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“Why Origin is Better than Steam” or “Because They Give Free Games!”

October 15, 2012 7 comments

Man, have you heard of this latest EA fiasco? Let’s see if you can point out the number of ways EA screwed the pooch on this one.

1: Origin users, by filling out a survey, were promised a $20 coupon to spend on whatever game of their choosing that cost $19.99 or more.

2: The coupon was open-ended, so you could continue to buy games after its intended one-time use.

3: The coupon was global, so anyone could use it.

4: Then Reddit found out. Let that one sink in for a moment. For those of you that don’t know the Reddit community, the word “wildfire” comes to mind.

5: EA found out, and completely shut down all coupons. Including those that were given to legitimate players with no intention of ripping EA off.

6: Other players, who had filled out the survey legitimately, were stiffed on the coupons.

7: EA then said that they will honor all the “stolen” games over the weekend. Thus implying that people who filled out surveys after the lock-down are not getting coupons, but people who looted the store with their Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Golden Ticket get to keep their purchases of questionable legality.

Kotaku reported some irked customers venting on the forums. Here is one example:

Allow me to put this into perspective for those who don’t seem to get it.

A service was rendered, here. The agreement was that we take a survey and the payment would be $20 off of one game purchase of $19.99 or more, with some restrictions. That was a fair deal, as many people agree.

The code offered was a universal code, one that could be obtained without completing the survey, and used multiple times. This is the fault of EA who obviously does not understand the internet at all.

Upon realizing their mistake, EA immediately broke the code so no one else could abuse it, but they left the survey up. While the survey was still offering the $20 coupon as payment, EA was not. As such, they are now getting free information by offering a bogus payment. This is known as scamming people.

When confronted on this issue, EA has chosen to respond by honoring the purchases of those who abused the system and not the coupons obtained by those wanting to use it properly after the fact. They have rewarded the abusers and punished their customers.

Believe me, for some of these people, it is no idle threat to take this to court. The e-mail clearly states that there is a payment offered for completing the survey, a payment that has yet to be given to those of us completing it on the second day and after. $20 is not the only thing at stake here. That is merely payment for services rendered. There is also the ability to have them pay the court costs and to force them to offer compensation to those who did work for them and have yet to receive their payment.

If a payment is not given in some fashion to the amount of $20 to spend on an item of our choice, then this survey is a scam, something not tolerated by the BBB or the internet at large. EA is in for a world of hurt if it doesn’t get its act together. While I, personally, will not be doing anything, I know how the internet works.

EA will feel the burn on this one.

Oooooh, burn dude. Burn. See why Origin is better (it’s really not)?

Categories: Controversy

“Blizzard Bans Iranian Players” or “Here is a Question Blue”

August 30, 2012 2 comments

Via Joystiq, Blizzard confirms that players in Iran have been denied access to Blizzard servers to play any of their games. This is allegedly part of a larger strategy to make the company, based in the US, more compliant with US laws and regulations. The US currently imposes various economic and political sanctions on Iran because of its controversial nuclear program. As such, Blizzard is refraining from engaging in any trade or economic activity with residents of the country.

Can you imagine how many WoW players just put their fists through their monitors?

This is probably¬† smart move, but there is a part that really annoyed me. Big Blue is unable to provide “refunds, credits, transfers, or other service options to accounts”. For a company that made a hundred billion and stupid thousand dollars from its games, it seems strange to me that it was OK to take money from people when they were buying your games. Was that not engaging in economic trade with Iran and its residents? If that too was wrong, shouldn’t you return said money? Note that I am not trying to support the dickhead regime that believes the holocaust didn’t happen, just saying it isn’t really the players’ fault.

“Can We Please Be Adults About Leaks?” or “Gamers Aren’t Idiots You Know”

May 31, 2012 Leave a comment

I need to get the following thought off of my chest: please stop referring to glossy, high-resolution screenshots, official documents, and trailers as “leaked” materials. Us gamers are not idiots, we know most of the time it is the developer trying to generate hype while maintain the (foolish) facade of not “sharing any crucial information until we are ready”. It seems every time I turn around, there is some new piece of news one of the gaming sites, claiming that the dozen or so 1600×1200, 300 DPI screenshots were leaked. For the love of god!

Here is an example: Leaked Copernicus Screens Look Like a Futuristic World of Warcraft

Are you kidding me? For those of you who are not aware of the Curt Schilling/38 Studios fiasco, here is a brief primer. 38 Studios was formed (originally as Green Monster Games) back in 2006 by former baseball player Curt Schilling. In 2009, 38 Studios even acquired Big Huge Games. Big Huge Games released one of my favorite RPGs this year: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. This helped further establish the groundwork for their ultimate project, codenamed Copernicus, a AAA MMO. Rhode Island promised $75 million dollars to lure 38 Studios to Providence, in exchange for creating jobs. The company defaulted on their latest loan payment, due on May 1. 38 Studios employees were stiffed on their salaries, and now apparently laid off. Harsh words were changed left, right and center, and the future of Copernicus seems bleak indeed.

