this is why we can’t have nice things

The Daily Grind: Should being an MMO ‘whale’ absolve a player of toxicity or push him to the front of a queue?

Longtime MOP reader Agemyth recently brought to our attention a couple of bits of commentary that disturb at least my own fundamental sense of fairness. In one recent Waypoint piece, an ex-mod for a trading card MMO discusses how he witnessed staff allowing a toxic player to keep on being toxic because he was a whale, spending tons of money in-game. And in a Giant Bomb chat earlier this summer, a former MMO CS rep admitted to fast-tracking requests from big spenders. “When the email comes in, the first thing we see is how much money they’ve spent on the game,” he says. (Based on later comments from the same person referring to a $100 lockbox released in the middle of the Battlefront mess, the second company appears to be Trion. Incidentally, he also says the most money he ever saw stamped on someone’s account was $130,000. Let that sink in.)

Anyway. “It doesn’t surprise me that these practices exist, but actually hearing some details about it can still bring a grimace to my face,” Agemyth says. Mine too. Does this also gross you out? Should you be able to get away with being a toxic jerk as long as you keep the dollars flowing? Should how much you spend determine whether a company answers your help requests in a timely manner? If you look at it from the perspective of the company, does it change your answer?

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Bethsoft: Dodgy reseller lawsuits, new media review policies, and Legends crossplay ultimata

Today in why we can’t have nice things, it appears that Bethsoft is using its legal weight to crack down on folks selling fully legitimate boxed copies of its games. Polygon’s report follows one gamer who was attempting to sell his unwanted boxed, sealed copy of The Evil Within 2 through Amazon, but was sent a threatening letter from Bethsoft’s legal team accusing him of not being an “authorized reseller.” Though he wasn’t breaking any laws or agreements, the company appears to be trying to scare games out of selling stuff they legally own by threatening them with lawsuits.

Bethsoft, for its part, told Polygon that the problem was the individual’s use of the word “new” on Amazon rather than “pre-owned,” even though the box was still sealed. “We do not allow non-authorized resellers to represent what they sell as ‘new’ because we can’t verify that the game hasn’t been opened and repackaged,” claims the company.

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Extensive Kotaku exposé uncovers a ‘culture of sexism’ at League of Legends developer Riot Games

The internet is ablaze over an in-depth report at Kotaku that uncovers a “culture of sexism” that is allegedly running rampant through Riot Games. Over two dozen women, both formerly and currently employed by the League of Legends developer, opened up to share their stories of subtle and blatant gender discrimination that weaves its way through Riot’s “bro culture.”

While Riot released a statement for the story claiming that it upholds a “zero tolerance policy on discrimination,” the tales and quotes shared by these employees indicate that at the very least Riot has an unchecked problem going on that needs investigation. The studio is heavily male dominated with 80% of its employees being men and only two of the 23-person senior leadership consisting of women.

“The ‘bro culture’ there is so real,” said one former employee. “It’s agonizingly real. It’s like working at a giant fraternity.” Several women pointed out how they were unfairly passed over for promotions, considered “too emotional” to be taken seriously, and treated as sexual objects. Another issue is that Riot places a great premium on all employees being hardcore gamers, a label that some of these women struggled with convincing the leadership that they were.

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Epic’s Tim Sweeney argues that Fortnite won’t be on the play store because of openness

Did you think that Fortnite’s announced decision to avoid the Google Play store was just about money? Just because, you know, that was one of the reasons explicitly cited? Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney is walking that back and arguing that it’s not about that and it’s not about clones. In his words, it’s a matter of keeping parity between all of the platforms, and since Google doesn’t offer any sort of marketing push like console titles, he doesn’t see why Epic should distribute the game through the Play store.

Sweeney stresses that there is cross-purchase functionality between the various platforms of Fortnite (which is broadly accurate) and that the company would avoid the iOS marketplace as well if it were possible. He also states that the company is aware of concerns over spending limits, which will supposedly be addressed via the game not locking in payment methods after individual purchases. No word about phone security or avoiding malicious software, though. It’s still going to be a controversial decision, but it doesn’t appear the company is walking it back any time soon.

