Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes (SWGOH) YouTube content creator and streamer Christopher “AhnaldT101” Ponicki recently announced one of his accounts was banned by developer team EA Capital Games for violating Terms of Service. AhnaldT101 uses multiple accounts to create educational and entertaining content for the game’s playerbase, and for his 150k YouTube subscribers. The news has triggered major backlash within the SWGOH community.
The ban happened when AhnaldT101 reported a micro transactions bug to the game, following up personally with developers. He didn’t realize his account was then flagged for a seldom-used bannable offense: transferring accounts. While AhnaldT101 acknowledges unknowingly violating Terms of Service for transferring accounts, this is the first time a content creator has been banned.
Transferring accounts is commonplace for content creators, as they may not have access to game modes that higher end “pay-to-play” players can unlock. To curb this, creators sometimes develop relationships with these pay-to-play players, borrowing accounts so they can make videos that serve the community.
AhnaldT101 was gifted an account (worth $50,000 USD in micro transactions) by a player who had recently quit, so that he can continue to create content without spending thousands on his main account. It isn’t uncommon for devoted players to spend $200-$300 on a single newly released character. There are currently 188 characters available to be unlocked within this mobile game. It’s reported that Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes has generated over $1B in revenue since its release.
Capital Games collaborating with hackers
In response to his ban, AhnaldT101 created a video addressing the ban and highlighting the hypocrisy in Capital Games’ commitment to their Terms of Service. AhnaldT101 gave the spotlight to a documented interaction between the developer and a hacker using a pay-to-play account. A screenshot showed the developer asking the hacker to dictate when they would like their suspension to start, and advocating for a lighter sentence due to the player’s “good standing and participation in Beta”. The hacker was known to spend a fair amount of money on SWGOH, which likely contributed to the developer’s willingness to reduce the permanent ban. In contrast, AhnaldT101 was given the cold shoulder by developers while trying to appeal his case.
The game’s community is currently struggling with questions that naturally arise from this. Is hacking in Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes totally OK as long as you spend X amount of dollars? Will Capital Games continue to ban transferred accounts content creators use, or will they attempt to save face and return AhnaldT101’s account? Regardless of what Capital Games does next, it’s clear trust has been lost between them and the SWGOH player-base.
To everyone, it has been a crazy day. The support coming from all directions is unprecedented and words cannot express my feelings. Thank you for everything + allowing me to share my love of Star Wars and our game. I am not sure what the future holds but we’ll be there together.
— AhnaldT101 (@AhnaldT101) June 9, 2020
Content creators unite in solidarity for AhnaldT101
AhnaldT101 received an outpour of support from his fellow YouTubers. Videos flooded YouTube show concern for the current SWGOH environment surrounding hackers, as well as calling for the resignation of the development team for enabling this behavior.
Some believe that the ban is a form of retaliation to AhnaldT101’s live stream and videos criticizing the latest in-game event, Galactic Legends. The new Ultimate characters, Rey and Kylo, had been teased for months prior to the event’s release, and later mocked for its “Rock, Paper, Scissors” gameplay and outrageous prerequisites.
As the game approaches its 6th year, a slow exodus continues from Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes due to the lack of released content, and the strained relationship between players and developers.
GALACTIC FAILURE! What on earth was #SWGoH doing the past 4 months? Overpriced, low quality rock, paper, scissors? Today's video shows a handful of issues this event had and I am done hearing them compliment their own art. Step up and do better.https://t.co/n6bUVZ8eGG
— AhnaldT101 (@AhnaldT101) March 26, 2020
Will this further delay the release of more content?
Capital Games hasn’t released content for Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes since Galactic Legends in March 2020. They recently released Mandolorian characters, but haven’t released new playable game modes. Capital Games also recently pushed back their content road map, and their communication with players has apparently been less than optimal. It’s possible that the studio might take some time for this situation to deescalate before they release more in-game content.
In spite of the ban, AhnaldT101 has vowed to continue making more content for the Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes community.
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