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More EA Shananigans!Follow

#1 May 02 2012 at 1:34 PM Rating: Excellent
This is relatively minor, but it's the principal of the thing that bugs me, I think

So, there's this app for iPhones. It's a Rock Band app.

Well, recently, this happened. From what I understand, the license for the music in the Rock Band app expired, and rather than just discontinue updates and take the app off the market, EA is actually disabling the app on all iOS's that have it installed.

What really annoys me is that legally, EA has full power to do this. When they sold you the app, they were really just selling you the license to use the app. This is typical, and pretty much how every videogame is sold these days. You don't own the software on the disc. You bought a right to use that software. So when they want to revoke it, they can. You paid money for the app, and you enjoyed the app, and are probably still enjoying it. but EA doesn't care. They already have their money. So rather than going through the trouble of renewing the license, or keeping customers happy, they're just disabling the app for everyone.

Edit: A clarification: If you have the physical media, they can't revoke your license. They can only revoke it in the case of software. Copyright law is a low, dark voodoo that I don't think even the lawyers understand. Smiley: disappointed

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. No word on whether or not people will be getting refunds, but I assume they're going to. And if they're not, people will likely complain until they do get refunds. What's funny is that Apple takes 30% of all sales from the app store, as I understand it, and in the event of a refund gets to keep that 30%. The developer must pay back the full price of the purchase.

I honestly thought EA being voted the world's worst company recently was overkill. I'm not so sure now.

Edited, May 2nd 2012 3:38pm by IDrownFish
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#2 May 02 2012 at 1:43 PM Rating: Good
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What does the app even do?
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#3 May 02 2012 at 1:54 PM Rating: Good
xypin wrote:
What does the app even do?


It's pretty much Rock Band crammed into a phone. You know, press the keys as the bars come down and all that.

Here's a video of it being played.

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#4 May 02 2012 at 2:02 PM Rating: Excellent
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Interesting case study. This is a good time to have the battle and flesh out this sort of situation, before downloadables become even more ubiquitous.

I suspect that the consumers will get their way, at least initially. I'd wager that publishers will only start chipping away at our digital software rights a few years from now, when they stand to lose more.
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#5 May 02 2012 at 2:03 PM Rating: Decent
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I can't condemn them for this. Not yet. It's douchey not to let consumers know earlier, and to keep it on the app store this late. I'll blame them for that.

But what I'm HEARING is that EA might not actually own the Rock Band licensing at all (anymore). We know that it was up for renewal this year, in any case. We also know that the costs were skyrocketing for the music distribution rights (both of which EA would have to pay, and have every reason not to). That at least explains why they'd take the app down on the 31st.

As to why previous purchasers couldn't play, I'd have to guess that they can't host the servers needed without the DR license. But I don't know how central an internet connection is to the game, whether it could function without one, or if such laws would actually forbid them from doing so.

Still a **** move, to sell it until the last minute and fail to inform customers earlier of the expiration date. Still, I'm not going to attack them for taking it down in general until I have the full story.

[EDIT]

Of course, it's not surprising that people WOULD be angry at it. When you are usually a jerk, it's hard to excuse you even for those occasions where you're being a jerk for legitimate reasons. Because we suspect you would have been up to some jerkery anyway.

Edited, May 2nd 2012 4:36pm by idiggory
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#6 May 02 2012 at 3:05 PM Rating: Excellent
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EA sure does love its bad PR. Smiley: laugh
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#7 May 02 2012 at 3:19 PM Rating: Excellent
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A day at EA:

Bob Slydell: Rock Band iOS app.

Dom Portwood: What's that?

Bob Porter: You know, music game. Fake guitars & drums.

Dom Portwood: Oh, yeah.

Bob Slydell: Yeah, it's costing us a lot of money.

Bob Porter: I looked into it more deeply and I found that apparently what happened is that the music distribution rights are too expensive. We can't afford to keep paying for them.

Bob Slydell: So we just went ahead and fixed the problem.

Bill Lumbergh: Great.

