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Games Entertainment

Mythic Sued Over Blocking Auctions of Game Tokens 521

Lukenary writes: "Mythic Entertainment, creator of the excellent MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot, is being sued by BlackSnow Interactive, owner and maintainer of CamelotExchange - an online auction site for the exchange of in-game items, money, and characters/accounts. This could be a landmark case: if you spend (typically) weeks of playing time to garner 1,000 gold in-game, do you have the right to auction off that gold for real money? Mythic has not yet had an official response to the suit, but you can read BSI's press release at the CamelotExchange site above. Personally, I find it interesting that BSI is going after DAoC, calling Mythic a "software giant," while ignoring the more established compettion in EverQuest producer Sony, Asheron's Call producer Microsoft, and Ultima Online producer Electronic Arts. Mythic's only product at this time is Dark Age of Camelot, which was released last October."
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Mythic Sued Over Blocking Auctions of Game Tokens

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  • read the TOS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kochsr ( 144988 )
    i would say if you agree to the TOS when install and sign up for the game, you are bound by it. if it says no dice... no dice.
    • Re:read the TOS (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Rude Turnip ( 49495 )
      If you're under 18, you cannot be held to the terms of a contract. I wonder if such individuals are free to do as they please then?
      • Re:read the TOS (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Jack9 ( 11421 )
        A TOS or any contract (including non-disclosure and employment contracts among others) cannot act as a barrier of trade. In other words, you cannot be bound by a contract that says "I agree that I wont buy a car". How this works out for electronic "possession" is what the courts have to decide.
    • Re:read the TOS (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      bigger issue is taxes.
      if virtual items have real value then they are
      assets-taxable assets.
      if your magic sword has value of $50
      then you made $50 when you got it.
      you should file tax return on it.
      irs will want their share.
      what about all other items-dungeon of gold?
      irs will say company owns it since you dont.
      then irs will ask for tax money.
      company must stop real world value of items
      or get big tax bill. also irs audit of server
      for mega players is very easy-then you get
      bill for your players armour of gods and sword of
      anything slaying in dollars not gold.
    • by hyphz ( 179185 )
      Yes, TOS's banning the sale of items are quite common. The problem is that the EQ case showed that there's a way around it: sell the service of handing the item over (not "$25 for this sword" but "$25 for my time in logging in, meeting your character, and transferring a sword to them"), or the service of obtaining the item for them ("$25 for my time in logging in, adding you to my party, going to kill the R0X0R DRA60N where I deal 99% of the damage, then letting you have first pick from the loot window").

      I think the copyright argument is rather vague, too, especially for selling characters. It would be entirely reasonable to argue that the series of actions that a player chooses for their character to take in the game is the PLAYER's copyright, which is tangibly fixed in the character's logs and present statistics. Also, it is not clear if the sale of the server owner's intellectual property is an issue because after all the server owner does not lose it as a result of the sale (it is still on the server)

      But, at the end of the day, it really just shows that 90% of MMORPGs stink at the moment. Playing them is not fun; the only fun is in the reward you get for enduring the boring stuff for a while. Allegiance and Shattered Galaxy were quite playable, but every other MMORPG I've played has sucked rocks.
    • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:09PM (#2967843)
      As we spend more and more time in virtual worlds issues like this will become more important. It is not inconcievable that, in five or ten years, most communication and interaction will happen in virtual space. Should people interacting in virtual worlds be limited in their rights and choices any more than those operating in the physical world? This question may sound silly, but there are important social and political ramifications as we spend more and more of our lives online.

      What about communications? Does a private company running a virtual world have the right to tell you what you can and cannot say to another person in that world? Under current law, perhaps. Is this desirable or, if and when we are spending most of our time communicating with one another in that sort of context, acceptable. Probably not, if you really think about it.

      The telephone company is a private corporation that owns most of the equipment and infrastructure necessary for one person to talk to another over any but the most trivial distances. For many people, most of their interpersonal communication takes place over the telephone.

      We decided early on that, despite the fact that the phone company is a private corporation, they may not deny service to anyone on the basis of what they say, may not in any way limit what one person may say to another using their equipment, and so on. In exchange they were granted "common carrier" status, meaning they bore no liability for the content of communication over their lines.

      These game worlds are precursors to a form of virtual reality (I hate the term, but cannot think of a more accurate one, assuming the original, unmarketdroid meaning is used) many of us may be spending much of our lives in down the road. Doubly true when we are extremely elderly and bedridden. As long as we've paid for the service, should we really be subjected to draconian TOS that decide if and how we may interact with others?

      Right now it is just a game, and most of us snicker at those who take it so seriously as to buy and sell virtual items with real money. But the precedents being set here will most likely have very far reaching ramifications into our own lives down the road, in contexts that are much more significant than a mere fantasy game. Do we really want non-democratic corporate Terms of Service dictating our rights and limits?

      The knee-jerk, libertarian response of "the TOS is paramount," go elsewhere if you don't like it shows that these people really haven't given much deep thought at all to where the technology is going, what the social implications are, and what the consiquences of allowing unfettered and unchecked corporate authority to trump individual liberties (remember those constitutional checks and balances? They don't exist in the corporate context, and only exist minimally in competetive markets ... and not at all once those markets become dominated by oligarchies or monopolies).

      Today it is about buying and selling virtual toys outside of a gaming context, i.e. regulating how consenting players may interact with one another and trade items they value amongst themselves. Tommorow it could be a much more compelling concern, but if so it is likely to be affected in no small part by the precedents we set today. It would be advisable if we thought long and hard on just what we want those precedents to be, rather than simplisticly dismissing the entire debate with "the company's Terms of Service are paramout, all other concerns are irrelevant."
  • by Cuthalion ( 65550 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @08:59PM (#2964930) Homepage
    Is it acceptable / legal to hire people to play the game for you?

    Is that the same question or not? I think it basically is.
    • actually its not the same thing at all..
      consider if you will nascar racing.. its my understanding that all those ads on the side of the car basically pay the person to drive it.. now when that person wins, they still get the trophy.. not 7up or whoever..save thing with online crack.. you could sponser someone playing if you enjoyed the act of them playing or something.. but its not really the same thing as if you paid for the account, paid someone to play on said account and then later took the credit for it.
    • even if it is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Thursday February 07, 2002 @01:39AM (#2965830)
      It's also acceptable / legal for them to delete your account if you break their rules. Remember, they're not taking away any actual property from you, merely terminating your service because you did not agree by the terms of service.
  • Guilty (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EvilJohn ( 17821 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @08:59PM (#2964933) Homepage
    I feel almost guilty over this, as I'm rooting for the game companies here. As an alienated EverQuest player (what do you mean the stats don't matter?), this is difficult to stomach.

    As a casual player, its hard enough playing against people with no lives who play 12 hours a day, muchless the farmers who play for a living.
  • Crazy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cdrj ( 556227 )
    This is ridiculous. These people have spent the time to obtain the rankings and items which means they should be allowed to sell them. What they are selling is what they have created. If someone decides to type a book in Word they should be allowed to sell that book at their will.
    • Re:Crazy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by batkiwi ( 137781 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @09:05PM (#2964966)
      You're missing the point.

      They are not creating anything. All the action happens on mythic's servers. Mythic can decide what can and cannot be done on their servers.

      It's nothing at all like typing a book in word. It'd be like you searching for pages on google, and then saying that you can sell those pages because you spent your time searching for them, and you're allowed to sell your time.

      While you can sell your time, you can't sell something that doesn't belong to you.
      • Re:Crazy (Score:2, Insightful)

        by shepd ( 155729 )
        Okay... lets think of it this way.

        If I ssh into my ISPs shell box (that I pay per month for) and type in a book on their hardware and their CPU cycles do they own it?

