The Guild Wars 2 Karma Exploit (Justice Is Fantasy)

This past week I’ve spent most of my time playing the newly-released Guild Wars 2. I loved the original one and to date it’s the game that I’ve spent the most time on. The story actually existed, the music was great, and the art style at one time made me consider choosing my profession as an environmental artist. The second one, while vastly different in many good, not so good, and interesting ways, has retained many of the things I loved about the first.

There have been more than a few problems and hiccups during this opening week, and in perspective, it’s to be expected. Many have complained that ArenaNet has released an “incomplete” game: after several years of development and half a year of beta testing, why isn’t it 100% complete? Very important things were missing or bugged at launch. The Trade House, literally the entire economy in this game because individual trading is not in the game code, was not up until three days after launch. At this moment on the fourth day, they have still not released it to the entire population. Some Skill Challenges, required to get 100% area completion and to get skill points, do not spawn properly. You can get stuck in some places. I don’t have a particular problem with these. They are errors, and they are more than likely to appear in a game world of Guild Wars 2’s scale. With that and 400 thousand concurrent online users before launch, there are bound to be many errors, and all of them will propagate. “Problems” are things which are designed as a system: I find a problem with the philosophy behind how GW2’s skills and combat are designed in general.

It is not a “problem” when an item costs 21 when every other item in its category costs 21,000. It is an error.

ArenaNet banned 3000 people (apparently ~.3% of its userbase) for “exploiting” this error. 21,000 is hard to obtain and would normally take probably many hours of gameplay (I wouldn’t know, it’s lvl 80 equipment and my main is lvl 28), but out of all the other items, one or a set of items were priced at 21 instead. Many people talked about it, and obtained many materials and much cash in buying from this NPC. ArenaNet originally gave permanent bans to all the “exploiters” – something that doesn’t happen very often or at all in MMORPGs – and then decided to revert it to 72 hour bans instead (in that meantime there was a lot of uproar). The official statement was thus:

Today we banned a number of players for exploiting Guild Wars 2. We take our community and the integrity of the game very seriously, and want to be clear that intentionally exploiting the game is unacceptable. The players we banned were certainly intentionally and repeatedly exploiting a bug in the game. We intended to send a very clear message that exploiting the game in this way will not be tolerated, and we believe this message now has been well understood.

We also believe and respect that people make mistakes. This is in fact the first example of a widespread exploit in the game. With this in mind, we are offering the members of our community who exploited the game a second chance to repair the damage that has been done.

Thus, just this once, we will offer to convert permanent bans to 72-hour suspensions. Should those involved want to accept this offer of reinstatement, contact us on our support website–—and submit a ticket through the “Ask a Question” tab. Please use the subject heading of “Karma Weapons Exploit Appeal”, then confirm in the body of your ticket that you will delete any items/currency that you gained from the exploit. You should submit only one ticket. Once you have done so, we will lower your ban to 72 hours, and following your re-activation we will check your account to make sure that you have honored your commitment. If that commitment is not honored, we will re-terminate the account.

This is a first and final warning. Moving forward, please make sure you that when you see an exploitable part of the game, you report it and do not attempt to benefit from it.

We look forward to seeing you in game,

Yours Sincerely,

Chris Whiteside- Lead Producer ArenaNet

Here is a link to the official statement.

This is the second time ArenaNet has banned large numbers of people since headstart on Saturday. The first was 72-hour bans for a number of people for inappropriate use of language (I forget the exact name of the category). As the ban system they have in place currently does not allow a player to directly appeal their ban, they must resort to third-party members or methods to inquire on and ask for a verdict. A verdict ArenaNet did give to those who asked – on reddit, they would respond individually to each person who asked, quoting chatlogs on exactly what they said and giving a short reason why saying fag or capslocking and insulting people was not okay. ArenaNet’s response style seems like it may be not an error but a problem. I’m not sure public shaming and public appeals is an optimal strategy. There are some major things I don’t like about it, but that’s the word of the devs, and the word of god is the word of god. If I was a producer or otherwise a large influence on them then perhaps I would argue. As it stands I am a nobody player and I must assume they know what they’re doing; I must either take it or leave it.

