Members of Sony Online Entertainment's EverQuest II team have confirmed allegations of unfair relations between a member of the development team and Unhallowed Triad, a guild operating on the EQII test server, according to MMO site Massively. The scandal surfaced several days ago, and, a couple of hundred-page forum threads later, it was revealed that SOE transferred characters from EQII's test server to a live server, violating SOE's own end user license agreement.
Bruce Ferguson, EQII's senior producer, responded in the SOE forums, stating that the move was intended "to show kindness to some valued members of our testing community who have been working diligently to improve EverQuest II for the last three years." Bruce went on to assure community members that the characters moved were stripped of test equipment. Massively suggests this claim is false, and hasa laundry list of other grievancesas well.
A ridiculous amount of time and money is invested into MMOs by players every year, and as the genre grows alongside its player base, the ethics behind developer and community interaction become moreimportant. Early this year, CCP's space-faring MMORPG EVE Online was embroiled in scandal over alleged developer misconduct in which an employee of CCP distributed in-game items to one of the largest corporations in the game, Band of Brothers. When asked directly about the scandal at this year's EVE Fanfest in Reykjavik, a representative of CCP (somewhat angrily) declined to comment.
But whether they like it or not, these questions of ethicswon't simply go away, and they require a measured and honest response to keepthe fanbase—and by extension profit margins—intact. In games where the mighty banhammer falls heavy on those misguided players who even brush with the EULA, is it so much to expect that the developers offer it the same respect?