Blizz decided now was the time to ban multi boxing through multi-input software.
Let’s get this part clear – WoW is celebrating it’s 16th anniversary. Multi-boxing is as old as MMOs (I used to do it with UO). This isn’t a new technology, there’s no new technical risk, and nearly all devs have turned a blind eye to this because a multi boxer is a paying customer – and likely a dedicated one with a “permanent” subscription. People don’t multibox casually.
So let’s take a look at the pros/cons in this space.
|– More money for the devs|
– Allows players to have multiple characters
– Allows people to play solo without depending on LFG
– Saves insane amount of leveling time for “grind” activities
|– Primary tool by farming bots|
– Can be viewed as required for 1% gamers
– Can dramatically unbalance PvP
There are certainly other arguments for/against multi-boxing. I did it in UO in order to build multiple accounts in order to sell them, at very low risk. It also allowed me to farm materials as needed. I’ve never really found a benefit in leveling faster, or avoiding people, but I can see why that’s of huge benefit (EQ certainly).
So the question is why now? What happened today that is making multi-boxing somehow a challenge for Blizz? Specifically, why in the world would they be turning away money from players?
Are there more bots all of a sudden? Gold is pretty meaningless in WoW… people sell achievement runs. Maybe in PvP, where you find something like 20 druids with similar names coming down on you. Again, that’s not new.
I’m guessing here, but the only “new” thing is Shadowlands – and specifically the covenants. I’ve pointed above that multi-boxing is already somewhat niche, and this continues that thought process. And more specifically, how the 1% in WoW impacts the general health of the rest of the game.
Blizz has doubled down these past years in the raiding scene. Nearly every activity released has a raiding focus – the legendary cloak is a great example of this. So top tier raiders tend to set trends in game, which creates barriers for horizontal choices down the player base. In BfA, you were either running X corruption or you were not a raider. Raiders would look for every advantage possible to be able to adapt and overcome design choices. (BC gave us leatherworking raids after all.) Changing talents mid-raid is still a thing.
Covenants are powerful choices for players, and currently balanced in such a fashion that they have a noticeable impact on gameplay. There are optimal choices, and then there are situational choices. The reality of it is that classes are going to be put into situations where their covenant choice is not optimal, and that is the main pain point for the player pushback.
Multi-boxing addresses this. Not in the leveling aspect, but in the grind aspect. This became more popular in Legion, where the AP grind (Maw runs) were facerolls with alts.
I’m certainly biased here. Covenants are effectively powerful talents with very long cool downs. BfA raiders had multiple sets of gear in order to tackle specific encounters, ensuring they had access to ability sets. It’s surprising to me that Blizz didn’t learn anything from that. Well that’s not fair – there is very little that Blizz is doing with WoW combat design that surprises me anymore.
Now for the majority of players today, this is entirely a positive thing. While there were plenty of cases where multi boxing was a pro for a player with minimal cons, the wide majority of cases focused on “abusive” play. Removing this as an option for raiders is even better, allowing for some semblance of balance. That said, multiboxers with nefarious intents will simply find another way to do it.
In a TLDR; for this post, it seems to me that Blizz is banning multi-boxing tools in order to remove the ability for raiders to game the covenant system. In the general sense, this is good for everyone except Blizz who will be out a fair chunk of cash. I’d love to see evidence otherwise.