Bethesda Under Investigation for Deceptive Trade Practices Regarding Fallout 76

How has your Fallout 76 experience been? If it’s been buggy enough to make you want a refund, you’ve perhaps run into some roadblocks on that front. That’s were a Fallout 76 legal investigation comes into play, as a law firm has formally announced their intent to look into what they’re calling “deceptive trade practices.”

fallout 76 legal investigation

Migliaccio & Rathod LLP, a law firm based out of Washington, D.C., is looking to see if Bethesda is playing dirty pool for releasing a “heavily glitched game” and refusing to issue refunds as a result of consumer frustrations with said glitches.

“While minor bugs and glitches are expected with the release of most new games, Fallout 76 launched with a 56GB patch that has proven to be but a starting point for the game’s problems,” reads the law firm’s statement. “Gamers who have tried to receive a refund because of the game’s myriad glitches have been unable to do so since they downloaded the game, leaving them to deal with an unplayable experience until patches bring it back to a playable state.”

The law firm is asking for those who have attempted to get a refund from Bethesda to contact them via email or phone number in what sounds like the beginnings of a class action lawsuit. That said, Eurogamer astutely points out that the firm has penned a number of such announcements before without any additional follow-up.

Our Thoughts

Bluster, or a shove against corporate greed? It certainly can be read both ways and just allowing refunds would be the easiest solution for Bethesda in either case. Still, the fact that this particular law firm has ineffectively beaten the drum against corporations like this before does put a bit of doubt on the seriousness of these moves.

In any case, here’s hoping that those who feel ripped off do get recompense…and don’t wreck a store over the matter.

Sources: Migliaccio & Rathod website via MMORPG.com, Eurogamer

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Rapper Plans to Sue Fortnite over Dance Emote

If the moves used in some of the Fortnite Battle Royale dance emotes look familiar, you’re not alone. One such person who has taken notice is actually a rapper who plans to bring Epic Games to court over the matter.

fortnite battle royale dance emotes

Rap artist 2 Milly has announced his intent to take Epic Games to court over the matter of the Swipe It dance emote, which looks move-for-move like 2 Milly’s Milly Rock. Where the rapper takes difference with Epic is the fact that his moves are being sold for money without his consent.

“They actually sell that particular move. It’s for purchase. That’s when I really was like… oh nah, this can’t go on too long,” said 2 Milly. “I don’t even want to bash them for all the millions. I just feel like I have to protect what’s mine.”

2 Milly’s legal complaint holds no legal precedent, which could make any action he takes a challenging proposition. Regardless, the artist is reportedly willing to try.

The rapper’s complaint is not unique, as other rap artists like Chance the Rapper and BlocBoy JB have brought up their aggravation over their dance moves being used in Fortnite without due credit. Even actor Donald Faison of the sitcom Scrubs has had his moves stolen, with one dance routine performed in the show once more copied move-for-move without compensation.

“That’s what y’all are thinking, right? Somebody got paid? No. No. I did not,” said Faison. “Somebody stole that s**t, and it’s not mine any more.”

Epic Games was contacted for comment by the source of this story, but there has been no response at the time of this writing.

Our Thoughts

There’s certainly a line between “inspired by” and “wholesale ripping off of”, and these emotes certainly do look a lot like carbon copies. Ideally, anyone involved in legal scuffles between themselves and Epic Games can come to a conclusion without things getting publicly ugly…but we agree that some compensation to these artists appears to be due.

Source: GamesIndustry

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Call of Duty SWATer Faces a 20 Year Prison Sentence

Tyler Barriss, who you’ll recall was a Call of Duty SWATer responsible for the death of a Kansas man last December, is facing the consequences of his “prank” in the form of a potential 20-year prison sentence.

call of duty swater

Barriss, whose SWAT call got 28-year-old Andrew Finch killed by a police officer in Wichita, Kansas, has pleaded guilty to not only that incident but other swatting calls and bomb threats. Targets of his phone-based rampage included the FBI headquarters, the FCC, 16 different states in the US, and Canada.

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren offered to give Barriss a 20 year prison sentence if he directly apologized to the Finch family. There could be concern about how earnest said apology ends up being, as Barriss took advantage of an improperly installed update to a kiosk from jail that let him post several bragging tweets, including a threat to SWAT again and claims that he was “an eGod” and had “swag” in prison.

The two other men involved in the Kansas death – Shane Gaskill and Casey Viner – are also facing charges.

Barriss’ sentencing is set for January 20.

Our Thoughts

Clearly, Mr. Barriss is without a sense of empathy or moral compass, so we’re extremely skeptical that any apology from his mouth would actually carry a grain of truth. It’s unfortunate it has come to this point, but we sincerely hope that a truly stiff prison sentence will deter others from performing the same “prank.”