Please understand that I loved Kingdoms, and I would really like to see Copernicus made and be successful. But this is not a leak. 38 Studios employees should be on mountain tops, screaming about Copernicus, sharing every image, beta video, and juicy morsel of information they can on the MMO. Calling it a leak is just annoying.

So, can we please be adults about this?

“Meet Mark: Publisher Critic” or “Finally Someone Says it Out Loud!”

May 3, 2012 2 comments

No pin intended!

I don’t hate publishers. I think hate is a very strong word. But I think the larger a publisher grows, the more it feels it can interfere, influence or even dictate developer decisions, features and timelines. I am probably wrong, but I don’t think a developer has just come out and said it point blank.

Mark Cern, the CEO over at Red 5 Studios, developers of the upcoming F2P MMO Firefall said that the pressures put on the developers by the publishers is death to the video game industry. He cites the very valid example of Riot Games, whose smash hit MOBA game, League of Legends, has no publisher, but has more concurrent users playing it than World of Warcraft. Yes Mark, that is kind of bananas!

I for one salute the man. It takes courage to state in no uncertain terms: “Who needs publishers any more? I certainly don’t. I couldn’t care less about them at this stage”.

Categories: Controversy

“Prey 2 Falls Prey 2 Developer-Publisher Debacle” or “A Lackadaisical PR Effort”

April 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Via Kotaku, Shacknews got the inside scoop on the rumors that Prey 2 was cancelled. The good news is that it is not cancelled. The bad news is that it has been delayed to 2013. Allegedly, the developers, Human Head, was not satisfied with the terms of contract with publisher ZeniMax. Work on the title stopped in November 2012, apparently so that human Head could coax ZeniMax into a better, more favorable deal. This seems very shady, and it is a little troublesome that someone at Human Head came forth anonymously to share this with the video gaming news media. It could be because people at Human Head are eager to get cracking at the title again, or it could be a leak from the ZeniMax side, to bring the issue to the public, to try and force Human Head to be complaint with the original terms of engagement.

The following email was sent out by Bethesda yesterday

Development of Prey 2 has not been cancelled but the game will not be released in 2012 as planned. The delay is due to the fact that game development has not progressed satisfactorily this past year, and the game does not currently meet our quality standards. Prey 2 has shown great promise and we regret disappointing our fans. We have made a substantial investment in game development to deliver the experience fans want. We are determined only to release the AAA game that fans rightfully expect, and are unwilling to compromise our quality standards to meet a release schedule.

This is what I would consider a very poor PR effort. First, none of the allegations in the Shacknews story were addressed, let alone refuted. Second, the email cites a completely different and seemingly unrelated reason for the delay. Third, unless I missed something, this email is the only official response from either side since this story broke out.

Prey was a great title, it would be a pity to see the sequel scrapped because mommy and daddy had irreconcilable differences. At the very least, whatever the root cause, I hope the two parties are mature enough to understand that we are not idiots, and share the actual cause of the delay, regardless of the outcome.

Categories: Controversy, Prey 2

“Does Anyone Have Anything Nice to Say About WoW?” or “Are We WoW’s Biggest Problem?”

September 28, 2011 11 comments

11.2 million people still play World of Warcraft. Yet it seems to me lately that no one has anything positive to say about it.

Most MMO bloggers I follow and read have played it at some point or another (a lot of them still do), yet 9 times out of 10, if there is an opinion on something related to WoW, it is seems intrinsically married to some element of negativity, scorn or outright malice. I am not excusing myself from this barrage of endless negativity, I am as guilty of this phenomenon as the next guy. But it does make me think: does no one have anything nice to say about the most successful MMO in the world?

When Ragnaros was hit over the head with the nerf-bat, we all ripped Blizzard a new one. “They need to design content better”, said some (myself included). “The game is become too casual”, said others. “This is the final nail in Blizzard’s rapidly sinking coffin”, was one ambitious claim. Yet everyone continued to play it, and raid, and talk about the next raid. I was able to dig up a few (partially) positive responses to the nerf in Firelands (Variant Avatar and Manalicious), but aside from that, most of the feedback was deeply mired in barely-concealed hostility.

As an example, here are some of the reactions:

  • Kurn felt the “hardest part on Alysrazor was NOT killing her faster”. In all fairness, Kurn’s group seemed to have a lot more fun because the content wasn’t as brutal as it was pre-nerf. That being said, Kurn felt the nerf was a slap in the face this time.
  • Morynne felt that the Firelands bosses, particularly the first few, had started dropping like flies, making the content a little ridiculous.
  • Lonomonkey was upset that in “the end, our efforts were for nothing and no one told us”.
  • Coriel was felt that Blizzard was not tuning the nerfs well enough. For one thing, it seemed rushed, and second, Coriel’s guild was just recovering from a tough raiding summer only to realize content had been made dumber.
  • Ben’s sarcasm was barely masked: “After numerous complaints about fairness, Firelands Elementary is also changing its policy towards grades. Many parents apparently feel that grading children makes the stupid kids feel awkward and embarrassed, and as such, the new grading policy will reward all children with an automatic “A+++”, just for showing up.”
  • Matticus raised an interesting point, that it had been only 10 weeks since players had been in Firelands. The nerf-bat normally didn’t hit the main content for at least six months. He felt it was way too soon.
  • Vixsin echoed Matticus’ concerns, and felt that the nerfs came too soon, and they were too strong.
  • Gevlon, as one would expect, didn’t hold back, opening a scathing post with “…Blizzard practically accepted that their raid design has failed”.
  • Even Tobold was upset, saying he didn’t feel like Blizzard was sticking to their guns, primarily because they couldn’t identify which guns they wanted to stick to.

