The big picture: After a massive global release in February that made the South Korean MMO one of the most popular games on Steam in just 48 hours, the team behind Lost Ark has announced that it has banned "over a million illegitimate accounts." The move is reported to have significantly reduced server loading times and curbed previously rampant cheating behavior.
Lost Ark's launch in February was widely considered to be a massive success, hitting over 1.3 million concurrent users for the MMO in its first two days of launch. However, in the month since its release, players all over social media and on the game's official forums decried the rampant botting and cheating.
Smilegate and Amazon Games have responded in a big way. In a statement made to their blog on Friday, the Lost Ark team announced that it would be permanently removing over one million illegitimate accounts, adding that "maintaining a fair and fun gameplay experience is a top priority for the team."
While Lost Ark isn't the first MMO to permanently remove bots in a wave of bans, it may be the first to do it on such a massive scale. Another Amazon online game, New World, banned just over 7,700 accounts in its last wave of account deletions.
Our team has been hard at work on crafting tools and methods to identify and remove bots from the game. Today (3/4) we will be removing over a million illegitimate accounts that have been determined to be running bots.--- Lost Ark (@playlostark) March 4, 2022
Complete details below!https://t.co/SQktz7IM56
Because of the game's popularity, players have also dealt with long server lines since its release. But this wave of bans seems to have cut into waiting times considerably, with some players reporting that lines have shrunk by thousands of players during peak periods.
The team also clarified that players who were "erroneously identified as bots" would be allowed to contact the team to overturn their ban.
This is just the start of Lost Ark's fight against cheating and bot use. "Looking ahead, we will continue our work on detecting and removing botting, cheating, and harmful behavior from Lost Ark at scale, which includes expanding our anti-cheat tools, improving bot identification methods, and rolling out more ban waves as frequently as is necessary," the team stated.
Because Lost Ark is currently Free to Play, it is generally more prone to duplicate accounts and exploitation than games locked behind a paywall. However, this current ban is an encouraging step in the right direction and may help maintain a stable player base.
This move comes on the heels of Amazon's March update announcement, which details plans to bring a significant amount of new story questlines and end-game content to the Western version of Lost Ark.