Citizens of Webkinz World, we are and have been aware of the measures that Ganz has taken against item duplication and the sale of virtual items on third-party sites. Rumors have been flying here on WI and on various other Webkinz fan sites, and we've held back on this announcement because we wanted an official statement from Ganz containing the facts of what has happened, rather than speculate based on rumors.
Here is Ganz's official statement regarding the bannings in Webkinz World that you've all undoubtedly heard about:
I'd like to take this chance to address recent events in Webkinz World and answer a number of questions that I have seen swirling around the net.
This week we were notified about a growing concern in the Webkinz trading community about the number of highly prized items that were appearing in the trading room and on certain auction websites. We began investigating the issue and very quickly discovered that we had a real problem on our hands.
We at Webkinz understand that our fans take their collections very seriously. They are proud of their accomplishments, and they deserve to be. Those who use exploits devalue these collections and the work put into them. With this in mind we knew that we needed to move swiftly to deal with the situation.
Yesterday we terminated a large number of Webkinz accounts that our investigation indicated were using an exploit to generate items and/or selling virtual items. As we have made very clear in the past, these activities are strictly against our User Agreement and will not be tolerated. We are still investigating and we do expect that more accounts will be terminated.
We do not take the termination ("banning") of accounts lightly. We have banned very few members over the past four and a half years. We can assure our fans that we using all of our tools to ensure that we only ban the right accounts.
That said, if your account was terminated and you know that you did not use any exploits, nor bought or sold virtual items, then call our Customer Service team as we will review your account. The CS team is fully aware of the bannings and are doing an excellent job dealing with this issue.
Now let me discuss some key issues that I've seen being raised:
1) On the subject of Buying Items and/or "Trading for eStore Points"
Virtual items in Webkinz World can only be traded for other virtual items, period. Buying virtual items from other members is against the rules. Trading for eStore Points is just another way of buying items and is also against the rules. Please, we ask that you do not encourage those who would sell their items by buying them.
I would like to applaud the Webkinz Insider Gift Exchange community for being so dedicated to fair, in-game trading. I am very impressed with how the Gift Exchange is run and the rules that it lives by. You should all be proud of the work you've done.
2) "The game gave me two [item name here] and I swear I didn't do anything!"
Bugs can happen. We are not going to do anything in these situtations. When we launched Deluxe Membership, some members received two of our super prize Rollercoaster. This was our mistake and we naturally let all of these members keep their extras.
What we are dealing with are those who were clearly using an exploit, or who are involved in selling items. That is all. If you know you didn't do these things, your account is completely safe.
3) "How do I know if an item was made by an exploit?"
Simply put, you can't. Right now though we ask that you do not trade for the most rare items in Webkinz World as it is very possible that they were made with the exploit.
If you believe that you have traded for such an item in the past, please do not worry. When we review the accounts, someone who happened to trade for an exploit-created valued item has an account that looks very, very different from an account that is actively distributing these items.
4) "Why did it take you so long to deal with the exploit?"
To be honest, we simply didn't know. We are very busy working on new features for Webkinz and while we enjoy reading the forums from time to time, we generally stick to the main forum and front page stories. As can be seen, we moved very quickly once we were made aware.
I hope that this message answers the main questions that you have. We are committed to providing a safe, fun and fair environment for our Webkinz members to enjoy. We thank all of our great fans who play Webkinz in the way it was designed, and appreciate your patience while we deal with those who do not.