the way we want," said Guthrie.