Blizzard Drops Another Banhammer

Banhammer

Blizzard has dropped another banhammer and this time has banned thousands upon thousands of accounts that have been caught using bots or botting programs. One thing to note is that most of these are not permanent bans this time around, rather 6 month bans that will be released sometime around November.

We’ve recently taken action against a large number of World of Warcraft accounts that were found to be using third-party programs that automate gameplay, known as “bots.” We’re committed to providing an equal and fair playing field for everyone in World of Warcraft, and will continue to take action against those found in violation of our Terms of Use. Cheating of any form will not be tolerated.

The main bot that seems to have been targeted was Honorbuddy. Just about every who has used it in the past few months will probably be presented with “this account is temporarily suspended.” Many people are reporting that their main tanks or raid leaders from their progression guilds have been banned and won’t be back until November. This is probably going to have some measurable amount of impact on the amount of progression guilds and we’re probably going to see several big ones break up over it. It might even have a noticeable impact on the economy and the price of the new WoW Token.

What’s your stance on botting? Did you get caught in the ban wave?

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Awful Mobile Games – Ice Queen Give Birth

Ice Queen

So I decided it would be fun to try and find a random awful looking game on the Play Store and review it. As I flipped through random game after random game I stopped and stared at one called “Ice Queen Give Birth To A Baby” PlayStore Link. The gist of the game is that Queen Elsa from the movie Frozen is pregnant (it doesn’t say by whom, so we just have to use our imagination… maybe it was Olaf?) and you have to do a few things to expedite the delivery process and then care for the baby after it’s been delivered.

I was hoping there would be some kind of metric where there’s a countdown timer to the delivery and you have to speed through the streets of Arendale to get her to the hospital before she has the baby in the back of the carriage – but no. Nothing exciting. Your first task is to grab the stethoscope off the table and with your finger wiggle it back and forth over Elsa… or the baby… I dunno, it worked both ways. A progress bar fills up and you’re done. I have no idea what I was supposed to be doing with it.

Screenshot_2015-04-27-20-40-56

The next step is to give her an ultrasound… I’m dead serious. This was the absolute weirdest part of the whole game. I can only assume it’s supposed to be aimed towards 6 or 7 year old girls and they include the task of rubbing Elsa down with ultrasound gel and then using an ultrasound probe on her stomach to get an image of the baby. How weird is that?!?

(more…)

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Steam Rolls Out Paid Mods

Steam Paid Mods

Update: Gabe Newell had a long spontaneous AMA about the paid mods for Skyrim yesterday on /r/gaming and in the end decided to remove the feature.

We understand our own game’s communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there’s a useful feature somewhere here.

Steam rolled out paid mods for games yesterday starting with Skyrim. There has been an extremely loud backlash against this in most gaming communities for several reasons that people feel it will be detrimental to the gaming and modding scene. To start off, the mod creator is getting 25% of profits while the store gets 75%. Steam says they’re splitting the profits from the Skyrim mods with Bethesda but don’t say whether it’s 25/50% of the sale or if it’s an even 37.5/37.5%.  Also, developers of mods must earn at least $100 before they ever receive any money from Steam – actually $400 in sales before they get their $100 check.

One problem that may not be evident now is what happens when you buy a mod that doesn’t work with other mods that you’ve purchased and the developer of the mod is either no longer around or doesn’t feel like fixing it. There doesn’t seem to be a way to get a refund or any support from anyone else. Some mods even require other mods to work – this means that if a dependancy mod that you use to get several other mods working goes out of date, it will cause several of your mods to cease working. This isn’t like paid DLC where it’s guaranteed to work with your game and not interfere with other parts. Once people start paying for stuff they are going to feel very entitled to a working version all the time-not to mention help and support.

Then there’s the whole “supporting the modders” line that you really have to be dim to believe. Mods that were available over on Nexus just last week are now up on the Steam Workshop for money. Wet and Cold for instance has been updated to version 2.0 and includes various small “tweaks and fixes” and is no longer available on Nexus and Isoku asks you to uninstall his old version and to purchase the new version for $4.99. Some mods are only 99 cents, and while $1 isn’t a lot, there are people with literally hundreds of mods installed for Skyrim. It’s crowd sourcing microtransactions and the modders only get a 25% cut. You can go right now on Steam and buy a sword model for a single player game for $1 or you can go to Nexus and get mods that add 30+ hours of gameplay and overhaul the graphics entirely.

As hard as it is to believe – Steam isn’t the same as it was 5-10 years ago. They couldn’t get games on their store fast enough so instead of expanding their employee base to compensate, they introduce Greenlight to have us vote which games should be on Steam for them. Then when that failed they introduced Steam Curators that is basically another way for other people to do their work of identifying poorly made games, scams, and other trash. They are notorious for having some of the worst customer service on the internet and they have a monopoly on PC gaming and have made no real improvements to improve their customer service. It’s a sad day when it’s easier to get refunds and to pick up freebies that you missed by a couple days from EA’s Origin than it is on Steam.

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