FFXIV RMT (or real-money trading) should get a bit harder soon — along with more serious issues like stalking. We’re less than a month away from the launch of Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker. That means, in addition to finishing up development on the expansion, the team at Square Enix is doing some other housekeeping as well. Today’s big change isn’t to the game itself, but instead to the Prohibited Activities and Account Penalty Policy. Earlier this morning, Square Enix updated both documents on the Support site with the aim of correcting some issues within the community.
Piss Off, Real-Money Trading!
In the Prohibited Activities section, there’s been a crackdown on using the Party Finder to facilitate transactions using real money. Some players offered clears of certain content in FFXIV for in-game gil or real-world cash, and Square Enix doesn’t like it.
According to the publisher, the practice was essentially cluttering up Party Finder.
“Until now, when we discovered fraudulent recruitment listings by [real-money transactions (RMT)] vendors in the Party Finder, we first investigated for RMT activity before issuing penalties,” said the dev team in the Lodestone article detailing the changes. “However, many of these listings directed users to external websites, meaning an extensive process was required to substantiate allegations of RMT activity. This meant these fraudulent listings were routinely visible on a daily basis, a situation which has persisted until now.”
“Furthermore, as RMT vendors disregard normal gameplay and are only concerned with RMT activity, many of their fraudulent recruitment listings were created in the ‘Duty Roulette’ category of the Party Finder. This meant that they were prominently visible upon opening the Party Finder menu, which became a major hindrance during normal gameplay,” added Square Enix.
Any Party Finder entries promising duty clears for gil, specific rewards, or real money are prohibited in FFXIV. The latter was always the case, while the first two are the new additions. In contrast, the players using the Party Finder to ask for help on clears or getting specific rewards, and promising in-game gil is allowed. You can ask for help and offer gil; you cannot offer help and ask for gil.
Another change involves the Party Finder being used for community events. Many in-game clubs, plays, role-play events, and Free Company recruitment drives use the Party Finder to draw other players. Square Enix says this is still allowed! However, they must be listed in the “Other” category. Any listing of such events outside this category is prohibited.
Players have previously pointed out the social features within FFXIV do nothing to prevent stalking. In fact, it often facilitates it. Deleting someone from your friends list doesn’t remove them from yours, and name changes or server switches still point to the same character in a friends list or on the Lodestone character database. As such, players can’t prevent potential stalkers from following them or interacting with them in-game.
Now eagle-eyed players also noted that the “Harassment” section in the Prohibited Activities page has been updated to include stalking. It’s now prohibited to stalk other players (which ought to go without saying, people). The specific text specifies stalking with the following examples:
- Persistently moving to locations where someone is, despite being asked to stop the behavior.
- Persistently sending messages to someone, or directed at someone, through Tell or other means, despite being asked to stop the behavior.
- Ambushing someone at their destination, or their housing estate, despite being asked to stop the behavior.
- Persistently sending a friend or party request despite being asked to stop the behavior.
- Creating new characters to message someone who has blacklisted you, despite being asked to stop the behavior.
- Attempting to make contact in-game with someone despite official authorities forbidding contact with them in real-life
The section also mentions an “in-game restraining order.” Though it doesn’t offer specifics as to what that entails. If a player disregards these, Square Enix says a “more severe penalty” will be imposed. There are currently no direct changes to the friends list or Lodestone — some players have asked for the ability to make Lodestone character entries private — but this seems like a good start to fix the problem of in-game stalking.
There have also been additions to the “Obscene/Indecent Expressions” section. Some roleplayers might take pause at this addition, which applies to chat text and emotes:
- Using a combination of emotes and motions to mimic grinding against another character
- Using movements that are evocative of sexual activities
Worry not! Square Enix notes that private group interactions will not fall afoul of the new policy. “In the case of role-playing involving mildly sexual expressions (such as erotic role-playing) with a consenting group of two or more players, if it is conducted in a private area, it will not be considered a violation unless a report is made,” says the updated text. The team does caution players to be careful with chat expressions and emotes, as people differ on what they’re comfortable with and a report means Square Enix will have to investigate.
Penalties Will Go Away… Eventually
The final major change involves the Account Penalty Policy and a change in penalties. Square Enix outlines that when players violate the terms and conditions, they accrue penalty points that vary depending on the severity of the violation. This was a wholly internal system at Square Enix — not something visible to players.
Penalties used to be permanent marks against your account, but with today’s changes, there will now be a falloff period instead. Penalties at the lowest level, “Caution,” will begin decaying after a year. Higher-level penalties will begin decaying within a three- to six-year window. According to Square Enix, the change is meant to allow players to improve their conduct.
“Penalties are intended to urge offenders to reflect on their violations and discourage repeat violations; however, we have confirmed cases where the permanence of past penalties instead led offenders to commit subsequent violations,” says the team. “For example, offenders might think, “Penalties won’t go away anyway,” and may repeat violations without remorse, or commit the same violation again as their remorse fades over time.”
By the way, the decay in penalty points is based on the last violation of your account. If you have one major violation, and then later have another small violation, the timer resets for both penalties. This system is also not related at all to Service Account Terminations; if Square Enix kills your account, it’s gone for good.
These are some positive changes for the community overall. RMT has long been a problem in FFXIV, as it is in any MMO, so a strong crackdown on this is welcome. And while there probably should be some system changes to help prevent stalking, codifying that these actions are against the terms of service is a good start. With the recent influx of players and a new expansion on the way, it’s good to get these rules on the books in order to continue building a strong community.
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is coming to PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 on Nov. 23, 2021, but Early Access begins on November 19 for those that pre-ordered. Check out all of our excellent preview coverage in the run-up to the launch of The Linkshell: our new Final Fantasy XIV vertical coming soon! A small bit of that coverage can be found in the links below.
You can also check out the rest of our coverage of the media tour:
- Tank Changes and All New Job Actions to Level 90
- Healer Changes and All New Job Actions to Level 90
- Melee DPS Changes and All New Job Actions to Level 90
- Ranged/Magic DPS Changes and All New Job Actions to Level 90
- Tour of the New Zones — A Walkthrough of Old Sharlayan, Garlemald, and Thavnair
- An Interview with Director Naoki Yoshida on the Last Decade of FFXIV