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8.10.2012

Strong Evidence of Rampant Item Duplication in WoW


We've heard plenty of circumstantial evidence of rampant "duping" (duplication) of items in recent months. We've heard accounts of cheap Reins of the Crimson Death Charger, Queen's Garnets and Sands of Time from readers, livestream viewers and other bloggers.

The Undermine Journal recently added new "global" item pages that provide some pretty damning evidence that item duplication is indeed happening. Read on past the jump for my thoughts on item duping and how we can react to it.


What Is "Duping"?

In it's most simplist form item duplication (often called "duping") is the act of taking one item in World of Warcraft and using illicit means such as hacks, glitches and/or bugs to create a copy of that item.

How this duping is actually accomplished is of very little interest to me. I have never, and will never, "dupe" an item. I've worked too hard on my account over the last 7 years to risk doing anything that is against Blizzard's Terms of Service and risk getting my account banned.

This sentiment is likely not shared by individuals who duplicate items. What I am about to say is speculation and should be taken as such but my guess is that the vast majority of individuals duplicating items in the game are those most able to make a real-world profit from doing so namely gold sellers and gold selling services.

The fact that the item duplication is happening is less important than our reaction to it. Item duplication has real in-game economic repercussions.


Is "Duping" Real?

As stated in the introduction, most evidence of item duplication has been circumstantial. Something you hear from one person. An extremely cheap rare mount you see advertised in trade chat. That crafted mount that shows up on the auction house and undercuts yours below vendor material cost.

With The Undermine Journal's new global item pages we can now watch the effects that these types of events have on the in-game economy. In almost all cases the effects are bad for gold-makers.


Increased Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger availability.

In the image above (click for larger view) you can see the "Price and Availability" for the US and EU on The Undermine Journal's Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger global item page. The US chart is quite eye-opening.

As stated by The Undermine Journal on an alert for the new global item feature the chart for the US availability of the Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger were pretty much rock-solid at right around 100 items or so across all US servers until July 13, 2012.

Since July 14, 2012 the number of Deathchargers available ballooned to 1014 as of this writing. That is a 10 times increase in less than one month. If that isn't damning evidence of rampant item duplication I don't know what is.

Pre-July 13, 2012 the average price for the Deathcharger was holding steady right around the 130-150k range. Post July 13, 2012 the price has steadily declined to 69k a decrease of almost 50%.

Think about that for a second. The value for a Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger on US servers have decreased by half in less than a month. I doubt that value will be recovered any time soon especially if the duping continues. In fact, if the trends continue the price will only get lower.


How Do We React?

How one reacts to the existence of item dupers, hackers, bots and all other manner of "cheating" in the World of Warcraft economy has been a special area of interest for me.

As I've been paying attention to the in-game economy and players who enjoy it over the last year and a half the reaction to these types of things has varied from "Report them!" to "Get in while the getting is good!"

While I can't tell anyone how to react, I can tell you how I choose to react to these types of situations. I don't participate in anyway that I feel would knowingly benefit anyone who chooses to adversely affect the in-game economy.

This means I do not own a "cheap" Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger and may never. With nine out of every ten Deathchargers being duplicates the likelyhood of a Deathcharger I would buy not being duplicated is very low (which is sad).

The rampant evidence of duplicating Reins of the Crimson Deathcharger has a real impact on the in-game economy. If I was someone who had worked hard to earn 200k to purchase a Deathcharger in late Wrath of the Lich King or early Cataclysm in hopes of holding onto it and selling is at a profit later I will likely never be able to recover their initial investment due to the duping.

If I were a player who was working on making a good amount of gold selling Queen's Garnets and my market was all of a sudden flooded with tons of cheap "duped" gems the value of my inventory could drop by thousands of gold over night.

How should we react to dupers? By not buying their items and by reporting them to Blizzard via in-game tickets. If Blizzard determines they are duplicating items hopefully they will be banned. If they aren't duplicating items then they won't get banned. No harm done.


