Square Enix has made some changes to Final Fantasy XIV's Prohibited Activities and Account Penalty policies. These changes are intended to curb the widespread occurrences of RMT (real money trading) happening in the game's Party Finder window.
How is Square Enix combating Final Fantasy XIV RMT activity?
The new changes are laid out in detail on the official Lodestone Final Fantasy XIV community site. First up, two new activities relating to the in-game Party Finder tool are now prohibited. Selling your services to help others clear Duties in exchange for rewards is now forbidden, with a penalty being issued if Square Enix catches you doing it. Worth noting is that it's not a violation to ask others to help you, or to offer gil to players in exchange for help. It's just against the rules to sell your services and ask players to pay you. This change has come about because RMT traders were using the Party Finder system to advertise their services, which goes against the intended purpose of the system.
It's now also prohibited to list advertisements for certain activities anywhere outside the "Other" category in the Party Finder. These activities include player event promotion, housing events, buying and selling items, and recruiting members for Free Companies or linkshells. You can still list advertisements for these services in the Other tab, but if you use any other area of the Finder, Square Enix will issue a penalty, especially if the devs consider the listing to be an "[attempt] to disguise RMT activity". In line with these changes, Square Enix has also updated its Prohibited Activity documentation for greater clarity, so you should be able to more easily tell what constitutes a violation.
How has the Account Penalty policy changed in Final Fantasy XIV?
As well as changing the Prohibited Activities as outlined above, Square Enix has also made some changes to Final Fantasy XIV's Account Penalty policy. Previously, the studio used a Penalty Point system to attribute points to users who violated terms and conditions or broke rules. These points weren't visible or explained to the player base, but Square Enix has added an explanation as to how they work. The company says this is "essential in understanding" the new Penalty Point reduction system.
Now, if you've accrued Penalty Points for one reason or another, they'll be reduced "if a significant amount of time has passed" since the penalty was issued. Square Enix says this system was implemented to combat users thinking "well, penalties are permanent anyway", and committing subsequent violations as a result. Low-severity points will begin to decay after a year, while points resulting in a temporary account suspension will not begin decaying until a rather vague "three to six-year period" has elapsed.
It's likely Square Enix wants to curb RMT activity as a result of Final Fantasy XIV's skyrocketing popularity. With the Endwalker expansion just around the corner, the game recently surpassed 24 million players, with many crossing over from competitor World of Warcraft and others attracted by strong reviews for previous expansion Shadowbringers (and its excellent music). Here's hoping these new changes put a stop to the proliferation of RMT activity in FFXIV, as it's an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise great MMO experience.
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