Daybreak Games Bans Thousands of EverQuest and EverQuest II Accounts for After-market Keys

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

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Update
Players who were banned for these cheaply acquired expansions and content packs for EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Planetside 2 are currently in the process of being unbanned. The expansions and content packs will then be stripped from these accounts. Continue Reading…

After last week’s banning and suspension of hundreds of EverQuest II players for running third party software including boxing and botting programs (the bans seemed to be indiscriminate and extremely random), it seemed like things might be getting back to normal. So much for that idea.

For years, it has been possible to buy EverQuest and EverQuest II expansions at a discounted rate on sites like Steam, G2A, and PlayerAuctions. There is nothing in the EQ or EQ2 EULA or TOS that constrains where expansion keys can be purchased. Now that is being called into question as thousands of EverQuest and EverQuest II players who bought a code from the aforementioned market sites in the last five months were banned overnight. We can guess that at least some of these keys were acquired from Akella-Online when they were still publishing EverQuest in Russia. The provenance of all these keys has not been confirmed but they’ve been accepted by the official Daybreak websites for nearly five months now.  Now, all of these customers have been banned for the reason “Chargebacks” even though some accounts purchased the expansion nearly 5 months ago. That is a month beyond the maximum chargeback time.

The Occam’s Razor principle holds that the simplest explanation is usually the right one. Which is more likely? That all the sales of Expansions, Zone Unlocks (an EQ thing), and Krono from three different websites and multiple sellers got charged back all at the same time? Or that Daybreak wants to punish players for buying out-of-region expansions at a discount? As to the argument “you get what you pay for”, don’t forget all the years when it was possible to buy All Access Subscriptions for as little as $15 a year due to sales and rebates. It is not unexpected that it would be possible to buy the expansion at a discounted rate. Daybreak has not posted any announcement or commentary on this situation.

From KnowTechie:

According to an on-going thread on RedGuides (a forum for multi-boxers in EverQuest) thousands of accounts have recently been hit with a wave of bans. After a slew of inexpensive keys for their newest expansion The Broken Mirror hit popular reselling sites like G2A and PlayerAuctions, players who’ve activated these keys have been banned.

This also included Krono, which is a currency purchased with real life money and can be exchanged for one month of game subscription, as well as bundle keys that grant players packs of digital goodies. There’s a good chance these keys may have been purchased by credit card scammers, these bans are apparently also impacting users who purchased keys directly from Daybreak’s store, or via Steam.

Ban emails are coming from Daybreak Games (f/k/a as Sony Online Entertainment) showing that people have been banned for Chargebacks. This might explain the theory of fraudulent/stolen game keys – but that doesn’t explain why accounts are being banned who purchased these items through direct methods.

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This is also being discussed on the EverQuest Reddit,

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Comments (39)

  • Perturbed but not surprised

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    This is what I got hit with and I bought a key from G2A….. Well if they stick with the ban then my 12 years and yearly sub fees are gone, I will free up almost a 120gb of space by removing all SOE/DBG games.

    If they were smart and they aren’t, remove what ever game expansion was bought from the sites in question and let folks back in. Otherwise the little people they have playing and paying just got smaller.

    Reply

  • Malade

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    If you bought an ‘after market’ ‘reduced price’ key from someone other than Daybreak, you knew it was ‘pirated’ in some way.

    I’m guessing they ban instead of Drunder for database size and considerations?

    Reply

    • Endymion

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      Being sent to Drunder is probably more about punishing you for gameplay-related stuff rather than financial matters.

      Reply

  • Ardur

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    keep banning people dbg, and dont even try to get new people into your games. This is OBVIOUSLY the best way to improve revenue for eq2. lol.

    Reply

  • Neiloch

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    Third party re-sellers of keys are notorious for acquiring those keys with stolen CC information. I can’t argue against the idea that some may be legit but ALL game companies hemorrhage money from these sites due to charge backs. Especially since the idea of ‘F2P’ has been declining in use.