        I think a long history of legal arguments would say no.
        • In the case of a book, you are creating new intelectual property. You own teh rights to that by inherant copyright. You aren't doing the same with a character, you're just making changes to a database that Mythic designed and owns the rights to. The other thing is, in the case of the ISP they still do own the physical server you are working on, and can dictate how you use it. Suppose your ISP hates books for whatever reason, so they tell you to knock it off. If you don't, they can most certianly shut down your account. Same with an account in an online game. You sell an item, Mythic can shut down your account for it. For that matter, they can shut down your account for any reason. They don't have a contract with you gautenteing service. You pay for use of their game, they decide the terms of that use. If you dont' like it, vote with your dollars and go play elsewhere. If enough people cancel their accounts becasue they can't sell things, Mythic will either revise their polocy or go out of bussiness.
          • by shepd ( 155729 )
            >You aren't doing the same with a character, you're just making changes to a database that Mythic designed and owns the rights to.

            Well, I guess this is where it gets sticky.

            Isn't a filesystem nothing more than a simple database? ReiserFS would have us beleive so.

            >They don't have a contract with you gautenteing service.

            They sure do if you paid in full and aren't breaking the rules. Just the same way the cable co can't come out to your house and cut your cable for watching too much Seinfeld, your ISP can't cut off your shell account unless you break the rules, or you are repaid.

            If they decide to change the rules they need to either wait for your current payment to expire or refund the rest.

            >For that matter, they can shut down your account for any reason.

            If my ISP did that without a refund I'd take their ass to small claims court and see what a judge thinks about it.

            He'd probably not just refund my money, but if he was generous he might even give me punitive damages if the reason were outrageous enough (like them feeling they have the rights to something you created on your paid for CPU cycles and on your pad for section of their hard drive/database).

            >If you dont' like it, vote with your dollars ad go play elsewhere.

            Nahh, when a company tries to suspend the whole idea of free trade in a free society, I think its totally fair for the people harmed to revolt. They deserve not only their money back for the unused server time, but also the money back for their purchase of the game, IMHO.

            Next thing you know you'll rent a hotel room for two and the owners will think they have the right to tell you that you that you and your soon to be wedded wife have to sleep separately unless you are married. This is a matter of freedom, and people need the government to tell these people that when you rent someone's hardware and create something on it that you own it, not the renters.

            What's next, rental typewriters that require you to give the owners of the typewriter a copy of your manuscript?
            • "Nahh, when a company tries to suspend the whole idea of free trade in a free society, I think its totally fair for the people harmed to revolt. They deserve not only their money back for the unused server time, but also the money back for their purchase of the game, IMHO. "

              Except that this issue has nothing to do "free trade in a free society," it has to do with free trade in an entirely controlled artificial society. I don't know of any precedents in contract law that would prevent Mystic from controlling the transfer of game assets.

              If you want to use a rental analogy, I would say it is much more akin to the provision in apartment rental contracts that prohibits you from subletting the property without the owner's permission.
            • Fine then, the onyl thing Mythic could possibally owe you is a dump of your information in the database. They don't owe you to keep hosting that information if they don't want to, unless you have a contract that says otherwise.

              Also as for your court claim, sorry, not gonna happen. Mythic specifically says you can't do this in their ToS, just like you ISP might say you can't run a sever. Break the rules, they can cancel your service.

              Also you have no real reprisal unless:

              1) You have a contract. If you get something like a T1 line, you'll get a contract promising you service, and they will honour that.

              2) It's a regulated utility like power or telephone. Then there are laws sayyng the must provide service, etc.

              As an individual or private company, if I don't like what you are doing and most espically if it's against the rules I laid out for using my service, I can cancel your account. If I give you an acocunt an prohibit you from hosting porn there, and you do it, I can boot you, and a judge will uphold this. It's not like these people weren't warned not to do this.
    • Re:Crazy (Score:2, Informative)

      by ADRA ( 37398 )
      It was brought up when the EQ post came up, but let me repeat my point with some flavor added in to support,

      It is just a game. You have no rights to sell a virtual entity which is owned by Mythic without their permission.

      I can't believe this community is so outraged in NO having Intelectual property over the characters and items that they creat.. Ironic, you bet.

      About the word example, you could only sell it because word allows you unlimited access. Some Compilers don't give you 100% freedom over your code, like Kylix Open Edition. Your code must be GPL. Are you fighting Borland tooth and nail to MAKE them release it under totally free distribution? No.

      If you really want ot think about it in a cold work oriented way, You are paying Mythic for the right to use their intellectial property under the restrictions of their EULA.

      Personally, I don't care if someone sells items on a web site, or in-game. As long as the financial benefits to the average player are not raised to a viable level, there shouldn't be a disruption in the game itself. People in AC sanctioned or not, have been trading stuff for years out-of-game, and I haven't found any in-game problems related to it. Mind you, EQ and DAOC are more economy based, so I suppose that there might be issues with them.
  • by jidar ( 83795 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @09:02PM (#2964948)
    A lot of people think that because you did all of this work for your item in game then you should be able to do what you want with it, and there is something to be said for that. Unfortuantely in the grand scheme of things it's not so simple. A problem arises when a lucrative market springs up, then you have people who use the game as a means to make their living in the real life.We call these item farmers. These people are a problem for the game system because they spend vast amounts of times gathering items and resources in the game beyond what their character could possibly want or need. These items are of limited availability (they all drop on spawn timers or on a rare percentage of monster kills) so this results in the actual players of the game being pushed out. This of course works for the item farmer because it helps to create the market.

    Creating and then maintaining a sustainable economy is a very difficult thing to do in an MMORPG (indeed, nobody has done it yet) and item farmers just make it more difficult.
    • by Demonix ( 140379 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @09:08PM (#2964979)
      Well, the solution to this problem is actually quite simple:


      Honestly! If you make a leveling treadmill where item spawns are few and far between, thier scarcity gives them real world value. After looking at how long it took me to get to lvl 40 in everquest (7 months of hardcore play) I would much rather pay 600 dollars for a 40th lvl character with decent gear than play through the tedium and hell levels. That, to me, incdicates a broken game.

      Of course, the Devs don't get this. UO was the greatest game of this genre ever made, simply because it wasn't a leveling treadmill (per se).

      Too bad everyone's copying everquest. Phaugh.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I think the Devs and game designers understand the situation very well.

        You played 7 months of Everquest.
      • This is not a troll, if you don't agree with my opinion, that doesn't make it "troll", "flamebait" or "offtopic", I metamod accordingly.

        I have played both EQ and DaOC.

        In DaOC:
        Items decay with use to the point where they are no longer useful.

        In EQ:
        Items don't wear out, that means rare items cannot remain rare for long.

        In DaOC:
        - You get bonuses by using items closer to your level and penalties for using items too high for you. If you use an item that is too high for your level it decays very fast.

        In EQ:
        - You can wear mostly anything regardless of level. Twinks love and exploit this, rare items become common as players farm them and the items end up in the hands of players that otherwise would have no chance of aquiring the item on their own.

        In DaOC:
        The penalty for dying is loosing some exp and having to pay a small amount of cash for getting your constitution restored(no item loss). This is not a big thing which encourages exploring new zones. Clerics also get resurrect spells quite early in the game (lvl 10). Binding to zones is also less restrictive and equal to all classes.

        In EQ:
        Dying in a bad place carries a big penalty, you have to retreive your corpse or you will loose all your stuff after a few days. If you died in a dangerous area, prepare for a long downtime. Clerics at EQ get rez arround lvl 30ish. My point is that dying in EQ is more traumatic.

        In DaOC:
        Traveling back and forth between zones is easy, you can use a horse at any level by paying a very small amount of cash. It is also very safe to travel by foot.

        In EQ:
        No horses unless you are high level, traveling by foot is very time consuming and dangerous as you progress in levels. Zone designers make zones full of hills to make this even more difficult.

