Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds will combat AFK farmers

Here’s some sort of rule: if a popular multiplayer game has an item drop system, players will try to exploit it – to the detriment of others. This goes double when those items can be sold. Now that Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds [official site] is the most populous game on Steam and its rarest items dropped in ‘crates’ can sell for hundreds of pounds, you betcha folks are trying to exploit it. Developers Bluehole Studio say they are away of people joining games then simply leaving it running, accumulating points to buy crates simply by standing still, and they do plan to combat it.

So! Some Plunkbat players are simply leaving the game running and not playing. They join a round then leave it be. As the dropship flies over the island and active players leap out to their destination, eventually everyone will be kicked out and AFKers drift to the ground safely. They will eventually be killed, either by other players or by Plunkbat’s ever-shrinking safe zones, but staying alive for any time gets them a handful of the ‘Battle Points’ that are used to buy crates of cosmetic items.

What’s the harm? Well, when you want to be thrown onto a grim island with 99 other players trying to murder each other, any of those player slots being used by AFKers detracts from the potential action.

What will Bluehole do about it? Over the weekend, they told cheery RPS fanzine PC Gamer:

“We are aware of that thing happening and we have the team working to analyse what’s actually going on there. But from what we are aware of right now, we know that the portion of players that are AFKing just to earn BP isn’t that high as of now but we do want to create a tool or vehicle to prevent AFKers from just trying to earn BP and not actually play the game. It could be either just us adjusting the balance of BPs being earned for each game or, just from a structural point of view, preventing AFKs as a whole. We haven’t fully decided on the direction of that yet but it’s something that we will definitely be addressing.”

PCG’s Evan Lahti says he has seen up to 13 or 14 AFKers but I can’t say I’ve ever seen nearly that many myself. The most AFKers I’ve ever met is five, and obviously some of those could be folks who had to nip away from their computers, crashed, or otherwise abandoned the game. I don’t doubt it happens, mind.

I fired up Plunkbat just now and AFKed through a few drops (in both regular and first-person queues) to check out the scale of the problem. The most AFKers I saw in these rounds was four. Every time, at least one non-AFK person dropped alongside the group to reap easy kills; that’s another way to farm points, I guess. I was, of course, forced to beat them to death.

Selling items on the Steam Community Market does often bring this unfortunate motivation to many games.

And the worst part is, it’s all over clothing which is largely ghastly. Some of the rarest, most valuable garments are okay but mate, I’ve mostly stopped even getting crates because they’re filled with rubbish. Good grief, please give us a new wardrobe before Plunkbat leaves early access.

In the meantime, Plunkbat continues to be fab. I’m creeping up on 100 hours and, while I have won only five times, I’m still having a whale of a time. My usual Plunkpals and I are currently focusing on improving picking engagements and disengaging, which is going well. We took home a delicious chicken dinner last night after starting fights and ducking out of others all along the west coast. Lovely game.

33 Comments

  1. soneill34 says:

    If you’re AFK, you don’t earn BP. Easy enough!

    • phuzz says:

      How do you differentiate between someone who is AFK, and, for example, a sniper who is camping and waiting for a shot? And by “How do you differentiate”, I mean, how do you program the server to do it, in a way which won’t occasionally penalise a real player, because if you do there’ll be angry forum threads for days.
      If you piss off more than about 1% of the playerbase, then the amount of complaining will reach such levels that people will assume that the game is broken for every player.

      • fish99 says:

        It’s pretty simple honestly. If after a minute they haven’t moved from their landing spot by more than 10 foot, disconnect them and give them zero points.

        • wengart says:

          That has the possibility of catching real players. I recall a match about a month ago where I landed in an area with another 4 players. My landing spot was literally in a bush so I went prone to avoid detection for at least a minute while the opposing squad looted around me.

        • Veroeup says:

          You say that the game should kick based upon a distance from drop location with a 1 minute period, there are 2 reasons this wouldn’t work effectively. If people are that dedicated to AFK farming then they’d just use a macro to either hold “W” or alternatively use the inbuilt equals key to automatically move 10 metres or some other way of surpassing that kick boundary, also 10 metres sounds a bit far fetch’d as there’s a possibility that a player could easily be looting within a 10 metre radius of where they dropped for a minute and get kicked from the game whilst not being AFK at all.

  2. robotslave says:

    Given that there are all-too-real people playing this game who enjoy wandering about aimlessly without even looting, or heading for the nearest small confined space and then shutting the door and hiding for the whole game, I have to imagine that there are already bots out there that can pass for human, at least for purposes of farming these crate things.

