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Jagex wins landmark victory against bot programmers

Damages awarded after Snellman brothers judged to have harmed Runescape

Cambridge studio Jagex, producers of Runescape, have won a landmark legal case against a pair of brothers who had developed bot and macro tools specifically for the free-to-play online RPG.

Mark and Eric Snellman, trading as Impulse Software, were told to pay damages and refrain from any further bot programming, for Runescape or any other Jagex game, assisting other to do so or discussing the court case.

Impulse Software was also ordered to give up all code pertaining to the botting project, as well as all customer details.

No figures were given for the compensation, but Runescape CEO Mark Gerhard said that the pursuit of the pair had been a seven figure enterprise.

"We began the legal action against the Snellmans over two years ago as a part of our ongoing commitment to ridding RuneScape of bots and gold farmers," said Gerhard in a press statement.

"Faced with this significant challenge we have continued to demonstrate that we will never shy away from difficult battles, we don't compromise on taking the right course of action and, regardless of the time, money or effort involved we always do what it takes in order to protect our community.

"We have spared no expense fighting this case, as demonstrated by the seven figure bill this action has cost, but the point of this and other cases of its kind, is that we will continue bring to justice those who set out to harm the game or our beloved community. We are delighted to say that we have convincingly neutered them after a very long battle."

Jagex maintains a specific team to constantly update Runescape's defences against botting, macro-programs and gold farming which Gerhard says he hopes will continue to be a deterrent against any future attempts.

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Latest comments (12)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
Excellent.
Imagine a premiership soccer game where one side has a goal twice the size of the other side's. The game would be totally destroyed. And this is what happens when cheating is tolerated. Too many publishers are inactive in this area which just toxifies their products. So the Jagex stand is not just principled, it makes very sound commercial sense.
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Ryan Leonski Indie Dev 4 years ago
I'm slightly surprised people could still bot in that game. There's so many random events that happen if you continue training in a single skill. I guess if theres a will theres a way. I'm glad they won this battle and I believe RuneScape has one of the better ways of preventing cheating by actually having players play through the random events.
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K. Al-Hurby Producer/Designer 4 years ago
What Bruce said, I couldn't agree more.

Publishers and independent developers should take a more active role in their more successful multiplayer products to ensure cheating is not tolerated. It enhances the player experience and loyalty to the product/company. For example, Company of Heroes is one of the few games (when I get the rare chance) that I still actually play online. A 6 year old game that still looks graphically and mechanically competitive to current RTS titles out there, however my experience is ruined as there is virtually no anti cheat system in place, which allows players to use map and resource hacks. It not only damages the product but also the companyís brand. That being said, I do have mountains of respect for the guys at Relic. So itís something that I, as a consumer, compromise on for the love of their products.
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Show all comments (12)
gi biz ;,pgc.eu 4 years ago
I used to enjoy Ragnarok Online very much. Then, when I came back to the game after a one year break, I remember seeing so many bots around: as the game grew old less and less new players were attracted in, so all of the easier dungeons were filled with bots and you almost never met human players.
The rest was high level characters and lazy guys just chatting all the time and buying botted items with botted money that they bought for real money.
Inflated prices, too many rares, not enough players and so many bots that in some areas it was impossible to play. And yet Chaos server was a very funny one, at the beginning. A shameful way to die for such a good game.
Hopefully this victory will set some limits for the future, nice job Jagex.
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Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster4 years ago
I've been waiting for this announcement. I know what they've been through in the anti-cheating fight. Congrats!
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Mathias Johansson Co-founder, SkyGoblin4 years ago
Having spent a lot of time countering cheaters in our MMO Nord I couldn't agree more that cheating is a serious problem to online and social games. Still, I wouldn't want to put all the blame on the cheaters/players/customers as many cheats essentially are attributable to [abuse of] software flaws, i.e. faulty products.

One may argue that the time and money we use to build anti-cheat systems is a costly measure that some few rogue hackers afflict on their fellow players. But having spent a lot of time both designing cheat-proof systems and taking care of community management I find that "software trolling" is inseparable from the gamer crowd. We have hammered in the task of finding creative ways to overcome our games' challenges so hard that not every player even realizes when they cross the line of cheating. This, of course, is more relevant to abuse of glitches than proper hacks (especially if there's money involved) but there really is no clear line here. Many people write bots just for the fun of it, not necessarily to gain advantages.

Well, what I'm saying is that while I don't want to excuse players who unbalance or disrupt online games, it is actually our job as developers to design games in such a way that they are not (to the extent that it is possible) vulnerable to such abuse. No lawsuit well ever deter gamers from trying to win games.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 4 years ago
Congratulations, Jagex! It takes serious courage to be among the first to take a course of action, and I'm really glad it paid off.

@GamesIndustry.biz, I hope we'll see a follow-up piece with a little more detail on the financials, if possible, like whether Snellman & Snellman have to pay Jagex's costs (I really hope so) and whether it's likely they will, and whether the Snellmans are paying damages (Again. I hope so). As if these things don't happen, then developers and players alike need to be deluging the Law Society with letters explaining how cheating like this is bad and how it damages the game.

RIP RTW, who, despite many internal financial and managerial worries, might, in the minds of many of their players, been saved by their own game were it not for parasites like Artificial Aiming.
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Danik Junivic4 years ago
Hiring the lads at Impulse Software is the first thing to do.

If they don't want no cheating why don't they either fix their code or only allow non-human players! As long as you seek for a human audience you will have cheaters of all sorts.

Clamping down on geniuses is not the way to build up, it's rather the way the loosers follow to keep making money. Look at the banks who jailed Serge Humpich the banking card cracker, or the like of Kevin Mitnick, Nikola Tesla, etc.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Danik Junivic on 24th January 2012 6:43pm

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Curtis Kwong Unknown 4 years ago
I played RuneScape everyday for 1 hour
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Christopher Hombach Product Manager, CipSoft4 years ago
Congrats to Jagex. Does anyone know if the bot coders were also UK based? The major problem with suing in most cases is doing so across borders and I doubt they would have been able to do so if the bot had been made in asia.
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Hating bots is simply denying the future. So long as games incorporate grinding and withold the value of labour from the labourers, even as with Baking Life cancelling that value unilaterally, then humans damned well should be entitled to circumvent the parts that they don't enjoy. Or no, I am forgetting that human life is subordinate to commercial interest. Tsk.

The greater challenge is to work out how to make the ecology work, bots and all.
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Josh Meier4 years ago
While I've long since stopped playing RuneScape, I'm happy to hear JAGex has made some more noticeable strides to keep the bots away. I believe between this and the bot nuke that they dropped a little while ago, that a lot more players will be happy to see they can actually play the game again without being disrupted by bots.
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