Perfect World says the Neverwinter exploit this weekend was performed by "malicious" and "unsavory" players.
That's why they call it a beta test, I suppose. Neverwinter's open beta has been going strong for the last three weeks, but an exploit was discovered yesterday and well, exploited by a small group of players. By manipulating a bug in the Gateway system, these players received unearned Astral Diamonds - a currency in Neverwinter - and then resold them on the Auction House for Zen, the currency you can purchase for real money. The market was flooded. Perfect World quickly shut down the beta servers, and issued a statement late last night saying they had called in the entire development team to close the loophole, but ultimately the team decided they could not let the severe damage to the economy stand. The servers were rolled back to a few minutes before the incident began - meaning about 7 hours of XP progress and in-game purchased with real money made between 5:20 AM and 12:20 PM Pacific Time on Sunday, May 19 by legitimate and malicious players alike has now disappeared.
"Rather than let the malicious efforts of a few unsavory players linger and continually impact the game's economy and balance as we progress through these later stages of Open Beta, we have made the extremely difficult decision to rollback Neverwinter to a time shortly before the abuse and exploitation began," wrote Dezstravus, one of the community managers on Perfect World's official Neverwinter forums.
Dezstravus thanked the community for its help in tracking down the bug and the exploiters. "Thanks in no small part to the efforts of our continually amazing Beta community, we were able to quickly identify the exploit and the perpetrators," he said. "Once identified, we took immediate action, calling in the entire development and publishing teams to lock down the Neverwinter open beta test as we sought out a solution."
As of about 2 A.M. PT on Monday, May 20th, the Neverwinter beta servers are back online. The Auction House and Astral Diamond Exchange are still down, however, as the team performs "extensive testing" on the systems to make sure they are working as intended.
It's been over century since the Spellplague forever changed The Forgotten Realms. Now, explore the city that's been at the center of a thousand adventures: Neverwinter. Adapted from the real Dungeons and Dragon's ruleset, Neverwinter will feature action-oriented combat and storytelling unlike any other MMO. Take the world in your hands with the Foundry toolset and make your own tales. Make your mark in this legendary world.
The team did try to mollify the community as much as possible, apologizing for the rollback and offering some compensation for the lost time. "As a token of our appreciation for you, the community, and all that you've done for the game throughout these days of Beta, we will be sending a thank-you gift to players," Dezstravus said. We're not sure what the gift will entail but hopefully it's something that will appease players.
It's always a hard decision to roll back progress on an MMO, especially one with real money at stake. Say you had saved up your money to purchase a whole bunch of Lockbox keys for real cash on Sunday morning, only to find everything you had bought was gone when you logged back in. There are many loud complainers on the Perfect World forums right now, but hopefully the majority of the community will realize incidents and exploits like this one is exactly what a beta test is meant to uncover.
Now, if this happened in a "released" game, well, then that's a different story.
Source: Perfect World Forums