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.