Congressman Markey Wants FTC to Probe App Transactions

February 9, 2011 -

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Ma.) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at the marketing practices of applications on Apple's App store and Google's Android Marketplace. Markey's concerns relate to programs geared towards children that may not adequately inform users of potential charges - particularly micro-transactions.

On Tuesday Markey sent a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Liebowtiz (and copied to Google and Apple), pointing to a story in The Washington Post about how in-app purchases on iPad, iPod and iPhone games such as Smurfs' Village and Tap Zoo have caught some parents off guard. The Children apparently used parents' passwords to buy in-game items instantly.

"I am concerned about how these applications are being promoted and delivered to consumers, particularly with respect to children, who are unlikely to understand the ramifications of in-app purchases," Markey wrote in the letter.

Magicka Moves 30K on Day One Despite Technical Problems and Bugs

January 28, 2011 -

Paradox Entertainment's action RPG adventure, Magicka, has managed to move 30,000 units in its first day of availability - in spite of some incredibly horrendous technical problems and bugs. While Paradox says that the single player campaign is solid, the company admits that the $10 game has a lot of problems in multiplayer. That is a real shame, because no one can deny its old school charm and new school cooperative multiplayer peril.

Here is what Paradox has said about the game's technical shortcomings: "[Singe-player] works fine for the most part, Multiplayer does not -- patch on the way for both! (as soon as [Steam] pushes the button). We'll patch the game as often as possible." According to a celebratory press release, Arrowhead Game Studios is "working around the sundial and is fully committed to ongoing support by zapping glitches and communicating with players."

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Gamers' Voice Calls for UK Govt. Investigation into Black Ops Problems

January 21, 2011 -

UK gamer advocacy group Gamers' Voice is taking the kid gloves off and reporting Activision to the Office of Fair Trading over Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer on PC and PS3. The move follows an open letter sent to Activision on December 22 informing the publisher that the group had been "inundated with complaints from people who have bought copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops."

The letter asked Activision if they planned to compensate consumers that bought the game in the UK and gave them one month to respond. This week the group took action by asking the government agency to look into the matter.

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Activision to PS3 Black Ops Player: Shutting Down PSN Servers an Option

January 18, 2011 -

If you have already read our story about Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward blaming Sony for the rash of hacks and exploits, then you get a good sense of how the PS3 Call of Duty community feels. They are pissed off, frustrated and feel like no one wants to help them. No doubt, Infinity Ward and Treyarch are equally frustrated with the problems they have encountered on the PS3 related to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops.

Riot Games Customer Service Rep Gets Fired For Abuse of Power

January 18, 2011 -

According to a VooDoo Extreme report, Riot Games, makers of the online strategy game League of Legends, has fired a customer service representative who live-streamed his misuse of administrative powers during a League of Legends bout. According to the report, the Riot Games employee "verbally abused a player and inappropriately banned him."

Riot Games' community relations director Steve Mescon announced that the employee has been fired. He added that the company will do a thorough review of its internal policy and training procedures to "prevent such incidents from happening in the future."

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Report: German Game Market NOT Bigger than UK, After All

August 17, 2009 -

It seems like just hours ago that we linked to a report claiming that Germany had surpassed the UK as Europe's number-one video game market.

Oh, wait. It was just hours ago. Well, put a big oops! on that one.

gamesindustry.biz, which was among several sites that also carried the original story, is now reporting that the source of the data, Gfk Chart-Track, has admitted to a screwup. Germany is not ahead of the UK in game sales:

Gfk Chart-Track in the UK has contacted GamesIndustry.biz to admit that the press release it issued earlier today had been written using incorrect data. The company is expected to release a correction shortly. It is understood that Germany is not a bigger games market than the UK.

This is the second time in as many weeks that GfK Chart-Track data has been publicly questioned. Last week, Nintendo contacted GamesIndustry.biz following confusion over UK sales figures for the first half of the year.

GP: Somebody at Gfk needs to get their act together...

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Electronic Frontier Foundation Calls on FTC to Protect Consumers From DRM

February 13, 2009 -

Digital activist group the Electronic Frontier Foundation has called upon the Federal Trade Commission to mitigate the harm caused to consumers by digital rights management (DRM).

