Buying accounts

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 by spiralspy

I just came across this tremendously stupid thread on Reddit. To quote:

Looking to buy a Vang. account. skype: <REDACTED>, I’m paying in paypal up to 100$. Not looking for big cr.

Let’s ignore for a moment that the language skills of the poster in that thread don’t exactly raise confidence in him/her actually coughing up the money and that the whole thing feels rather like a scam to take over and pillage accounts. The thing I actually want to comment on is that the requested thing is not (legally) possible!

Contrary to popular belief, online accounts are not property. An account is always a service and the service it provides is called “access” (in the case of Spiral Knights, access to the game world). Services are performed according to contracts. Contracts don’t require any particular form. They don’t even need to be written down (for example, when you visit a barbershop, you and the proprietor silently agree on you getting a hair cut according to the price table). In case of Spiral Knights, the relevant contract is the TOS and you “sign” it by logging into the game.

Since contracts are an agreement between two parties (in our case you and OOO), it is not possible for either party to bring in a third party without consent of the other. If contracts are to be changed, all involved parties must agree (the only way around this is to get overruled in court). While the SK TOS allows for terminating a game account (canceling the contract) without notice by either side, OOO will never agree on a transfer (though they will turn a blind eye if you take over a knight from a family member).

Let’s illustrate the problem: meet Sally. Sally is a regular at the local nightclub. It’s one of those nightclubs you only get into with a personal invitation (your account, so to say). She likes this system because the exclusiveness of the club keeps the riffraff out. Tom is also a regular, but he is about to move out of town and could use some extra cash. Mike is riffraff. He used to be a regular, but got his VIP pass revoked after sexually harassing Sally. Technically, Mike could offer Tom to buy his membership card, but would that give him access to the club again? No! Mike would only acquire the physical access token (which might enable him to get through the door), but the agreement to enter the premises was between Tom and the club owner. Mike cannot take that over and that is the exact reason why OOO does not allow (unauthorized) account transfers. It would potentially force them to let banned players back in as long as there is someone willing to create a new account for them and therefore completely undermine the whole point of /report and /ban.

Ok, why care? After all, what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve about. Mike might have learned his lesson. Why not sell him one of the Vanguard alt accounts you aren’t using much anyways? As long as he doesn’t blow his cover, he’s good to party. Well, two problems:

  1. People like Mike can’t keep their mouth shut. Expect him to brag about how he got back in.
  2. OOO is actually able to track which accounts are logged in from which physical computer. If you were around back in the days of Mist Energy, you’ll painfully remember this. If not, just take my word for it.

So, just ask yourself. What will happen if Mike brags in public about how he bought his account, gets /reported for it, booted from the game and a GM has a bad day and decides to figure out, who else violated their contract.

Account sharing is a bad idea. Don’t do it. It can be traced back to you!