In the latest development of Blizzard’s war on bots in WoW Battlegrounds, the latest World of Warcraft, Mists of Pandaria patch, 5.2, has removed the /follow command from PvP.
Blizzard’s Senior Community Manager Bashiok has commented on the stealth removal of this command in the official US forums:
We disabled /follow from use in battlegrounds to curb some of the most basic types of bots that use the command. We chose not to communicate it beforehand in attempts to catch as many bots unaware as possible. Removing /follow in battlegrounds is one small change we can make immediately to stop a number of bots, and those that choose to transition to more overt botting methods will have a much higher chance of being caught and banned.
We did consider those who use /follow for other reasons, including multiboxing, before making the change. Multiboxing in battlegrounds has been a long-fought battle within the community, as the effect of multiboxers in those situations is considered unfavorable by many. When we were looking to make a change to disable a command used by bots, which would benefit the game as a whole, we were ok with it also resulting in multiboxing in battlegrounds also going away due to the poor experience it can create for others.
Right now /follow is also disabled in Arenas, but we’re looking to revert that change as bots don’t typically exist in Arenas, and multiboxing in that kind of pre-determined group environment doesn’t tend to be as disruptive.
What’s your take on this? It seems to us at GAMEBREAKER that the number of players irritated by bots in Battlegrounds, and indeed by Multiboxers, far outnumbers the amount of players who rely on the /follow command to multibox in WoW Battlegrounds. Certainly, as Bashiok notes, this won’t get rid of any but the most basic of bots, but it’s still a step in the right direction, and at least shows that Blizzard remains committed to the removal, or at least suppression, of botting in WoW. Of course, a lot of what they do to stop the bots has to remain behind the scenes, as, if they announce all the changes, it makes it easier for botters to work around them.
And is the loss of multiboxers in WoW Battlegrounds such a great one? Many times, I’ve seen a gang of five characters wreaking havoc in random Battlegrounds, where their co-ordinated attacks on one player are almost unstoppable, unless in a large zone where a co-ordinated team can take them out. They cause a multitude of complaints, and, as Bashiok notes, they’re considered unfavorable by many in the community, perhaps with the exception of the players who are actually multiboxing themselves.
However, perhaps a revocation of the change would be reasonable in arenas, as Bashiok notes, as well as in rated battlegrounds where, as he says “multiboxing in that kind of pre-determined group environment doesn’t tend to be as disruptive“.
What do you think?