Not So Massively: Martin Shkreli slammed in e-sports; Star Citizen legal letter revealed

    
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Online gaming and e-sports are getting bigger by the day, and there are literally hundreds of popular online games out there that don’t really fit into the MMO category. Join me each week for Not So Massively, where I gather together the top stories from the biggest MOBAs, competitive card games, first person shooters, and other popular online games in one place.

It’s been an insane week for MOBAs, as it turns out that Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shrekli (the guy who bought an AIDS drug and raised the price by over 5,000%) recently set up an e-sports organisation with its fingers in both League of Legends and Dota 2. Riot Games banned another professional LoL teams this week and revealed that it’s working on a second game, while Dota 2 announced a $3,000,000 tournament in Frankfurt. Derek Smart released letters between himself and the Star Citizen legal team, revealing key details in their ongoing internet drama. Path of Exile also got some nice Alienware prizes for its next series of events, Diablo III banned players who were using an exploit, and Block N Load announced three new characters.

If there’s a game or story you’d like to see covered in next week’s Not So Massively, please drop us a tip and let us know.

leagueoflegends

If you heard the insane news this week about the pharmaceutical company that bought the rights to essential medication required by many AIDS sufferers and raised the price by over 5,000%, you probably didn’t imagine it would be connected to League of Legends. It turns out that Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shrekli is League of Legends player Cerebral, who started competitive team Odyssey earlier this year. His company recently purchased the rights to the medication Daraprim (which is used to fight Malaria and to stave off Toxoplasmosis in people with compromised immune systems) and then raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per dose. The company has since announced that it will lower the price of the drug, but it hasn’t released the new price.

It turns out that Riot Games actually has rules in place to ban competitive team members who engage in behaviour that is seen as immoral or unethical. Odyssey has since merged with Team Imagine, which reached the semifinals in the NACS Summer Playoffs and could be banned from playing in the tournaments under the ethics ruling. In a similar but less dramatic ruling this week, Riot handed the managers of Australia’s top e-sports organisation Team Immunity a two-year competitive ban for not paying its members in a timely manner. The group won first place in the 2014 Oceania Autumn Regionals and the Season 3 Oceanic Championship last year, winning a total of around $30,000 USD. The players in the teams are not banned, and (depending on their contracts with Team Immunity) may be free to reform a new organisation and continue competing.

We also heard the news this week that Riot Games is working on a second big game, which comes as no surprise to those who noticed how many industry veterans the company has snapped up over the past few years. There are no details on the new title yet, but Riot did confirm that the game is “pretty broad” with regard to genre and so probably isn’t a MOBA in the strictest sense. And finally, League of Legends’ weird upcoming champion Kindred that I described last week as “half purple wolf ghost and half creepy bipedal lamb” is now ripping its way through people on the public test server. A lore site has been released for the character, and YouTube channel SkinSpotlights has put together the 17-minute montage below of the new champion’s creepy voiceover.

blocknloadJagex announced that a big update is on the way for its voxel-based shooter Block N Load next week that will introduce three new playable characters to the game. Yury the Yeti is a Russian character who attacks with snowballs and an avalanche ability, Kira-Chan is a J-pop idol blows up enemies with an exploding kitty doll launcher, and Vander Graaf shocks enemies to death with his tesla coil gloves. The update goes live on Thursday, October 1st.

diablo3We recently reported on an exploit that allowed Diablo III players to equip multiple passives by glitching the Hellfire Amulet legendary item. The amulet’s legendary ability provides one of the passive abilities normally selectable for your class, but players discovered that by allowing the amulet to be damaged before removing it, they could retain the passive ability. The effect on characters was persistent through games and was abused by some to climb the season leaderboards at an accelerated rate, with some players even brazenly livestreaming themselves performing the exploit.

Blizzard has now fixed the exploit and initiated a massive wave of bans to those who exploited it in order to keep Season 4 fair for those who play by the rules. Players who used the exploit excessively were permanently banned; those who used it a bit but not excessively were temporarily suspended, and those who may have used it accidentally were pardoned. Those banned include livestreamer Gabynator, who has drawn the community’s ire recently for topping the leaderboards despite his obvious use of botting and open support of cheating.

pathofexile

If you were planning to take part in Path of Exile‘s upcoming month of Flashback race events, there’s now even more incentive to do your best. In addition to the usual in-game prizes and unique items for participating in events and reaching certain level thresholds, the top player by amount of experience or first player to reach level 100 in each event will also receive an Alienware Alpha gaming console. Anyone who hits level 50 in any event will also be entered into the prize draw for an Alienware backpack.

In a new development manifesto article, Chris Wilson discussed upcoming changes to the map system for content update 2.04. The drop rate of maps will be increased as developers noticed that many of the top-tier maps weren’t being used as much as expected. Map levels have been replaced with a new 15-tier system, and new symbols will indicate the difficulty tier of each map you find. There’s also ongoing work on ground effects in maps, experience levels in the top tier maps, and more. This week’s Build of the Week is an interesting setup using three ice pulse totems.

starcitizenThe ongoing saga of Derek Smart vs. Star Citizen continued this week as Smart released the full letter sent by the Cloud Imperium Games legal team in response to his recent legal threats. Smart has previously posted exerpts from the letter on his blog, but the full version reveals a few extra details that might not look very good for his side of this overblown internet argument. In the letter, CIG claims that Smart provided a fake address for his reimbursement cheque. Company records also reportedly showed that Smart opted out of the game’s update newsletters very soon after backing the project and had never even downloaded and installed the Star Citizen client. CIG also claims that Smart has released personal address details of senior executives at the company and that it is reviewing this in regard to possible legal actions for defamation and cyberstalking.