    And they may have very well got those chargebacks quite a while ago but just never imposed a penalty on the key-users since its very likely ‘honest’ customers bought them. Even that was quite generous since ignorance of merchandise being ‘hot’ doesn’t entitle the purchaser to keep the item in spite of the crime.

    Reply

  • zerigo

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    This sucks for the people who spent real money, for stolen keys, only to be have their accounts banned for it. Would have made more sense to deactivate the shady expansions. DBG needs to stay out of the press at this point, this trainwrecks getting bad.

    Reply

    • Desius

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      I disagree. It doesn’t suck for them. I have no doubt that somewhere in their mind they knew what they were buying and that it was a risk.

      Caveat Emptor

      Reply

  • Desius

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    Third party / grey market keys are effectively used property and sites like G2A are digital pawn shops. Just like in the real world, the likelihood that the vast majority of what you might buy in a pawn shop is stolen.

    Unlike most items at a pawn shop, digital items have a unique identifier and can be traced to the purchase/theft(chargeback) so you are even more likely to get stung when buying your games from the back alley van equivalent of steam.

    Sites like G2A need to be fined and sued into oblivion. I don’t feel a lick of pity for people who buy there and lose out when their key is disabled. I feel bad for the game publishers who have credit problems and spend more money fighting the theft than they should.

    I imagine we will see more and more companies taking all of their sales in-house and only allowing major resellers (steam) to sell keys. The promo/bundle inclusions may dry up too, since that is where a lot of keys come from. The one source that is difficult to police is where people hedge on the regional price variances and treat software as a global commodity. This is offset by only allowing a centralized key selling service and database though, as well as disallowing open ownership transfers(only helps with online titles)

    Reply

  • Neiloch

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    G2A and playerauctions make sense but I can’t figure out why Steam got nailed. I assumed those were keys purposely provided to Valve/Steam by DBG?

    Reply

  • Pipsissiwa

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    Whilst not a buyer/seller/user of Kronos, I am concerned about reports that some people who bought Kronos legitimately on the broker with in-game plat are being banned as the Krono they bought was bought fraudulently by the seller. As there is no way to know where your Krono orginally came from from it seems extremely unfair to ban those people. It’s hard to ‘caveat emptor’ in that situation. Also some people say that they were gifted expansions by guildies/friends who bought from the third party sites and now they themselves are banned as the end user of the code. This also seems unfair.

    Obviously these are only reports, but if at all true I find them worrying indeed.

    Reply

  • Carnifex

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    Any action taken against cheaters I’m good with. Skip suspensions and warnings, permabans only because you know they will just try again in the future. Clean the cesspool properly!

    Reply

    • Feldon

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      If you ban everyone who bots or boxes, I’m guessing the number of subscribers is gonna drop about 8-10%.

      Reply

      • lol not posting my username

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        At least that. In my small circle of eq2 friends I think all but one boxed from time to time, a couple botted. I mean shit, I got like 8 accounts myself.

        Reply

      • Snark

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        You think it’s only that much of the server base on any given server? Interesting.

        Reply

      • Arabel

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        If you think the number is that small you’re extremely kidding yourself :p

        Reply

      • Stabaholic

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        Honestly they should just let people openly use a couple of the botting programs. It’s good revenue when people buy 6 expansions and pay 6 subscriptions at a time. BDO has built in AFK leveling and stuff and it’s a smooth well oiled machine. Everyone can do it so noone has an advantage over any other player.

        Reply

  • Eschia

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    If folks are getting banned because they bought over Steam, it sounds like lawsuit territory to me. As if DBG’s reputation wasn’t already tarnished in the eyes of gamers as it is. This would be the cannonball that sinks the galleon. Just look at the ratings to their games on various gaming sites.