An EFF press release quotes staff attorney Corynne McSherry (left) on the DRM issue:

DRM does not prevent piracy.

 

At this point, DRM seems intended to accomplish a very different purpose: giving some industry leaders unprecedented power to influence the pace and nature of innovation and upsetting the traditional balance between the interests of copyright owners and the interests of the public.

 

The best way to fix the problem is to get rid of DRM on consumer products and reform the [Digital Millenium Copyright Act], but the steps we're suggesting will help protect technology users and future technology innovation in the meantime.

The EFF press release adds:

Industry leaders argue that DRM is necessary to protect sales of digital media, but DRM systems are consistently and routinely broken almost immediately upon their introduction.

The group filed public comments with the FTC in advance of the government agency's Town Hall on DRM, which is scheduled for March 25th in Seattle.

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Could Federal Trade Commission Tackle the EULA?

January 31, 2009 -

Do you pay attention to the fine print when you install a game or other software on your PC?

Me neither.

But in many cases, End User License Agreements (EULAs) stack the deck against consumers.

In his Law of the Game on Joystiq column, attorney Mark Methenitis speculates that the Federal Trade Commission may decide to weigh in on the EULA debate in order to protect the interests of game buyers.

In Methenitis's view, the FTC has three possible courses of action:

  • requiring that EULAs be written in plain language, not indecipherable legalese
  • mandating that EULAs be dropped entirely in favor a consumer information checklist devised by the FTC
  • a hybrid of these two

Mark sees potential revenue opportunities for the FTC in EULA regulation as well (hit the jump for the update).

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Fix This: Wait Times Render Some WoW Servers Unplayable

November 17, 2008 -

Like millions of other WoW fans, I eagerly awaited last week's release of the Wrath of the Lich King WoW expansion. But this one should perhaps be named Wrath of the Server Queue, instead. Players attempting to log on at the most popular times may find themselves queued for up to two hours.

On the Mal'Ganis server, this has happened to me several times already, and Lich King has been out for less than a week. Judging from posts on the official WoW forum, many other players are frustrated by this turn of events as well. The queues are particularly annoying given that, in addition to the expansion's $39.99 price tag, gamers are paying a $15 per month subscription fee for their accounts.

Most Lich King buyers certainly expected to play, not wait in line, for their money.

The release of the much-anticipated WoW expansion has undoubtedly led to the reactivation of numerous dormant WoW accounts (like mine), but Blizzard needs to adapt to the influx and make adequate server provisions. Yes, they have offered some limited options to transfer one's character to a less populated server for free (normally this service costs $25), but it's not enough to deal with the crush of would-be adventurers.

Blizzard is raking in the greenbacks, as they deserve to for fine products like WoW and Lich King. But consumers deserve to play when they want.

Blizzard needs to fix this.

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MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
NeenekoAh yes, because by building something nice they were just asking for people to come push them out. Consequences are protested all the time when other people are implementing them.04/17/2014 - 2:06pm
Matthew Wilsonok than they should not protest when the consequences of that choice occur.04/17/2014 - 1:06pm
NeenekoIf people want tall buildings, plenty of other cities with them. Part of freedom and markets is communities deciding what they do and do not want built in their collective space.04/17/2014 - 12:55pm
Sora-ChanI realize that they have ways getting around it, but one reason might be due to earthquakes.04/17/2014 - 4:42am
Matthew WilsonSF is a tech/ economic/ trade center it should be mostly tail building. this whole problem is because of the lack of tail buildings. How would having tail apartment buildings destroy SF? having tail buildings has not runed other cities around the US/world04/16/2014 - 10:51pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the issue is you can not build upwards anywhere in SF at the moment, and no you would not. You would bring prices to where they should have been before the market distortion. those prices are not economic or socially healthy.04/16/2014 - 10:46pm
ZippyDSMleeYou still wind up pushing people out of the non high rise aeras but tis least damage you can do all things considered.04/16/2014 - 10:26pm
ZippyDSMleeANd by mindlessly building upward you make it like every place else hurting property prices,ect,ect. You'll have to slowly segment the region into aeras where you will never build upward then alow some aeras to build upward.04/16/2014 - 10:25pm
 

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