Saturday, April 4, 2009

I'm Taking a Break from BK

Dear BK Faithful-

I happy to report I have taken a new post, but sad to say that blogging is being put on hold. I guarantee that when I come back, it will be bigger and bolder.

See you soon

Thursday, January 15, 2009

NY Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Restrict the Sale of Games with Profanity or Racial Stereotypes, Bangs Head Against Wall

NY State Assemblyman, Keith L.T. Wright, submitted a proposal to prevent people under the age of 18 from purchasing games with a rating that "reflects content of various degrees of profanity, racist stereotypes, or derogatory language, and/or actions toward a specific group of persons." It would also require retailers to ID when selling or renting M or AO games. This is Wright's second attempt, the first attempt failing in 2007.

Does This Guy Look At History?

Retailers voluntarily checked IDs for video games, same as they do at the movies. This area does not need to be legislated. Also, the language of the quoted portion above is so broad, that anything could fall under that umbrella. It would lead to inconsistency and undue complexity. No offense to Mr. Wright, but not only has legislation like this failed in his own state, it has failed in multiple others for the same reason - it is unconstitutional!

Sony Sues Datel, Maker of a PSP-3000 Hacking Extra Battery

Sony Europe has filed suit against UK-based Datel, maker of the Max Power Digital Battery accessory for PSP, alleging copyright infringement for Max Power's ability to circumvent Sony's encryption protection for the PSP. Interestingly, the Battery was originally sold as the Lite Blue Tool, an explicit hacking device already frozen by Sony previously. Sony believed that with the launch of the PSP-3000 piracy was "trending downward."

Changing the Name Didn't Fool Them? Damn...

The PSP has enjoyed quite a bit of hardware success but not as much software success, in part due to large amounts of piracy. It isn't surprising that Sony is going after them, especially in these lean times.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 Sues NCSoft For Infringing Patent Related to Virtual Space Interaction, suffering in the business world, has filed suit in the Eastern District of Texas claiming that NCSoft, with its myriad virtual platforms, is infringing patent 7,181,690, System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space. The patent relates generally, and I mean generally, to creating a 3D space with Avatars and displaying the relevant information for each player. Importantly, the filing date on this patent is in 2000.

Can Anyone Say Invalidation?

I hate to break it to Worlds, but the patent is written so broadly, that while they may have pulled a fast one on the examiners in the PTO, I highly doubt this patent will survive this litigation. The 2000 filing date leaves plenty of room for prior art in the MMO space to be considered. Ultima Online and Everquest were both up and running at this time. Jeez, even old MUDs kept track of player positions and delivered information based on that position. The claims are also so broad that they do not even narrow to more technologically useful specific cases, such as being used in a 3d world. This case has all of the markings of trollery (though Worlds is not a troll in the conventional sense). It will be interesting to see if NCSoft fights it on principle, or just settles out of convenience.

Game::Business::Law Conference Coming to Dallas January 14-15

Courtesy of Mark over at Law of the Game, I wanted to give the heads up about an upcoming gaming/business/law conference being held in Dallas two weeks from now. The slate of speakers is top notch, ranging from industry heads to lawyers in the field. The conference is affiliated with SMU's Dedman School of Law and Guildhall graduate program.

The Official Site

Let me know if you will be attending!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Irony: Spore the Most Pirated Game Ever

With all of the hoopla surrounding EA's inclusion of DRM technology to prevent the mass piracy of Will Wright's Spore, it is clear we have a winner in the battle against piracy: the pirates! TorrentFreak, a blog dedicated to all things torrent, declared Spore the most pirated game ever, breaking the single year record. It stated that 1.7 million copies of the game have been pirated thus far, far outranking no. 2, The Sims 2, at 1.15 million. The blog suggested that perhaps the piracy rate was so high because consumers did not want the hassle of DRM's "benefits," namely invasive software and limited installs.


This time I am siding with the fan boys: the answer to piracy is not to treat the consumer like a criminal (ahem, Xbox!), but to make it easier to pay and play than just play.

Friday, December 5, 2008

MTV, Harmonix, EA, Viacom Sued Over "Defective" Rock Band Pedal

Harmonix, Viacom, EA, and MTV have been named in a class action suit brought by Monte Morgan alleging that the following companies put out a defective product in an attempt to “deliberately cheat large numbers of consumers out of individually small sums of money.” The suit comes on the heels of the expiration of EA's no-questions-asked warranty extension (which ended Oct. 1 2008). Now all replacements are free only for the first 60 days after purchase. Lawyers for Morgan are arguing that not only did Harmonix et al know that the equipment was defective, but they are now attempting to exploit that fact by offering new drum pedals with Rock Band 2. They also argue that the new 60 day extension is not nearly enough time. Naturally, MTV and Harmonix deny these allegations, calling them "baseless" and "opportunistic."


I have quite a bit of personal experience with this: I'm on my third pedal, second guitar, second USB hub, and second set of drum heads. Having spent probably a thousand dollars or so on Rock Band in the past year, let me say that when my equipment breaks, EA should be there to fix it - especially the drum pedals. It is nearly impossible to not break a pedal once you start playing on expert and kicks are coming 200+/song. I have gone so far as to do some preventive medicine on my pedal so it won't break and I won't have to deal with EA again. I bought the wireless RB2 drums and they were broken out of the box. EA lost my order so it has been more than two months now since I bought the drums and I haven't played them one bit (supposedly they are on the way).

So far, my experience with EA has been very positive: I say it is broken, they send me a new one, no questions or fees. Now, if my equipment breaks and I have to pay - that will become a problem. Seeing as how I am still giving Rock Band at least $20/month for new songs, I expect that the equipment will last longer than 2 months, at which point it will no longer be under warranty. Frankly, the ease of replacement has kept me playing, so hearing that they will no longer be acting like that is unsettling. I am constantly reminding players at my house, "Be careful...this IS a toy."

This warranty issue could seriously affect the longevity of Rock Band - I do not know why they changed their approach, but I can imagine that the fan boys out there (including myself) will get really angry when their equipment breaks and the only option for replacement is an $80 outlay for "new" "instruments."

As for the suit itself, I do not believe that Harmonix was deliberately selling faulty equipment - they were taking many steps forward with Rock Band and the drum pedal's inadequacy become apparent early on. When the warranty was in place it was excusable; without it though, it is much less so.