Many of you may know me from the Lord Skunk community but for those of you who don’t I am a big spender who has been playing the game since December and I am a member of the second Team iNstinct guild. I know our two guilds have been at the heart of many of these discussions on Reddit and the official game forums, but I write this not to defend Team iNstinct but to suggest that in-fact these topics are natural emerging issues in any new type of competitive play. If it helps to demonstrate that I do actually know quite a lot on gameplay mechanics and how they can force certain player behaviours, I also hold a Master’s degree in the subject of Games Computing from the University of Lincoln, UK.
Both of the two features that have caused controversy have centred around competitive aspects of the game, and the fight to either be the first to achieve something or be the top scoring team over a sustained period of time. For anyone reading this that does not know the two topics I speak of, I will explain them now. Firstly, Guild Hopping. This is when one or more members of a guild jump between guilds in order to complete more raids. For example, if a community was made of 4 guilds then they would each be earning guild currency at the same rate but one member of each could rotate to the other guilds effectively giving them 4x the raids, 4x the loot, and 4x the Han Solo shards, hence why this topic came to a front when this method was used to get an EASB member the world’s first Han unlock. Secondly, alt accounts can be created by players in order to provide extra guild currency per day. People play the game on multiple accounts and then deposit all of their account’s 600 coins upon reset time. This makes it possible for a guild to do more raids per week.
When an aspect of a game is centred around competition, and indeed in any type of competive play or sport, each player/team’s aim is to win, or get as close to winning as they can. There are obviously many examples of this but the simplest one would be a game of football (Soccer for you Americans!). Each team uses a series of tactics to try and beat everyone else they come across. If one team comes up with a new tactic or buys a new expensive player to give themselves a better chance winning, others follow suit because they must if they are to keep up! In competitive card games like Hearthstone this is especially obvious as new ‘OP’ decks are made which are then copied by lots of community members as they give the best chance of winning! This is the same with Class setups in games like call of duty and counterstrike where someone will develop a strong class and set of tactics and others will follow suite. My point here is that not only is this type of behaviour in sports and games allowed, but it is expected! I have read many people state that these two particular tactics in GOH are exploits or cheating, but to me they are just good examples of people coming up with new tactics on the path to succeed and be the world’s best in a particular area. We wouldn’t call it an exploit if an Olympic swimmer wore a new material that made them faster, nor do we call it cheating when a new racing car is designed that is faster than all the others. The fact is, these tactics are often created and first used by the people at the cutting edge of the competition, and then if successful adopted by other competitors over time. In my opinion, exploiting and cheating are terms to describe something that either breaks the rules of a competition or allows one competitor to do something that others are unable to do, neither of which are applicable here!
Google defines the act of cheating as follows:
To act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage.
No-one as far as I am aware has ever been dishonest about these actions. EASB to their credit came out and said ‘we got the world’s first Han Solo and this is how’. Using alts to gain currency has also been openly talked about on the forums, so I don’t think anyone can claim dishonesty in these matters. Whether you think it is unfair or not is completely down to your own understanding of fairness, and my understanding is that something is only unfair if it cannot be accessed equally by all people. It is worth noting at this point that all mobile games that operate on a pay to gain something model are inherently unfair as some players can physically gain something that is locked behind a pay wall and others who can’t afford it can’t access it, which makes it obviously not equally accessible. The fact that I have access to more expendable income than most and can afford to have every character in the game at max level and 7* etc. is a much more unfair concept and yet that is just accepted as the norm in these types of game.
A further extension to this point is the idea of creating new teams that dominate arena. I spend on average 4-6 hours a day just theory crafting about different teams and I know a large number of members in my guild and other top guilds do the same! Is it an exploit if I spend time trying out the most bizarre of teams and then stumbling upon a team that absolutely destroys all other meta teams? Or is it just a case of some players investing more time and energy into developing new strategies than others and reaping the rewards of that? The fact that one of my guild mates has just managed to solo P1 T7 heroic Rancor by making that his solo aim since the new content came out is in my opinion impressive and commendable rather than unjust in some way.
Despite the fact that I have outlined my own opinion on these matters, that is not my main purpose here. My main point to make is that regardless of whether you believe these actions are perfectly fine or completely immoral, you can’t really disagree that they occur inside the system that we have been provided by the developers. They create the rules of the competition and we follow them. Unfortunately, if we want the rulebook changing we need to ask the writers of it to do so, not argue about the different interpretations of reading the same book.