Everyone else playing GW2 doesn’t seem to agree. They want to argue it ad infinitum.

How do we know when something is an exploit? It was priced by the vendor at 21 and not 21,000. I didn’t use any hacks or third party programs. I used the system as it was. Oh but you should’ve seen it was coming you evil scum. When you see something priced so obviously differently and you buy not one not two but a thousand of them, you’re obviously exploiting the system. But ANet should’ve given a warning in game, they let this go on for a whole day without saying anything through the official channels and then give permabans to everyone who used it? That’s not fair! Yes it’s their fault but it’s your fault too, person who leaves door open and gets robbed doesn’t mean its not the robbers fault, everyone’s at fault. “Know” is an important framer. When people say they want to know, they want “the” “truth”. They want to “know” things, to have certainty. It is believed that if only definitions were given on what an exploit is or isn’t, then all possibilities may be avoided or solved. A finality is sought; one decision for all of time.

This of course is ridiculous. There exists an inherent barrier which can never be overcome: No non-developer player can ever truly know when something is a bug or exploit. Or, more broadly: No one can ever know the intentions of someone else. When I state it like that it is easy to agree with, but this fundamental truth is something anyone who pushes for “knowledge” must ignore or forget – thus contradicting the point of a search for a complete knowing of all things. Which is what inevitably happens, because you cannot know all things. Or, more gracefully, you are not allowed by the laws of Fortuna to know all things.

It seems like a lot of people here are under the impression that everyone who got a permanent ban was up to some Machiavellian level shit. Maybe some people were. Perhaps using the mystic forge in conjunction with the vendor allowed them to crank out abusive gains. I don’t know, never use the thing.

I was permanently banned for buying 100-200 weapons.

My gains are as follows:

  • ~250 platinum ore
  • ~100 iron ore (Accidentally incurred. I have no use for the 250+ I already had banked
  • ~10 sigils of force
  • ~10 hard wood logs (Accidentally incurred trying to figure out what gives platinum ore)
  • ~5 weapons to use while leveling


  • ~3500 karma
  • ~10 silver (salvage kits)
  • ~20 minutes


  • Get through a single tier of jewelcrafting (plat ore)
  • Kill monsters easier on my way to 80 (kept weapons/sigils)

Maybe this detailed account changes some of your minds about the severity of the “exploitation” carried out by some of those receiving permanent bans. However, I have another quick breakdown of seemingly acceptable karma vendor “abuse” that might give you an even better frame of reference.

The karma vendor at the Shaemoor Garrison sells cheap gloves that can be salvaged for 2-4 copper ore/jute scraps.

In the same way, with the same intentions, and with the same results as with the norn culture vendor I “exploited” this NPC.


  • ~250 jute scrap
  • ~4 copper ore (Accidentally incurred trying to figure out what gives jute scraps)


  • ~3000 karma
  • ~8 silver (salv kits)
  • ~15 minutes


  • Level my tailoring to 75 so I could start using my stockpile of higher materials
  • Kill monsters easier on my way to 80 (crafted armor from my higher level mats I couldn’t use yet)

For anyone who thinks that platinum ore is worth more than jute scraps, with no access to the trade post I can only say that it certainly wasn’t the case in my experience. Platinum ore nodes are plentiful in Bloodtide Whatever zone and I had a decent stock of it before visiting the culture vendor, whereas I farmed centaurs and bandits for an hour trying to get enough additional jute to get out of that first tier of tailoring before giving up and subsequently finding the garrison vendor.

