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Posts with tag wow-law

The Lawbringer: Gotta sue 'em all over the Pet Battle system?

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Remember in the last edition of Lawbringer, when I wrote that the majority of the questions post-BlizzCon 2011 were questions about panda people, whether Kung Fu Panda would sue, and how Pandaren are possible in China? Well, there was a third question: How can the Pet Battle system exist in World of Warcraft when it is so spiritually and mechanically similar to the underlying game mechanics of the Pokémon franchise? The truth is that it is and it isn't as similar as you might suspect, and the key factors in any copyright fight don't hold up a potential cause of action.

From the BlizzCon presentation, we gleaned a good bit of information about the WoW Pet Battle system coming with Mists of Pandaria. Players have been collecting companion (or vanity) pets for years, little dudes and dudettes who follow your characters around looking cool, performing cute emotes, and acting as the occasional status symbol. Companion pets even became the first foray into Blizzard-accepted real-money gold buying with the Guardian Cub as an experiment in fighting gray-market gold selling. Companion pets have become their own meta-game in WoW despite the introduction of the actual meta-game Pet Battle system.

Companion pets will now be at the center of a minigame of their own. After years of collecting and coveting, finally these pets will serve a purpose beyond looking adorable or annoying Dalaran with chilling screams of "NEW TOYS, FOR ME?!" Many players have noticed that the Pet Battle system bears a striking resemblance to the biggest pet battle system franchise ever created, Pokémon. Do you know what Pokémon is? I'm sure you know what Pokémon is.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Dispelling the panda myths

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

With the announcement of Mists of Pandaria and the inclusion of the Pandaren race in World of Warcraft, the most-asked question that I received was "How is this possible with the laws in China against killing pandas in video games?" The second most-asked question was "How is this possible when Kung Fu Panda will just sue Blizzard?" After I got over the initial hilarity of imagining the actual Jack Black-voiced Kung Fu Panda taking a dude to court, I realized that the myths about China's involvement with pandas in games, as well as what constitutes a real cause of action in terms of copying characters, are finally issues at the forefront of WoW topics.

The Lawbringer is all about pandas today. You might be sick of them, you might love them, or heck, you might be on the panda fence. I can promise you that even if you aren't a Pandaren fan, you just might learn a little something or two from today's all-panda fun. Sit back, relax, get all Zen-like, and let's see what the Pandaren have to offer us.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer, Mists of Pandaria

The Lawbringer: Mailbag 7.0

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Wow! Did you see all those cool announcements and awesome World of Warcraft news items that we are currently reporting on? Me too. I'm writing this article much earlier than BlizzCon, so you'll have to excuse my lack of foresight. How about we mailbag us some Lawbringer questions?

Albert wants to know what's up with gold sellers stealing gold and why Blizzard can't just track it and remove it. Seems simple, right?
Hello, love your column. I was wondering if you can explain something. When these gold sellers hack someone's account and move their gold, can't blizzard track where the gold is going and just claim it? I mean i assume they have the tools to do anything in game, they are god. Seems simple enough to do, i got hacked, see where gold went, take it back. do it for a few months and done. am i missing something?

Thanks in advance,

Albert
Thank you for the email, Albert. It probably is not that tough to track currency moves and associated transactions, but it's really about the volume of text and transactions that go on at any given time. It must be hell to search through all the records to find this stuff, even if you know the name and server that people are on.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Guardian Cub pros and cons

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Blizzard recently treated WoW fans to a preview of the Guardian Cub tradable pet, going on sale soon at the Blizzard pet store. Immediately upon hearing that the pet was tradable, readers began inundating me with email and Twitter messages to talk about said cub on The Lawbringer, as this is sort of the thing I fancy myself a connoisseur of. So here we go -- let's talk about the ramifications of these adorable little pets on our server economies.

The Guardian Cub represents a sea change in the nature of the gold selling war from Blizzard's perspective, one that has been coming for a long, long time. With a Blizzard-sanctioned way for players to dip their toes into the waters of pay-for gold, gold buying looks a little less attractive to players who would otherwise have to risk their computer's integrity and credit card security. Players have sharp opinions one way or the other on player-bought gold, so I'm going to do my best to hit the right points to discuss my opinion on the whole premise. I mean, it's right there in the FAQ. This pet has the added incentive of being a safe and secure way to potentially, maybe, make some gold off your purchase.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Glider's story ends

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Deathwing isn't the only great beast to be impaled to death in an End Time this year, it seems. The tale of Glider, one of the biggest and most famous automation bot software packages for World of Warcraft, is effectively over. Based on reading various blog links (sent by a reader, thank you much) and a hefty amount of Internet Wayback Machine research, it appears that the lawsuit was settled and Glider is no more. What were the terms of the settlement, and why did Glider settle after the news back in 2010?