Conclusion

While it is nice to have some solid evidence we can point to and say "Look! They are duplicating items!" it doesn't really change the situation. It doesn't instantly restore our economies back to "pre-duping" price levels.

It is really up to Blizzard to figure out how to best deal with the banning of the actual individuals duplicating these items. All we can do is report bad actors and not purchase items from those we suspect may either be dupers or someone connected with dupers.

Unfortunately I feel for many of these items their value is most likely permanently damaged by this duplication. The market simply can't absorb the massive, cheap (free in this case) increase in goods with out the price dropping.

If you are like me and want to see your economy stay (relatively) stable please follow my lead and if you feel the item you are considering purchasing is far too cheap (especially items mentioned in this post) please don't buy it. While it may seem cliche supporting dupers only encourages them to continue duping and further harming your server's economy.


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22 comments:

  1. I wonder what happened on July 10th when the graph took off like that, I mean that was a Tuesday so it almost suggests something was changed that week

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  2. With your same logic you shouldn't be buying any raw materials off the auction house either or you are supporting botters.

    Or is botting ok?

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    Replies
    1. Botting and duping are two different things and affect the economy in different ways. Although I do see your point you can't really expect us to be able to differentiate between botters and real players when mass buying

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    2. I don't know any humans that are willing to farm 350 stacks of Elementium at a time only to sell them at 15g/stack

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  3. alternatively, you could Report the "duper" and buy the item and offer to sell that item back to a GM for the cost price you bought it at. Hence, takes it out of the economy and keeps it the potential demand of the item alive. all assumes that a GM will reimburse you though . . . . .

    At the very least - if a GM refuses then you have made best efforts to keep the demand side of the economy "honest". Once the "dupers" are gone you could resell and then just donate the "surplus" gold you made to a good cause.

    in any case, leaving on the Auction House to be bought by someone else in good faith feels a slightly worse option?

    not easy, i admit.

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    Replies
    1. This is one of the most flawed and convoluted logic. It's like buying illegal drugs from a drug dealer, then going to the police to sell it back to them because "you wanted the drugs off the street."

      Huh?

      Sorry my friend, whatever your stance is on duped items or illegal drugs, as the case may be, the most you can do is as the author of this article suggested: report them, and keep reporting them, and hope for the best. Or become active in your community (as the case may be) and keep making the issue public. Raise enough of a stink and eventually something gets done.

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    2. "It's like buying illegal drugs from a drug dealer, then going to the police to sell it back to them because "you wanted the drugs off the street.""

      report the dealer, and that would work as well.

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    3. I recently came across someone selling a particular low low drop pet, they had several of them at a ridiculously low price (around 3k). I bought them up. They posted several more, and I sent a ticket to Blizzard.

      The GM didn't remove the items and I got the typical, "thank you for your vigilance... we can't inform you of what happens..." etc.

      So it seems like if you have reason to believe it could be a dupe do report it. The more info Blizzard has the better they can deal with it.

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  4. Big Country Little Head is straining to understand the complexities of macro and microeconomics.

    He likes to generalize to make the world easier to understand. For example, how healthy the WoW economy is or isn't is determined by whether or not he can afford an item.

    Also for him one bad economy means that all the 200+ servers are bad and that a few not nice auctioneers (this is subjective) means that all auctioneers are evil.

    If I had to take a guess and generalize like him I would say he is a socialist that wants everyone equal and an enemy of capitalism.

    No love lost here, moving on

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  5. Right, a few problems here. First, as I've already discussed generally AH Jockies as you call us are a force of good or at least balance on their servers. If it wasn't for us the economy would be a lot more screwy than it is now (and in my opinion it's perfectly fine now considering we're pre expansion now).
    Second, I don't think any of us are suffering, let alone all of us. If you had read the post properly he was merely talking about duping and why you should be careful. If we wanted too we could more than easily make gold off this situation.