Jute scraps are a necessary item for much crafting, but as drops they can only be obtained randomly by killing large numbers of yet-unknown types of creatures. Ores on the other hand appear at specific locations and respawn with specific timers. The argument is sound, the information backing it is sound, and the intention is sound. Jute scraps should be more plentiful than Platinum ores when viewed through the lens of a craftsman – but they’re not if you obtain them simply by hoping for drops. But clarity doesn’t mean anything on its own. It’s clear that obtaining large amounts of gloves to do something other than wear them isn’t the intention – if your intention is wearing gloves. But it’s clear that such a thing is what’s needed to be done if one is to get to crafting lvl 20 items before they’ve finished the entire game and the entire map at lvl 80. The drop rates are too low, and for those who like wearing their own things and not stuff they find off dead bodies, it too is clear. It’s clear that there is a price disparity between 21 and 21,000. But repeat the same, if you want to get through a level of crafting in whatever timeframe. Maybe it’s a different timeframe. Maybe you even think it’s ridiculous. But it’s only clear to you, and you have not overcome anything.

The problem won’t be solved even with a clear definition – if a clear definition can even be created.

“Should” and “Obvious”, “Common Sense” and “Just Ask”, no matter how great, cannot translate into truth. There is an inherent difference between 99% and 100%.

You cannot reach absolute through reason.

You cannot reach true knowledge.

I AM looking for are official definitions of what an exploit is.

Like for myself I NORMALLY view exploits as: -duping -botting -becoming unkillable (etc)

Things I don’t NORMALLY view as exploits but seems Arena(dot)net does: -taking advantage of vendor database mistakes -stacking buffs in odd ways to get effects -finding stuff in-game that you can sale for a lot which are not highly known

I am not trying to be a douche. I would honestly, like some sort of definition on what are exploits. Without a proper definition on what are exploits beyond “stuff you shouldn’t do”

Example: There is a guide all over the place, even here on Reddit, about how to easily take Cooking from 1-400. Using this you use only vendor and Karma bought items. Arena has said Chef is suppose to be the toughest profession to level. With this guide it is the easiest. Is this an exploit? Seems totally not an exploit to me… but now I am questioning if this is an exploit and should I be worried about being banned for raising my Chef to 300+ REALLY easy only using ingrediants from karama vendors and merchants?

simple. anything that is suspicious of not being correct. in terms of prices, look at the previous tier, and next tier of weapons or gear. if the price is not between the two of those. then guess what? report it, dont buy it and dont advertise it.

> Ok, so the Cooking to level by these terms is an exploit because it requries you to gather nothing.

are you able to buy everything at a single vendor without going out and “gathering” from the different vendors?

> damn near it. You have to go to a couple karma vendors. Which is no big deal at all.

So, it’s almost as easy as buying all your mats off the auction house?

> No. NPC vendors do not run out of items. And their values do not change. Where if people used this Trading Post method only of leveling their trade skills. The prices and supply would change. Where here, it does not.

ugh, this is such a troll thread. You know what an exploit is and you just want people to explain it so you can debunk their point of view.

“well if that is exploiting then me buying karma and crafting is an exploit”

Use your head.

Make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource)

Which is exactly what players did. They helped themselves to a thousands of weapons from the vendor.

use or manipulate to one’s advantage;

People who bought 2000 weapons certainly were hoping to benefit from it.

To make use of selfishly or unethically

Once again, if we forget the rules and laws. This is simply a bad behaviour. I knew about the exploit and I didn’t even get one weapon. Not one.

I think a lot of people are confusing exploit noun and verb. The price error was not an exploit. It was a mistake by ArenaNet. Exploit is an action that users did. They exploited (abused) that mistake. (Although I guess you could say that mistake is an exploit)

It’s very simple, if you are doing something and you find yourself unsure if what you’re doing is exploiting then its probably exploiting. Even if it isn’t, you should quit doing it to be safe.

To absolutely avoid failure and error, you must devote your existence to avoiding failure and error. To achieve perfection through pure reason, the only things you can ever do will be anti-negative. You will be a person forever living in fear, forever seeking stability and safety and happiness, not for power and greatness and glory.