Source: TechCrunch

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Sony Online Entertainment DDoS Attacker Pleads Guilty

A man responsible for Sony Online Entertainment DDoS attacks has put in a guilty plea in court. 23 year-old Austin Thompson of Utah has officially fessed up to attacks on a number of victims including SOE in 2013 and 2014.

sony online entertainment ddos attacks

Thompson carried out attacks on SOE and other companies under the guise of DerpTrolling, a clandestine hacker group that takes requests for targets via phone and shuts them down via DDoS. According to details in a plea deal, Thompson’s actions cost at least $95,000 in damages.

Other notable DDoS targets of DerpTrolling were League of Legends, Dota 2, and the Origin game store of Electronic Arts — all targets that were taken on reportedly “for the lulz.”

Thompson’s sentence is set for March 1st of next year. Details of the aforementioned plea deal were not reported, but Thompson does face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release.

Our Thoughts

Hope the lulz were worth it. While this certainly might seem a drop in the larger bucket of “hackers” trying to shut down online games and gaming services for who know whatever reason, it’s good to at least see some measure of justice carried out against people who very often believe themselves to be impossible to catch.

Source: Variety

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Witcher Author Denied $16M in Additional Money by CDPR

The Witcher series and subsequent games like Gwent are big money for CD Projekt Red and the world’s original author Andrzej Sapkowski. It would seem, then, that those big money totals are fueling a Witcher rights dispute between the dev studio and Sapkowski, as CDPR has flatly refused to pay additional royalties.

witcher rights dispute

While Sapkowski initially sold the rights to the Witcher for a lump sum amount, his legal team is now demanding an additional payment of 60 million Polish zlotys – approximately $16 million US – for subsequent games released under the IP. In a demand that was initially privately sent to CD Projekt Red, Sapkowski’s lawyers argue that the lump sum agreement was only for the first game and not additional titles or sequels.

CD Projekt Red has very publicly said no.

“The Company had legitimately and legally acquired copyright to Mr. Andrzej Sapkowski’s work, insofar as is required for its use in games developed by the Company. All liabilities payable by the Company in association therewith have been properly discharged.

“It is the Company’s will to maintain good relations with authors of works which have inspired CD PROJEKT RED’s own creations. Consequently, the Board will go to great lengths to ensure amicable resolution of this dispute; however, any such resolution must be respectful of previously expressed intents of both parties, as well as existing contracts.”

It would seem that the legal counsel hired by Sapkowski is prepared for any extended legal battle that might come out of this demand. “We wish to assure you that the case has been under preparation for a fairly long time,” reads part of the demand. “Even more importantly, both we and the Author are determined and prepared to see this matter through to a fully successful conclusion.”

Our Thoughts

It’s important to bear in mind here that this isn’t an actual legal filing so much as a private missive. That said, it’s interesting that CDPR would publish this demand. Which could mean one of two things: either they’re calling Sapkowski’s bluff, or (more conspiratorially) they’re hoping for a legion of fans to aggressively get on the author’s case.

Source: CD Projekt Red investor site via Rock, Paper, Shotgun

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Seattle PD Creates System to Limit Swatting Incidents

We’ve had the misfortune to report on several swatting incidents over the course of the past few years, and the ever-increasing connectivity of the world seems to be steaming further ahead than efforts by law enforcement to keep pace. However, a new anti-swatting initiative by the Seattle Police Department is looking to change that and hopefully reduce needless injury or worse.

anti-swatting initiative

The new system is similar to Seattle’s existing SMART 911 system, which lets residents register information about their living situations like allergies or other medical conditions to keep first responders informed. This new system, known as Rave Facility, lets people register their household in a database as a potential “swatting concern” location. All information collected is kept confidential.

What this does is provide additional information that dispatch relays to police. Seattle PD will still head to an emergency call, but will also bear the Rave Facility registration in mind when coordinating their response.

The new system is currently only available to residents of Seattle, but should this new measure work, we can perhaps expect other US cities to implement a similar feature. If you happen to live in the Seattle area, additional information on how to join the Rave Facility database can be read here.

Our Thoughts

Assuming that the officers receive additional training regarding these new measures, this database could absolutely be invaluable to protecting innocent people. We hope that this Rave Facility measure works out and that other locations in the US implement a similar system.

Source: Seattle.gov via Eurogamer

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OSRS Moderator Fired for Abuse of Privileges

As an MMORPG moderator, you wield a lot of in-game power. In the unfortunate case of one Old School RuneScape mod, that power went to their head and they have since suffered the consequences. Jagex yesterday confirmed that an OSRS moderator has been fired for abuse of their privileges.

osrs moderator

A statement from Jagex confirmed that they found “irregular activity” on a small number of accounts where in-game gold and items were being moved. As a result, the statement confirms that a member of its mod team was released from employment and the affected accounts have had their items returned.

Further, Jagex is working with authorities on the matter, as OSRS in-game gold carries real-world monetary value. As such, the statement does not expressly name the mod in question.

A thread on ResetEra, however, offers a number of binding ties that suggest that Jed Sanderson, AKA Mod Jed, is the one being referenced in Jagex’s statement. The thread also assumes that approximately $100k worth of gold was shifted by him, and that Sanderson had access to account passwords, payment information and other personal details.