        Again, this is an opinion based on personal experience. If you feel the urge to respond negatively, I urge you to play DaOC and join the ex-EQ support group.
      • if the game is too easy, then you probably wouldn't spend 7 months (paying fees) playing it.

        What I don't get is why these companies just don't make it impossible to item farm. Make the big ticket items nodrop (can't be dropped or given to another character). Want the Slothful Sword of Everslaying? get it yourself, or not at all. Poof, item farmers get day jobs.

        As for character trading, why not have a "master" account that is tied to your credit card number? This master account can create any number of "game" characters. But the master account can only play as it's own game characters. Poof, no more character trading, unless you are also willing to trade your ccard number in the transaction. Poof, character ranchers get day jobs.

        Poof, everyone else continues to have fun playing the game as it was designed and balanced. Forget the legal department.
        • You said

          Make the big ticket items nodrop (can't be dropped or given to another character). Want the Slothful Sword of Everslaying? get it yourself, or not at all. Poof, item farmers get day jobs.

          One must consider the side effects. Poof, all concept of trading items goes away. All the interaction from ,"hey, I got a vorpal sword of ogre thumping, I'd trade it for a zoopa club of unicorn thwacking" being gone makes the game much less fun. Nevermind the lootsplit issues. Why did the mage get the club, and the warrior get the wand? So you code around that, maybe. But what if you don't have defined classes? Its not a solution.

          As for character trading, why not have a "master" account that is tied to your credit card number?

          Bzzzt. Try again. You're going to have to have some way of changing address, name, and credit card number. Unless you're going to tell people that when they change credit cards, move, or get married that they have to start their characters over...

          This is a harder problem than you give it credit for.

        • After looking at how long it took me to get to lvl 40 in everquest (7 months of hardcore play) I would much rather pay 600 dollars for a 40th lvl character with decent gear than play through the tedium and hell levels

        Pish tosh. You wouldn't have paid that money up front because you had no big time investment in the game, and you won't pay it now because you've already put in the time investment so you don't have to buy a character.

        Here's the one clear message that EQ can take from your confused statement. You gave them your money for seven months, and you have another $600 to spend on Everquest. Sure, it might be broken, but it's good enough to get and keep you hooked.

    • by ShadowDrgn ( 114114 ) <jbentley@char t e r . n et> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @09:20PM (#2965033)
      Mythic did a good job with items in the game in regard to this actually. All special item drops from quests, either NPC story quests or simple "kill the named monster" quests can only be done once per player. There are no spawn timers for uber items. The rarity of monster item drops is also pretty high; you can get any specific item you want in a few hours of killing the same monster type, or at most a day. Plus, Mythic designed items so that player crafted ones will be better than what the monsters drop anyway, so there isn't much real money to be made stocking up on monster drops. Also, items decay with use so if you buy some cool weapon, you're going to lose it eventually.

      The site in question only does exchanges for gold and accounts. Buying an account in DAoC is a bad idea because most of the fun of the game comes from playing in a guild, or working with your realmmates in fighting the other realms. If you buy a high level character, people in your realm probably aren't going to like you that much, and thus you'll be excluded from most of the fun in the game.
    • Employee abuse. Unlike real items, these virtual itmes can be made and unmade by the trillions with a few key strokes. If you are one of the programmers or better yet sysadmins that happen to have access to the database that controls all this, you could really make a killing by adding in tiems and selling them, with no effort.

      There is also a legal concern. For example, suppose that your game features the Ultra-Rare Sword of Asskicking +10, of which there are only 3 total in the game. There were given out as a one time quest thing. So they get traded around for real money, and a fair bit of it. Well you then decide it's time to expand the game. You up the level cap, add in new abilities, monsters, etc. You also decide to make that sword just an uncommon drop from a high level monster.

      Now the people that own the orignals are pissed. Their monetary investment has gone to shit, just because you decided to change the way the game worked, so they sue you. Stupid? Yes, but I've seen worse lawsuits that have been won.
    • by sabinm ( 447146 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @11:12PM (#2965407) Homepage Journal
      I've never played one of these games before but imagine this.

      CharmScalper: So, we meet at the specified location.

      CharmBuyer: cut to the chase, Mack, you got the goods?

      CharmScalper: You got the cash?

      CharmBuyer: Yes, 500USD. It's already in the account.

      CharmScalper: Alright here are the goods. [CharmScalper drops the goods on the ground, and points Spear/Sword/Gun/MagicMissles at CharmBuyer.

      CharmBuyer: But, But, we had a deal!

      CharmScalper: Hasta La Vista, Baby! [CharmScalper carves up CharmBuyer and steals Item (now, I have no idea if you keep the loot after a kill or not. just go with me here). :)

      CharmBuyer: [Crying at his Desktop.] I'm calling the cops! I've been robbed! [dials police 911]
      Officer, I'd like to report an armed robbery.[Explains that he was held at magicmissle point and his Cloak of Radiance was stolen

      911/FederalBeeEye: OK, sir, you say the assailant was armed?


      911/FBE: with magic missles?

      CharmBuyer: Yes!!!!!!

      911/FBE: What did the assailant look like.

      CharmBuyer: Ok, he was 75 pixels tall, he had a Sword of Ultimate chaos, and a helmet of confusion, and a cloak of invisibility!

      911/FBE: CLICK
      • by Happy go Lucky ( 127957 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:27AM (#2965628)
        911/FBE: CLICK

        I'd love to take that report.

        "Sir, help me understand this a little better. You met "Charmscalper" at the Dragon and Orc tavern. You each drank two flagons of mead. He then shot you with a "magic missile," carved up your body, and stole your Cloak of Radiance and five hundred dollars. And he's about 75 pixels tall. Male? Female? Human? Hobgoblin? Any scars, marks, tattoos, anything like that? What was he wearing? What color eyes? Hair? Could you describe his voice? Anything special about his voice, accent, anything like that? We'll keep an eye out for him." (Aside to my partner: 'What caliber are magic missiles? Will they go through our vests?")

        I wouldn't hang up on him. Oh, no. I'd take the report and add it to the briefing book. I'd make sure this story NEVER died!

        It's even better than the guy who called us last year to complain: "I just bought an ounce that this guy said was kind shit, but it's pure skunk! I was ripped off!"

    • by MattW ( 97290 )
      Some friends and I were discussing this the other day. We were discussing how if gold/etc rewards from killing things scales up with levels, it is trivial for a high-level character to supply low levels with gear. Therefore, what should happen, is items should have wear and tear, and the wear and tear should be too expensive to repair on a too-powerful-for-your-level item. This is one key to a functional economy, since the major problem with a MMORPH economy is there is eventually infinite supply, because nothing ever is destroyed. IE, give us entropy, or give us a joke economy.

      That said, people seem to have forgotten the "RP" in MMORPG. I'm waiting for a company to not only make a game like Everquest or DaoC, but enforce roleplaying so that idiots running around going, "d00d, the sword will spawn soon, let's get it!" are simply slain irrevocably and directed to read some "don't be an idiot" FAQ. Of course, this is the good thing about Neverwinter Nights -- it will form communities that do just this, and without the profit motive that Verant/et al have to permit any player, regardless of their crappy roleplaying. The sale of items, and more so characters, completely undermines the RP in a MMORPG. You should, over time, get to know what a person behaves like -- are they aggressive, generous, noble, etc? Of course, if they actually made a balanced game, then they could take an important step: permitting unwanted PKs to occur anyhow. A game isn't "competitive" if players can't compete against each other in a meaningful way. Racing to a certain level is not meaningful, because it indicates nothing more than time available to play. Best equipment? normally the same. But if players can take things from other players by force, killing them against their will -- that's different. Now its a fight to survive, a hunt to kill people off, etc, and you wrap that up with excellent roleplay, and its an unbeatable blast. Several muds do it well -- for example, Avendar [ender.com] or Carrion Fields [carrionfields.org]. This REQUIRES some sort of active enforcement. Not a lot, but some, because it is important to not let the game be ruined by non-roleplayed mass murder, especially aganist the helpless/uninvolved, just for kicks (this was a serious issue with UO).
  • by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @09:03PM (#2964952) Journal
    I find this disturbing: people will pay more money for a fake character than they will spend on themselves.

