We are currently engaged in activities utilizing extensive large-scale logs*, which act as powerful tools for the Special Task Force. The information in the logs we actually use consists of over 20,000,000-30,000,000 lines a week.
Compared to the time when the Special Task Force was first established, the content used in our investigations has become more varied and complicated, and even the log inspections themselves have become considerably more difficult. We are, of course, not reading this immense amount of data line by line, but are instead using our own software tools to improve the results of our work and are performing double-checks with multiple staff members, as well as enlisting the help of account admins in verifying illegal activity. Because of this, we are able to ban over 1,000 accounts violating the user agreement each week.
With logs, it is possible to investigate records of where gil or items were transferred and the specific details of character creation and deletion. During the process of our investigations, we occasionally see characters involved with illegal activities deleting their own characters or transferring gil to other characters, but these accounts are also banned without exception.
Besides the log investigations and inspections of in-game activity, the reports provided to us through the mail form also serve as an important source of information. There are around 100 reports sent to us each day. Reports are analyzed from all sides, according to World, area, character, and actions committed, and are used in determining our future actions.
*Log: Player Character activity data saved to the server
Our activities against RMT*1 are not limited to only RMT websites, but also deal with "gil vaults" and with hunters*2 who are involved in obtaining RMT organizations' gil. Through these actions, we aim to seriously reduce RMT organizations' activities.
As of this date, we have banned a total of 87,000 accounts involved in RMT and have frozen 11,000,000,000 gil of currency possessed by organizations involved in RMT.
By freezing such a large amount of gil, we have seriously reduced the scale that RMT organizations' gil vaults can operate, making them unable to keep up with the demand from buyers, thus leading to a sudden increase in cancellations and delays. Unable to make gil as easily as they have in the past, the prices for RMT have seriously risen. In many cases, the prices are as much as twice of last year's. The damage to the RMT market has been drastic.
"Real Money Trading." Selling game data for real money.
Characters who kill Notorious Monsters, clear quests, and obtain items over and over again with the sole purpose of gathering gil, which is then handed off to RMT groups.
Hunters can be divided into several different categories according to their activities. Many factors, such as the range of their activities and the methods used in dealing with them, differ between types of hunters. The primary categories of hunter activities include: Notorious Monster (hereon referred to as NM) monopolization, illegal fishing, illegal synthesis, and material collection. The Special Task Force has conducted the following actions in dealing with them.
-Notorious Monster monopolization
When the Special Task Force was first established in October 2006, NM hunting was the largest source of gil for RMT and very often caused trouble for regular players. The Special Task Force decided to focus on restraining the monopolization of NMs and the third-party software used. We set a goal of exterminating over half of the NM hunters and, as a result, of the hunters involved in NM monopolization at the time we started, over 90% of them have ceased their activities. We believe that some of you may have noticed an absence of the suspicious groups that were often seen in areas where NMs carrying expensive items regularly appear.
Hunters who couldn't make gil through NM monopolization have started moving to methods of collecting gil with lower-level characters over long periods of time. The most common method is fishing. As a result of the Special Task Force's efforts, the large numbers of characters illegally fishing in a given area will vanish, but this does not exterminate them. Hunters engaged in illegal fishing in each World are mostly banned during a cycle that begins at the start of each week. Immediately after the accounts have been banned, most of these hunters disappear, but reappear soon afterwards with a new account and are again banned in a continuous cycle. Through this repetitious banning, the total number of hunters engaged in illegal fishing is gradually decreasing. Because the cost of continuously obtaining new accounts is nonproductive in comparison to the gil obtained with these accounts, many hunters are giving up.
In the same way as fishing, synthesis is used as a means of making gil by obtaining items with little profit and selling large numbers of them. Hunters engaged in illegal synthesis make very little profit, but they have been known to destroy balance in in-game markets by monopolizing sales with extremely low prices or buying up all of a specific item. The Special Task Force began working on measures to deal with RMT organizations involved in synthesis item sales in August 2007. While keeping an eye on current trends for several months, we worked on strengthening our methods of dealing with the problem. We are planning on increasing the speed of our activities and focusing on banning these hunters starting in the end of 2007 and well into 2008. The hunters we will be banning are not limited to just the characters engaged in synthesis itself, but also those involved in the material collection and in the pooling of sales.
The majority of the hunters involved in NM monopolization have ceased their activities due to our actions. Mostly what remains now are small-scale activities by small numbers of low-level hunters involved in collecting items dropped by monsters. The Special Task Force will undertake the extermination of these small-scale hunters as its next step. Because small-scale hunters are spread across each region and only exist in small numbers, it is much more difficult to deal with them than it was with the NM monopolization groups that we collectively banned. It will be necessary to perform more detailed investigations in dealing with these hunters. That is why reports provided by FINAL FANTASY XI users provide very useful information in this process. We appreciate everyone's help and cooperation.
The futureAt the time the Special Task Force was established, any mention of hunters would bring up images of people monopolizing Notorious Monsters and causing trouble for regular players. At that time, we set a goal of exterminating these hunters and worked hard at it for a year, finally managing to reach 90% extermination this past summer. However, this is not the end of our activities. As was explained earlier, there are still hunters engaged in other activities. Since we have been able to deal with these kinds of hunters so exhaustively by the end of this year, we would like to exterminate all of the remaining hunters by summer next year.
Hunters frequently use third-party software to obtain more gil in smaller spans of time, and one of the most common uses for third-party software is enhanced character movement. However, these actions are all recorded in server logs. We have dealt severely with these accounts upon discovering them, but we are looking into the possibility of systematic changes that will make enhanced character movement impossible.