Exile observations, China: Operators Selling Bots?

Recently I had to leave the country for the month of April to get a new visa. Fortunately I received said visa and all is well. During the month I visited Canada and then China and Seoul, Korea. I was hoping to post a long-winded travelogue, but didn’t finish it in a timely fashion and decided to trim things down for individual posts.

One tale I was told that boggled me was this; apparently a very large Chinese MMO operator (begins with S) has a very successful MMORPG that is overrun with botting (the practice of running third-party software robots to kill monsters and thereby gather up more goodies). Nothing new there, bots are common in many games. The Bot for this game is sold for ~$20. Fair enough, you say, underground Bot-hackers need to eat, too.

The incredible thing is that you can pay for this Bot using the official game-time cards sold by the operator. You can only pay for two things with the card; game-time (and/or in-game items, I believe their are switching models) and the Bot. Yes, the operator is essentially selling the robot. The implications for concurrent user numbers and revenue (where $20 is a lot more than the ~$2 monthly charge) are profound.

Somebody please tell me I’ve got all this wrong. It’ll help my poor eyes get a rest from boggling.