Dom Portwood: So, uh, we stopped selling the game, and we gave a press release explaining the situation to our customers?

Bob Slydell: Well, just a second there, professor. We, uh, we fixed the problem. So we're just going to take the game back from the people who bought it, so it'll just work itself out naturally.

Bob Porter: We always like to avoid confrontation, whenever possible. Problem is solved from your end.

Edited, May 2nd 2012 5:19pm by Eske
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#8 May 02 2012 at 4:00 PM Rating: Decent
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Eske Esquire wrote:
A day at EA:

Bob Slydell: Rock Band iOS app.

Dom Portwood: What's that?

Bob Porter: You know, music game. Fake guitars & drums.

Dom Portwood: Oh, yeah.

Bob Slydell: Yeah, it's costing us a lot of money.

Bob Porter: I looked into it more deeply and I found that apparently what happened is that the music distribution rights are too expensive. We can't afford to keep paying for them.

Bob Slydell: So we just went ahead and fixed the problem.

Bill Lumbergh: Great.

Dom Portwood: So, uh, we stopped selling the game, and we gave a press release explaining the situation to our customers?

Bob Slydell: Well, just a second there, professor. We, uh, we fixed the problem. So we're just going to take the game back from the people who bought it, so it'll just work itself out naturally.

Bob Porter: We always like to avoid confrontation, whenever possible. Problem is solved from your end.

Edited, May 2nd 2012 5:19pm by Eske


We need a smiley to support this level of epicness.
#9 May 02 2012 at 5:28 PM Rating: Good
Yeah, um... if you could just file those smiley reports. And they have a new cover sheet now.
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#10 May 02 2012 at 6:39 PM Rating: Good
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If you take my red swingline stapler, I will burn this place to the ground!


Seriously though, this is something that has been bothering me for some time now. I kinda get the whole "pay to play something on our server" model when it makes sense or is necessary for the game, but increasingly it seems as though game producers are modeling their games that way so as to maintain greater control over the game itself. And a number of games which should require zero online interaction to play require it anyway (yeah, I'm looking at you Civ V). It just seems like the whole industry has been moving that direction for a while now, and the concern has always been (from the consumers point of view): what happens if they turn off their servers? A game which I paid for, and which during play requires no interaction with a remote server is now dependent on it to play. The only rationale for this is specifically so that the game producer can control who can play the game (I'm assuming piracy is the prime reason to do this even for non-online games), but the downside is that they must maintain their capability to provide for game play eternally, or the game will stop working.


Losing license to something that's part of the game is one aspect of this, but another is simply having a game company go out of business. Obviously, from their perspective it doesn't matter, but it does kinda matter to those who purchased the game. IMO, if I buy something that I play on my own computer/phone/tablet/whatever, I should own it. Period. Not just the right to play it as long as they want to provide it for me.


I have the same concern with ebooks as well. There have already been examples of Amazon (I think it was them), losing their license for some books (or there was some copyright dispute, I don't recall the details), and *poof* they disappear from everyone's ebook. If I buy a physical book, it's mine, but if I buy it via an ereader, it's not? That just seems like a questionable business practice. And when you look at all the different electronic media they're trying to do this with, it becomes more of a concern.

I'll give another odd example. I have a DVR. I sometimes will record stuff and leave the recordings on the DVR so I can watch them any time I want. Yes, I'm aware that if my DVR craps out I'll lose those favorite few episodes of West Wing, or whatever that I have on there, and I could put them on DVD if I wanted to (although the quality is pretty bad doing that), but the principle is that as long as I have that DVR at my home, I should be able to watch those shows I've recorded, just as though I'd recorded them on tape. A while back, Time Warner changed some channel numbers around. I didn't think anything of it other than having to re-find some channels. But I discovered something interesting. For the last year or so, they put the channel number on the DVR recording. And apparently, this is somehow tied into viewing the recording. So if you aren't subscribed to the channel that the recording was from, you can't watch the recording anymore. This even happens if they later change the channel lineup, since it's tied to the channel number and not the channel name. What's interesting is that this basically means that if you ever decide to drop a subscription, you can't watch anything you previously recorded on that channel. Similarly, if they have a promotion with a channel that's free for a period of time, you can't watch anything you recorded once the time period has passed. And in my case, even though I'm still paying for the channel I recorded something on, I can't watch it because I'm not subscribed to the channel that now has that number.