    Think about it. I can imagine an unemployed guy sitting home bidding hundreds of dollars for some imaginary characters, while in the same breath complaining to his friends that he doesn't have the dough to buy a suit to go interview for a job.
  • by Xzzy ( 111297 )
    Read the "legal documents". They use such choice words as "squash" in the letter, and instead of being able to quote exact monthly pricing, the most accurate they can get is "about ten dollars a month". Or "the genie has been let out of the bottle".

    I find it hard to take seriously something that uses such turns of phrase, but then again I've never been one to scour complaints. At any rate, the lawyers hired to represent these people appear legitemete [arterhadden.com], even if the document reads like a high school essay.

    Am quite interested in how it turns out.. this always was a sticking point between Verant and EQ players as well. Would be a nice precedent to have established in the books, because it would also cast shadows on the legitemcy of EULA's.

    • Speaking of that, is the part where they claim* that the Defendents have "unclean hands" some legal term I'm not familar with or a joke? It sounds pretty odd, but then so do a number of actual terms.

      *Page 6, part (5) of (23), First Claim for Relief
      • yup, it's real.

        "There is a doctrine in law called the "unclean hands" doctrine in which a plaintiff is denied any recovery because it comes into court with unclean hands (i.e., being guilty of some illegal or related misconduct), and the doctrine says (when the doctrine applies at all) that the court will leave the wrongdoers where they are and deny relief to them all in such a situation. "

        or more simply:

        "An ancient legal principle still in effect is known as the doctrine of unclean hands. The general guiding principle is that judges shouldn't allow courts to be used for improper ends, so only those who have clean hands can invoke the aid of the court. "

        thanks Google.
    • I find it amusing that a company of "seven full-time people" has a "Director of Sales". I guess the company structure is something like:

      1 x President
      1 x CEO
      1 x CFO
      1 x CTO
      1 x Director of Sales
      1 x Director of Marketing
      1 x Poor sap who does all the work.

  • Easier Target (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bollocks ( 80650 )
    It's pretty clear why they aren't going after Sony,Microsoft or EA, that being relative resources. Do you want to get into a court battle with Microsoft and see who can afford it better?

    First they target someone small, and assuming they get a judgement in their favour they then go waving it in front of other courts as precedent when similar cases rise.

    I suppose I should mention IANAL but would anyone actually be stupid enough to base a case on legal advice from /.?
  • Simple situation. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by crandall ( 472654 )
    People are making money off of *mythics* hard work; not their own.

    Just because a gamer has no life and plays 10 hours a day doesn't mean he has a right to be compensated for it. It is not a job, no one owes him anything.

    Players that sell accounts and objects for real money are capitalizing on the amount of work that mythic has put in to the game.

    I think if this is to be allowed, Mythic should recieve a cut of all sales. Of course, since this wouldn't happen, I think it's perfectly right for Mythic to disallow this practice.

    I mean really, if you want to make money, get a damn job. If you want to make money using games, become a game developer (Like me =) ).
    • I must say that you're making yourself look like a fool, which probably isn't fair since I'm sure you're a bright guy.

      First off, who are you to say what's worthy of being called a "job" and what's not? If I'm born with natural musical talent and can sing anyone else off the stage, does that mean it's not fair because I'm not doing a real job since I didn't create my own brain?

      You also say Mythic should get a cut of all sales. That's like saying Fender or Gibson should get a cut of all musicians' record sales because they made the guitars.

      Finally, I highly doubt that becoming a game developer is as easy as saying "I want to make money using games". You know that too, since you are one.
      • Not quite - the tools used to create the world, the tools used to create the music, are licensed or sold to the creators.
        The creators make the music, or game.
        The consumers play the game or listen to the music.
        If the consumers want to sell parts of the game, then the creator has the right make efforts to block it, same as music copyright owners making efforts to block the distribution of lyrics.
  • Liablility (Score:2, Insightful)

    I wonder if Mythic lost this suit (which I doubt), if they'd be liable for preventing fraud in the types of transactions BSI deals in.

    If I were Mythic, I'd be pretty worried about players getting ripped off and then turning to me for compensation. That may be why they take such an aggressive stance on the issue now.

    • All the online games should allow the sale of in-game items/characters. Hell, they should FACILITATE it.

      Why not allow people to sell off EQ characters? It makes the game MORE FUN for some people, and it doesn't hurt anyone else. The company could even make some money by taking a cut of the transaction. People wouldn't even mind that, because if the sales were facilitated by the game's provider, they could engineer a no-scam system, and people would gladly pay for that safety blanket.

      The only conceivable balance issue is that over time the population of high-level characters would increase on the server, because people could make them and sell them, over and over over. But I doubt that this would impact the overall demographics of the game world much, because most people won't be willing to pay. If the game was well-designed (COUGH) it wouldn't even matter, because you have to solve overpopulation/camping problems ANYWAY.

      For that matter, why shouldn't the company allow people to buy items and levels directly from the game? "Close to that next level? Bump up your XP for $10! Lagging the pack? Level 50 on sale today for just $100!"

      If it ended up being a polarizing issue, the company could run some servers as commerce-enabled and others as old-school. Everyone's happy (except for some purist crybabies, who will write poems about the travesty in their EQ guild message boards, with lots of *hugs*, god, I hate those people!), and the company makes more money.

      (I'd rather inject Drano into my eyes than play EQ again, but I find the whole MMO genre fascinating from a game design and peoplewatching perspective.)
      • The best analogy I can think of, would be a recreational sports league that adopts a rule that it is illegal to bribe the umpire to change the score. If that rule was not enforced, a good portion of players would no longer wish to participate.

        The funny thing is, that in Camelot the items and money are relatively meaningless. The drop rates in the dungeons are so out of wack that my characters have always had too much money, and items far above their level. On top of that, it is impractical to wield an item that is above your level, as it degrades too quickly.

        • I don't think it's like that at all. It isn't a spectator sport. No one is betting on the outcome. Nothing is produced. Time spent in DAOC or EQ is utterly unproductive, besides the intangible "fun factor."

          It may infringe the integrity of the game, but the game is a self-contained system that exists for no other purpose than to occupy your time -- so how wrong can it go?
    • If Mythic loses this case, all the people buying and selling crap lose out too, because Mythic can just close up shop or develop different games. This is a pretty ignorant lawsuit if you think about it.
  • by Brit Aviator ( 542593 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @09:06PM (#2964971) Homepage
    This is all well and good, but I think people should bear in mind that Mythic created and owns the entire DAoC set-up. I've never played it myself, so I'm a little sketchy on the precise details, but it seems to me that if Mythic chooses to restrict certain practices within the boundaries of their creation, then they are fully within their rights to do so. Players pay a monthly fee for access, not for rights to private ownership of what their character has. DAoC is hardly a monopoly and people play because they choose to, and within the rules set forth by the company. Whether players selling items is permitted or not permitted outside of the game, I believe it is Mythic's perogative.
  • by SuperRob ( 31516 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @09:08PM (#2964978) Homepage
    "Personally, I find it interesting that BSI is going after DAoC, calling Mythic a "software giant," while ignoring the more established compettion in EverQuest producer Sony, Asheron's Call producer Microsoft, and Ultima Online producer Electronic Arts."

    It's not interesting. It's called going after the littlest guy you can so you have a better chance of winning. Once you win, a precedent has been set, making it easier to go for the bigger fish.

    That's like Lawyering 101.
    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @10:58PM (#2965350) Journal
      ... (or at least the perceived scumbags) before they go after the good guys.

