Like a lot of online games, EVE Online has a problem with botters - players who create automated bots to slave away in the asteroid mines. That problem only got worse since the MMO introduced its free-to-play 'Alpha Clone' accounts. Pressure from fans has led to this recent update on the EVE Online blog, in which creators CCP outline the state of the botting problem, and what they're doing about it. Short version: they're getting harsher.
To start with, CCP banned over 1,800 accounts in January, according to the post. "Mining bots were the largest group represented," they said, "with ratting bots coming in a close second." Around a third of those - repeat offenders - have been banned on a permanent basis, while the others were only temporarily ejected from the airlock, it being their first offense and all.
The way things currently stand, initial bans last for 30 of our Earth days, but CCP has plans to reduce that period. From March 1st onwards, anyone caught on a first botting offense will be banned for just three days, affording them "a painless chance to mend their wicked ways."
It might seem a strange reaction to increased reports of botters, but CCP reason that if these players "don't [turn things around] then they simply get removed from the game pronto and we can all move on." That's because, from March 1st also, CCP will only tolerate a single botting offense from an individual before reaching for the Level 2 Banhammer. The one that says 'Goodbye Forever' in permanent ink.
Lead community developer Sveinn 'CCP Guard' Kjarval went into a bit more detail in the comments underneath the blog post:
"We used to have more strikes in the past but they were reduced down to two which is plenty enough. This policy covers all automation that we detect, and we're not bound by it in case of serious offenders so we still one-strike when we need to. It's good to refer to in cases where an otherwise regular player is likely to be educated and straightened out. Our goal isn't to punish but to end the behavior that breaks the rules for the sake of the game. If we can do that without barring someone from EVE forever, great! If we catch them fast, even better."
Overall then, EVE Online will be getting harsher on botters from the start of next month. The new plans probably won't make too much of a dent in the ongoing botting problem, but hopefully there will be fewer of them floating about.