We complain that Blizzard takes too much time between content, artificially lengthening the life of the expansion. But if they bring out the nerf week in as little as 10 weeks, we still complain that it is too soon. Even Transmorgification, a really cool and rather well-received new feature, was not exempt from the criticism. Some people complained that Blizzard had implemented the system after seven years, and that was too little too late. I must admit I was a little upset. I had held on to the Tier 2 Judgement set for four years, and finally cleaned out my bank a few months prior to the Transmorgification announcement.

Seriously, does anyone have anything nice to say About WoW? And more importantly, is it possible that the problem isn’t Blizzard’s policies or rapidly changing gears in their core systems, but that no matter what they do, we as a group will never be satisfied?

“Se7en Tidbits: Diablo 3 Edition!” or “Actually it’s More like Th13teen Tidbits!”

August 6, 2011 2 comments

Diablo 3’s latest announcements seem to be all the rage these days. To recap Diablo 3 will:

  • require a persistent online connection to play (more details here).
  • feature a player-to-player auction house in which you can sell in-game items for both gold and real world doubloons.
  • not allow any modding whatsoever.
  • be released at the end of 2011, maybe; most likely in the first quarter of 2012.

The reactions to this news have been largely negative. I don’t agree with that sentiment largely because as an MMO player, I don’t have a problem with a persistent online connection, and also because is Blizzard wants to legitimize the eBay selling of items for real money and cash in on the action themselves, I don’t really have an issue with it. It’s a shrewd sales decision, and doesn’t bother me in the least bit. The lack of mods, however, is a little ill-informed.

The same, however, cannot be said for everyone else:

  • Duncan Geere of Wired UK calls the legitimizing of in-game auction “ugly”, and that the lack of modding is “utterly baffling”. For some reasons, she believes it won’t launch until the end of 2012 though. Not sure where she got that bit of info.
  • Ian Hamilton over at The Orange County Register feels that this new auction house system will turn a hobby into a part-time job as all players will fee pressured to sell items on the AH, hoping to make a quick buck. He is also greatly concerned over the IRS’s reaction, as many now claim that the sale of virtual goods should be considered income.
  • Chris Morris at Gamasutra feels that the fanbase is either overreacting, or really isn’t all that upset in the first place, just blowing smoke. Blizzard isn’t a dumb company, he says, and it didn’t get to become the behemoth it is today by not catering to it’s loyalists.
  • Blessing of Kings‘ Rohan had the first legitimate argument I read against the system. It will legalize and even encourage farming, and I agree.
  • Anjin from Bullet Points isn’t all too happy though. I think. Look at his screenshot and decide for yourself!
  • Screaming Monkey‘s lonomonkey is screaming all monkey-like about being really uncertain about this move. He’s exercising the prudent option of waiting and seeing how this pans out.
  • Klepsakovic from Troll Racials plans to wait a few days for everyone to forget about this and find something else to complain about. Fair enough!
  • Player Versus Developer‘s Green Armadillo doesn’t place much faith in the “pay to win” gripe. Citing Runes of Magic as an example of players upgrading their gear through frequent content patches, he is more concerned about the indirect effects of putting the developer in the business of making money when players replace their gear.
  • Spinks over at Spinksville feels that involving real money will give a very tangible shape to the opportunity cost associated with playing MMOs or persistent online games, and isn’t too excited about the utter lack of mods.
  • Big ol’ bear Wilhelm Arcturus, The Ancient Gaming Noob, had his vacation interrupted, so he isn’t a happy camper to begin with But he feels that the signs for this move were all around us, such as lack of LAN for StarCraft II and the implementation of the Real ID system. His sentiments on Blizzard cashing in on the item trade action is the same as mine: it is a smart business decision and it puts the control directly in their hands.
  • Tobold cites Eve Online as an example of the auction house system already underway, and calls the tribal mentality of fan-bases hypocritical.
  • Ceraphus at Variant Avatar has an intelligent argument for why we could see this system (if successful) in WoW or the upcoming “Titan”.
  • Ferrel at Epic Slant doesn’t feel this will really make that much of a difference at any level, but he calls shenanigans on the blizzard argument that this system allows players with less time and more money to advance their characters.
  • Finally, Scott Jennings over at Broken Toys, a game developer himself, sees the logic behind the auction house move. He predicts, and I agree, that World of Warcraft and StarCraft II were the last Blizzard titles without a built-in RMT system.
Categories: Controversy, Diablo 3, DRM
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