Dunno. Just seems like these companies go through increasingly bizarre steps in order to retain control over the media they are selling. And while I kinda get it in some cases, I really don't in others. Look. If I paid you for something, I should get to keep what I paid you for. I just think that attempting to take it back after some amount of time has gone by, or some conditions have changed, is pretty screwy. I suppose it comes down to what exactly "ownership" means when dealing with purely electronic media. It seems like these companies all want us to move to a rent for a time model. You don't own anything you buy from them, you just pay for the right to use something for a period of time, and it's subject to changes at their discretion. It's not something I like though.
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#11 May 02 2012 at 6:47 PM Rating: Excellent
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The book in question was 1984 (and everyone make sure to say how ironic that is!). The "publisher" turned out not to have the rights to offer it as an e-book and Amazon pulled it from everyone's Kindle/Kindle app. Keep in mind that they also refunded everyone and it wasn't really Amazon's fault, they were just trying to correct a wrong perpetrated by the pseudo-publisher.

Quote:
If I buy a physical book, it's mine, but if I buy it via an ereader, it's not? That just seems like a questionable business practice.

It's more like if you bought a bootleg book or movie or CD. Technically it could and should still be confiscated from you, it's just a lot less practical to do so. It's not a question of "This way I have rights, and this way I don't" but "This way it's a lot easier to enforce those rights". Tthe book wasn't the publisher's to sell and therefore was never yours to legally purchase.

Edit: Oops, it was 1984 and Animal Farm as well. 1984 just stuck with me due to the breathless "big brother" stories.


Edited, May 2nd 2012 7:53pm by Jophiel
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#12 May 02 2012 at 7:20 PM Rating: Decent
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Jophiel wrote:
The book in question was 1984 (and everyone make sure to say how ironic that is!). The "publisher" turned out not to have the rights to offer it as an e-book and Amazon pulled it from everyone's Kindle/Kindle app. Keep in mind that they also refunded everyone and it wasn't really Amazon's fault, they were just trying to correct a wrong perpetrated by the pseudo-publisher.


I think my point is that if you had physically purchased the book from a store, and then later it turned out that the publisher of the book didn't actually have the right to print it, and the store shouldn't have been selling it, they can't come to your home and take the book back. The people with the actual rights will sue the publisher who didn't have those rights and get the money that should have come to them instead. The store may pull any copies from their shelves printed under the wrongful publishers label, but has zero obligation (or legal right) to take it from anyone who purchased it.

I think that's a significant difference between the media, and I find the decision to take it off people's Kindle's almost as ridiculous as the fact that they have the power to do so in the first place.

Quote:
Quote:
If I buy a physical book, it's mine, but if I buy it via an ereader, it's not? That just seems like a questionable business practice.

It's more like if you bought a bootleg book or movie or CD.


If I bought it from a legitimate seller of such things, being told that this was a legal copy, I absolutely have a right to keep it. It's not like I've spent a huge amount of time researching this or anything, but I don't think that copyright law has ever been applied that way (up until now).

Quote:
Technically it could and should still be confiscated from you, it's just a lot less practical to do so. It's not a question of "This way I have rights, and this way I don't" but "This way it's a lot easier to enforce those rights". The book wasn't the publisher's to sell and therefore was never yours to legally purchase.


It was absolutely legally mine to purchase at the time I purchased it. I didn't steal anything from the legitimate owner of the work. The person who illegally printed/published a copy and sold it to me did. If we were talking about single pieces of property, you'd have a point. If I steal someone's car and then sell it to you, the legitimate owner of the car can take it back from you, and you're out the money you spent on it. Buyer beware and all of that. But I've never heard of this applying to copies of copyrighted material before and I find it hard to believe that the only thing protecting a book or film owner from having something they paid for seized from them is that it would be too difficult to do so.