Source: Polygon

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World of Warcraft fans are not happy with the latest story developments, some try to cope through harassment

So yesterday’s latest bit of story in World of Warcraft did not, in fact, delight and amaze fans. Quite the opposite. Reactions on the game’s subreddit have been wildly negative, with dozens of threads popping up about how petulantly destroying a city isn’t morally grey and how badly this mangles existing character traits. A large number of players are unhappy, due in no small part to the fact that the net result is that the Horde have basically been portrayed as complicit in what amounts to a war crime.

All of this mockery is heartily deserved. What is not deserved is personal harassment directed at longtime novelist and member of the writing staff Christie Golden, who was not even involved with writing this (she describes all of these decisions as being made before she formally joined the main writing staff). The game’s subreddit has officially stated that this is unconscionable, which might break from predictions but should show that even unhappy groups of fans aren’t supporting harassment campaigns against women because of bad writing.

On the bright side, some hotfixes should clear up some PvP issues? There’s no hotfixing out the story, though.

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Nintendo bans Splatoon 2 greyhat who begged it to address the hackers and exploits destroying the game

I’m not gonna lie, watching my kid and his cousin play Splatoon 2 on said cousin’s shiny new Switch made me reaaaalllly want to get a Switch. But maybe Splatoon 2 could use a little rethink. That’s because, as Polygon reports, the game is becoming “increasingly overrun with hackers, who have figured out ways to not only claim an easy win, but also circumvent the game’s abuse report system.” The publication reports that the multiplayer modes are riddled with the equivalent of god-moding speed-hackers abusing hardware exploits, and Nintendo apparently prefers to take a reactive rather than proactive approach, asking players to report cheaters after the fact.

Last week, a greyhat hacker and game fan brought matters to a head by hacking the game’s leaderboards with a demand that Nintendo fix the exploits and get rid of the cheaters itself. Oh, and then that guy trying to raise awareness for the problem was summarily banned while the hackers he was complaining about continue on. How dare he impugn the good name of Splatoon 2! Reddit is calling him a martyr and a saint, as they should.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

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Today in why we can’t have nice things: Roblox players were banned after ‘raping’ little girl’s avatar

Please note, this article covers a sensitive subject – please skip it if the title is already crunching up your stomach.

If you’ve got kids, you probably know all about Roblox, a gaming platform that essentially allows players to build their own maps and open them to the public. But with that freedom comes responsibility – and griefers. According to the BBC, earlier this month a couple of Roblox players used their avatars to essentially gang rape the avatar of a 7-year-old girl, backed up by screenshots shared by the mother who saw it happening and took action.

Roblox Corp., for its part, said it had “zero tolerance for this behaviour,” stressing its goal to be a safe platform and banning the “bad actors” involved.

The Roblox subreddit has a couple of discussions on the topic; barring some trolls crying clickbait and false flag (seriously), most people seem a bit embarrassed about the incident as it relies on a known exploit of experimental game mechanics that could conceivably be fixed by developers. In the meantime, parents of kids playing the game should tighten their security settings, as wee tots probably shouldn’t be allowed into experimental mode games where this sort of thing is technically possible.

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Today in why we can’t have nice things: How a No Man’s Sky griefer exploits design flaws to screw with communities

No Man’s Sky griefer purporting to roleplay an evil emperor, monologuing and all, decided to up his griefer game by taking it out of game and erasing a 400+ member strong Amino community cafe.

As Kotaku reports, the streamer, SGX, had a history of this sort of play.

“Erasing a base in No Man’s Sky is pretty easy to do. Each planet can only have a certain number of bases that are visible to other players. In many communities, it’s considered polite not to claim a base on a planet that has other bases on it already. What SGX did was go to planets in civilized space, meaning communities like Cafe 42 or the Galactic Hub, travel to places where he knew player-made bases existed, and claim bases at the same site, effectively destroying them. He’s also left some rude comments in his wake, all in keeping with his evil overlord persona. In one stream, he re-words a comment a couple of times because the profanity filter won’t let him submit his desired message: “I pissed at your door.”

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Two teens who allegedly contributed to Call of Duty swatting murder plead not guilty

Reuters has an update on the ongoing criminal cases against the some of the defendants in the Call of Duty swatting incident from last year that led to an innocent man’s death.