When I last updated you all about the Glider case back in December 2010, the courts reversed much of the decision in regards to the EULA copyright infringement claims but not with respect to violations of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, as Glider circumvented the Warden software to essentially hack Blizzard's software. MDY Glider was not victorious per se, but it was definitely in a better position than it would have been had the copyright infringement stuff stood.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Paying for addons and the spirit of the TOS

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

A long, long time ago, I can still remember the article I wrote at the beginning of my time here at WoW Insider called What happed to TourGuide?, an article detailing the disappearance of beloved addon TourGuide and the sale of World of Warcraft leveling guides. I had questioned whether these guides went against the stated addon policies Blizzard had laid out, which expressly forbid addons for sale or paying for addon access. It was not well received in those circles.

Addons have been brought down or have had the Blizzard gaze upon them for less than being sold on a website for a nice chunk of change. Why then does this new crop of leveling guides and automatic gold making addons (which I will not be linking) get an apparent free pass? Why haven't we seen Blizzard take action against for-pay, in-game gold automators and leveling guides? What is it inherently about the for-pay addons that makes them permissible?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Mailbag 6.0 and Rogers updates

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Welcome to another exciting edition of The Lawbringer, where your questions about the esoteric topics revolving around WoW and MMOs potentially get answered, usually if the question is compelling. You know the drill -- ask a question, and maybe I can hash it out or at least point you in the right direction to get things under control.

Mailbags are fun, and updates are even more fun. This week, we have a couple of questions from the mailbag and an update to the situation with Rogers Communications up in Canada. Remember back a few months ago, when the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission demanded that Rogers find a way to stop the admitted throttling of World of Warcraft data because it appeared to be peer-to-peer traffic? Well, the Canadian government wants a plan by Tuesday. More on that in a bit. Questions first, yes?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: The relationship between Blizzard and PayPal

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

On Wednesday, Blizzard announced that PayPal would be its payment service partner for the new Battle.net wallet and Diablo 3 real money transaction Auction House coming with the release of the next Diablo game. Was anyone really surprised at this announcement? I sure wasn't, but that's because I already knew PayPal would be the payment service partner for the Diablo 3 real money Auction House from the moment the Diablo 3 real money Auction House was announced. I'm not trying to be smug here, because you knew it, too. You just didn't know that you knew.

The relationship between Blizzard and PayPal is an easy one to decipher because of the nature of the business Blizzard is getting into with the Diablo 3 RMT Auction House. Auctions for real money are firmly in PayPal's wheelhouse because, shocker of shockers, PayPal is owned by eBay. When you think about the feasibility of the RMT Auction House and all of the legal ramifications that go along with it, you point to the eBay model of online auction facilitation for what works and provides the path of least resistance.

This article is not a critique of PayPal as a service. There are plenty of places on the web to find that type of article. Instead, The Lawbringer will look at the actual services that Blizzard provides with PayPal, why PayPal was the obvious choice for real money transactions, and how PayPal's integration into Battle.net is not the potentially apocalyptic scenario that a few have presumed.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: WoW in fiction and the GameStop debacle

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Greetings, Lawbringer readers. We've got two very interesting emails this week from readers that are about as diverse as they come. First, we'll be looking at using World of Warcraft in fiction and whether or not that's a good idea, despite its potential fair use classification. Second, a reader wants to know what happened with GameStop over the past few weeks concerning Deus Ex: Human Revolution and whether it could happen in relation to Blizzard.

Your emails are awesome, and you should send me more of them. "But how?" cries the inquisitive reader. Send your emails to mat@wowinsider.com with something Lawbringer in the title, and I will try my best to answer the question in the column. If you've got a question about the legal nature of the video game industry, MMOs, etc., ask away.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Gambling in World of Warcraft

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Casinos and player-run games of chance have been around in World of Warcraft since the game's launch, clogging chat channels with advertisements, creating numerous GM tickets because of player fraud, and generally being disruptive in the grand scheme of things. Then there are the gambling outfits within guilds, where we would bet who would die first on Nefarian attempts way back in 2005. I lost a lot of gold back then -- I'm still ashamed to admit it.

This week on The Lawbringer, we're going to discuss WoW casinos, gambling within the game, and why Blizzard came down hard on player-run money games. The current policy on the books, so to speak, is that casinos are not allowed in WoW, as a disruption and potential scam for players. There is no way around it -- running a gambling or /roll game in chat will have you dealing with some serious retribution, especially doing it in the open.

Today's topic, as usual, is spurred on by an email that I got asking a relatively straightforward question that has some nuance to it. This email comes from a digital bookie looking to make an addon that tracks bets based on real-world events.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Mailbag 5.0

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Oh my, look at the time. Mailbag-o'clock already? That means we have questions to answer! If you'd like to send me a question for The Lawbringer, point a message from your email client of choice to mat@wowinsider.com with something having to do with Lawbringer in the title and ask away. This week, we've got some fun questions to go through.

Our first email comes from Lee, who wants to know if the Diablo 3 currency trading on the real-money Auction House could ever be big enough for a foreign currency exchange-type of marketplace for Diablo gold.

