In the world of Guild Wars 2, ectoplasm is kind of important. So important that it's not the sort of thing gamers should be able to generate in large quantities for themselves. When a new exploit popped up, tied in with the game's Wintersday celebrations, ArenaNet was unsurprisingly displeased with the situation. While Wintersday is all about parties and presents, ArenaNet has a gift of its own for gamers who used the exploits: Permanent bans.
Apparently - while we're not the exploitin' type - the recipe was simple: Craft one item which uses a single ectoplasm, then salvage that item and receive two. Hey presto! Effectively limitless ectoplasm! Good for you, terrible for the economy. ArenaNet quickly squished the exploit, but a significant number of gamers took advantage of the situation.
As a result of ArenaNet's savvy banhammering, the gamers are now the unhappy ones, with many taking to Reddit and other social networks claiming that they did not realise it was an exploit, or that a recipe is not an exploit in the first place. Regardless of the reason, they've lost "hundreds of hours" of game progress, and they're not happy.
Support Liaison Gaile Gray writes in response:
Any time you take one thing and can make two, and then four, and then sixteen… ya gotta know that’s just wrong. (I won’t quibble on the odds, but overall, that form of doubling was not outside the realm of possibility.) And to perform that action hundreds and hundreds of times? That’s call “exploitation,” and that’s against the User Agreement, the Rules of Conduct, and all that is holy.
Gaile also explains that the damage to the economy could have been "substantial", had the exploit not been shut down quickly, and that only the worst offenders were terminated.
This is the second major banning in Guild Wars 2, with ArenaNet closing a bunch of accounts soon after the game launched, in reaction to a karma exploit. Many of those bans were overturned (with conditions applied), but the studio announced it was a last warning. Looks like it's now made good on its threat, with these bans more likely to stick.
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Jimmy the Geek