Free-to-Play Games Should Require Identity Verification

Bots are getting too far out of hand in F2P games and it's time we did something about it.

The biggest issue we currently have with free-to-play games isn't specifically the quality of the games, but the exploits. It's been the major inhibiter for a lot of F2P games, primarily ArcheAge, and it's time to just say we need to do something about it. That's why I believe we need to attach personally identifiable information to authenticate ourselves individually to create an account, thus one account per person living in the United States. 

Before you get up in arms about giving game developers information like that, just hold your horses, there are many various third-parties that operate for banks and the such that you already do this for and would gladly integrate into any MMO's. That's critical to understand first. Secondly, these third-parties are really good at leveraging the credit bureaus and Lexis Nexus et al to identify you with very little information given to them, usually the last four digits of your social security number and your address. 

So let's take that out of consideration for a second. Now, the big issue with ArcheAge is that "hackers" exploited the ability to generate free accounts to farm large amounts of Labor Points, exploited the land grab to snag up as much land as possible, and are constantly running thousands of bots to harvest trees. It got so bad that a lot of legitimate players were banned in the process, although, the ner'do'wells are among them in heavy groves trying to get their primary patron account unbanned "I have paid money and you have banned me, why?" yet many of these exploits obviously would require a singular patron account in order to operate the exploits. 

If each account for ArcheAge was tied to a specific social security number (again, we're talking third-party non-personally identifiable obfuscated way of doing this, not literally giving Trion your social security number), then it would be a lot harder for people to just generate accounts. This practice is already done - in South Korea. Not only is this practice already done, but yes you would in South Korea literally give Trion your social security number to make an account. 

In the old days, the comedy of it was that your SSN in Korea contained your gender, so you would be locked to male or female in games like Ragnarok Online based on your SSN. Anyway, this practice would make many of the F2P games much more enjoyable to play, because everyone's accounts would literally be sacred. Think of how little griefing and trolling would occur to the limits that a GM would get involved if you could only literally have one account to the game the rest of your life and if you got banned, you'd have to use someone else's. 

Sure a black market would appear, but like I said, third-party services require just a little bit of information, but also require you to answer questions and the such to verify your identity, like about your mortgage, your car, streets you've lived on, phone numbers you've had, etc. So generating SSN's wouldn't help much and in addition, yes a black market would appear, but anyone selling their account on the black market would have to understand the repercussions of never being able to make their own account again. 

Anyway - it's an idea to solve a growing problem of bots and "hackers" in Free-to-Play games. It's kind of extreme, but hey I'd rather give Experian information they already have about me for them to tell Trion or whoever that I'm me and enjoy a game versus playing in what I consider the wild west and having B E S T D E A L S A N Y W H E R E attempt to sell me gold and riches while seeing legions of characters teleporting around ravaging the game world. 

What are your thoughts? Would you be comfortable giving a third-party like Experian your information and having just one account for a free-to-play game or do you think that's taking it too far? Let me know in the comments below. 


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About The Author

Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.

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