Definition Of Irony: Deus Ex Leak Spawns Conspiracy Theories

from the the-truth-is-out-there dept

If you don't know the story of the Deus Ex franchise, it's a good one. The original game wove a cyberpunk conspiracy thriller action game that was as critically acclaimed as it was wildly successful. That wild success spawned a wildly lame sequel that disappointed fans of the franchise. But those fans were pleased to learn that another sequel would be coming out this summer, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. There was some speculation as to whether Eidos Montreal could finally put out a worthy sequel to the original, but anticipation mounted.

You know what happened next, because it happens all the time. An early build of the game leaked onto torrent sites. The only thing stranger than the company's reaction to all this is the story of how it happened. First, let's get the legal nonsense out of the way.

According to The Escapist, the publisher sued fifteen "John Does" for accessing the build and leaking it to the public Square Enix was displeased, lamenting (and I swear to you I'm not making this up) the estimated loss of $5,000 whole dollars! So they're bringing suit against unnamed defendents, paying whatever associated legal costs are required for such an endeavor. I'm struggling with the obvious question: why? For $5,000? What's a UK lawyer cost these days?

Interestingly, there was some question about how this whole thing happened and whether or not Square Enix had something to do with the leak. The official story is that a group of bad guys, real revolutionary types, somehow faked Italian journalist credentials to get the early build from Steam. Then, after much smokey back room discussion, uploaded the leak to torrent sites. There was some initial speculation that Square Enix may have leaked this themselves, due to what appears to be consensus that this leak helped the title in marketing and pre-sales, since fears of an unworthy sequel were laid to rest. But most are taking the lawsuit brought before the UK court over the lost $5,000 as evidence that they didn't (because such a suit makes so much more sense?).

As a side note, minus the mucking up of the legal system for all this garbage, how cool would it have been if Square did manufacture this leak and get creative with the story of how it fictionally happened? What if they got the benefit of this leak (laying fears of a crappy game to rest) while simultaneously building even more hype around the game through fictional conspiratorial intrigue? They could have mocked up interviews with internet cafe owners claiming that MiBs came in and used their property to pull off this "heist". They could have taken their cues from the movie The Fourth Kind and created fictional accounts all across the web that I can promise you Deus Ex fans would have absolutely eaten up.

Instead, we have a story about a couple of folks downloading it via Steam and a lawsuit from a video game mega-publisher claiming damages of an amount less than it would cost one of their execs to go on a European vacation.

So you tell me which is crazier, the tale of Illuminati dominance and conspiratorial intrigue woven into the Deus Ex mythos, or a company bringing legal action to court over five thousand whole dollars?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 4:20am

    Tim, You know the answer to your last question: Destroy All Humans!

     

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  2.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 4:57am

    Five thousand partial dollars would have only been partially ironic. I think they might be setting up a Monty Python style lawyer joke.

     

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  3.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 5:24am

    Re:

    Sorry, the method for destroying all humans has been patented since roughly 1933....

     

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  4.  
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    Evan, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 5:48am

    The $5,000 claim isn't random, it's the minimum requirement for bringing a private claim under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Also, they're claiming "damages in excess of $5,000"; they probably just don't know how big a number they're going to ask for yet.

     

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  5.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 6:02am

    Re:

    And yet they know that it's going to be enough to warrant what must be at least a mildly expensive fishing lawsuit looking for defendant "Does"?

    Come on, this cannot make fiscal sense....

     

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  6.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 6:11am

    Reminds me of...

    Dr. Evil: "Okay, here's the plan. We get the warhead and we hold the world ransom for... ONE MILLION DOLLARS!"

    Number Two: "Don't you think we should ask for more than a million dollars? A million dollars isn't exactly a lot of money these days. Virtucon alone makes over 9 billion dollars a year!

    Dr. Evil: "Really? That's a lot of money."

     

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  7.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 6:39am

    What happens to their claim of $5000 damages if even just one of the Does buys the game, after having downloaded the leak? Will they now be forced to admit that beta build game leaks actually act as a form of advertisement and there were no damages?
    In my case, I downloaded the leak of Sims 3, then bought it.

     

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  8.  
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    Bender, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re:

    Hey baby, wanna kill all humans?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 6:41am

    Re: Reminds me of...

    That was the only good part of the entire Austin Powers franchise.

     

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  10.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:01am

    Re:

    It'd certainly be interesting if this ever goes to non-Doe trial and they brought folks like that in as witnesses. I'm unaware if that defense has ever been REALLY pursued, but perhaps Mike knows....

