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Amazon takes aim at New World AFK abusers

New World factions
(Image credit: Amazon Game Studios)

Amazon's New World MMO is still a monster, surpassing 913,000 concurrent players on Sunday night, and that means it can still be very difficult to get into the game. To help alleviate some of that pressure Amazon is making changes to its AFK detection system to help detect and boot "bad faith AFK players."

Amazon hasn't said exactly how long New World's AFK timer is—that is, how long players can be idle in the game before getting kicked out to make room for someone else—but we did some testing shortly after launch and found it to be 25 minutes: A notification will appear in the top-right corner of your screen after 20 minutes of inactivity, and if you're still standing around doing nothing five minutes later, you're ejected to the main menu and whatever sort of overcrowded server queue awaits.

But some players have figured out ways to avoid that AFK detection in order to stay in the game even when they're not actively playing. The result is that servers are artificially full to varying degrees as people take up spots they're not actually using, and that's not cool.

"We have seen a lot of frustration around individuals who may be artificially remaining active enough in servers to avoid the automatic AFK mitigation that is built into New World," community manager HardcoreHenry wrote on the New World forums. "We certainly agree that this is not acceptable behavior, especially when there are droves of individuals who are waiting patiently to get into a world. We have created a new solution to help us identify and [take] action against bad faith AFK players.

"We will not disclose the details of how the solution works, but we will say that we have every confidence that players who are playing New World normally will not experience any issues. Initially, being caught by our detection solution will result in a quick kick to the main menu. If the behavior continues, more harsh penalties will be applied."

The reaction to the announcement on the New World Twitter feed was not as enthusiastic as you might think. The bulk of the responses complain that the problem is not AFK abusers but a lack of server capacity and the resulting long queue times, which many say is why they AFK rather than logging out in the first place. There are also some calls for a "grace period" for players reconnecting to the game, which would presumably enable them to skip the queues and get straight back to it.

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(Image credit: Twitter)

(Image credit: Twitter)

(Image credit: Twitter)

(Image credit: Twitter)

Amazon also recently announced the launch of a new server status page that will enable players to see which servers are online, offline, full, or undergoing maintenance, and will no longer allow new character creation on full servers, another effort aimed at alleviating the load on the game.

It may be a while before players see the results of this new AFK detection system, as Amazon said that it will be "rolled out over a period of time." I've reached out to ask if the AFK timer itself is being changed, and will update if I receive a reply.

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Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.