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why in the world the game-makers who face this kind of problem can’t just make this special-crate-loot non-transferrable. It’s a digital asset, for Pete’s sake, it’s not like smugglers can hide it in the secret compartment beneath the floor when they fly their spaceships into your game-account.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      The loot boxes initially could not be sold and while the contents of the most common ones have always been saleable that’s not true for all items.

      It’s not that they -can’t- make it impossible to transfer items, it’s that they don’t want to. Every time someone sells an item on the steam marketplace, Bluehole takes a small cut, and valve takes a small cut. They make money from this for no active effort, so of course they want to encourage people to sell things.

      • robotslave says:

        But, but… BlueHole (or any other company in this situation) could just sell items directly to players, pocketing most of the proceeds instead of a tiny percentage, no? They could even keep some of them artificially scarce, and charge more for them…

        Honestly, there’s just no reason at all to keep items transferrable from player to player once it becomes a source of problems directly affecting the game.

        • wengart says:

          People get grumpy about it, but I’ve made back the cost of the game by selling crates.

          They had a limited time Gamescom crate that would sell for 2.00 to 3.00 %. Which made it relatively easy for my casual 6-7 matches a week to make back the cost of the game.

    • PseudoKnight says:

      “We created this common but entirely avoidable problem, but rest assured we’ll struggle with it for the rest of the game’s lifetime because it’s more profitable than making the game better!”

  3. widowfactory says:

    “Only” won 5 times? I’m also creeping up to 100 hours and the closest i’ve got was 2nd, the chicken dinner still remains elusive. I love this game, but I don’t think i’ve ever put so much time into a game and still be terrible at it :|

    • Sciencebot says:

      Coming in first is a really difficult thing to do. Remember, placing 2nd, 3rd, or in the top ten is a pretty great accomplishment on its own. Build on those positive experiences and don’t get stuck in a rut thinking you’re terrible just because you’re not dinnering at 65% and rocking a 10-1 KD ratio.

    • Viral Frog says:

      I’m just about to 10 hours and have nabbed up a grand total of 3 kills. I’ve had a lot more “assists” while playing with friends, but I generally just don’t see anyone. Usually I get to the top 10 then get killed by someone that I have never even seen. But I take pride in knowing that I consistently finish in the top 10-20, something a lot of people don’t do. One day I will have my chicken dinner, maybe.

      • xvre says:

        That’s a trap. It’s relatively easy to finish in the top 10 by playing passive and avoiding fights. However, that way you will always be scared and never escape that mentality.

    • Premium User Badge

      Godwhacker says:

      I’ve won four times and I’m really not that great a shot. It’s all about looting smart, working out when to move, and staying as hidden as possible- preferably outside. Also, getting a bit lucky really helps too.

      I uninstalled the game because it was taking over my life.

    • Rituro says:

      I can claim about two dozen Top 10 appearances as I approach the 100-hour mark and each one was a right challenge. To be fair, “challenging” for me includes such tasks as “clicking on people to kill them”, so perhaps I’m in the wrong game at the outset.

      Regardless, I have one chicken dinner to my name thanks to first-person mode. I managed two kills:
      -one by hiding in a house near the edge of a tiny playzone and ambushing someone as they ran in for cover from another firefight
      -one by peeking up from my belly, seeing someone before he saw me and introducing my UMP9 and its 9MM pals to their new friend

      This left me in 2nd and, with the playzone microscopic and the only visible cover a giant haystack, I crept as slow as possible to and around said haystack. No sign of an enemy. The playzone ticked down again. I held my breath and waited. Still no movement, no sound, nothing, and then — the Playzone got the final kill.

      I’m pretty sure this means without AFKers, I would not have a chicken dinner.

      • wengart says:

        AFK players usually die pretty early due to the circle and obvious nature of their landing.

        It is more likely that your opponent outplayed himself and, in fear of you, did some stupid end run through the blue zone and miscalculated the burn rate of his HP.

  4. Moonracer says:

    The amount of points you gain for surviving and not killing is pretty poor. Especially if you consider points per minute. I can get 70 points for surviving 30 minutes to 14th with no kills or 70+ points for punching someone to death then getting shot in the first 5 minutes.

    AFK farming is usually pretty funny if you encounter other farmers. Fist fights!

  5. racccoon says:

    I don’t see what the fuss is about this game, its only popular because of its name, the game play is simple, escape the stupid cloud and turn into a tiny spot, they put a parachute drop in but that’s it & a fight to the death for the last man/women, the end.
    Exploiters go ahead! Run rampant, when you got loopholes with prizes why the not take them, the game isn’t nothing new & not that great.

