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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Defending SOE?






Sure, why not. Anyone who reads this site knows I do not hesitate to be negative when the situation calls for it. If I feel SOE is screwing up or doing something unfair to their customers, believe me, I will tell you. And I have plenty of times in the past. I think my record speaks for itself.

But that goes both ways. If I see SOE being treated unfairly, I will tell you that as well. And that is the case here.

I was surfing over to Digg last night, specifically
Digg Gaming. Now, Digg Gaming is a great and popular site. People (anyone) can submit stories and if you like them, you vote on them, or Digg them. As they get more Diggs they rise to the front page and more people see them and link to them. It's a cool system and I like it. I find a lot of interesting reads on gaming there. But it does have its flaws.

Nothing is there to stop people from submitting Diggs with a heavy spin or an incorrect title.

That's why I'm defending SOE in this post.

On the very front page (it's on page two now),
one Digg had risen near the top with over 1,000 Diggs, or votes. The title? "Sony Online Entertainment's Dirty Business Practices Exposed."

Okay. The description: "The article here describes some of the dirty busienss [sic] practices exercised by Sony Online Entertainment in order to get your money."

The link takes you to
this page.

And here's my major issue. This is not article. It is not even close to an article. It is a "mailbag letter" submitted by a reader. I could have written it. Anyone could have written it. Brad McQuaid could have written it (joking, joking).

But I know who didn't write it. CBS News, the site where it is hosted.

To link to it as "an article" is highly irresponsible and just wrong. A lot of people read the first page of Digg Gaming and link to stories they find there. And to spread the word about a mailbag letter as if it were an article is just ridiculous. That letter has no more validity than a typical forum rant. But people clicking that link and not noticing it is a letter will assume it has validity and that it was written by a respectable news outlet, CBS News.

It claims to have been written by a guide, but who knows? Now, as for the letter itself, does it make a few valid points? Okay, sure. Yes the Froglok thing was a mess (though not quite as bad as the letter writer would have you believe) and I told you that at the time. Yes, some of the EQ expansions were a bit on the unfinished side. But 60% complete at release? Be serious. How do you pull a number like that out of thin air? And to say SOE introduced "artificial bugs" strikes me as absurd and worthy of tinfoil hat conspiracy theories.

Now, I don't know what percent of the expansions were finished. I have no idea. But I doubt the letter writer does either.

And the important thing is that this was not researched or fact-checked as an article should be. Because it is not an article.

I don't have the slightest problem with this person writing their letter, though I may not agree with it. That is absolutely their right. There is nothing wrong with voicing your opinion, I voice mine all the time. And CBS has the right to print letters in response to their articles. They are just presenting it as a letter they received. They are not saying it is an article or that they have verified the contents. I don't have a problem with that either.

But the Digg link says it is an article, and I have a major problem with that.

It's a letter from a mailbag and a December 21, 2005 mailbag at that. But a lot of people in the comments section, and I'm sure many more that did not comment, are assuming it is, in fact, an actual article from CBS News. I don't blame them. If you just read the Digg and clicked over it would be easy to assume it was a legitimate article.

If someone wants to write a proper, fact-checked, researched article about SOE, that's great. But this isn't it.

It's just a shame that people have the wrong idea about this link so I'm doing my very small part to try to set the record straight. It's just a letter and a poorly written one at that.

21 Comments:

Blogger cyan said...

I had read it, and knowing it was a letter it still worried me a little. It is a national news company "printing" (used loosely, I know) an accusation at another fairly large company (with its own army of lawyers). I figured either of two things: a.) either this is some automated process at the news site and cbs doesn’t exactly know or did not edit/moderate the fact it was put up there, or b.) they knew and are giving the person making this accusation a soapbox. While I would hope it would be the former, I honestly tend to think it was the latter. Yes this is garnishing eyeballs from all over and I am sure CBS is making money from the on page ads and the Google juice this thing is generating from all the sites linking to it, but it honestly does raise some questions that I personally would love to see someone at SOE come out and answer. If they did and refuted the article then it would appease my mind, if not it still leaves the door open to interpretation. Especially by the midguided masses at Digg. (I loathe Digg about as much as I loath /. now).

I posted the link on EQ2-Daily.com because I thought it was news (I don't judge the news our spider comes across as positive or negative for SOE, just as long as it qualifies as my hazy definition of news on EQ2 I post it, which this article does), and looking at the stats I keep on outbound clicks I keep for each article, this article was one of the lowest coming from our site for the day, so I don't think many other people were that interested in it either.

I did post it to our forums to get some feedback from our readers; you can check it out here. I honestly don’t think you are being apologetic for SOE, but I do with they would come out and with rebuttals for stuff like this (on a national news site, not joe schmoo’s blog entry).

-Cyan
EQ2-Daily.com Everquest 2 Podcast

1:38 AM  
Blogger cyan said...

Sorry it is late. The last sentence was supposed to say:

I honestly don’t think you are being apologetic for SOE, but I do wish they would come out and with rebuttals for stuff like this (on a national news site, not joe schmoo’s blog entry).

1:41 AM  
Blogger Aggro Me said...

Cyan, thanks for your comments.

With regard to your news links I just wanted to take the opportunity to say how helpful they are. I know you are known for your podcasts but your news links are the first thing I check every day, even before the dev tracker. They are presented in a quick and easy to read fashion and I love how you find and present stuff from lesser known sources like blogs and journals. And you were definitely right to post this specific link on your news site because it is news, especially because of the large amount of views and comments it has gotten on Digg and other places.

I'm sure SOE knows about the letter, but I guess they might not want to come out and directly refute it for PR or legal reasons. Responding to it might give it credence and just draw more attention.

But, personally, I'm with you and I would love to see them come out and respond to it. CBS News should give them the space to do so if they wish.

1:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a quote from that crazy "article":

"John Smedley stated that people will buy it because it has a Star Wars name on it - and then laughed as they said they would complete the retail product (which consumers have already paid $49.99 for) with approximately 2 years of subscription revenue."

What a load of bollocks. Does he honest expect us to believe that either a) the directors of SOE sit around and laugh like Dr Evil or b) that the schmoe who wrote the letter was even privy to such meetings?

I completely agree with you Aggro Me. This is just some letter/forum post by a disgruntled player (who doesn't understand that if you don't like a game, walk away. Think anyone would write tirades of letters complaining about Doom 3 or Civ 4 constantly?)

It has no place on a news site or even being deemed an article or news.

6:10 AM  
Anonymous beylanu said...

it's "set the record straight" hehe you might want to edit that line.

Aside from that, I agree with your viewpoint. In general, all articles, mailbags, editorials, ..., should be taken with a grain of salt. Or maybe a full shaker at that. But I tend to leave that as an exercise to the reader. If a person isn't smart enough to apply critical thought, any attempt to educate that person is pointless anyway.

In other words, you're preaching to the choir. Some folks get it, and some don't. I wouldn't really worry too much about the latter set, aside from the fact that they form our majority and have much control over our destiny.

oh well...

8:33 AM  
Blogger Bandito said...

I believe it to be true. It's on the internet, and everything on the internet is true. My blood boiled as I pictured Smed laughing at the naivety of the MMO consumer. It's time to get our torches and pitchforks out!

8:49 AM  
Blogger Anskiere said...

I don't think I see how they "kept people subscribed" by not having the Froglok quest in. Yes, I'm sure that was totally the intention! It's like saying.. "OMG if teh dunt hav froglocs they r goin 2 quit!" I'm sure that people stayed around at the begining of the game JUST because they wanted to unlock frogloks. Because that makes sense. Maybe there were people like that ... but what were they going to do, unlock frogloks then cancel?

Where is the logic

8:55 AM  
Anonymous flashman said...

Hell hath no fury like a fanboi scorned.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Narcissisa said...

"Six months later, SOE added the actual quest. People were in an uproar."

The actual quest to unlock frogloks server wide was very difficult. I was among one of the first three guilds to unlock the frogloks server-wide, and it brought us to Spirits of the Lost. (Where you must kill Varanak and Venekor at the same time for the pulsing gem of Feerrott, et cetera). And honestly, I don't think that people would be able to have finished this quest, even if it were available from day 1, much sooner than they did.

Raiding takes level 5o (in that time, anyways) and pretty decent gear and master spell drops. You'll recall that "Walmart" Fabled gear didn't really exist back then (Walmart referring to the instances that drop Fabled gear), because there wasn't a PP, CM, SF, VoD, and et cetera.

Your best chance was pretty much Nektulos Castle - And we all know how that turned out.

Then again, we were all in an uproar because we wanted to raid CT Epic with 24 level 5's. Hey - Fansy accomplished a lot at that level, maybe we could have too, hm?

12:13 PM  
Blogger Brett said...

Heard an interview with the Digg guy Kevin Rose the other day where he said they were looking at adding a button to mark stories as inaccurate, based off of a story that accused someone of stealing the Diggs code when he hadn't. Poor guy got savaged before anyone found out he hadn't done anything wrong. You are right though, the link does imply it is an article, not a poorly laid out letters page. I like Digg and /. myself, but I do have a pretty high BS filter so the noise doesn't bother me as much as it bothers some.

2:18 PM  
Blogger DigitalRuler said...

All I saw in the comments after the letter was a bunch of people whining. "SOE sucks and just wants our money"...well yeah they do. They are a corporation and thats what they are here for.

I played eq1 for about 3 years and been playing eq2 since launch and I have not had any real issues with the game. Sure there are bugs and broken quests but its not like they arent ever going to fix it. Go do a different quest for your 2gp and 3% xp. Its not like this doesnt happen in every other MMO out right now. If you arent happy with SOE maybe they should just quit playing MMO's all together.

All im saying is that EQ2 isnt a bad game or unplayable. And SOE isnt a horrible corporation. They do have problems but its not unbearable. I still have a lot of fun every time I log in so I will continue playing until I dont.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter if SOE gets their lawyers on about this. There's nothing they can do about it unless they prove this self-interview was done with malicious intent to slander and had no basis in fact.

It may be in bad taste that CBS hosts it without doing a little fact-finding, but I've seen worse that is not illegal.

What bothers me more is that people will shy away from speaking out because some big corporation with big lawyers MAY sue them.

I recall myself when SOE banned my EQ1 account, way back when, because they said I hacked into another of my OWN accounts.

After several phone calls, they re-activated my account with a verbal apology, but not without forcing me to re-subscribe at a monthly rate while I had already PAID for a year in advance. They simply took my yearly fee and re-activated the account back to zero at a monthly rate.

Several calls later, I was told by a SOE representative, by phone, to take it up with my credit card company, who did nothing to reimburse my money because they were totally confused with what occurred. They concluded that since I gave my credit card information AGAIN, basically, too bad for me.

After leaving for EQ2, I signed up for an ALL ACCESS ACCOUNT and did not receive all the benefits that package entailed, which many, many people can attest to. EQ2players.com, the itemization database that was never done, etc.

So please don't tell me that SOE doesn't engage in dirty business practices. I'm witness to that myself.

I fail to see how one person's mailbag hosted on a CBS news website is so outrageous just because it has SOE's name in it.

I've seen far worse journalism than that.

Sure, he/she was given a soapbox, but maybe, just MAYBE, there's some truth to what was said.

Solution: Let Smedley make a mailbag of his own and prove it wrong. It's very simple, but I lay odds he won't.

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