Lee asked:

You've talked at length about gold farming and the repercussion of gold farming in mmos. Much of it is related to currency trading. You've pointed out that Diablo's new model of selling cash on the auction house will eliminate gold farming and selling as we know it by creating gold to blizzard dollar currency exchange. Do you think we'll see the development of Forex style black box trading, using a Trading API add-on most likely?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: WoW's immune system and the gold selling virus

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Security is a lot like the human immune system -- the longer you are exposed to the dangers of security intrusion and attacks against you, the easier it is to learn how to defend against new attacks. The video game industry has been the target of hackers of all types since its inception, with hacks and leaks dotting the gaming landscape. Gold farmers and gold hackers are the relatively new kids on the block, but have been fighting a long battle with Blizzard as both sides push and pull to achieve their goals. Blizzard is in a unique position where they have the knowledge of years of attacks behind them. What happens when the new guy enters the genre and has no such immunity or experience behind them, despite hackers knowing exactly what to do?

Have you ever read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel? No? Well, it's a pretty darn good read, and you already like to read (as evidenced by your eyes' sliding back and forth across the screen at this very moment), so pick up this Pulitzer Prize-winning look at the ascension of western civilization. The very basic (and I mean, extremely distilled version) thesis of the book is that western civilization achieved dominance over the world through serendipitous geographic factors and weaponry, diseases to which many were not immune, and central, powerful organization. I'm concerned with the germs part of the equation.

What does any of this have to do with the massively multiplayer genre and WoW in particular? Well, a lot, in fact.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: What WoW can learn from other microtransaction models, part 2

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Two weeks ago, The Lawbringer took a look at the EVE Online currency model, what happens when value is dictated by the players, and the successes and failures that Blizzard can learn from when moving forward the revenue model for WoW or any other secret MMOs in the pipe. This week, part 2 discusses the batch currency model, where players purchase one set of currency and earn another. While WoW is not likely to move to this type of currency in the near future, Diablo 3 has already embraced it with the real-money transaction auction house, which eschews a purchased currency for, well, currency.

The prime example in recent gaming history of the successful batch currency model is Riot Game's wonderful League of Legends. I've been a Defense of the Ancients fan since the early days of the mod, and the fact that such a simple concept has evolved to a genre in and of itself is remarkable. Combined with the fact that there are 15 million accounts, millions playing all over the world, and a ridiculously successful microtransaction model for customization and convenience items, League of Legends has got the world captivated. But why is World of Warcraft not something that could benefit from selling its own currency, or, rather, why would Blizzard never let it happen? Let's find out.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Q&A on Diablo's real-money auction house

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Since Blizzard dropped the Diablo 3 bombshell on us early Monday, I will post the second article in my series on micro-transaction models next week. For those of you who have been living under the proverbial internet rock (you are missing some awesome memes right now), Blizzard announced that Diablo 3 would feature two auction houses, one using in-game gold as currency and the other using real currency that would be deposited into a Battle.net account wallet and used from there.

The whole system gets more intriguing when you take into account that sales made on the real-money auction house can make their way to your own very real wallet through an unannounced third party or deposited back into your Battle.net wallet for use on anything digital in the Blizzard store, including WoW game time.

If you're a regular reader of The Lawbringer, you already know how excited I get over virtual currency. This is my wheelhouse. I feel like a master carpenter at Wood Con 2011, cosplaying as my favorite oak tree, quercus alnifolia. Pair that with real currency, and excitement levels hit the stratosphere. I may break through the atmosphere at some point. That faint sonic boom you hear will be me hurtling through the air in excitement and wonderment.

Sure, the Diablo real-money transaction (RMT) auction house is not related to World of Warcraft -- or is it? Oh, it very much is. Faithful readers and not faithful alike (how could you, Debbie?) have been writing in questions via Twitter and email asking me to explain the auction house and talk about some of the potential legal and tax issues that could come around because of it. Also, many people want to know how the RMT auction house could benefit World of Warcraft, despite Rob Pardo's saying there are no plans to bring it over to WoW. Let's take a look at your questions.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: What World of Warcraft can learn from other microtransaction models, part 1

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Microtransactions are here to stay. We were wary and scared in the beginning -- it was a brave new world, having the gall to ask consumers for a couple of bucks for horse armor. DLC (downloadable content) and microtransactions evolved over time to include better customization, new missions and levels, convenience purchases, and more. The industry began to shape itself around the growing need for better revenue models, as well as conforming to the needs and wants of players while remaining (hopefully) pure in motive.

With the huge success of the free-to-play model in the United States and Europe, a feat which many said was not going to go over too well outside of the Asian markets, paying for your game over time instead of up front has become a staple, an afterthought, to gamers.

World of Warcraft isn't going true free-to-play any time soon, of course. The subscription model works for WoW in a fairly unique way. The number of global subscriptions for WoW make up such a huge, defined income that removing that income from the table in favor of the "5-percenters," the people who presumably pay for items in-game, would be almost criminal in terms of corporate mismanagement -- unless, of course, you could make more money on those 5-percenters than you do on 11.4 million monthly subscriptions, which seems like a hefty move to make.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

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