      That's why they go after kiddie-pornographers first when what they really want to do is censor opinions they don't like.

      That's why they go after terrorists first when they want to disarm the general population.

      That's why they go after self-confessed promotors of the violation of copyrights first when they want to shut down competitive outlets for content.

      And so on.

      Getting a conviction of someone perceived as a "bad guy" - and the "badder" the better - is easier than going after someone who isn't harming others. Courts and juries, in their desire to make the "bad guy" stop dong "bad stuff", may overlook the fact that the prosecutor or plantif is using the wrong legal tool to go after him, or may overlook how the precedent could be appllied to a non-"bad guy". Once the precedent is established, it becomes a tool to go after people who are NOT "bad guys".

      Additionally "Bad guys" also often have shallow pockets, leaving them unable to mount as effective a defense as the more affluent citizens. And that puts them in a similar situation to the "go after the little guy first" model in the previous post.
  • My reasoning on this isue is very simple.

    #1. If points earned in a game can be converted to real money then it makes the game gambling. If that's what the organisers set out to do then it's cool. If not you will have defenders at the World cup geting paid to score an "own goal" or worse, shot when they do it accidentaly (Colombia).

    #2. In real life we all start out from diferent points and have diferent goals. Lots of people want to pile up cash. Some of those inherited a bank while others had to beg on the streats. That's life.

    In a game it's all about fareness. If I could go into a basket ball match and pay the oposing team to score 50 points against themselvs in the opening quarter, I could win every game (almost).

    So I agree with them. This buying of game points makes it all less fun. I mean the organisers couyd have easily sold these itwems themselvs if they thoght for a second that it wouldn't reduce the quality and popularity of the game.

    Now if this auction sight was alowing the exchange of game stuff for other game stuff (My dragon sword for your teleportation belt) it would be OK in my opinion.
  • Is the company saying " All your Base etc"?"

    Are they saying that all player interactions are a work for hire benefiting the company?

    Just how does the Company control this in terms of a legal argument?

    I am so confused.


    * 2002-02-06 13:23:59 Google Programming Contest (developers,programming) (rejected)

    • by SuperRob ( 31516 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @09:22PM (#2965044) Homepage
      How can you POSSIBLY be confused.

      You are playing with Mythic's code. No matter what you do in the context of the game, you have not "created" anything that Mythic did not program into the game. Therefore, you cannot SELL what you did not create.

      It's ALL Mythic's property, and you have no right to it. You're paying for access to the code, not for the code outright. Just because you played for hundreds of hours doesn't mean you've created anything. All you've really done when it comes right down to it is flipped a few bits on a server.

      Hell, not even your CHARACTER NAME is your property, because essentially, all you did was enter a variable in a program, but that variable was planned for. Everything you type was anticipated down to the exact sequence (which is why you can't type in names they don't allow, or characters the program can't interpret).
      • Hell, not even your CHARACTER NAME is your property, because essentially, all you did was enter a variable in a program, but that variable was planned for. Everything you type was anticipated down to the exact sequence (which is why you can't type in names they don't allow, or characters the program can't interpret).

        [snort] that sounds SO absurd. funny too.

        Which of course means that everything has been done before, so creativity within a defined set of limitations is utterly impossible.

        Actually what they are selling is right of use of gaming tokens as stored in the server. The right to flip those bits, which has been bestowed on you in consideration of the money you gave them.

        Of course, if you had no right to flip the bits, then why did you give themn money in the first place?

        But then, this is Microsoft logic. Sort of like buying the keys to a car, but not being able to let anyone else use the car.

        If I as a character can bestow to any other character anything that I have, then to forbid me to do so screws up the game. To forbid me to speak or communicate about this to anyone else in the game really goes against good sense.

        The only way to really enforce it would be to bond all of the players. and who would play the game then?

        • "But then, this is Microsoft logic. Sort of like buying the keys to a car, but not being able to let anyone else use the car."

          Hello! welcome to the WORLD OF COMMERCIAL SOFTWARE! Did you sleep through the 1980's and 1990's? Flunk out of your macroeconomics class? Live in a small sovereign communist nation for the past 30 years? Well then boy are YOU in for a SURPRISE!

          It's NEW! It's TRENDY! It's ON THE CUTTING EDGE! What is it? CAPITALISM! ("Yay capitalism!") This wonderful new concept where you can CREATE SOMETHING and then SELL IT HOWEVER YOU WANT WITHIN REASON CAUSE YOU OWN THE DAMN THING.

          Comparing cars to microsoft (aka per-seat license software) is more brain damaging of a thought then a bucket full of lead paint. You probably could have made a less WEAKer ANALOGY by saying that This is like a bucket of horse piss thrown onto wet dog... namely: IT MAKES NO GOD DAMN SENSE. When you buy a car, you're buying the damn car, not the privalege to sit in the drivers seat... for what you pay GM doesn't give a rats ass if you curl up in a fetal position and suck your thumb in the TRUNK. They don't care, thats not what the agreement was when you bought the car. You bought the car to use it however you want (within reason.. namely you cannot buy a car, reverse engineer it and sell it as Schubert Motor's(TM) SexMobile)...

          As with someone like microsoft and say office xp and a per seat license... well JEE GUESS WHAT... PER SEAT means *drum roll* PER SEAT! *tada* If you're somehow implying all of their software or most or all commercial software is as restrictive as per-seat you better lay off the lead paint.

          -- schubert
      • How can you POSSIBLY be confused.

        You are playing with Mythic's code. No matter what you do in the context of the game, you have not "created" anything that Mythic did not program into the game. Therefore, you cannot SELL what you did not create.

        It's ALL Mythic's property, and you have no right to it. You're paying for access to the code, not for the code outright. Just because you played for hundreds of hours doesn't mean you've created anything. All you've really done when it comes right down to it is flipped a few bits on a server.

        Hell, not even your CHARACTER NAME is your property, because essentially, all you did was enter a variable in a program, but that variable was planned for. Everything you type was anticipated down to the exact sequence (which is why you can't type in names they don't allow, or characters the program can't interpret).

        How can you POSSIBLY be confused.

        You are typing with Microsoft's code. No matter what you do in the context of the application, you have not "created" anything that Microsoft did not program into the application. Therefore, you cannot SELL what you did not create.

        It's ALL Microsoft's property, and you have no right to it. You're paying for access to the code, not for the code outright. Just because you typed for hundreds of hours doesn't mean you've created anything. All you've really done when it comes right down to it is flipped a few bits on a computer.

        Hell, not even your FILE NAME is your property, because essentially, all you did was enter a variable in a program, but that variable was planned for. Everything you type was anticipated down to the exact sequence (which is why you can't type in names they don't allow, or characters the file system can't interpret).

        I'm kidding, of course. But it's not as clear-cut as you think.

      • How can you POSSIBLY be confused.
        I'm not. You're dead wrong *g*.
        You are playing with Mythic's code. No matter what you do in the context of the game, you have not "created" anything that Mythic did not program into the game. Therefore, you cannot SELL what you did not create.
        So if nothing was created, I can't have sold anything either, so the EULA has no meaning, right? No?
        It's ALL Mythic's property, and you have no right to it. You're paying for access to the code, not for the code outright. Just because you played for hundreds of hours doesn't mean you've created anything. All you've really done when it comes right down to it is flipped a few bits on a server.
        When it comes right down to it, everything done on a computer comes down to flipping a few bits. The assumption that they own the rights to the code when they've used a third party tool (compiler) to make it, but that the characters someone have made using a third party tool (the game) holds no IP rights of their own lacks foundation at best. Now, I don't know what possibilities the game holds, but if I can make f.ex. a guild sign, that graphic is copyrighted to ME, no matter if I created it in Photoshop or in Mystic's editor or drew it on a paper, unless the EULA explicitly says otherwise.
        Hell, not even your CHARACTER NAME is your property, because essentially, all you did was enter a variable in a program, but that variable was planned for. Everything you type was anticipated down to the exact sequence (which is why you can't type in names they don't allow, or characters the program can't interpret).
        It's not your property, it's not your IP, but not for any of the reasons you mention. It lacks uniqueness. A compiler won't accept reserved words (names it doesn't allow) or handle invalid syntax (characters the program can't interpret), that's the programs right to define what is valid input, however there's no transfer of rights from the one who inputs it to the program it was inputted into.

