Several Final Fantasy XIV players have reported receiving temporary bans for ‘datamining’ – digging around in the game’s data files to find traces of upcoming content and share the surprise. The MMORPG’s rules do forbid this but it’s still a surprise to see it enforced. Players do this in all sorts of live games these days, ever hungry for sneak peeks ahead of the marketing schedule. It’s a weird way to treat fans.
Massively Overpowered reports that several players report being suspended for “showcasing unreleased game content” they found by digging around in data files using unofficial tools. It seems Square Enix are snooping a bit themselves, trying to figure out the identities of people who shared mined content on social media and slapping them with temporary bans. In response to this hostile climate, the unofficial FFIXV Reddit forum’s Discord server has disabled its datamining channel and players are warning each other to be wary.
FFXIV’s rules explicitly ban data mining, saying “You may not intercept, mine or otherwise collect information from the Game using unauthorised third party software.” I understand why they might have such a clause. I do not understand why they would enforce it for minor harmless infractions.
I myself would rather be surprised by new content when it actually launches in a game but I understand others are always hungry for every snippet and hint. They enjoy being a fan in a different way to me, and that’s fine. Squeenix must know they can’t stop people from doing this, they can only make people be slightly more cautious and release their datamined details sufficiently anonymised to be untraceable. And once something is out there, it’ll be shared freely anyway.
Some on Reddit speculate that the company are zealously opposing datamining after angry players claimed datamining played a vital and unfair role in the success of the first group to finish the latest raid. The claim sparked messages with all the tact, sense of proportion, and respect for human life that the Internet is famed for. This strong anti-datamining stance might be Square trying to help calm and get a handle on that situation by removing one part from the equation. Or so the speculation goes.
Statisticians may be wondering what any of this has to do with datamining, the process of using machine learning to process huge amounts of data and uncover unusual patterns unfeasible for humans to spot. I don’t know what to tell you. Video games borrowed the word to mean digging through data files, and here we are. It’s too late to get people to switch to a sensible term like ‘cybergold panning’, ‘K0nm4r1’, ‘MUDraking’, or ‘fucking about in the files’.
FFXIV does have weird rules. While the MMORPG has fancy tools for performing music, you’re not allowed to perform other people’s songs. All those wonderful tools and you’re not allowed to play All Star on the digituba. Even if you do stick to cover versions of the game’s own soundtrack, you’re not allowed to record and share performances of three specific songs.