If Sanderson’s name sounds familiar, then it should: Mod Jed was a member of the Reign of Terror guild that was accused of using DDoS attacks to fix a win during a Deadman Mode tournament last year. At that time, Mod Jed was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Regarding financial account details, Jagex released a statement assuring OSRS players that their personal data is not in danger:

“We can confirm that none of our players’ bank or card details were compromised. We work with an industry-respected, fully compliant third-party payment processor, to purposefully avoid staff having access to players’ full bank or card details.”

Our Thoughts

Well then! That…absolutely is a bombshell of a reveal. Whether it’s Mod Jed or someone else entirely, it’s a real shame that someone felt they could screw around with the game, its players and very nearly their financial details.

Sources: ResetEra via PC Gamer, official site, MMORPG.com

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EA Under Criminal Investigation in Belgium for FIFA Loot Boxes

You’ve got to fight! For your right! To charge people for the chance at cards to fill out a digital football team! That appears to be the stance that EA has taken up regarding FIFA loot boxes, as the company’s unwillingness to remove the monetization practice from FIFA 18 and 19 has kicked off a criminal investigation by Belgian authorities.

fifa loot boxes

A ruling from Belgium in April threatened action against a number of games including FIFA if loot box practices were not changed or outright remove to comply with the country’s gambling laws. While a number of titles complied with the order, EA did not and so the Belgian public prosecutor’s office is launching a criminal investigation, which could land EA in court.

EA has made it clear that it doesn’t agree with Belgium’s assessment of loot boxes as gambling. EA CEO Andrew Wilson argued in May that the fact players always get something absolves loot boxes from the definition, and EA mentioned in June that loot boxes in FIFA 19 will disclose the odds of getting certain player cards for the game’s Ultimate Team feature. It appears, however, that adjustment was not enough for Belgium.

Whether the case goes to court or not, it appears that Belgium will continue its push against loot box practices, stating in part that it will advocate revisions to the country’s gambling laws to directly cover loot boxes according to a translation of Belgian outlet Nieuwsblad.

Our Thoughts

Small market or not, it’s clear that Belgium is not looking to back down against loot box practices and has taken a “all out or else” stance. We’re definitely curious to know where this story goes from here and what sort of repercussions, if any, it will have in the wider gaming world.

Sources: Eurogamer, Rock, Paper, Shotgun

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Riot Games Promises Action to Combat Workplace Sexism

After Kotaku absolutely blew the lid off of a culture of Riot Games sexism, sourcing 28 first-hand accounts from current and former employees, Riot Games has officially responded with an action plan and a number of steps meant to make the company a safer work environment for women.

riot games sexism

After opening with several apologies and statements to fans, employees and partners, the company post outlines a number of new positions and initiatives that are being put in place to address sexism in both the game’s office itself and in its hiring processes.

These steps include the hiring of a new Chief Human Resources Officer and a Chief Diversity Officer; opening up an anonymous hotline for people to report issues as well as evaluating claim investigation processes; hiring two third-party consultants to evaluate the company; and overhauling recruitment practices and training.

In addition, the post mentioned that more direct action would be taken on specific employees including firings, though details weren’t provided for legal and privacy reasons.

“We’ve always believed that Riot should be the home for the very best talent in gaming. It’s clear we’ve fallen short of that goal,” closes the post. “But we’ve never backed down from a challenge before and we don’t plan to start now.”

Our Thoughts

Those are a whole lot of pretty words, to be sure, but those will still ring hollow until there’s some honest and noticeable action taken at Riot Games. We suspect that there will be a follow-up at some time later down the line to see if these initiatives have actually made an appreciable difference.

Source: Riot Games website

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Money Laundering Being Performed via Major Mobile Games

In what’s probably one of the more unique illegal money-making schemes I’ve ever come across, a report from a German cybersecurity firm is stating that mobile game money laundering is a thing, where criminals use some of the most popular mobile titles to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars with reported ease.

mobile game money laundering

According to the report from Kromtech, the security firm that discovered the practice, these types of money laundering activities are being performed on several major mobile titles such as Clash Royale, Clash of Clans and Marvel Contest of Champions.

Here’s how it works: criminals have taken stolen credit card information, made in-game purchases and then resold game accounts with those purchases on digital re-sellers like G2G or iGameSupply without the transaction being associated to the stolen cards.

The laundering operation is reportedly made easier with generally lax account creation requirements. Kromtech used Apple ID as an example, where creating an account requires an e-mail address, a password, a date of birth and some answered security questions. According to the firm, criminals have even managed to automate account creation.

“This process should be much more complicated than it is now,” remarked Kromtech security researcher Bob Diachenko. “When we started digging into this, I was also surprised to see the amount of shadow business behind the internal currency. This internal currency just became a real currency in the real world.”

Our Thoughts

You know, it’d almost be worthy of respect for cleverness if it wasn’t astonishingly illegal and very likely destroying the lives of those whose card information was stolen. Clearly, the folks behind the games in question as well as mobile app storefronts need to tighten their security measures to cut off this cash flow.

Source: Kotaku

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