Thursday, January 3, 2013

Beware of Deception

Pirates stealing from publishers is a regrettably common occurrence in the video game industry, but something many people don't realize is theft can be a two way street.  I'm not talking about pay-to-playtest-online schemes, nor simple MMO gold farming.  "Creating confusion in the market place" is a polite way to put it.  Regardless of the choice of words "game developers" do engage scams from time to time.  Let's check out a few examples that happened in 2012, shall we?

Back in February there were a pair of Pokemon apps on the Apple store.  Pokemon Yellow in particular billed itself as a port of the famous handheld game by the same name.  In actuality all it consisted of was a title screen.  Another app called Pokemon - Pocket Edition claimed an enticing number of features, but then in small print admitted to being nothing more than a gallery of pictures from real Pokemon games.  Gotta Catch'em All?  No thanks.

Kickstarter has had a few suspects crop up this year, most notably a title called Mythic: The Story of Gods and Men.  Supposedly this project was being created by a team of ex-Activision/Blizzard employees with motion capture done by Disney/Pixar. If that doesn't sound suspicious enough it turned out that all the artwork, screenshots and pictures of pledge rewards were pilfered from various existing sources. You can read about more details here. Sufficed to say the project was canceled at the end of April after only reaching a little under $5k of it's $80k goal. I personally suspect that at least the one $2,500 backer was probably in on the con as well.

Sometimes advertising can take a turn into sham territory too.  How many game titles have you seen with the words "storm" or "requiem" in them?  War Z is an example of this kind of abusive labeling.  It was pulled down in December after being out on Steam for less than a week.  The game is basically guilty of false claims and only saw strong initial sales because a number of buyers were duped into thinking it was the highly anticipated standalone release of DayZ (a popular zombie survival game currently available only as an Arma II mod).  According to the fine legal print refunds for the game are not possible, but Valve is exercising common sense and has offered purchasers their $15 back assuming they're willing to submit the online request form.

Sometimes the cover itself is another trick meant to exploit customers who are not exercising proper caution when deciding what prodocts to buy.  Take a look at this example book cover on the right.  Look vaguely familiar?  The choice of font and background colors look awfully reminiscent to Mass Effect, don't you think?  It doesn't help that this novel has nothing to do with the Mass Effect universe either.  Personally, I can't understand why you would want to create this kind of false association.  It's not like the Mass Effect novels themselves were particularly good to begin with.   Especially the aptly titled Mass Effect: Deception, an entry in the series so poorly received by fans that Bioware and Del Rey (the book publisher) made an official apology to readers everywhere.  Oh this case perhaps justice has ultimately been served.

No comments:

Post a Comment