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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Matthew Wilsonyes it help a sub section of the poor, but hurt both the middle and upper class. in the end way more people were hurt than helped. also, it hurt most poor people as well.04/16/2014 - 12:13am
SeanBJust goes to show what I have said for years. Your ability to have sex does not qualify you for parenthood.04/15/2014 - 9:21pm
NeenekoSo "worked" vs "failed" really comes down to who you think is more important and deserving04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
NeenekoThough I am also not sure we can say NYC failed. Rent control helped the people it was intended for and is considered a failure by the people it was designed to protect them from.04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
NeenekoIf they change the rules, demand will plummet. Though yeah, rent control probably would not help much in the SF case. I doubt anything will.04/15/2014 - 1:35pm
TheSmokeyOnline gamer accused of murdering son to keep playing - http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2014/04/15/21604921.html04/15/2014 - 11:50am
Matthew Wilsonyup, but curent city rules do not allow for that.04/15/2014 - 11:00am
ZippyDSMleeIf SF dose not start building upwards then they will price people out of the aera.04/15/2014 - 10:59am
Matthew Wilsonthe issue rent control has it reduces supply, and in SF case they already has a supply problem. rent control ofen puts rent below cost, or below profit of selling it. rent control would not fix this issue.04/15/2014 - 10:56am
NeenekoRent control is useful in moderation, NYC took it way to far and tends to be held up as an example of them not working, but in most cases they are more subtle and positive.04/15/2014 - 10:24am
PHX CorpBeating Cancer with Video Games http://mashable.com/2014/04/14/steven-gonzalez-survivor-games/04/15/2014 - 9:21am
Matthew Wilsonwhat are you saying SF should do rent control, that has never worked every time it has been tried. the issue here is a self inflicted supply problem imposed by stupid laws.04/15/2014 - 8:52am
E. Zachary KnightNeeneko, Government created price controls don't work though. They may keep prices down for the current inhabitants, but they are the primary cause of recently vacated residences having astronomical costs. Look at New York City as a prime example.04/15/2014 - 8:50am
NeenekoI think free markets are important, but believe in balance. Too much of any force and things get unstable.04/15/2014 - 7:25am
NeenekoWell, the traditional way of keeping prices down is what they are doing, controls on lease termination and tax code, but it will not be enough in this case.04/15/2014 - 7:24am
Matthew WilsonI said that already04/14/2014 - 4:22pm
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, The could also lower prices by increasing supply. Allow high rise apartment buildings to be built to fulfill demand and prices will drop.04/14/2014 - 3:48pm
Matthew Wilsonthe only way they could keep the price's down, would be to kick out google, apple, amazon, and other tech companies, but that would do a ton of economic damage to SF, but I am a major proponent of free markets04/14/2014 - 2:54pm
NeenekoThe community people are seeking gets destroyed in the process, and the new people are not able to build on themselves. Generally these situations result in local cultural death in a decade or so, and no one wins.04/14/2014 - 2:09pm
NeenekoWell yes, that is the 'free market', but the market is only a small piece of a much larger system. The market does not always do the constructive thing.04/14/2014 - 2:06pm
 

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