    Reply

  • Archangel

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    knowtechie.com/daybreak-games-bans-thousands-everquest-accounts-market-keys/
    “Daybreak Games bans thousands of EverQuest accounts for after-market keys and goods”
    “The Broken Mirror hit popular reselling sites like G2A and PlayerAuctions, players who’ve activated these keys have been banned.”
    “There’s a good chance these keys may have been purchased by credit card scammers, these bans are apparently also impacting users who purchased keys directly from Daybreak’s store, or via Steam.”

    I’m guessing it’s Daybreak’s chargeback-bots that are auto-banning people. And like the Wall Street trading-bots of years back, it’s crashing the market.

    The buyers have been victimized twice. On the other hand, were it my credit card that was being fraudulently used, I would chargeback in a heart beat.

    However Daybreak is stuck in a no-win situation. The buyers were acting in good faith, paid real funds, and for their support are being banned and purchases denied. But Daybreak has/is losing real funds too from chargebacks.

    To prevent a public relations meltdown, and provided the buyers did not initiate the chargeback:

    o If the buyers purchased materials from Daybreak directly, and were banned – They should immediately be re-instated and products returned to them.
    o If the buyers purchased Daybreak materials from a third-party seller – Buyers must file chargebacks against The Third-Party Sellers, to get their funds back. Note that in the case of Steam, this may incur being banned from their site. Contact Steam first. Daybreak, upon receiving proof of legitimate purchase from the buyers, should immediately re-instate the buyers.
    o Daybreak should create a link, allowing these buyers to contact them directly about This Issue.

    This is really really bad for all legitimate parties.

    “Now, all of these customers have been banned for the reason “Chargebacks” even though some accounts purchased the expansion nearly 5 months ago. That is a month beyond the maximum chargeback time.” Feldon

    In the case of charge by PayPal, No. It’s 180 days (about six months), and in varying circumstances it can be Longer.

    http://www.ecommercebytes.com/C/abblog/blog.pl?/comments/2014/9/1410970242.html/2/20
    “PayPal’s latest policy change is the latest burden merchants must face. PayPal is extending the Dispute Filing Window from 45 days to 180 days. That means buyers can dispute a transaction 6 months after making a purchase.

    PayPal had already extended the dispute window in the UK”

    One example from PayPal itself:

    paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/ua/useragreement-full
    “Open a Dispute within 180 Days of the date you sent the payment, then follow the online dispute resolution process described below under Dispute Resolution. For Pay After Delivery transactions you must open your Dispute within 180 Days of the date of your transaction.”

    Do a document search for the other “180″ day surprises.

    “If you ban everyone who bots or boxes” Feldon

    But do note that while Daybreak Games loathes bots and will ban them, boxing is not a punishable offense and is DG legal. At least for now.

    /*

    usa.visa.com/support/small-business/dispute-resolution.html
    “Chargebacks refer to the reversal of the dollar value (in whole or in part) of a transaction by the card issuer to the acquirer, and usually, by the merchant bank to the merchant. Chargeback can be costly for merchants—you could lose both the dollar amount of the transaction as well as the related merchandise, and may also incur internal handling costs.”

    Reply

  • Necromancer

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    I’m on the fence with this one. On one hand there is nothing in the TOS or EULA that specifically state where you can get your CD-KEYS from. On the other hand using third party vendors is shady. I feel like the TOS should have been updated and an email sent out to all customers that going forward any third party CD-KEY or krono used would result in an immediately ban. Technically, none of those people were breaking the TOS and I feel like there’s a case to contest their bans.

    Reply

    • Feldon

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      TOS/EULA dictating where you can buy products have been rejected in the courts.

      Reply

      • Desius

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        Correct. The only way a publisher like DBG could control this is if they only sold the keys themselves, and if registration had to happen at this same time. Then they have a database of valid keys and owners. Let’s call them licenses from here instead of keys, since ‘key’ implies you’re unlocking something. Do away with keys and the whole “register your key here” mess and move to account IDs and entitlement IDs. You can’t resell those without some sort of transfer, which the company can facilitate and charge for. Since billing is tied to an account ID, ownership has to be transferred. Since expansion/DLC/etc addon content is an entitlement on an account (no key, attached to account at purchase) then those can’t be resold at all without the account itself. This does away with the whole problem of grey market. .