As we’ve previously chronicled, California resident Tyler Barriss reportedly called Wichita police to detail a supposed murder/hostage/arson in progress back at the end of 2017, using the address of what he apparently believed was one Call of Duty player intended as the focus of the ensuing police harassment, as provided by another player and played out live on Twitter. The address used, however, was for an unrelated person, father of two Andrew Finch, who was subsequently shot and killed by police after opening his door. Barriss was charged with involuntary manslaughter and extradited to Kansas, having tweeted an admission of guilt and being suspected of multiple other incidents, including a bomb threat; while in prison, he even tweeted out new threats.

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Call of Duty swatting murder sees three men charged in federal court

At the end of 2017, a Call of Duty swatting incident in Kansas took the life of a completely innocent man after police killed him following a fake tip to the wrong address, but it does appear that multiple people will finally be held responsible.

As we’ve previously chronicled, California resident Tyler Barriss reportedly called Wichita police to detail a supposed murder/hostage/arson in progress, using the address of what he apparently believed was one Call of Duty player intended as the focus of the ensuing police harassment, as provided by another player and played out live on Twitter. The address used, however, was apparently for a completely unrelated person, father of two Andrew Finch, who was subsequently shot and killed by police after opening his door. Barriss was charged with involuntary manslaughter and extradited to Kansas, having tweeted an admission of guilt and being suspected of multiple other incidents, including a bomb threat. While in prison, Barriss even tweeted out new threats.

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Police who killed innocent man during Call of Duty swatting incident won’t be charged

At the tail end of 2017, a Call of Duty swatting incident in Kansas took the life of a completely innocent man after police killed him following a fake tip to the wrong address.

As we’ve previously chronicled, California resident Tyler Barriss reportedly called Wichita police to detail a supposed murder/hostage/arson in progress, using the address of what he apparently believed was one Call of Duty player intended as the focus of the ensuing police harassment, as provided by another player and played out live on Twitter. The address used, however, was apparently for a completely unrelated person, father of two Andrew Finch, who was subsequently shot and killed by police after opening his door. Barriss was charged with involuntary manslaughter and extradited to Kansas, having tweeted an admission of guilt and being suspected of multiple other incidents, including a bomb threat.

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Here’s something nobody saw coming, and by nobody we mean everybody: Sea of Thieves griefers are abusing the brig

Did you think Sea of Thieves’ patch yesterday, which aimed to address respawn griefing, was going to put an end to players’ torment? Yo-ho-ho not a single chance of that, me hearties. Not while the brig is still in the game.

As we’ve previously covered, the “brig” is sort of a milder version of vote-kicking found in other games; if you annoy enough of your fellow crew, they can dump you in the brig of the ship, locking you up until you apologize or whatever. Rare defended it as a “creative” solution that allowed people to roleplay their way out of a bad social situation.

But just as it did with its proposed (and since canceled) harsh death tax, Rare is now finding out the hard way that if you give a griefer an inch, he’ll take a mile, and now the tool meant to curb griefers is actually being used by them to, you guessed it, grief everyone else.

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Make My MMO: Elite Dangerous players expose ‘wanker function’ hacker (March 24, 2018)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Elite Dangerous players scoped out the dirty doings of the paid HCS voice pack plugin, which was apparently intentionally and maliciously sabotaging other programs and packs – whose makers happen to be embroiled in a legal dispute – to stop them from working together. The best part is the name of the function that has everyone up in arms: “wanker.” One of the coders ‘fessed up on Reddit and fell on his sword as patches undoing the mischief were rolled out, but the community is pretty miffed and talking chargebacks. Either way, maybe triple check the third-party mods you install on your system, yeah? (Thanks, Risen Aegis!)

Meanwhile, Star Citizen brought back a round of ship sales and opened alpha 3.2 features up to a vote, we reported on our trip to Shroud of the Avatar’s launch party, Pantheon teased its character modeling, City of Titans released more Scorpion lore, Albion Online tweaked its Lancelot update, and we chatted up Ship of Heroes’ devs at GDC 2018.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the weekly roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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