You will, of course, fail in your task. Those who see life as avoiding failure will inevitably fail because chaos is the nature of reality: if you do not seek to continuously counter the spars of Fortuna with Virtu, Fortuna will be your master. You can only master Fortuna with Virtu. And Virtue you can only achieve by being positive. To be positive, you must abandon reason as the ordering principle, because reason is not an ordering principle.

The ordering principle is authority.

Authority can be abused, yes. I agree that ArenaNet has very poorly defined what it means to exploit something, or when something is a bug. Is it a “bug” that rare loot drops as much from common monsters as they do from boss monsters or world level monsters? Is it a “bug” that platinum ore, available to anyone at any level provided they simply buy the required pick set and avoid monsters on their way to higher level maps, are much more plentiful than the simple and highly necessary jute scrap? It is my opinion that the 21 not 21,000 was a bug and it is my opinion that people who used it exploited it. It is my opinion: more clearly, my authority on belief.

I agree also that ArenaNet used a very disgraceful way of approaching issues, to use third party social networking sites to shame members rather than official channels and properly and privately responding to support tickets within a reasonable timeframe. For me, they are not being very good Game Masters. The storywriters, artists, and composers have been great at their part, but the maintenance, public relations, and problem solving guys really aren’t holding up too well. It is understandable, being that they are only a small group of game developers who originally weren’t that big at all, and having to deal with so many people who just want to criticize their work of art no matter what. Even if they create a definition of what is an exploit, it is possible for people to forever work around those definitions.

Even in a positive light though, ArenaNet is being rather childish. I understand it’s hard to balance three monetary systems (gold, gem, karma), but permabans after saying nothing, and being vindictive when saying something, is not the mark of great public relations. Their community guys actually respond to the community which is good to be sure, but greatness is a path not an end (or if it is an end, it’s a “how long can you hold as king of the hill?” end), and a “work in progress”. I would suggest to at least attempt better definitions. The jute scraps one has me interested.

At least in GW1 becoming unkillable was never a bannable offense as long as you do it only using in game skills and there is no botting/hacking/gamebugs involved. In other words: If they act like they did in GW1 they will never ban you for farming in very good farming spots. If a place is very profitable they will change a skill or two, they will change a game mechanic, they will add a new mob to make it balance it, but they wont ban you.

They were indeed much better in Guild Wars 1. I played a “55 monk” for “farming”. Whereas the standard hp amount for characters was 500, there was a way to reduce your health to 55 – add that to an enchantment which allowed you to only take a percentage of your health as damage, with another enchantment that gave flat health regen originally “intended” for 500 hp characters, you were nearly invincible. Granted of course that somebody didn’t remove all your enchantments. Farming is rather common too, I don’t think I need to explain that. Both are indeed using the game as it existed. I don’t know how much ArenaNet has changed, but the GW1 Game Masters were good. Today, not so much.

However, they DID make a decree. Lest we forget, authority is what everything is based off of. Reasoning doesn’t get you anywhere. In the end you must act. To avoid authority when it is the only source of order, because it can lead to disorder, is anti-negative and makes disorder a certainty.

I don’t know what ArenaNet’s definition of exploit is. They basically haven’t defined it at all.

But I don’t care because, at this point in time, they have my trust.

In the end, if you don’t trust the storyteller telling the story, you can never start to enjoy it. Don’t trust the rules of a game, can never start to play it. Don’t trust the writer of a mystery, can never start to think.