     

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  11.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:23am

    This Leak Will Make SE Millions

    I (like many other fans of the original, I'm sure), was skeptical that the new game could live up to the memory of the first game, especially after they dumbed-down the sequel so badly, but after a couple of hours with the "demo", I immediately pre-ordered the collector's edition; it's going to be fantastic.

    I think this leak is going to make Square millions.

     

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  12.  
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    Old Fool (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:26am

    working as intended

    Has it occurred to you guys THIS IS the game?

    You download the game and get sued for being part of a conspiracy.

    $5k fail penalty for sucking at the game.

     

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  13.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:33am

    Re: working as intended

    You just lost.

     

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  14.  
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    Jay (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:45am

    Re: Re:

    It absolutely doesn't...

    I've been talking about this with a lot of people but they refuse to look at all of the information about Square and what they're doing, instead saying it's "haters hating".

    Let's review the bad info on Square:

    1) They will shut down fan based games based on their material, even if the story is original and at best it's a derivative work (Crimson Echoes and Crono Resurrection)

    2)They will sue to maintain a strong position, even theough they are the weakest financially. *Based on their own Q2 Earnings, where the earthquake/tsunami hurt them severely.

    3) Even though the true fans *still* want to buy the game, Square is splitting the fanbase into those that want them to sue, and those that do not.

    I used to enjoy the Square games because they were the best games out there. The games were decently original and linear, but they were fun. As I grew up, the games became less about having fun, more about filling Square's profit margin for the quarter.

    You can look at how Square has massive layoffs of employees after each major game is made, how their newest Final Fantasy (14?) was dead panned as an MMO, or a number of signs that tell you that Square is a very weak company that cannot sustain itself.

    It's sad to see Eidos get caught up in this, but I'm boycotting Square based on these details.

    If the best thing that Square can do is pay for lawyers instead of paying to make a game fun, it's not worth it for me.

     

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  15.  
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    Jay (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re:

    They're going for the hacker, not other does. IIRC, Square didn't bother the people that downloaded the finished Crimson Echoes game, they only went for the people making it through a hack.

    This is Sony all over again if you ask me.

     

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  16.  
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    Ryan, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:51am

    Uhh...

    I'm kind of flabbergasted that people think this doesn't make sense, or so crazy that we're making fun of it.

    Square Enix/Eidos have been hands off with fans playing the game and even allowing some discussion on their official boards. Instead, they're only going after the people who actually went in and hacked them(which, I hope, we all still believe is rightly illegal), and they're starting with a bare minimum number to move the lawsuit along.

    Would this somehow be better if they started suing fans all over the place for a million bucks a pop? To me, this seems to be handled about as well as it could possibly be by a company that wants to punish its hackers without hurting the fans.

     

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  17.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:55am

    Re: Uhh...

    "Would this somehow be better if they started suing fans all over the place for a million bucks a pop? To me, this seems to be handled about as well as it could possibly be by a company that wants to punish its hackers without hurting the fans."

    That's a fair point if that's your premise, but I think the premise is wrong. My question is that if, as the consensus seems to be, this leak did nothing but strengthen the game's selling ability, why punish the hackers at all? Generally, is it wrong to hack your way to a leak? Sure, of course.

    But sometimes the stars align and you can benefit from the "wrong" things that others do. This is one of those cases. Why spend the money to go to court?

     

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  18.  
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    Ryan, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, other than the fact that they are completely different.

    Hotz figured out how to modify functionality on his own PS3 and then revealed it to everyone else for use on their own PS3s; the Deus Ex guys actually went in and took a copy of the game from Steam servers that they shouldn't have had access to.

     

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  19.  
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    HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:57am

    Re: This Leak Will Make SE Millions

    Yup, I felt the same way. But after this leak, there it is staring at me, in my Steam games list.

     

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  20.  
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    Ryan, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re: Uhh...

    To punish the people who hacked them? In terms of financial incentives I agree that this in and of itself is not going to be profitable, and probably not at all - but that's true of a lot of lawsuits. I watched The Rainmaker on TV the other night and the protagonists get nothing, but it's considered a success because the big bad insurance company went bankrupt.

    I agree that they might as well leave well enough alone, but this is as intelligently as you'll see it done - a company that was genuinely wronged, making the best of it with its fans and surgically targeting(to the degree it can) the individuals who committed the crime.

     

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  21.  
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    HothMonster, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: Uhh...

    I just want to point out that no one hacked Square. They hacked(gained access, hacked sure is a watered down word these days) the account of an Italian games journalist, and being a journalist he has access to stuff like this demo from steam.

    But more on point, this is the kind of reaction I expect when games leak and turn out to be shitty, so everyone knows not to buy it. Then the pub/dev has to sue because it won't be making that money by selling a shitty game to an unsuspecting public. But this game is good, and the leak was good and I am sure the couple weeks after it went into the wild they got a ton of preorders. Why not just ask Steam to send out a stern reminders to journalists to keep their shit under wraps, maybe force them to sign up for the IP monitoring service (Steam will log your IP and if you try to sign in from a different IP it will send you an email you have to confirm before you can log in).

     

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  22.  
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    MrWilson, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:30am

    Re: working as intended

    Or this is the fake conspiracy to distract you from the real conspiracy!

     

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  23.  
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    MrWilson, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Uhh...

    Think of it this way:

    As a fan of their games, I'm annoyed that they would waste thousands of dollars to go after hackers who really just released a demo (that the company should have released in the first place) and made their product potentially more profitable.

    It makes me wonder what other bone-headed business practices they have that involve wasting the money they get from the sale of their products. It makes me less inclined to give them money. Forgot "being wrong." How they handle this reflects on how they handle other things, like how they treat fans.

     

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  24.  
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    Greevar (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So, they're right back where they were when they were making Final Fantasy, on the verge of collapse? Ironic?

     

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  25.  
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    Greevar (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re: working as intended

    Or that's what they want you to believe! Damn, they're crafty!

     

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  26.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:08am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That. I lost faith and will to play any Square game after those lawsuits against fan made material/sites. Along with the annoyingly bad sequels and even new releases.

    I already miss their good games as if they were dead for a long time already so I couldn't care less if they die. Still, from the tone of the article it seems they did it right this time. In any case, even if I do decide to check on the game I"ll simply download for free. I have no intention of giving my money for them. Not anymore.

    Another company that is walking the same path is Sony. I even avoid their tech gadgets and stuff now. Despite the fact they are better sometimes.

     

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  27.  
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    Danny, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Uhh...

    My question is that if, as the consensus seems to be, this leak did nothing but strengthen the game's selling ability, why punish the hackers at all? Generally, is it wrong to hack your way to a leak? Sure, of course.
    For the same reason vigilante justice is not legal. Sure people benefit from someone outside the law being judge jury and executioner. But at the same time there's still a question did the person they killed actually do the crime they were killed for? I'm betting for the most part that would be true but this isn't Batman where the person he's after is always guilty.

    As for the hacking there's the chance that someone will say, "well they hacked that developer's servers and weren't punished why can't we?".

    I guess its a matter of doing the wrong thing for the right reason?

     

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  28.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So what? I've played and watched early leaks just to go buy/watch legally later. Those losses are fictional and baseless. They are clueless about the market nowadays. Suing won't make them sell anything. The leak may actually boost the sales.

     

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  29.  
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    Ryan, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And...what? How does that refute anything I said? Again, they're not going after the fans...

     

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  30.  
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    Ryan, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Uhh...

    How they treat fans is reflected in how they treat fans - i.e. they have allowed fans to play the build and comment on it in their official forums. I'm not really sure what standing we have to criticize them for wasting money going after people that - seriously - hacked into their system.

    I find absolutely nothing wrong at all with pirating to your heart's content on The Pirate Bay, because you're copying content from somebody else willingly giving it you; intellectual property is a sham. Security intrusions, on the other hand, are legitimate crimes regardless of how much more sales they'd have gotten by just releasing a demo on their own terms.

     

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  31.  
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    MrWilson, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Uhh...

    This is the beauty of the free market. Consumers can decide not to buy your product because they don't like the shirt you're wearing.

    Regardless of how rational it is to pursue people who hacked you, the consumers can still react how they want to. If the hackers crashed the Steam servers so people couldn't play their games, they'd certainly be against the hackers. If the hackers released content that the company should have released (like a playable demo), the consumers have the freedom to be pissed off at the company and let that anger drive their dollars elsewhere.

     

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  32.  
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    IshmaelDS (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Uhh...

    They didn't hack the developers servers, they gained access to a journalists steam account.

     

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  33.  
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    Jay (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 6:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    They don't have to go after any of their fans.

    Just going after this hacker with all legal services when not necessary is splitting the fanbase.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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