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    1. Hmmm, that was supposed to be in reply to Big Country Little town or whatever before he was apparently deleted o.O

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  6. Meant to just make a quick reply post, got a bit wordy, oops lol.

    http://xsinthis.net/2012/08/of-bots-dupes-and-ethics/

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  7. The dupes work because for whatever reason the server is willing to accept fake client data as long as the client hasn't lost connection. It reminds me of how people used to cheat on Xbox Live by pushing "Suspend" or "Pause" on their DSL/Cable Modems.
    Anyway, this started back in December 2011 actually, but so far the none of the dupes have worked for more than a week or so before Blizzard would patch them. At this point though, it hardly even matters. All of the markets that can be duped are pretty much ruined. Luckily, that isn't actually very many items because it only works on certain types of items (maybe vendor-bought and quest reward?).

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    1. It only works on items that are BoE, and the Crimson Deathcharger is one of the few mounts out there that's: a. guaranteed to be available meeting certain conditions; b. BoE; and 3. rare/desired.

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  8. The graph of the EU Crimson Deathcharger would look like the US one, but data on TheUndermineJournal is only kept for 60 days. Deathcharger duping started earlier on the EU servers.

    TCG Mounts are also affected:
    https://eu.theunderminejournal.com/item.php?item=68825
    https://eu.theunderminejournal.com/item.php?item=49282
    https://eu.theunderminejournal.com/item.php?item=49284

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  9. Very interesting read. Complex topic. I'll be watching and supporting

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  10. Blizzard seems to be in denial mode that duping still exists. Is there any way to use Armory API to pull in how many Shadowmourne achievements exist in North America and compare that to the numbers we see on Undermine Journal to prove a suspicious gap exists? Having the sales numbers alone doesn't seem to drive the point home.

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    1. The definitive answer is to compare the number of accounts with the mount to the number of Shadowmourne owners. The solution Paul Choquette suggests is flawed as not all the Crimson Deathchargers looted end up on the AH.

      My Wrath guild treated the spoils of the quest as guild owned and everyone /rolled on the items within. Also, how many Shadowmourne owners kept it for themselves?

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  11. The AH prices are inflated - gold sellers have a much better shot selling these things in trade, so any mounts like this that show up in the AH during alleged duping like this have either been bought by normal players trying to make a buck on the flip, or are legitimate.

    Someone was selling Deathchargers in trade chat over the weekend for 15k. Either they see the writing on the wall and are grabbing as much gold as they can before they get shut down, or the supply has far outstripped the demand. During this /trade dealing, the only Deathcharger on the AH was going for 150k.

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  12. The duping trend has been going on since January on my server. It started with the deathcharger going down to 80k from 150, and then gradually getting to the price it is now; barely 25k. I was holding off of buying one for the reasons you mentioned; but when I saw it so cheap on the trade chat I just went ahead and bought one.

    The duped gems definitely have made the JC economy wobble on its feet, but I can't see how the mounts would affect on the global server economy. The prices of all the other goods have stayed the same; the only people that are really unfortunate, are those with the legit (TCG) mounts, even more so if they spent actual money on them.

    I do agree that buying whatever kind of dupe is encouraging for the duper to continue his doings, but it's really up to Blizzard to fix this thing. There's been a complete radio-silence on their part ever since it started.

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  13. Reins of Swift Spectral were at 19/20 US in mid-July and now there are over 118. Magic Rooster Eggs were hovering steady at 30 or so until mid-July and now there are over 90. Wooly White Rhinos were also hovering steady around 30 until mid-July and now there are over 111. TUJ only catches the ones that are likely being flipped, not the ones being offered in trade daily on my realm which is considerably higher than those that appear on the AH. Blizz needs to do something about this...I haven't even seen where they've acknowledged a problem even exists. I think they said the queen's garnet duping was not even duping but were simply hacked acounts...

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