Hi, my name is Shintar and I've never knowingly participated in an exploit in Star Wars: The Old Republic. If certain parts of the player base are to be believed, that apparently makes me part of a tiny minority because "everyone's doing it".
I've never even written a post about the subject of exploiting (as far as I can remember), mostly because I find it to be such a depressing topic. It's also oddly controversial, even though you'd think that it really shouldn't be (what, you're saying cheating isn't bad?), and to be honest I tend to shy away from writing anything too controversial on here most of the time.
Nonetheless I've been on the sidelines of a fair number of exploits, and they have always been thoroughly disheartening affairs from my point of view. They tend to bring out the worst in people, as they brag about cheating their way to the top and may even try to force others into breaking the rules against their will, as poor Mox described on the podcast last week when he was forcefully prevented from trying to pull a certain boss the normal way.
What makes it worse is that Bioware is really not very good at dealing with exploiters. An ex-guildie of mine farmed implants from Nefra via an exploit back in the day, and when the subject was brought up in conversation with him recently, he still laughed about how he was never punished for it. During the infamous Coratanni bug, they did hand out some punishments, but I recall someone who was affected saying that while something had been done to his account, his illegitimately acquired main hand weapon wasn't even removed... or something similarly awkward and ineffective, I wouldn't swear by the details. The point was that the exploit had still been worth it for him as the punishment didn't counter the reward. And now we've reached a new low (or high I suppose, if you're into that kind of thing) with Eric Musco outright telling people on the forums that exploiting is okay.
Don't get me wrong: I do agree that this latest exploit (which did not grant you any extra loot, but caused one half of a two boss encounter in a small group instance to instantly fall over dead) gave relatively little benefit, so I didn't really expect them to get out the ban hammer or anything. But by not even bothering with as much as a slap on the wrist for the worst offenders, they are basically giving people green light to exploit as much as they want going forward. Oh sure, strictly speaking, Eric still says that you shouldn't. But that's an appendix to a post in which he states that there is an exploit, they can totally tell who intentionally exploited as opposed to triggering the effect by accident, but they still aren't going to do anything about it. In fact, they aren't going to fix it for another week, so go knock yourself out.
I kind of suspect that this stance is more the result of some sort of painful cost-benefit calculation than a firm conviction that nobody deserved punishment (meaning that it would take too much time to weed out the worst of the bad apples, they might not currently have a way to implement partial CXP rollbacks or whatever). However, that doesn't change that they are making fools out of those of us who follow the rules and have in the past tried to convince others to do the same. If you told anyone not to exploit Fractured, that person can now laugh in your face, and rightly so - because Bioware has their back, not yours. Not to mention that if actually punishing exploiters appropriately is too much hassle right now, why should we expect them to make time for it in the future?
I'd like to say that I have some sympathy for Bioware here because they aren't really big into competitive gaming, and ultimately exploiting is all about gaining a competitive advantage, so maybe it's something they don't really "get". However, they've been running this game for more than five years at this point, and I really would have expected them to have picked up a trick or two by now.
Unfortunately, I suspect that things are only going to get worse, partially because of this incident encouraging more bad behaviour, but also because of the nature of Galactic Command. Pre-5.0, they at least only really had to worry about operations and to some degree PvP as areas where abusing a bug could actually gain you a significant leg up. With everything being endgame on the other hand, everything also becomes a potential target for exploiting. They are not off to a good start in terms of keeping up.