The dark underbelly of Diablo III botting

The dark underbelly of Diablo III botting

After meeting an interesting person in the "DIablo 3 botting discussion", we managed to track Tonto down and ask him some questions about botting.

It's not every day you meet a "real" botter on the interwebs, sure, you meet some people who have used WoW Glider at some stage in their WoW addiction, or someone who's fired up an automated fishing tool because really, why the hell would you fish in WoW?

We were lucky enough however to meet a botter who's willing to invest his own hard earned into the industry, in the hopes that he will receive a modest return for not only his cash investment, but also his time.

We first met Tonto in the discussion from the "Diablo 3 Bot Crackdown" story published last week. He seemed to have a genuine and interesting insight into the world of botting, and in particular with Diablo 3. Luckily for us he was kind enough to respond to our request for an email discussion, and even kinder to provide us with answers to our many questions.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to Tonto (screen name), and the world of botting:

Do you use bots in any other games or Just Diablo?
I have previously spent 6 years or so botting World of Warcraft. I have used all of the big name bots for WoW including: Get A Life Bot, Glider, Pirox and Honorbuddy along with at least half a dozen small, often Chinese bots.

The main reason that I abandoned WoW is due to market saturation. When you have an ongoing cost associated with botting (monthly subscriptions) it becomes harder and harder to compete with the larger botting companies that often run in excess of two to three hundred bots at a time and also often have consistent buyers locked in at a specific rate per thousand gold.

What was the first game you ever "botted"?
The first game I botted was World of Warcraft prior to the release of Burning Crusade.

How did you first get involved in the botting community?
I remember hearing about “Chinese Gold Farmers” back in my first few months of playing WoW. I was curious about how their operation worked so I befriended some people on a “gold farming” website called THSale. The sales girls were really great and after talking about how I was curious about their operation they explained how gold is made and the market behind it.

Now I’ll go a little off-topic to explain how the market works…

You have a few groups of people that contribute to the gold market in just about any game.

  1. The buyers – these are typical gamers, often with money they are willing to burn rather than farming in-game items.
  2. The “gold farming” websites (EG:, IGX, etc…) – these guys do not farm or buy gold directly. These guys are pretty much a shop front that buy from suppliers/wholesalers.

  3. The wholesalers – these are the people botters and hackers sell to. They buy gold at a lower then market rate and network with the websites that actually sell the gold to clients. These are the guys you meet in-game to deliver your gold, not the websites themselves. These guys are often Chinese.
  4. The botters – people like me who run small (1-10 clients) to large (200+ clients) botting operations. These people more often than not are not Chinese.

  5. The hackers – the worst enemy of anyone who plays games. These guys use lists of usernames and passwords from dodgy forums, gold and power levelling websites to log into your account and steal your items/gold. The addition of authenticators and account login pattern analysis have effectively killed off the hackers.

Hopefully that will help you better understand some of the answers I give later on.

Do you write your own software?
Nope, I specialise in Network Engineering. I leave this part to the code monkeys ;)

What do you need to consider before starting up a bot(s) in D3?
The first thing you need to consider is if you’re willing to be banned. You need to acknowledge that this could include accounts that you own that are not associated with the botting accounts you’re using.

You need to be prepared to sink some capital into the project. This needs to include game licenses, bot licenses, hardware to run it on and time to learn how the bot functions and how to maximise your yield.

Most importantly you need to learn how the anti-botting software that Blizzard use (codenamed “Warden”) works.

Warden works primarily by scanning your system’s memory for known markers that bots leave accessible in memory. This easily detects bots that are written by people with low-medium skills in memory hooking. The second way Warden works is through a set of queries sent to the specific areas in memory that the bot hooks into. If an invalid response is received then it flags your account for investigation.

The decent D3 bots (Immortal and DemonBuddy) get around this by either emulating the default responses the game would normally use or if it doesn’t know the response to give it triggers a protocol called “Tripwire” that immediately shuts down all bots using its early-warning system world-wide and transmits the query warden made back to the developer. Once Tripwire has been triggered it prevents anyone from using the bot until an update is made or the “all clear” is given.



Do you also play games legitimately?
Absolutely, I love video games! I played World of Warcraft since shortly after vanilla launched and continued to play up until Blizzcon 2011 where I got to play the D3 beta, fell in love with it and proceeded to quit WoW (for the 20th odd time). I still play D3 when I get a chance however Act 3 Inferno is infuriating. I also have my own YouTube channel that is slowly gaining momentum in which I do “Let’s Play” style reviews of video games.

How do you find buyers for gold?
If you visit a few botting communities such as OwnedCore you will find hundreds of people buying gold at any one point. The problem with these forums is that there is roughly a 50/50 chance that the person you sell your gold to will simply file a dispute with PayPal stating that the transaction was not authorised and you will loose your money and gold. There isn’t a whole lot that you can do about this.

What I’ve done is that I’ve filtered through a lot of the bad buyers and have formed agreements with a handful of trusted buyers that will always buy my gold. Now the problem with this approach is that they will often offer you a fair bit less than the final sale price.

For instance, today I have 92mil gold to sell. The “buy price” that clients buy gold for is roughly $2.10 - $2.40 per million. My wholesale contacts are offering me $1.50 per million with an instant payout, or $1.65 per million on consignment.

Now, up until a couple of years ago I ran a rather large BitTorrent tracker for PIPE users. As a result I have an IRC network with approximately 50 users still active. What I do in these situations is I will advertise on my IRC channel for $2.00 per million and give my mates 24 hours or so to buy however much they need and then sell the remainder on consignment to my wholesale contacts. This will ensure that I get the most money possible for my stash.

Do you think Diablo 3 will remain a profitable game to bot?
Absolutely. Diablo 2 was the most botted game ever made. The primary reason for this is that unlike MMORPGs there is no subscription model. Once you’ve paid for your account there are no ongoing costs provided you don’t get banned.

The way I’ve calculated it is like this. My botting rig uses around 400w of power constantly. This equates to roughly 10c per hour in electricity. My yield per account is between 300-400k per hour. This equates to 80c per bot, per hour. When I’m running 8 bots I’m making roughly $6.40 per hour. Even if the value of gold was to drop down to below $0.50 per million I’d simply switch over to farming items rather than gold and turn a nice profit.

Do you have plans for any future games?
At the moment I’m sticking with D3. I’ll be keeping an eye on upcoming MMORPGs and seeing what the Buddy team (Honorbuddy/Demonbuddy) come out with. If they make a good product for an upcoming game that is going to be especially popular I may consider moving over to that instead.

How much money have you invested on your Diablo 3 farming operation, and how much has it made?
My initial investment was two Diablo 3 accounts at a cost of $79.95 each plus an unlimited session license to the Immortal Bot which cost around $40 Australian Dollars after conversion from Euros. All subsequent accounts have been bought using either profits in my PayPal account or In-game currency with trusted members of the Immortal Bot forums.

Overall if I was to give a rough estimate of profits I would say around the $3000 mark. That is after covering costs of buying accounts and bot licenses. I upgraded my machine from an i5 to an i7 so the cost of my botting rig was effectively nothing as it is all old parts.

A fairly interesting interview to say the least! Of course, AtomicMPC and Haymarket Media do not support or condone botting, hacking or cheating in games, especially when people’s money is involved. This interview was conducted with good intentions, and should only be read as an educational piece.

Atomic would also like to mention that this is not in any way intended to expose any flaws in Blizzard Entertainments security measures, or encourage readers to take advantage of any exploits revealed in this article.

For anyone interested in Tonto, he has a YouTube channel here. It contains Let's Play videos, along with game reviews and more.

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