Escape From Tarkov developer Battlestate Games is drawing a hard line in the sand against datamining. The studio said in an announcement today that it is going to start banning all accounts belonging to dataminers and anyone who shares the information they discover.
"Datamining is defined as extracting information from massive datasets," Battlestate said. "In other words, it is the illegal infiltration of in-game code and databases in order to extract information that is intentionally hidden from users."
It bears stating right from the hop that datamining, broadly speaking, is not illegal. How you dig through data might be a problem, and what you do with the results—if for example you use it to reverse-engineer some cheats and then sell them online—could definitely land you in some hot water. But while developers may not like it when enterprising gamers take a tiptoe through their tulips and reveal their secrets to the world, it's not illegal.
It's also interesting that it doesn't appear to be the potential for cheats that's the concern here, but that dataminers are revealing things that Battlestate would rather keep hidden, ranging from specific boss spawn chances to new quests and rewards that haven't been officially announced. The studio said that sharing this kind of information reduces the "wow effect" and makes the game "much more predictable," and that it's also unfair to developers when future plans are spoiled by dataminers the moment an update goes live.
Instead, Battlestate said Escape From Tarkov players should make use of official sources only, both to get hyped for upcoming features and changes, and to find specific data about the game. It also promised to try to be more transparent about its plans for the future, "with the amount of information we believe will be enough for players to stay up to date."
And in order to help convince people to follow this particular path, Battlestate warned that from this point forward, it's going to get heavy with anyone even tangentially involved in datamining. "This will result in all the in-game accounts involved in datamining and/or sharing data originating from datamining being banned and platforms getting involved receiving warnings and further actions taken afterwards," the studio said.
That's harsh, and has predictably sparked a backlash against the studio. "How can BSG not realise that those dataminers are the main reason their game didn't die years ago? It would be unplayable without the wiki or the ammo charts," Schwertkeks said on Reddit.
"Imagine planning a massive party for everyone and then getting mad when someone hypes it up," redditor AftT3Rmath replied. "I'd get it if its a surprise party or whatever, but instead of telling said hype man, 'Yo don't let anyone know about the upcoming Red Wedding,' they just shoot said hype man."
One of the calmer reactions came from a dataminer at the center of the conflict, known as LogicalSolutions on Twitter. Linking to their Tarkov Wikia profile, which contains hundreds of individual data entries, they asked why it was okay to share that data—at least some of which was presumably datamined—on the wiki, but not through their personal Twitter account.
@tarkov @nikgeneburn I am asking a genuine question that I would appreciate an answer to. You say that the Wikia is allowed?https://t.co/hPDOkcMswXThis is my profile on the Wikia. If you check, many of my edits are not over-written unless its a spiteful edit by an admin.…June 23, 2023
LogicalSolutions also recently had a spot of social media beef with Battlestate studio head Nikita Buyanov, which may be part of what spark the studio's sudden action:
You could respond to one of my emails, Reddit Message, or Telegram Messages and we can have a conversation like I've been trying to have with you and the BSG team for over two years. I have no issues with you or the game at all, just the rat type people in my Discord😄June 23, 2023
Battlestate Games is a Russian studio, and so it's possible that some of the wording in the announcement is the result of a less-than-perfect English translation. But there doesn't seem to be any ambiguity in the core of the statement: If you extract or share data that hasn't been officially released, you risk a full ban from the game. That's extreme, especially when the studio says the penalty can be applied to someone who, for instance, retweets some interesting bit of information without first checking to see if it came from an official source.
I've reached out to Battlestate for more information on the new Escape From Tarkov strictures, and will update if I receive a reply.