        Reply

  • Olee

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    How does anyone could know when buying from a third party web site if it is legit or not?

    Especially when those shops sells the same products for years without any issue, without any action from the game company, or any mention to not use them in their terms and conditions.

    Of course buying a product cheaper than on the retail shop could be suspicious, but we are living in a world economy where the same product could be sold ten time cheaper in some other countries. So who is to blame to try to find the best price.

    Well, I feel sorry for those who got ban when they have been paying their subscriptions for years.

    Reply

    • Babou

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      Like…I bought Vuitton purses for years in Africa, it was much cheaper, and got caught one day by customs and had to pay a fine, in addition to loose the purse…but yeah for sure…wasn’t counterfeit..
      Wake up guys, if it is cheaper, it stinks.
      Nothing to do with world economy.

      Reply

  • Tom

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    This is almost surreal. First the carpet bombing for the duping software (love that phrase, Feldon) and now over the top punishment for folks who bought a discounted product 4 months before it’s new version is published.

    I’d love to know what the brains at DBG are even thinking at this stage. Has someone new been appointed that has over zealously applied this “catch all filter” and in the process reducing an already dwindling population?

    DBG. Stop killing EQ2 PLEASE.

    Reply

  • Katz

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    Not communicating clearly about this is definitely not good business practice by DBG.

    Everyone knows SOMETHING is going on. In the absence of information from Daybreak, people will fill the info vacuum with anything and everything from anywhere and everywhere.

    I’m concerned with the “bought from Steam and DBG” statements. I bought my expansions from DBG as did probably a majority of the people that play.

    I’m also concerned with the ban now, ask questions later policy. And the hey you can’t use your account to get customer service you have to make another account and then wait in line procedure.

    I really wish they would make a well thought out post on the forums or somewhere and also change the way they handle customer service.

    Perhaps they can’t say anything because the lawyers won’t let them? I don’t know, I can only guess because, ya know, no official info is available.

    Reply

  • Lurker

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    DBG. Stop killing EQ2 PLEASE.

    - Tom

    This.

    Reply

  • Adler

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    i had no idea what Chargeback was until i looked it up of course then i did a ticket to complain nothing was wrong with my card… Well yes i bought it off a site (I had a hunch it might be wrong) BUT it was 7 months since Thalumba came out so maybe it might be cheaper now. Was i wrong for buying it sure i was but i did what i did and was terminated but then few minutes ago i got this notice below.

    We regret to inform you that the account name: my username has been issued a warning due to a Community Standards violation. After reviewing our records, one of the characters on this account was found to have committed the following violations:

    • On Thursday, June 30th, Daybreak Games identified and suspended a number of accounts across EverQuest, EverQuest 2, PlanetSide 2 and DC Universe Online. These accounts had redeemed content via keys sold on third-party key selling sites. Those keys had been invalidated due to credit card chargebacks, which is often indicative of fraudulent purchases. Players should always beware of keys sold outside of Daybreak Games or our official affiliate partners like Steam.

    • Daybreak understands that some players may not have known that they were purchasing invalid keys. We will be reversing the suspensions through the holiday weekend so players can continue to play and enjoy our titles. However, we want to emphasize that players should be wary of any game keys purchased from sellers other than Daybreak or Steam, as those keys may not be valid, and we cannot provide any refunds for keys that were purchased from third-party sites.

    We will be reversing the suspensions through the holiday weekend so players can continue to play and enjoy our titles. However, we want to emphasize that players should be wary of any game keys purchased from sellers other than Daybreak or Steam, as those keys may not be valid, and we cannot provide any refunds for keys that were purchased from third-party sites.