I think that the introduction of purely electronic media has allowed for a change in how these laws are applied because it is now possible to do such things, not the other way around. And worse, it appears as though the producers and sellers of electronic media have deliberately structured their products so as to be able to take things back if/when they want. Which raises a concern in my mind: If they can take it back because a court orders them to (like in the case of discovering that the publisher shouldn't have been selling the book), then can they take it back if it later becomes too expensive for them to let you keep it (like in this licensing case)? And if that's the case, then can't they just take stuff back because they feel like it?

I just think that this opens up a whole range of problems that allows for potentially nefarious manipulation of the media we see and hear. Online news sources edit their articles after the fact all the time (usually to hide mistakes they made, and sometimes without a retraction or acknowledgment that they made a change). What if the legitimate owner of some media wants to make a change in other things, like books, films, etc? If we switch to an all electronic media model, what's to prevent a film producer from deciding he wants to change a scene in a film you purchased and now everyone's copy changes? Or an author decides he wants to change the ending of a book? Might seem like a great idea at first because new editions can just be updated and everyone gets them, right? But doesn't this also open up the possibility of redacting history as well? What if, for example, Obama wanted to conceal the fact that he ate dog while a child in Indonesia because it weakens the whole "OMG! Romney put his dog on the roof of his car" bit. Today? He's stuck. But in the future, if all media was electronic, couldn't he quietly change that part of the book and update everyone's copy? And who's to say that a change was made? I mean, we could all insist that the book used to say he ate dog, but where's the proof?



I see a future where we may lose our ability to remember how things actually were in preference to how they are (or want to be) right now. The more we move away from ownership of physical things to licensed use of electronic copies of things, the more easy we do make it for those kinds of crazy sounding things to happen. Yeah, tinfoil hat and all of that, but I worry about these sorts of things. I don't think anyone implements these changes for those sorts of reasons, but once done, they can be used for them. It's something we really should think about ahead of time IMO.
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#13 May 02 2012 at 7:30 PM Rating: Good
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gbaji wrote:
If I bought it from a legitimate seller of such things, being told that this was a legal copy, I absolutely have a right to keep it. It's not like I've spent a huge amount of time researching this or anything, but I don't think that copyright law has ever been applied that way (up until now).

Yeah then maybe you shouldn't say "absolutely". Or else try that line at customs next time you try to enter with a counterfeit handbag or something.
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Obama [...] Romney

ROFL.. if you're that pent up maybe you should go ********** or something Smiley: laugh

Edited, May 2nd 2012 8:33pm by Jophiel
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#14 May 02 2012 at 8:02 PM Rating: Decent
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Jophiel wrote:
gbaji wrote:
If I bought it from a legitimate seller of such things, being told that this was a legal copy, I absolutely have a right to keep it. It's not like I've spent a huge amount of time researching this or anything, but I don't think that copyright law has ever been applied that way (up until now).

Yeah then maybe you shouldn't say "absolutely". Or else try that line at customs next time you try to enter with a counterfeit handbag or something.


As far as I'm aware, I do "absolutely" have that right. And unless and until you show me cases where people who purchased a book published by a company that didn't have a right to publish it have ever had their property seized, I'll continue to assume that I do. ****, I'm not aware that someone who purchased a knock-off handbag or watch can have their property seized either. The illegality of the label falls on the maker/seller, not the buyer.

Can you show me cases otherwise?


Quote:
Quote:
Obama [...] Romney

ROFL.. if you're that pent up maybe you should go ********** or something Smiley: laugh


Maybe you should, since it seems you get all worked up whenever I bring up specific things as examples. The same principle applies to anything Joph. Edits made to history books? Encyclopedias? Dictionaries? They say that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, but what if we can't know the past? What happens when we live in a world where *everything* can be redacted to suit current needs or assumptions? ****, I've already seen just in the last dozen years the definition of words like "racism" changed in online dictionaries to suit more recent political agendas. I've noticed that our current political discourse basically has a memory that only lasts about 15 years. Any fact that isn't online and easily linkable isn't considered real to many people. How does your love of insisting on cited online sources fit with a world where those sources can change the "facts" at will?


