One part of the afternoon announcements was a Special Task Force report, which I felt deserved its own section in our Fan Fest feature. And, if nothing else, the Special Task Force showed us that they have a great sense of humor, even while dealing with the serious issues involved. The leader of "the Force," Sage Sundi, was the presenter for this part of the show. The first thing they showed was "STF WARS," in which they listed all of the accounts banned (by server) in the last year. This list scrolled across the screen in that slanty-text used in Star Wars prologues. They had to speed up the pace of the list in a hurry, however, as they had banned literally thousands of RMTs, botters, and other players who break the Terms of Service in an attempt to profit.
After this, we were given a three-part demonstration of what improvements are being made in the Special Task Force to combat RMT activity. The first was their new-and-improved RMT pattern-and-network-detecting program, lovingly entitled "RMT Pwner Ver 1.337." The crowd got a good laugh out of this, but the laughs died down quickly as Sundi continued the presentation. With the power of RMT Pwner, the Special Task Force is now able to track all accounts that have any communication with a suspect RMT account. Hunters, sellers, mules, and buyers are all quickly drawn into the large net cast, and then the STF can weed through to determine which accounts are dirty, and which are clean.
The second part was entitled "a little fishing of our own..." and it involved the use of psychological damage to reduce RMT activities. The example given was that of moat carp and Lu Shang's fishing rod. Veteran players know that there are only two ways to obtain the rod: trade in 10,000 moat carp to an NPC, or buy it from another player who completed the aforementioned feat. For years, RMTs have used fishing as a means to obtain gil and sell it, thus artificially inflating the in-game economy. In the past, Square Enix would ban fish-botters on the spot. Now, however, they're willing to play it out. And they don't mind revealing their cards on this one either, because they know the impact it will have regardless. Now, they will identify accounts that are fish-botting and trading moat carp to the NPC in an attempt to get Lu Shang's rod. Square Enix will let the RMT/botter go on their merry way, letting them think they aren't going to get caught. Then, as they approach 9000, or even 9900, Square Enix's Special Task Force takes action! The account is banned! "Loss of income + Psychological Damage = LIFELONG REGRET!" This slogan had the audience falling out of their chairs laughing, but on a more serious note, I can't help but be thankful that Sundi and his crew are coming up with creative countermeasures like this one.
Part three, you ask? "Do not pass go, do not collect 200 gil," of course. Basically, this part of the STF presentation was re-emphasizing their goal to catch RMTs and botters red-handed. Supervise during key events, or have surveillance for the "transactions" of RMT activities as they're about to happen, then the GM shows up to whisk the offending player away to the jail, never to return. Again, the slogan appeared on screen: "PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE = LIFELONG REGRET." I love it.