    Reply

  • Lucus

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    if you want no risk then buy this stuff directly, whoever you trade with there is always a chance of fraud when it is about RMT transactions.

    even steam is vulnerable to fraud, what is stopping someone stealing CC info buying keys off steam with those details and then selling them for less then they are worth?

    if somebody that is not a retailer selling a product for $10 or less when it’s worth $40 you should be suspicious on the providence of the item. given digital items are easiyl tracked you should be extra careful with digital purchases.

    Reply

  • Praezeptor

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    I’m also get this message via Mail:

    Greetings,

    This is a notification from Daybreak Game Company.

    We regret to inform you that the account name: XXXXXXXX has been issued a warning due to a Community Standards violation. After reviewing our records, one of the characters on this account was found to have committed the following violations:

    On Thursday, June 30th, Daybreak Games identified and suspended a number of accounts across EverQuest, EverQuest 2, PlanetSide 2 and DC Universe Online. These accounts had redeemed content via keys sold on third-party key selling sites. Those keys had been invalidated due to credit card chargebacks, which is often indicative of fraudulent purchases. Players should always beware of keys sold outside of Daybreak Games or our official affiliate partners like Steam.
    Daybreak understands that some players may not have known that they were purchasing invalid keys. We will be reversing the suspensions through the holiday weekend so players can continue to play and enjoy our titles. However, we want to emphasize that players should be wary of any game keys purchased from sellers other than Daybreak or Steam, as those keys may not be valid, and we cannot provide any refunds for keys that were purchased from third-party sites.

    We do not take situations like this lightly and are informing you that future incidences could result in further action against you, up to and including permanent account ban. You may view the full Terms of Service here: https://www.daybreakgames.com/terms-of-service

    Thank you for your consideration,

    Daybreak Games Support

    But is ToT still active or not? We will see it after holliday weekend …

    Reply

    • Feldon

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      The cheaply acquired expansions are going to be stripped off of accounts since Daybreak was never paid for them.

      Reply

      • Fire

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        I agree. But will those accounts be given a chance to re-purchase the expansion?

        Reply

        • Feldon

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          Should be able to after the invalid expansion is stripped from the account. Now would be a great time for an expansion sale. :)

          Reply

  • Fire

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    I believe DBG has created a lose-lose situation here.

    Players who have bought the expansion from a third-party site (and lead to chargebacks) should have their expansions taken off rather than banned. Then, either:

    1, They can still play the game but they cannot enter Thalumbra, Maldura or any GU100 zones until they re-purchase the expansion from DBG.
    2, Their accounts are suspended until they re-purchase the expansion.

    DBG should send out emails to every EQ / EQII account holder to warn them the consequences of purchasing expansions from any third-party sites.

    Reply

  • Praezeptor

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    UPDATE!!!
    I’m back!
    After the Mail my Account was already reactivated and “/show_account_features” ingame have ToT is still listed.
    So don’t worry if u are still banned and give DBG time to handle this over the next days.
    It seems that’s many Accounts affected.

    Reply

  • GriffonLady

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    Considering that (if they maintain the pattern they’ve had since FTP began) expansions become free after 2 years, a warning that is prominently displayed in several locations (on the launchers of each game, on the DBGs website, and on each game’s forums) that any non-DBG keys will be subject to rejection and /or bans bought after this date could have been a good option. No loss of players and better for the business’s reputation (could even spin it to look pretty damn good, reputation wise).
    Two wrongs don’t make a right, and banning people who did nothing more than try to save a bit of money was pretty wrong. (XD Except for those who save money by actually using stolen credit cards! THOSE can go DIaF! But I bet there was only a small handful of that type in this mess. >..<)

    Reply

  • Arazons

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    I cancelled my daybreak subs months ago. After the EQN bs and the steady decline in the amount of content they actually create for successive EQ2 expansions, I’ve had enough. The community is what made the EQ franchise great. When the player populations dwindle to non-existence and the community no longer exists as it once was its time to move on, as I have recently recognized. I hope daybreak gets a swift kick in the ass in regards to subs and purchases on their next round of xpacs for eq and eq2.

    I’ve got my hopes up for Pantheon

    Reply

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