        In the end it comes down to if an EULA can limit what you can trade things against. Personally I think DAoC could keep their noses out of if I trade gold for in-game items, USD or a blowjob.

  • Real Economies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RalphTWaP ( 447267 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @09:11PM (#2964992)
    Mark this.

    This case could be the first splash on the legal scene that leads to the legitimization of non-physical economies.

    Why is this important?

    Imagine that at some point in the future, a corporation creates an amazingly successful MMORPG. The MMORPG is successful enough that the parent corporation spins off the division to form a new company. This new company maintains the virtual world of the MMORPG and derives all its profits therefrom.

    Very possible.

    If the company then made a move to allow players of the game to purchase commonly traded shares of the corporate stock for in-game currency, there is a tie between a physical-world economy and a virtual one.

    At this point, it would take very little imo/ for the virtual world of the MMORPG to classify as a nation-state.

    Consider. It _has_ an economy. There is an exchange rate (albeit an occluded one) between the money of the virtual and physical world. The virtual world has a defineable citizenry.

    When enough people engage themselves as citizens of a virtual state, and bring enough income into that virtual state, and exchange income between that virtual state's money and the money of other states....

    What happens?

    Eventually, would a banking house take interest and provide an exchange rate from one economy to the other?

    If so...

    How long before the citizenry of the virtual world demands rights.

    How long before the citizenry of the virtual world takes those demands to a world-recognized forum?

    How long before the representative of Norrath addresses the UN?
    • How long before you get laughed off of Slashdot.

      Whoops ... apparently not long.

      You're assuming the government would ever GIVE a "virtual" world rights of any kind. It would never happen, because when it comes right down to it, the parent company could manipulate that world all they want.

      Not to mention that "people" don't get two sets of rights. They have rights based on where they are. If you're in the US, Australia's rights don't apply to you. Likewise, the only "Virtual Rights" that "Virtual People" would have apply ONLY to the "Virtual World."

      Your criteria for what constitute a "nation-state" are so flawed it's not even funny. I'll let others pick that apart, but suffice it to say, if that's all it took to create a "Nation-State", I could do that in a WEEKEND with rudimentary code.

      Online will never be anything more than a COMMUNITY.
  • by Xentax ( 201517 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @09:14PM (#2965006)
    Regardless of the way BSI thinks things "should" be, there are a few very simple facts:

    1) To play the game, you have to abide by the EULA.

    2) The EULA specifically DISALLOWS sales of items and currency, but (at the time of writing) allows the sale of ACCOUNTS in an "as-is" fashion -- specifically, that Mythic is not responsible if such a deal goes sour, etc. If you ebay your account and the buyer gets the account banned, don't be surprised if they hold the SELLER responsible as well, etc.

    Since these provisions are spelled out in the EULA, I see no merit to this lawsuit. EQ, UO, etc. were gray areas because the original agreements don't discuss out-of-band commerce relating to the game. Mythic's EULA for DAoC DOES, and that makes their position all but impregnable.

    They can legitimately say that the rules are in place to preserve the physical security of the game, and to preserve the enjoyment of the player base -- something that has DIRECT economic value to the owners of the game.

    The players have NO right to break those rules or work outside of them; they're both paying to play, and agreeing to abide by the set provisions of the game when they do so. If they're not happy, they can save themselves 10 bucks a month and play elsewhere.

    Bottom line, it's in Mythic's best interest as the owners and providers of DAoC to not allow the sale of items and currency -- they probably shouldn't even allow the sale of accounts, in fact. It's just like a bar or nightclub -- you can pay to get in, but if you try to grope the women or sneak your friends in, you should expect to get kicked out and black-listed.

    The nightclub doesn't tolerate such behavior when it's expressly forbidden, and shouldn't be required to by any means. The same applies to Dark Age of Camelot and Mythic.
    • 3) EULAs are only binding (in the US) in Maryland and Virginia, the states that passed UCITA.

      However an EULA can act as "posted rules", informing users that Mythic can choose to terminate your account if you break them, so an EULA has a few more teeth for am MMRPG than for single-user software.
    • > The EULA specifically DISALLOWS sales of items
      > and currency

      That's a secondary reason why this case, if it ever flew, would be interesting.

      How much power is an EULA actually allowed to provide? If I pay to participate in something, and during my participation I acquire some item of worth, what restraints are there on the overseeing entity telling me what I can and can't do with my acquisition?

      Same with on the job inventions, or student research at a university. At what point does something belong the entity's, and at what point does it belong to the "acquirer"?
      • by jareds ( 100340 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @11:03PM (#2965375)

        How much power is an EULA actually allowed to provide? If I pay to participate in something, and during my participation I acquire some item of worth, what restraints are there on the overseeing entity telling me what I can and can't do with my acquisition?

        Bear in mind that your items of worth are merely records in Mythic's servers. In the absence of any agreement to the contrary, they would have every right to alter their records to show that you have no gold. Since the only thing preventing them from doing this is the agreement you made when you started paying for it, if said agreement disallows the sale of in-game items, that is absolutely enforceable.

        What usually gets people riled up about EULAs is when they prohibit something that would be allowed in the absence of an agreement to the contrary, such as reverse engineering software. You can complain that the EULA is void because you never agreed to it, and that you therefore have the right to reverse engineer some piece of software. If you complain to Mythic that you never agreed to their Terms of Use/EULA/whatever, they can simply delete your account. What are you going to do, sue them for breaching the contract you argue doesn't exist?

  • I would worry that if there is a precedent set that selling fake stuff IRL is legal, then game developers (the programmers, not the companies) would have an incentive to put backdoors into their games (e.g. talk to this shopkeeper, tell him the magic words and *presto* he gives you the most powerful weapon in the game).

    For a game developer, protecting against this type of thing does cost money (in man-hours). Therefore, I say that they should be able to set whatever policy they choose.
  • What if? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hydro-X ( 549998 )
    But what if someone finds a way to cheat in the game? Or a programmer modifies the game code to give himself extra weapons or gold or any other game-related item? Said person then takes the items and sells them for real cash. It may seem like a remote possibility, but when real money is involved, people tend to become pretty creative...
  • I find it obvious. Who is most likely to have the worse lawyers? The smallest company.

    - A.P.
  • 1) IIRC, Verant updated the EQ EULA specifically banning the auctioning of items and plat on ebay because they got sick of whining bitches petitioning the GMs saying "I bought 100K off this guy on ebay and now he wont give it to me! Can you get it for me please?!?!?"

    2) If anyone ever discovers an exploit which allows item duping, the items immediately become worthless. No doubt there would be a large amount of loud, vocal, hardcore gamers looking for a convenient scapegoat. Blame the company for its "crappy programming" and them "not testing enough for exploits".

    3) Being able to buy your way to the top makes the game pointless. Parting of being uber is being uber enough to stick it out and work your way up all those levels. Getting to level 60 on Everquest requires months of dedication to a character. How pissed would you be if some little shit down the street got his parents to buy him a Level 60 character for his birthday and he goes around boasting about it?
  • by Nindalf ( 526257 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @09:31PM (#2965075)
    ...the company would do it itself. It would be great for them to be able sell high-ranking or rare items as a primary source of income. I've seen MUDs do that, but always on a very limited scale: a handful of select, not too powerful, items given to people who pay extra (or pay at all, as it's usually on otherwise free MUDs that I've seen this).

