While anyone familiar with the Elder Scrolls series of games wouldn’t bat an eye at the thought of a bug, a recent exploit has given players of the popular new MMO The Elder Scrolls Online the ability to duplicate items and make infinite amounts of in-game currency. The bug involves depositing an item into your guild bank and then gaining the ability to withdraw it an infinite amount of times. To combat this issue Zenimax Online has temporarily shut down the guild bank feature pending a fix for the problem.
Even though a fix is on the way, the bug may well have already ruined the game’s in-game gold economy. Even if just a few players had abused this exploit, it could have a devastating result on the balance of gold in the economy. Considering there are reports that the bug has been around since launch, and possibly earlier, you can bet a lot of players have used this process to gain untold riches. Also, the fact that this bug can be used to create some of the most powerful gear, not only is the balance of gold tilted, but the balance of power as well, and in a game that has a central PvP theme, this could be a big problem.
Zenimax has a larger problem once the bug is fixed however. Once released, they will have to go about the task of fixing the damage the bug has caused, which could be a nightmare. Obviously the worst offenders will most likely be banned, but then comes the grey area. Apparently the bug was so easy to reproduce, people could have done it by accident and hopefully they won’t get banned for that. Then there are the people in the middle who used it just to gain an edge, but didn’t amass extreme wealth. Whatever the case, Zenimax has a large task ahead of them to try to patch this up so that The Elder Scrolls Online can continue to develop and flourish.
What is an Elder Scrolls game without bugs? While duping and all sorts of bugs have long been a part of the history of these games, this is the first MMO version, which means that the impact could devastate an entire game. While issues in a single player game can be abused by players ending in only hurting themselves, this bug has an effect on people who don’t cheat, and give the cheaters an unfair advantage. I have been an MMO player for a long time, and I’ve seen duping glitches come and go with little effect to the community and economy in the long run. My only concern is that this bug has been around a long time, and being that the community is still in its adolescence, it could have a lasting impact if Zenimax can’t shore up all the offending parties. Hopefully they will do a thorough investigation and weed out the main culprits, and not just blanket ban everyone involved.