I just think that it's incredibly important not only to have lots of information at out fingertips, but that we have information as it was known in the past as well. I want to know what someone said or thought 50 years ago, not just what someone today says that person said or thought. I want to be able to see what was "true" in the past, not just what is considered "true" today. IMO if we can't see that progression, we can't make any kind of intelligent assessment of the things we're being told.
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#15 May 02 2012 at 8:05 PM Rating: Excellent
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gbaji wrote:
As far as I'm aware, I do "absolutely"...

Smiley: laugh

Quote:
Maybe you should, since it seems you get all worked up whenever I bring up specific things as examples.

Swing and a miss. Maybe next time Smiley: smile
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#16 May 02 2012 at 8:54 PM Rating: Decent
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I'm totally fine with just buying the rights to play something while the server is still on, or whatever, as long as the price is right. Digital versions like that need to be offered at a sizeable discount.
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#17 May 02 2012 at 9:01 PM Rating: Decent
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Jophiel wrote:
gbaji wrote:
As far as I'm aware, I do "absolutely"...

Smiley: laugh


I've learned that when you reply with just a laugh smiley, it means "No, I don't have any evidence to support what I'm saying, so I'll just laugh and hope no one notices". You're nothing if not consistent there Joph.
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#18 May 02 2012 at 9:26 PM Rating: Decent
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two questions:

1) how much did the rock band app cost?

and

2) is this : what is supposed to be killing handheld gaming like the vita?
#19 May 02 2012 at 9:55 PM Rating: Good
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$5, iirc.
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#20 May 02 2012 at 10:22 PM Rating: Good
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gbaji wrote:
I've learned that when you reply with just a laugh smiley, it means "No, I don't have any evidence to support what I'm saying, so I'll just laugh and hope no one notices".

Then I guess you haven't learned anything at all Smiley: smile

Your sad attempts to shame me into the response you wanted have been noted however. Better luck next time!
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#21 May 03 2012 at 1:19 AM Rating: Good
axhed wrote:
two questions:

1) how much did the rock band app cost?

and

2) is this : what is supposed to be killing handheld gaming like the vita?


$5 is correct. Still up there in the app store, and I think they even had a sale on it recently.

As for your second question... yeah. Sad, isn't it? Although from what I've heard, the Vita has had its own share of issues keeping its sales down, it's not just apps and the like.

Edited, May 3rd 2012 3:19am by IDrownFish
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#22 May 03 2012 at 6:38 AM Rating: Good
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Kotaku wrote:
We have received the following statement from EA: "Rock Band for iOS will remain live - the in-app message users received yesterday was sent in error. We apologize for the confusion this caused. We're working to clarify the issue that caused the error and will share additional information as soon as possible."


Lol, sure. Sure it was.
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#23 May 03 2012 at 6:58 AM Rating: Excellent
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In-app message? Wasn't it posted to their website as well?
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#24 May 03 2012 at 7:11 AM Rating: Good
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It's almost certainly damage control. Speculation I've seen is that they probably rushed through a deal to keep the rights to distribute the app, which caused the delay in response. The community manager for Harmonix posted on their forums "My guess is that it has something to do with the MTV Games and EA logos that pop up when you load it," Trites said.

My guess is that they originally planned to pull the app when they no longer had the legal right to host it, but their generally bad business practices made it as inconvenient for the players as possible. So they went to plan B, but after the bad press started.
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#25 May 03 2012 at 7:14 AM Rating: Excellent
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I don't doubt it. I'm just chuckling at how bad of an excuse "That was a mistake" was.
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#26 May 03 2012 at 7:55 AM Rating: Good
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When I think music and games based on music, I think MTv.
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