    The problem is, that doesn't make a good game. It's like playing chess in a league where people who bribe the referee can have all their pawns replaced with queens at the start of the game. Either you have to spend your money just to get a level playing field, or you have a hell of a time getting a decent game.

    So it's a matter of protecting the gameplay. They can't just allow it. The question of legality depends entirely on the contract. Obviously, you can set acceptable use rules in the user contract.

    This challenge looks pretty ridiculous to me. It seems basically to me like people disputing the right of a sports league to ban players for taking bribes to throw the game.
    • ... the company might find it in its interest to:

      Allow the trading of only EARNED (by gameplay) items, and


      This would prevent the inflation of the "currency" of game items, provide an "aftermarket" for people who tire of the game to recover some of their costs, limit the impact on players who don't want to fork out for assistance or extra equipment, and provide an additional income stream to the company (which could be partially converted to reduced cost to ordinary players).

      • The point is that if it is possible to buy an advantage, it makes the game suck. If people are farming for money, this makes the game suck more, as they interfere with the people playing for fun.

        So taking a cut would not only hurt their image, but legitimize and encourage farming, hurting their gameplay, either costing them more in development and support to compensate, or costing them paying accounts.

    Mythic Entertainment is named as the defendant in this case filed on Febuary 5th 11:50AM involving various anti-trust, copyright, and anti-competitive issues. BlackSnow Interactive (BSI) is a group of individuals that play, buy, and sell in various Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG). Growing from only one person nearly two years ago, to seven full-time people, this group has successfully developed a market in which they are able to supply players with gaming currency, items, or characters at competitive prices. Mythic wants BSI to cease all sales immediately.

    After entering the DAoC market, shortly after its release, BSI created a website and began listing their sales on various auction sites, such as Ebay. BSI's Director of Sales, Lee Caldwell, was quoted as saying, "What it comes down to is, does a MMORPG player have rights to his time, or does Mythic own that player's time? It is unfair of Mythic to stop those who wish to sell their items, currency or even their own accounts, which were created with their own time. Mythic, in my opinion, and hopefully the court's, does not have the copyright ownership to regulate what a player does with his or her own time or to determine how much that time is worth on the free market."

    Caldwell goes on to say, "Mythic's attempt to stifle competition in their own game makes it possible for only full-time gamers to succeed in the game and most MMORPG players can't compete on that level. The person that plays just a few hours a week, can't put in the time required to build their character or collect the items needed to join others in the online battles. No one has stood up to any of these software giants, until now."

    If you would like to take a look at the actual court document, please visit www.camelotexchange.com.
  • by Maul ( 83993 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @09:47PM (#2965130) Journal
    Really, I've enjoyed a few hours of DAOC myself, but the problem arises that you have to put hours of time into making money and getting items. Getting money in DOAC is harder than gaining levels, IMO, and the best ways of making money (such as learning a tradeskill) take time away from leveling. However, if you just level and try to make money off of the stuff you loot, you'll end up not having enough money to support your character's level. Once I got my character high enough in levels, I found that I would have to devote more
    time to the game to level AND make money. Result:
    I haven't played DOAC in a couple months, because
    I have better things to do with my time.

    It seems to me that Everquest is the other way around. Of course, my experience with EQ is
    limited to the fact that when I tried it I gained
    to about the 5th. level and just gave up because
    it just wasn't fun at all. Anyway, in EQ, it
    seems to me that it is easy to get stuff, and hard
    to gain levels. Unless of course you get power leveled by some level 55 guy who just thinks he can score with you because you are using a female character model.

    The way that items work in DAOC is that they degrade slowly, and they also are designed with a particular level. So for an item to work the way
    it is supposed to, it needs to "con" around your level. Sooner or later, if you gain levels, your
    stuff is going to be next to useless for you. And
    even if you keep it, it will eventually fall apart.

    So basically this forces players to spend TONS of time doing both leveling and earning if they want to have a decent character.

    This is a problem. If it were easier to make money, players would not have to spend hours on
    end playing, doing boring, repetetive tasks rather
    than fighting monsters and other players. There
    would be fewer people devoting their entire lives
    to MMORPG games, and the scene would be much
    more attractive to the casual gamer who wants
    to play 2 or 3 hours a week and still have their
    character advance at a decent pace.

    I don't know what Final Fantasy Online will be like, but I hope that Square makes it much easier
    to enjoy the game without forcing you to make it a
    second job. The game would actually become fun,
    and there wouldn't be losers out there who would
    feel the need to try to turn EQ into a money
    making business, or who want to be somehow
    compensated for wasting 80 hours a week playing

    • Was join a good guild. While they won't hold your hand, they will help you out. I've recieved a fair amoutn of finincal and item support form my guild, and they continue to give it. I also give support to lower level characters, and make trips to rez epople and so on. DAoC really seems to be built on the idea of cooperation.
  • Why Mythic? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Personally, I find it interesting that BSI is going after DAoC, calling Mythic a "software giant," while ignoring the more established compettion in EverQuest producer Sony, Asheron's Call producer Microsoft, and Ultima Online producer Electronic Arts. Mythic's only product at this time is Dark Age of Camelot, which was released last October."

    Mythic doesn't have the money/lawyers to throw at the case that the others do...so it will be easier to win a precedent-setting case against them, and then go after the others.
  • If you spend $10 a month playing a game, and 6 months into the game, the server crashes and you lose your data, or you lose all your items, or something strange happens, how are you to be compensated for the negligence of the company?

    If there is adaquate precedence that character accounts are worth a certain dollar value, then upon this unfortunate loss, the company could be sued by the player for monetary compensation (encouraging the company to simply recreate the character)

    Then you have the issue of cheating. Where before, cheating only gave in-game bonuses and the only potential consequence was the loss of the account, now you have some new issues. You can artificially inflate the value of your character. If this person is caught, should he/she be charged with fraud? One player cheating can lower the value of other's accounts. Can they sue the cheater? Can they sue the company for not stopping the cheating?

    Of course, if the company forbids this, they're on better legal footing then if they condoned it or at the very least remained neutral.

  • Virtual laws... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by flogger ( 524072 )
    I see this as a case with wide reaching repercussions. These MMPORPGs are virtual worlds and have always been in the name of entertainment. People, however, have been "gaming" for profit for quite a while. Just look on e-bay for Diablo or Everquest related items. What will happen if this case goes to court? There are two possible outcomes.

    One, the court decides that players can "sell off" items for real world cash. If this happens, there will need to be laws in the virtual word if this is to continue. The Characters in Camelot will have to set up a virtual court system to judge the legitimacy of people's actions. The virtual court will have to determine that the item was acquired legitimately. "He stole my Sword of Burping +2 in a Non-PVP area!" Who is going to handle that if the courts give weight to the claims that virtual items can be bartered? Of course, there is the scenario that includes my friend, the programmer at "Magic-Tech MMORPG Company and he programs the game to drop the "SWORD OF GOD" when character named "flogger" pays some NPC named Gump 12 copper coins.

    The other thing the courts can do is say, "Nope. No can do. Virtual items have no legitimacy and cannot be bartered for or against." What would this mean? (You try to explain to my wife how that would not apply to the stock market. Heh.) This would then outlaw those e-bay specials and force game companies to police their own areas to ensure this does not go on.

    Either way, if this goes through the courts, some creative lawyers are really going to shake up "real life" along with the "virtual worlds."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @11:00PM (#2965359)
    If this were a single-player game, would selling be an issue? If I buy a copy of and spend months getting high-level characters and finding cool equipment, no EULA can prevent me from selling the game to someone, even if I charge a much higher price than shelf-value. If there were a way to export individual items from one copy of the game to another, again no EULA could prevent me from doing so.

