by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 26th 2014 12:38pm
Thu, May 22nd 2014 1:58pm
from the paved-with-good-intentions dept
The road to Hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions. The lesson in that axiom is that one should always be wary of the potentially adverse consequences of actions intended to be good. Blizzard, unfortunately, appears to be something of a performance art piece on this concept. For many years now it has, under the auspices of protecting the larger portion of its customers' gaming experience, gone after hackers and cheaters in its games by twisting copyright law into a tortured pretzel. It began with Starcraft and then transitioned into World of Warcraft, both relying on a morose entwining of copyright law and terms of service. That combination essentially creates a cascade of faulty nonsense, starting with the concept that software is only licensed and not sold to customers, that ToS agreements are so binding that breaking them breaks the license, and finally that breaking the license negates the ability for fleeting copying that the software employs, creating a copyright infringement. If your head is spinning, you aren't alone.
Yet, Blizzard continues on, now going back into the Starcraft realm to sue "hackers" for copyright infringement in the name of protecting the larger audience of the game.
Blizzard filed papers in a California court on May 19th alleging that an unidentified group of programmers infringed on the publisher's StarCraft II copyright with a series of cheats and in-game exploits collectively known as the "ValiantChaos MapHack." Designed to give StarCraft II players any number of competitive advantages when playing the game online, the MapHack was made available online through the ValiantChaos forum—provided that forum members paid $62.50 for access to its VIP section. The complaint Blizzard filed says that the company is taking action against the programmers in order to "protect the sanctity of the StarCraft II experience" against "hacks, mods or any other unauthorized third-party software" that undermines the competition central to the game's online multiplayer.It would be quite easy for any Starcraft 2 player to cheer Blizzard on at this point. I don't play this particular game, but I've wished all manner of ill in the past on those that were obviously using cheats and hacks in online games in the past. Counter Strike, in particular, did more to teach me how much I hate cheaters than any other single experience in my entire life. That said, we still have the same problems as before.
Blizzard's filing again lays out its view that its software is licensed, rather than sold in the traditional meaning -- and that a violation of its ToS and EULA agreements nullifies that license. In addition, it claims both that the hacks created by the hackers (even if their copies were purchased legitimately) constituted a modified end-product, or illegal derivative work, and that this resulted in both direct and contributory infringement in the instance of every copy of the hack they provided, used or sold. It also, of course, argues that anti-circumvention clauses of the DMCA apply.
The problem with all of this is that it still relies on the twisted assumptions that Blizzard customers don't actually own what they bought and that ToS and EULA agreements are so binding that violation of them negates the license that the company insists was all that was purchased. As I mentioned, this may be done in a valiant effort to keep most of its customers as happy as possible, but that doesn't make it right. The wider implications of these rulings is horrifying. There simply will be unintended consequences in this that will prove to be far more harmful than any annoying game-hackers can create with their irritating products.
This may seem crappy, but the best course for everyone involved would be for Blizzard to simply jump back into the arms race with these cheaters and hackers and try its best to keep them off the company's servers. Going the legal nuclear option and twisting copyright into the mix may only amplify the amount of harm being done all around.
by Michael Ho
Mon, Jan 9th 2012 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Chess used to be the game that could measure a person's cognitive capabilities, but StarCraft2 might be the new game that provides metrics for humans' abilities to plot and strategize. Meanwhile, the computers are wondering why we're wasting so much time on variations of Tic-Tac-Toe and Rock-Paper-Scissors. [url]
- Imagine a game that taught you how to program better video games, would that be a fun game? If only the result was actually a virtuous cycle for improving video games and programmers... [url]
- Previous studies that suggested video games can help improve human cognitive function may be seriously flawed. Experimental design is really critical for generating psychology conclusions that aren't biased -- and surprise, surprise: there are a lot of widely-cited studies that are poorly designed. [url]
- To find some cool online games, check out what StumbleUpon has found to play. [url]
by Michael Ho
Wed, Mar 9th 2011 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Microsoft Research is working on AI that can play the ancient game of Go -- and incorporating it into an XBox Live game called The Path of Go. This is a pretty cool project to try to get more people playing go, but adding avatars and some storyline about finding your missing twin doesn't sound like a more fun way to play Go to me. [url]
- Starcraft is another AI challenge that requires more than fast reflexes and a pulse. Instead of creating supercomputers that play MMORPGs perfectly, I'd settle for AI that just happily mines gold for me all day. [url]
- Computers can also beat us at really simple games that you wouldn't think need any intelligence to play. So don't play Rock-Paper-Scissors to the death, and never wage a land war in Asia. [url]
- Maybe football coaches should be replaced by computers, too. When your fantasy league is short human players, try a few bots as competitive players. [url]
- If only the neural nets that play 20 questions were a bit more useful... These kinds of programs were supposed to help diagnose medical diseases, but now they just play trivial games and advertise for Whoppers. [url]
- To discover more interesting AI-related content, check out what's currently floating around the StumbleUpon universe. [url]
Tue, Apr 20th 2010 12:23am
from the where-there-is-money-to-be-made... dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 4th 2009 12:56pm
from the entitlement-culture dept
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jul 2nd 2009 11:04am
from the yeah,-that-doesn't-work dept
Either way, this seems like a move that's designed to backfire badly. It's all about taking away value, rather than adding value (or a reason to buy). LAN parties using StarCraft were a huge part of the appeal of the game -- and even though there were many pirated versions out there, it's part of what drove more people to buy the legitimate version. One thing that we've seen over and over again is that any business that focuses on "safeguarding against piracy" isn't focusing enough on providing unique value to customers. It's amazing that it still needs to be explained in this day and age, but you succeed in business by providing more positive value to customers, not in taking it away just because it doesn't fit with your business model.