Blizzard has added a few more updates to the official thread that holds all of our virtual lives hanging in the balance.
Gold trades are still disabled for the time being. Once we have an ETA for those being re-activated, we’ll provide another update in this thread, as well.
5/8/13 11:30 a.m. PDT: We’re still in the process of auditing Auction House and gold trade transactions. We realize this is an inconvenience for many of our players, and we sincerely apologize for the interruption of the service. We hope to have everything back up as soon as possible. We don’t currently have an ETA for when the Auction House will be brought out of maintenance or gold trades will be reactivated, but we’ll continue to provide updates in this thread as they become available.
5/8/13 12:30 a.m. PDT: We’ve confirmed that we’ve fixed the bug which allowed players to duplicate gold; however, we will be keeping the gold and real-money Auction Houses offline in the Americas until further notice (gold trades will also remain suspended). We’ll be using this downtime to perform audits on all transactions conducted through the Auction House as well as trades in which gold was exchanged since 1.0.8 launched. We anticipate this process will take multiple hours to complete and will provide another update by 12:00 p.m. PDT.
Earlier Blue posts in this thread can be seen here.
So they’ve disabled all gold trading and AH transactions until they finish the audit and refresh/reset/rollback/smite as much as possible of the illicit gold. Obviously no one is happy about this whole thing, but it seems to me that they’re handling the aftermath about as well as can be expected. We didn’t get rolled back, we’re able to play while they’re fixing the problem, and they’re going after the individuals who exploited, rather than hurting us all.
The big question, of course, is if they’ll “get” enough of the duped gold to keep the economy from a huge hit of deflation. And it’s going to be hard to tell, since v1.08 also ushered in a (potential) 10x devaluation of gold value, with the RMAH changing from 1 million to 10 million for the base gold transaction. I don’t know if there’s so much surplus gold in circulation that the RMAH gold price will instantly drop from 1m = $.25 to 10m = .25, but if it drops that far, or even just down to say, 5m = $.25, it’s going to instantly cause huge increases in gold prices for all softcore auctions. And I’m sure many people will blame gold duping for that.
Happily, we’ve got other ways to compare/check. There’s no RMAH for hardcore, so we can see how that economy shifts once the GAH is back online, and the v1.08 gold duping bug didn’t exist at all on Europe, so any big shifts in gold value there will be purely due to the 1m to 10m change on RMAH gold sale quantities/prices.
Update: A fan posted a reasonable explanation for how/why the gold duping bug worked. It was only possible when listing gold sales on the RMAH vastly in excess of the amount the game actually processed, due to a bug, and did not exist in the PTR version (no RMAH there), and it was a last minute patch change related to the 1m > 10m gold sale limit. Click through for the quote:
The gold “dupe” involved creating a RMAH auction for billions of gold while staying under the $250 limit. The example I saw in a video was 6 billion gold (600 x 10,000,000 at $0.39 per stack, for $234). When they posted this auction only ~1.7 billion appeared to be for sale, with the rest “missing” until they sent it to their stash and ended up with more than they started with. The exact numbers from a duping video:
Create RMAH auction for: 6,000,000,000 gold Auction shows up as: 1,705,032,704 gold This much is missing! 4,294,967,296 gold The missing amount, divided by 2: 2,147,483,648 gold
2,147,483,648 (or 231) is the maximum value you can store in an int32 in programming. I’m no programmer, but I took one class in high school and was taught about the limits of different variable types. See:
Simply put, their RMAH gold selling code wasn’t written to handle numbers over 2,147,483,648 properly, and the result was duplicate gold being added to people’s stashes.
How could something this basic make it to live? I think it was coded at the last minute and not really tested. The final patch was version 188.8.131.5216, while the last PTR notes were for 184.108.40.20656. That last PTR version, 220.127.116.1156 from April 23, had no mention of changing the gold stack size on the RMAH from 1mil to 10mil. The final version two weeks later on May 7 had the change.
Sometime in the last two weeks they made changes to the gold selling code. As far as I can tell the change never made it to the PTR, and selling over 2.1 billion gold was never tested internally (it should have been!), so it shipped with the 1.08 patch. Since the RMAH was originally coded to only sell stacks of 100,000 gold, there was probably some old Int32 code left written when the idea of buying and selling billions of gold in one transaction was unfathomable.
From such minor errors do empires crumble…