    As an analogy, if I buy a book, highlight all the important passages, and auction it for more than I originally paid, no publisher has the right to stop me. If I could manage to auction off just the location of passages I highlighed to someone who already owns a copy of the book, it's absurd to think the publisher could have an EULA that prevents this.

    So why should the fact that the game is multiplayer make it any different?

    If my sister joins the game and I give her a lot of powerful equipment, it's ok, but if I sell that equipment to a stranger, it's wrong. What's the logic here? Nepotism is ok, but capitalism isn't?

    If a friend does a favor for me in return for a powerful sword, it's ok. If the friend gives me cash, it's wrong? What's wrong with this picture?

    If a mechanic friend offers me cash for a powerful item, but I'm forced to decline because that's against the rules, what if I strike a deal that in return for a magic wand he fix my car for free the next time it breaks down. Basically, what's happened here is that the mechanic has paid me with credit. No money has been transferred, but presumably there is no legal issue here.

    Something is seriously wrong here. The items in the game clearly have value. They're going to be traded as valued goods one way or another. IANAL, but it seems like some sort of discrimination to prevent some forms of trade (online auctions) but not others (personal favors).
  • Hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mESSDan ( 302670 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @11:08PM (#2965391) Homepage
    I went to the site, and they weren't selling items, they were selling gold (atleast for DAoC). Mythic could quickly put them out of business by just doing a quick jump in the amount of available gold in game, then people wouldn't feel like they need to pay more for what they should be getting on their own.

    Mythic just needs to exert the power they control over supply and demand.

  • I dont play online rpgs.. so maybe I'm missing something, but how can you sue a company for getting upset when you violate their TOS agreements.. If you agree that you can't sell in game items for physical cash, and then go around selling your in game items for physical cash, you are violating the terms of service agreement you signed to play the game. I fail to see how this online auction house thinks they can win this case.
  • From their own website [darkageofcamelot.com]:

    Who is Mythic Entertainment, and what games have they done?

    Mythic Entertainment is the most prolific and one of the most successful online gaming developers in the industry today. With eleven online games to its credit, Mythic has been a major part of all of its distribution and publishing partners pay-for-play games including AOL, the Centropolis Gaming Center, Gamestorm and ENGAGE. Our titles include some of the most popular online-only games of all time including Spellbinder: The Nexus Conflict, Aliens Online, Starship Troopers: Battlespace, Silent Death Online, Rolemaster: Magestorm, Darkness Falls, Darkness Falls: The Crusade, Splatterball, Godzilla Online, and Dragon's Gate.

    Mythic has more experience in developing and running multi-user online role-playing games than most of its competitors. Dragon's Gate is one of the longest running online RPGs out there, having just hit its 12th anniversary and is still going strong on the Centropolis Gaming Center. Mythic also has the successful Darkness Falls RPGs, which is available on the Centropolis Gaming Center.
  • The game manufacturers will see this and decide to monopolize this market themselves. You don't want to work up to level 10 then send us $20 and boom your level 10. Don't have enough cash in the game well for every $1US you give us we'll give you 100 gold. They can beat any auctioneer's price because it doesn't cost them anything. Then once this happens it will ruin every game and they won't be fun at all to play.
  • by gol64738 ( 225528 )
    look, if i go out and buy Cakewalk Pro Audio, make a #1 hit song, should the Cakewalk people say that I cannot have rights to my song and not sell it?

    if i purchase Adobe Photoshop, can i not sell any images i create with it? or are the images only there for me to enjoy personally.... um.

    i don't exactly like the fact that some rich newb can purchase a character more powerful than the one i've built with hard work.
    BUT, i think online items, real estate, etc will be a very real future of virtual, real-time applications.

    if worse comes to worse, i suppose MMORPG companies can always insist that all auctions of game items must be done on their own game auction web site. that way, they could make a small percentage of the sales.
  • by Xenex ( 97062 )
    "you can read BSI's press release..."

    Perhaps I've wasted too much time here [slashdot.org] and at E2 [everything2.com], but am I the only person that saw 'BSI', and though:

    "What does Block Stackers Intergalactic [blockstackers.com] have to do with this?

    Followed by: "Hell, since when have they released press releases?!"

    I guess I'm odd...
  • All this talk about company XXXX blocking auctions of in game [MONEY | CHARACTERS | EQUIPMENT] .. what about Karma, eh? I seem to recall slashdot [FIDDLING WITH | DELETING] the accounts of those who try to sell their high-karma accounts on eBay.

    too much pepsi today.
  • by SmurfButcher Bob ( 313810 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:25AM (#2965620) Journal
    ...items is it favors the uubers, and is bad for gameplay.

    Face it, the majority of people with cash do not play EQ or DAOC 24/7... they would if they could, but they have jobs and cannot. On the other hand, they will tend to take longer to "finish" the game, and may offer a higher longevity of play (at $xx per month).

    So, you've got a choice. Focus (what's sold as) a long-term game on 4-month-life players, or focus on people who may play it for up to a year or more... at $xx per month, both cases. Not exactly tough guess which one you'd pick.

    The problem with selling items is it promotes farming. We all remember "EverCamp"... people waiting IN LINE to go kill a freakin mob. I've seen entire zones camped, by people who stayed there for weeks on end - long after the kills or item drops did anything for them, they simply exploited their high status to get items they'd sell for cash. And in doing so, they made it impossible for legitimate players to get and use.

    Farmers certainly piss off the casual, 4-hour-per-night player. Especially if there's a "waiting list" over 8 hours long, and big time if the farming causes an item unavailability. Real-cash sales of in-game items, if the game does not have anti-farm tactics, alienates game customers like crazy... because of the farming it causes, no other reason.

    I don't think the game vendor has legal right to prohibit such sales, however... such item transactions within the scope of a "game service" would simply be considered value-add. Their remedies are strictly limited to coding.

    Character sales, otoh, can be prohibited. The game is marketed as a service, and services usually cannot be transferred. After all, go sell your catv service to your neighbor some day. Or, your Triple-A auto-service. Or the extended warranty on your car. You can't sell your health insurance coverage, and you can't arbitrarily sell your mortgage. It just doesn't work... the agreements (contracts) are with you, period. Most times, the ability to sell a vendor's service to someone else generally requires a franchise agreement. And, no vendor is required to GIVE such agreements to anyone... nor should they be. You can't just open up a store and start re-selling Verizon Wireless, you can't decide to re-selling new (or used) AOL accounts... you need to get their permission. After all, they are the one entering into contract with the customer, and God Help Us All of you think you have implicit proxy authority just because you know them.

    You can, by law, sell or transfer the game license and media that was purchased in the store. You cannot arbitrarily sell or transfer the account used to play it, nor should you be able to.
  • by crt_leech ( 461079 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @11:47AM (#2967677)
    Think of it this way:

    Someone buys a membership to a gym (these games are memberships to, for all intents and purposes, a service or a club). Said person spends a lot of time working out with the bench press. So much time in fact, that he hogs it up 12 hours a day, during prime time hours.

    Eventually, said person doesn't want or need to use it all that time, so, they decide to sell off usage. He figures that he has the potential of using that entire time, so, why not sell some of "his" time to other members?

    It's basically the same concept. You are leasing an intellectual property that belongs to someone else. You should not be able to profit from it, without an agreement with the property owner.

    Same thing goes for movies, music, books, software and the list goes on.

    The big question I have though, how do we know that the majority of said auctioneers are not indeed employees at Verant Interactive - Sony, or whatever the associated software company is?

    If I was a manager at VI/Sony and I seen the interest in people buying in game items for real money, I would probably setup auctions as an official, un-written, policy. What better way of making more money with your intellectual property? Heck, they could probably make as much or more on selling items in auction then they do on membership fees. =)

    Of course, you would have to have an official policy that stated such things were not allowed, to help defeat competition from members doing the same thing. =)


What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie