Have you ever wanted to earn a living off of video games? This hacker says he found and exploited flaws in online games and made it his full-time job.
The hacker in question goes by the alias Manfred, and we’re not talking a few dollars here and there; he was making serious bank. How much money, you ask?
In WildStar alone Manfred estimates he has $397 trillion worth of gold by using the current exchange rate. When you consider that there is estimated to be between $60 and $70 trillion in the world, you begin to understand exactly how lucrative Manfred’s career really was. Manfred’s income was only limited by the real-life market for the in-game currency but he had a limitless amount of stock to sell as and when required.
Manfred spoke to Motherboard and gave the lowdown on his profitable career while performing an “extremely easy hack” in a few seconds, which added another 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 to his account. That’s 18 quintillion of in-game gold.
Manfred’s career for 20 years basically consisted of finding exploits within online video games to trick them into giving him items or currency he hadn’t earned. He would then sell those items or currency for real-world money to grey markets, such as the Internet Game Exchange. Those grey markets would then sell those items and currency on to players.
As negative as the repercussions of hacking may be, Manfred is living proof that trading hacked goods for real-world gain is an almost flawless business model.
While many hackers do what they do to get an unfair competitive advantage over other players, Manfred made it clear that he only exploited the titles to make a living. That doesn’t mean that players have never been harmed by the hacker.
Manfred’s first steps into the world of hacking for monetary gain came in 1997 in Ultima Online. Manfred found a way to delete other player’s houses and take over their lots, allowing him to build more houses than the game would normally allow. One day he stuck a castle on eBay to see what would happen. It sold for almost $2,000. Since then, Manfred has sold around 100 houses for a similar figure.
Manfred has earned his living exploiting not only Ultima Online and WildStar, but also Lineage 2, Shadowbane, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of The Rings Online, Final Fantasy XI, RIFT, Age of Conan, Star Wars New Republic, Guild Wars 2, and others over the last two decades. Manfred expanded on other exploits he used in the article.
Manfred has now moved on from hacking video games for a living and now works for a consulting firm. His reason for moving away from the lucrative career he had forged was the increasing reliance video game companies are placing on selling in-game currency to make their titles viable.
Sadly, there are likely many, many more hackers forging the same career that Manfred enjoyed, potentially crushing the game worlds us players enjoy.