Amazon's New World just had a dire 24 hours

It's been a rough 24 hours for New World. The Amazon-crafted MMO has had its share of problems since launch, but over the last day or so, we've seen Amazon grappling with a rather severe gold duplication issue. Amazon's response to the gold duping exploit was swift but questionable, as it brought New World's economy to a screeching halt.

New World's tricky gold exploit

In MMOs, the economy is often king. Players earn gold and item drops as they complete quests and run dungeons, then trade that gold to other players for services or items they need. For instance, in World of Warcraft, you might take your hard-earned coin to buy some herbs for potions and then pay an herbalist to make those potions for you.

If you've played an MMO before, it should come as little surprise to learn that gold plays an important role in New World. Gold can be traded with other players, sent to a player's company to be used for Town Projects (assuming said company owns a town), or used to purchase items listed by other players on the in-game market. The market is a popular place in each of New World's towns, and in more central locations like Windsward, Everfall, or Brightwood, it's common to see a horde of players wheeling and dealing at the trading post when you enter the town square.

Yesterday, Amazon made the dramatic decision to turn off all wealth transfers between players in response to a gold duplication exploit. This meant players could no longer trade gold with one another or send gold to their companies. It also, importantly, meant that items couldn't be purchased from the trading post, as that counts as a transfer of wealth.

Why Amazon did this instead of simply putting the game into maintenance to fix the problem is something that I can't figure out. Without access to the market, anyone trying to grind their crafting skill levels has to go out and gather the raw materials themselves. An enjoyable task for the penny pinchers among us who prefer to gather their own materials and spend gold only when absolutely necessary, but awful for those who would just rather pay gold to buy the materials they need from the market and get to leveling as soon as possible.

Amazon halted gold transfers in response to a gold duplication exploit that was, as the name suggests, allowing players to duplicate quantities of gold and make themselves richer without having to go out and earn that coin first. Obviously, letting a gold dupe exploit run rampant is a wonderful way to kill the economy in an MMO, so it's understandable that Amazon took quick action, I'm just not sure that bringing the in-game economy to a stand-still was the better option than putting the game into maintenance.

Gold duplication finds a way

Things get worse from there. While Amazon's halt to wealth transfers should have stopped any potential gold duplication exploits, it actually created an entirely new one. Several hours after the forum post announcing the halt to player gold transfers, New World's community managers were notified of another gold duplication exploit that was only possible with the economic restrictions Amazon itself had put into place.

Amazon has made it clear that it will take back any ill-gotten gains and punish those caught using both this exploit and the exploit that started this all, which again makes me feel like it would have been better to take the entire game down and address the issues while New World was offline.

At the time of this writing, wealth transfers between players have been unavailable for a full day. We had gone 16 hours without an update, but mere minutes ago, Amazon posted an update on the matter to its forums. That update says the New World team "is currently zeroing in on a fix for the exploits that necessitated the turning off of all wealth transfer in New World," and that the company will deploy the fix as soon as testing is finished.

Hopefully that's soon, because until testing is done, players are left in this limbo where they can play the game but they can't participate in the economy, one of New World's major components.

New World, new bugs

I've been playing New World since the day it came out, and on the whole, I've been enjoying myself. I think New World is a game that needs a lot of work, but I can see a solid foundation there and I'm interested in seeing how the game progresses from this early point. However, it's hard not to be frustrated as a player because it seems like every time a new update comes out, it introduces a slate of new bugs that break the game in different ways. Often, those bugs go unresolved until the next weekly patch.

One bug that I've been grappling with as I play my full mage build makes the Ice Gauntlet's Ice Storm ability wholly ineffective more often than not. There's a rare occasion where the Ice Storm will actually connect, deal damage, and apply its various debuffs, but oftentimes it simply does nothing.

In the past week, one of the bugs we've heard about prevents players from getting the gold from trading post sales that complete while they're offline. As outlined in this video by Callum Upton, there was also a chat exploit that could make other players crash to desktop, though that has been fixed according to Amazon (Upton explains the trading post bug and the gold duplication exploit in his video as well).

At the end of the day, bugs are just a reality of game development – as are patches that introduce new bugs – and it's hard to think of an MMO that didn't have problems at launch. MMO launches can be a hectic time for developers, and Amazon is, unfortunately, going through that phase now with New World. With that said, at times it does feel like things are snowballing out of control over at Amazon Game Studios, as the company has spent much of the time since launch responding to critical bugs that keep cropping up.

As a player, it's exhausting trying to keep up with all the issues. For me at least, not having access to New World's economy saps any enthusiasm I had to play. It's frustrating to see the groundwork for a good game but to then have that image muddied by a host of bugs and exploits that are, in some cases, game-breaking. Hopefully, Amazon can right the ship and get New World to a more stable point, but while it does that, I can't really blame any fed-up gamers for deciding to put their attention elsewhere.