RuneScape - overcoming bot mining with legal action

It has been announced today that leading independent developer and publisher of online games Jagex Games Studio has achieved victory in a two-year legal battle with the developers of macroing/botting software that targeted and harmed the popular MMORPG for a number of years until the Bot Nuke of October 2011.

In a judgment against Impulse Software – brothers Mark and Eric Snellman – a judge ordered that Jagex should be awarded damages, while an injunction was placed upon the brothers to prevent the future development of botting software for any Jagex product as well as blocking the provision of assistance to others developing or use botting software. Discussing Jagex, the lawsuit or RuneScape has also been restricted.

Botting and gold farming has been a big problem within RuneScape, leading Jagex to engage in a number of legal battles over the past couple of years in order to tackle the adverse impact it has on the game. Today’s result is a significant win for a games company and is likely to set a precedent for future legal cases regarding this kind of abuse.

It is telling that newer games (such as BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic) explicitly ban the use of such tools.

Mark Gerhard, CEO & CTO of Jagex, stated:

“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. 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.”

It’s good to learn that the announcement follows news that the recent Bot Nuke action to combat botting has been a success, with Jagex’s ‘Cluster Flutter’ tools have – coupled with various other countermeasures – rendered 98% of all in-game bots obsolete. Neither iBOT nor any other bots developers have been able to publish working updates to overcome the “Bot Nuke” despite their continued efforts to do so.

“Technically speaking this is a veritable arms race, there is no permanent triumph in cyber security,” said Gerhard, “The only serious long term strategy is to ensure you continuously innovate well ahead of the challenges faced today; that way you should hopefully always be a few steps ahead in the future. I’m happy to say 1337 Ninja’s are already well underway with “Optimus” Jagex’s next generation obfuscation and encryption framework which will be released shortly.”

It should come as no surprise to learn that as a condition of this case the Snellmans have been ordered to give up all websites, domains, source code and customer details to Jagex along with all the details of all those individuals who have developed scripts for iBOT and sold or re-sold those scripts.