Smart’s legal representative issued a lengthy reply to the letter reiterating his demands and making many of the same points as his blog posts on the subject. The letter was signed “dictated but not executed,” indicating that the letter may have been written up as a dictation from Smart himself rather than being a legal team’s expert response to the CIG letter. The response letter calls the claims of cyberstalking “frivolous and ridiculous” and itself claims that CIG may be exposed to lawsuits for “breach of contract, specific performance, false advertising, fraudulent or negligent inducement, and unjust enrichment.” As far as we are aware, no actual legal challenge has thus far been initiated by either side in any court.

For those who enjoy seeing Star Citizen making progress, this week also marked a fun milestone as we got our first glimpse at the Star Citizen musical score. The main theme below is composed by award-winning Portuguese classical composer Pedro Macedo Camacho, who has worked on a slew of video games and composed the main theme for The Witcher 3.

dota2Gameplay Update 6.85 is on the way for Dota 2, rebalancing a huge list of heroes and items and tweaking creeps. This is the final gameplay patch before the recently announced Frankfurt Major tournament, which will feature 16 top teams and has a prize pool of over $3,000,000 US. Those who didn’t like the Reborn update’s user interface will be happy to know that the game’s home page has been reorganised to include a new “neighbourhood” chat channel space and two new panels that show a recap of your most recent game and highlights of the most-spectated match currently being played.

It turns out that Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shrekli’s foray into e-sports isn’t limited to just League of Legends. Shrekli also started a Dota 2 branch of Team Imagine, and players are calling for action to be taken against his team in response to his company’s unethical business practices. Team Imagine started last month when it picked up the entire roster of Team Leviathan, and then rebranded back to Team Leviathan this week.

inothernews

Every week, Brendan Drain scours the net to bring you all the latest news from from the world of MOBAs, lobby-based games, and other online multiplayer games that aren’t quite MMOs in Not So Massively. If there’s anything you want to see covered here, post a comment or send mail to brendan@massivelyop.com to let him know!
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9thLEGION
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9thLEGION

annoyedbadger 9thLEGION well, since your so bad at observation (example: thinking Derek Smart has actual lawyers), I wont be offended by your weak attack of my character. Keep slandering the project and I will rightfully call you out for it.

Vikingr
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Vikingr

rioinsignia 
Interesting. Do you know who?

StClair
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StClair

Wild_Phil crawlkill Having people talking about Derek Smart.
(Agreeing that he’s awesome would be nice, but any sort of attention will do.)

jeremy2020
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jeremy2020

Damonvile Do you really think he lives in reality enough for that to affect him in any way?

jeremy2020
Guest
jeremy2020

stjerneodd Wild_Phil crawlkill He’s already stolen plenty of money.

Nyphur
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Nyphur

annoyedbadger Nyphur You’ve cited your experience with assessing how real threats of
litigation are and how much hassle they are likely to be, does this mean you’re a lawyer? I ask not to be an asshole but because I’d love to hear more about which parts of Smart’s letter might be actionable, as that’s something very few people paying attention to this drama are probably qualified to touch on. I also ask just to highlight that if neither of us assesses threats of litigation a professional capacity then our experience or intuitions on it carry very little actual weight in an argument.
I’m not a lawyer, so I tried to stick with arguments regarding facts that are known, like the fact that Smart’s lawyers didn’t proof or execute his letter. They don’t seem to be actually representing him in a legal capacity yet, just delivering dictated letters with their letterhead on them. RSI’s lawyer also used a number of concise factual observations in his letter on things that he likely has documented evidence to support, such as with the fake address fiasco. In contrast, Smart’s letter contains demands (like forensic accounting, refunds for all kickstarter backers etc) that he has no legal basis to actually pursue in court, and RSI has now openly invited him to initiate legal proceedings.
On the basis of the above, it certainly appears outwardly that RSI’s letter is the more professional of the two. You could be right judging by the tone of Smart’s letter and he may go
to court over it without having a valid case, in which case RSI
would have to waste money defending. But RSI say that they’re willing to defend any legal challenge and have tried to get one of the US’s top class-action lawyers on board with it, while Smart hasn’t yet presented any serious credible threat of litigation.

annoyedbadger
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annoyedbadger

Nyphur annoyedbadger I was not making a comment on whether I think he has actual legitimate claims, though there are a couple of questions which need answering whether you agree with CRs stance or not.
I was merely saying Smarts Lawyers seam much more professional….even if fighting a losing battle. They are employed to represent their client, not to agree with him.

annoyedbadger
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annoyedbadger

rioinsignia annoyedbadger
I merely said:
“Much as I hate to say it, Smart’s lawyers appear a hell of a let better at this than Robert’s. 

And they have a few valid points, which at least need a better response to, even if they prove to have no actionable merit.”

point where I “slander and undermine Star Citizen”……

rioinsignia
Guest
rioinsignia

Nyphur Psionicinversion annoyedbadger It certainly looks that way. And it makes sense.  After all, then no one can try to use Ortwin’s position as co-founder of CIG against the case.

Nyphur
Guest
Nyphur

annoyedbadger The difference is that the content of RSI’s letter has actual legal standing. Smart’s letter makes many of the same claims and demands as his blog posts, but it’s signed with “dictated but not executed” because the law firm wants to make it clear that it has not checked the letter for any factual errors or filed it with any court. They’re essentially admitting that the letter has no legal standing and that the firm is not prepared to defend the claims or information in the letter if it goes to court.

In contrast, RSI’s lawyers used very specific language in their letter and referred to evidence of factual events that they believe they can prove if this case ever went to court. They even stated that they’re happy for Smart to initiate legal proceedings if he wishes, and they sent a copy of the letter to some big class action superlawyer. No matter how much you personally agree with the content of one letter over the other, RSI’s does appear to be better response from a legal standpoint.