    • Chewbacca says:

      Or maybe the game is good but just not for you? There is just not a single game out there that implements the Battle Royale formula as well as PUBG. Is it new? Well of course not, becuase it’s based on the mods by PlayerUnknown himself.

  6. zeroingbr says:

    I think it would be cool if instead of ejecting players forcibly, the plane gave a time limit for players to jump and those who did not would be killed inside the plane (toxic gas huehuehue). Whoever died inside the plane would not get BPs. That would combat both problems. Of course it would only be suitable for solo mode.

    • Rituro says:

      Yeah, something along these lines would work for me. Maybe it gives you a “jump now or die” warning once the plane passes over land entirely, then it kills anyone still in the plane once it leaves the map?

      That said, what’s to stop someone from jumping and having nap all the same, right?

  7. theirongiant says:

    You always had a handful of desyncs even before valuable crates were a thing, not convinced it’s a) that much of an issue or b) really worth the effort considering how little BP you’ll get, the fact the price of crates doubles each time you buy one and the incredibly slim odds of getting something worth more than a couple of pence.

  8. konzen says:

    I registered to this site to rant about the incessant use of “Plunkbat” and to unsubscribe to this crap. Its annoying.

    • Harvey says:

      I on the other hand, LOVE Plunkbat. Plunkbat pluuuunkbat! PLUNK:BAT. So much fun to say. What do you prefer? Typing out the whole name? No thanks, my hands ache just thinking about all the work, and that’s not even taking into account the work my pinky will have to do at the shift key.

      PUBG? Saying that out loud sounds like stifling a burp.

      No sir, it’s plunkbats all the way for this reader.

  9. Ada says:

    Stop parachutes from opening automatically = AFKers splat = Problem solved

    Plus it means you can splat yourself if you really feel like it! Perfect

  10. static605 says:

    my VERY FIRST game of the day and my FIRST after reading this article (obviously) but yes. here you go. i count 38

    link to twitter.com

    link to gyazo.com

  11. Sic says:

    Oh, oh, I know the answer to this one.

    Don’t bloody have ridiculous horseshit like crates in your game in the first place!

    There, that was simple, wasn’t it?

  12. Rackam says:

    I don’t have a problem with AFK’ers. THey’re free points!

    That aside, if you’re not seeing large numbers check out squad mode (either with friends or automatch) and you’ll see whole teams fall down AFK.

    It’s an interesting eco-system where AFK’ers have created AFK’er farmers who get even more points. I did a test game after reading this and got nine kills in about 30 seconds by punching AFK people before being killed by someone who ran and got a gun.

    That said the other part of the article doing it to make points and buy crates that you then sell, is that effective?
    I can’t imagine it makes enough money to be worth the drudgery. Why wouldn’t you just work a job and make substantially more money in less time?

  13. sagredo1632 says:

    Argh! This was a perfectly wasted opportunity for a WarGames reference!

  14. Philious says:

    I call nonsense, yes there is usually lots of apparently AFK players, I put this down to the still crummy optimization of the game and the fact it still has many bugs.

    We often ride to the end to get some easy kills (this is not what’s being complained about in this article mind) before heading out to loot.

    Can see the odd person being drawn to this but not the masses that are being spoken of.

    Hyperbole just to complain about something other than the lacking game itself, they’ve had tonnes of cash from sales and yet are already on the greed train with the crummy crates.

    Bring back the 80’s/90’s/00’s and real games developers dare I say!

  15. Anonapond says:

    Okay great. How about we address the atrocious drop rate though. I’ve invested 245 hours to date and a considerable amount of money in purchasing crates and I’ve received nothing but the lowest tier of drops from these crates. Before shitting all over a bunch of people afking maybe we should look at the deceptive practice that is the loot box.

    This foul incarnation which despite being akin to gambling especially with a dollar value attached is devoid of any specifics on the odds of winning. Which artificially inflates the worth of subpar pieces of digital cosmetics behind a wall of cash and grind. Top played game on Steam and I got a better chance of winning the lotto than pulling a skirt outta one of these boxes. Hell I bet I gotta better chance of getting raped by a shark on dry land than I got of getting a skirt out of this box. So do I really care about a bunch of easy targets dropping at the end of the map… nope. Free points for me and whoever rides the plane to the end of the line. Not that it really matters, I mean do I really need 30 pairs of common pants? Truly at this rate instead of buying the bloody boxes and playing russian roulette with your pay check your better off sinking the 300 dollars on the skirt because it will probably be cheaper.

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