They have not done anything irreversibly wrong in my view yet. Yes, it does amount to whether or not I’m banned myself or the people close to me are banned. I do not see it as a problem that I do not particularly care about people I do not know. If I have a problem, I will voice it for myself, and people will judge my arguments. Same for others. If the writer of the first comment I quoted, for example, got banned for using the jute scraps “exploit” he talked about, without any official or unofficial response from ArenaNet, then I may question my trust. I believe that given the current system, it is too hard to obtain jute scraps. If that vendor exists, and I will go there to check after the completion of this entry, I will buy lots of gloves to salvage for jute scraps. I believe it is a reasonable endeavor, and perhaps it is how it was intended – teach people to use salvage kits, and not simply wait around for a rare drop of a common item. But all this can only happen because I believe in ArenaNet to give reasonable warnings on reasonable things. I’m not quitting Guild Wars 2 for this 21/21,000 exploit because it was clear to me. If they ban me for jute scraps and a few other things and humiliate me in public for things I do not think are reasonable, I will respond more harshly.

Sure, the Guild Wars game where guilds don’t work for a week after release. The MMO where the auction house doesn’t work for two weeks after release. And many others. They’re failing to deliver many of the things they promised. Instead, they’d rather ban botters for 3 days while permaban people for something that’s in a gray area and then acting all holier than thou. Thing is, they were just trying to get some “good” PR after this horrible release

I’m walking around the game and there are still botters, but now people are afraid of buying anything from vendors lest they get banned for something they don’t know. If the TP goes up I’m pretty sure that some people will be afraid to use it too. Suddenly spanish inquisition.

Now for the exploits; they knew about the 21 karma gray area exploit just a few minutes after it was found, but, instead of taking the server down for just a moment to fix it, they decided to roll with it, letting people abuse it. Then they punished said people inappropriately and acted arrogant and audacious, actively challenging people on reddit (almost forgot, turning reddit into their main forums).

Then, to gain good PR, they force people to apologize for something that isn’t just their fault, and go full holier than thou. Note that Anet didn’t apologize (Blizzard has owned up their mistakes), and twas their mistake to begin with. Now, they want people to delete their stuff, which hints that they themselves don’t have a rollback feature, which would have solved the whole fucking thing in a clean, swift wipe. And the things pile up, ofc. All I wanted is for them to not act like arrogance, snotty bastards. I thought they were better than this. I was wrong.

But for now, it’s fine. Errors exist. Problems exist. The overall authority of ArenaNet has not been bad to me so far, so I accept it. I won’t say it’s great. It’s fucking horrible. But not unacceptable. I am playing Guild Wars 2 for the game, not evaluating ArenaNet’s PR as potential friends or financial partners. The balance has not tipped to the point where I need to reconsider all of the story and art and music for something I’m not directly involved in… yet.

As it stands, Guild Wars 2 has not yet fallen to massive inflation or botting or hacks. That was not happenstance. It was because ArenaNet did things. The fact that they have these other screwups isn’t so important in light of that. Scumbags, yes. But they are effective enough in the important areas, because otherwise there really would be no game to play.

I agree with those who talk about should/obvious/common sense; it is indeed the only way anything is ever established. But I do not agree with them that such methods are useful in determining truth – or more accurately, I do not value determining truth. Truth to me is not particularly relevant. But truth is the most important thing in this culture, and that’s why it’s degrading into something history will forget.

First things first.

And reasoning is never first.

To stand atop other people… is to bear a great many responsibilities, and hand down a great many decisions. As a result, governments and organizations have different beliefs and ideals depending on their positions. People are no different. When one wishes to do something, there are inevitably some who see it as good and others who see it as evil. However, if you are able to place yourself in different positions, then all of them will appear to be right. And… although it is sad, there may not always be a path which satisfies each and every one of their wishes… No matter what you rely on at those times, or what path you show to those below you…

If you hesitate at those times… then you must have the courage to stand still and look back at how you arrived there.

And… you must never hesitate to stain your own hands with blood. Those who show others the way must not avert their eyes from the weight of responsibility.

– Yuuhi Koubuin, Muv-Luv Alternative


2 thoughts on “The Guild Wars 2 Karma Exploit (Justice Is Fantasy)

  1. Pingback: NOT SO FAST: Rengar in LoL and Shadow Form in GW | All Else Is Halation

  2. Pingback: NOT SO FAST: Rengar in LoL, Shadow Form in GW | Game Theory

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