Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top Ten: #3 - Does Square-Enix really give a damn?

So we now get to the second part of the Grand Four-Part End-of-Year Flame...

And this one is against the company who owns, makes, and runs the game.

Why? Because, frankly, my statement about considering legal action against Square-Enix for fraud vis-a-vis Final Fantasy XI still stands, even though matters of standing and damages will ensure that it probably never takes place.

But I will say bluntly that the economic, player-base, and company realities of the situation force me to believe that Square-Enix is unwilling to fulfill what I believe is a minimum standard of care for their game, and this impacts their ability to feasibly market an MMO at all, be it XI or XIV.

If you're going to make Terms of Service, you enforce them, especially if failure to do so basically renders the game asunder -- the weight of the cheaters, botters, RMT, etc. too great for the game to bear.

This is the situation I believe they are in now, and one of the reasons that I am not sure whether the December 24th 3rd Party Programs statement is a nothingburger or a sign of another major set of banhammers.

I do truly hope it's the latter (though doing so, as I will explain on Thursday, probably means shutting down the game, at least temporarily (Hint One: Conservative estimates are that these bans, should they occur, would hit an order of magnitude harder than the Salvage bans last January.)), but, given Square-Enix' record, I can't say for sure.

Let's take a look at some of the examples (other than the Salvage bans, which will get another good long look on Thursday) as to some of the negligence of Square-Enix:

1) Apathy, Pandemonium Warden, and Logging Hate

Just a couple of weeks after the Salvage bans, we see a post on Playonline lauding the first linkshell to successfully defeat the Tier V ZNM, Pandemonium Warden.

Upon further investigation, though, it's learned that the linkshell used a concept called "Logging Hate" to exploit both the process of logging out _AND_ the code of Pandemonium Warden to aid in their victory.

Basically, it was that the bulk of the linkshell would log out to avoid the massive Astral Flow which wipes the fighters in the final form of Pandemonium Warden.

Square-Enix appears to have pretty much black-letter law against that kind of thing in their Terms of Service.

From the new Knowledge Base, article 12652, on Square-Enix' Support Center website:

Site: http://support.na.square-enix.com/faqarticle.php?id=20&la=1&kid=12652


[Game Exploits]
Players who take advantage of in-game mechanics not intended as normal means of game play may have their account suspended and all items or experience obtained through those actions confiscated.

(end quote)

Of course, this does raise the question against most every commonly-used tactic among the playerbase as to whether that might qualify as a violation as well.

But, to get back to the specific question, I would think it clear that to use the in-game mechanic of logging out for any other purpose than leaving the game would qualify as an illegal offense of this rule.

Yet, the cheaters on Apathy get their win, gear, and validation (at least until the 3rd Party Program banhammers rain down -- for which I fully expect they'll be decimated, as will most all of the other major linkshells that the Salvage bans didn't get).

Why? Because Square-Enix is willing to defraud what legitimate players there are?

2) Astral Burn Parties

I believe there are certain policies which are completely inconsistent with the upholding of the rules of the game, and the non-application of one of them was the last straw for me remaining on that second piece-of-shit server, Leviathan.

We all know what Astral Burn Parties are (the massive powerlevelling of a bunch of summoners illegally Astral Burning every monster in the zone, with enough COR and puller support to get literally hundreds of monsters chained, driving out all other play within the zone.

If zone monopolization is illegal as a griefing tactic, then this has to be illegal. If not, then what IS a griefing tactic?

Seriously, because if it's legal because a GM says it's legal, then why the Salvage bans? The GMs knew about that shit for EIGHTEEN MONTHS! With that argument, why the 3rd Party Program statement, since that's been going on for years? One could even say that Square-Enix' inaction to take down the RMT sites, with this argument, makes RMT legal.

(To wit: The filters do no good -- I'll say it again... I actually same one just five minutes ago get their entire website name through cleanly, just in all-caps.)

3) The credit-card fiasco...

This could probably refer to two things in concert:

-- The phishing of credit-card information off of SE's servers by RMT and other thieves
-- The requirement (just a couple days before the end of a month) for all payments to be Secure-Safe or whatever that's called

One has to understand something:

RMT has functional control, at any time it so chooses, to seize your credit-card information.

This has been shown and proven, and why Square-Enix has not done anything about this (on both the server end (which is why I mention this today) and the RMT end (which is why I will hopefully mention this tomorrow) is an act of fraud toward the players.

4) If they're banned, why are they allowed to come back with a different character?

It's no real secret to anybody that most of the banned characters who wish to continue to play FFXI have a particular attitude -- that the cheating makes them superior, and that they will gladly pass up the gimps and get back to their "former glory"in no time flat (and to spit on Square-Enix and the gimps), because they know where the skeletons are buried.

Every account has a method of payment. If it's not a prepaid debit card, it has a name and an identification number (Social Security #, Tax ID # in Canada, etc.) behind it.

You get banned, they go into your file and find out the identification # behind that account and ban ALL cards based on that ID #.

This was part of the discussion I had with Edwyth this morning, as to "if you cheat once, does it make you a cheater" -- to wit, in part, I responded with the level of offense which would force you to be banned. Why any banned person is allowed to continue in this game is beyond me.

5) Why are civil and criminal charges not involved with much of this illegal activity?

And I'm talking people like bot creators like Maury _AND_ users of the bots and exploits.

The big question going around the endgame community since the 3rd Party Program announcement on the 24th is this:

Did Maury (the guy who made and sold App and NASA) have to give up the list of his characters, and did he do so (or destroy the list)?

If he destroyed the list, any deals made with Square-Enix should be nullified and additional criminal charges thrown in?

But, here's the thing: Does Square-Enix have the legal standing to defend it's ownership of all proprietary property on FFXI?

If it does not, it does not have ownership.

If it does, then why aren't they going after the end users too?


I could go on for megabytes, but that's just a small list.

I want to leave this rant with a take-home point I've made before:

I do NOT believe that Square-Enix wants to retain the present customer base for FFXIV.

I believe the current player-base will destroy FFXIV within a month or two. The game might still exist, but the current FF MMO players will KILL it with bots, cheating, exploits, work-arounds, griefing, and all the other bullshit that Square-Enix has allowed to go on for far too damned long.

The results? I'll get to that at #1.

As for tomorrow: RMT, and an interesting article I picked up in the last 10 days or so that might shed some light as to how these illegal fuckers work.

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