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Comment Re:Conflict of interest (Score 1) 384

Fun = profit.

This is unfortunately not the case. Fun in games can be replaced by developers with elements encouraging the baser human desires, such as greed, desire for power and status, and protection of these things. Fear, embarrassment, and (false?) feelings of accomplishment work as well (see: Farmville). These more addictive aspects tend to make better revenue streams than "fun" and "challenge", the quaint territory of the games of yesteryear.

Comment Re:Conflict of interest (Score 1) 384

And that's the point. The revenue stream is a priority. If they make a bad game just to cater to a real-money auction system, they aren't going to make any money because no one will play the game. If no one plays the game, no one will buy or sell items in the game. In order to make the in-game real-money auction system work, the game has to appeal to the masses first. Because of that, I disagree that this auction system has as much potential to ruin the game as you suggest. Will it change the game? Absolutely without question. Blizzard will be sure to monitor everything and regulate the supply of items given out by the game so the price stays high and they get more out of their percentage. Will it ruin the game? I'm pretty sure they won't let it. Again, the appeal of the game is the driver of the higher order revenue stream and they won't cut off their nose to spite their face.

I completely agree with this. Blizzard will likely not prioritize this in a way that causes the game to fail, and if they do, they will quickly reformulate it. They will likely build it in a way so as to optimize total revenue. And it may even be a boon to those all those who wish to trade items for real money who would have done so outside the system anyway (although I think this is quite a small minority of players).

I think while we mostly agree, we are looking at this from slightly different perspectives. You are saying something like, "this is an entertainment experience I am not interested in. People still interested in this [one of: are okay with the revenue model / like spending real money for in-game items / understand the play experience will be affected by in-game revenue steams]. Blizzard might as well maximize profit while still providing a generally good game experience for those people."

I'm looking at it more abstractly. While I'm not interested in this entertainment experience, I think that while Blizzard will certainly not ruin the game with this system, it is a compromise for extra revenue that will, through encouraging paying money for items and to some degree designing the economy around it, detract slightly to moderately from the playing experience of the average player. In turn, though, it will succeed in increasing revenue, and other game developers will see Blizzard's success and consider maximizing revenue over improving the play experience a desirable thing to do, thus moving games in general farther from the type of "once-you've-bought-it-it's-non-commercial" experience I would like them to be.

As I understand it, you're saying it's already a foregone conclusion that the games industry has irreversibly taken this path already, and I can understand that view. (Although maybe you should reconsider? There are lots of great games out there, albeit not as many AAA titles. Maybe give the latest Humble Indie Bundle a try? VVVVVV and Crayon Physics Deluxe are great games.)

I'm not so sure, but what I am pretty sure of is that in-game revenue streams of this type compromise general game quality, even if not to the point of ruining them. I would rather see other companies mess this type of system up than see Blizzard succeed while lulling the gaming community into accepting that this is the shape of things to come. There are still plenty of great games out there, and I don't want to see people stop making them because they can't compete revenue-wise with games that take your money at every opportunity yet are still enjoyable enough for people to keep playing them.

Comment Re:Conflict of interest (Score 3, Interesting) 384

If this new trading system isn't executed well, people won't use it.

Blizzard will likely make a good real-money trading system. That's not the issue.

The issue is Blizzard will then have an incentive to design the economy around stimulating real-money trading. So the system of drop frequency and the frequency of adding new items to the game could easily be designed to encourage maximum trading. Even if this is not the plan at the start, it will be a factor in every decision they make with game items or the economy, either overtly or in the back of their minds. It could not be otherwise, because as you said, "The whole point of being in business selling games is to make a profit".

The risk is the economy starts looking more like that of a free-to-play game because the developer has the same motives as a free-to-play developer if they are skimming money from transactions. The next step is the developer selling the rare items for a lot of real-world money to increase profits even more, even though this totally ruins an economy based on scarcity. Then the question is, how much will players tolerate? From Blizzard, I think they will tolerate quite a lot.

I have no interest in playing Diablo III myself--I just hate to see video games increasingly turning from something developed to bring challenge and fun to the player and sold at a one-time cost into something explicitly designed at every step to encourage players to pay for satisfaction within a game that can be turned off permanently at any time the developer chooses.

Comment Conflict of interest (Score 3, Insightful) 384

It just lets Blizzard get that percentage rather than an outside company. And why shouldn't they? These people are going to do it one way or another. Why not integrate it into the game?

The general argument is that then Blizzard has a conflict of interest: will future additions and changes to the game focus on increasing fun, or will they focus on increasing transaction profit?

It's easy for any person or organization to say "this is just something on the side and we will always focus on our core intent rather than generating extra profit". This is much harder to do in reality.

It's much easier to restrain oneself from entering a situation with a conflict of interest than getting involved and making questionable choices, perhaps without knowing you are making a tradeoff.

Comment "Consent-based" approach (Score 1) 279

I bet lucrative incentives are more cost effective than fighting legal and political opposition.

Indeed. It's a wonder the federal government isn't using the usual "consent-based" approach to usurp powers that fall to the states, such as setting drinking age and speed limits: threaten to withhold a significant portion of the state's federal funding, which most states are quite reliant on for one service or another.

Or maybe this is a new strategy meant to avoid offending honorable Senator Leghorn when that old trick is used against his state.

Just make sure the wealth keeps rising to the top and there'll be an endless supply of impoverished communities around the country lining up to take this "consent-based" salvation.

Comment RequestPolicy (Score 4, Informative) 173

Google and Facebook are more likely to be able to track you despite you trying to avoid it. Their stuff is "everywhere". If you use their services and go somewhere else but somehow still load stuff (images/scripts) from their servers (or servers they can get info from) they know who you are and what IP you are currently using.

That's what RequestPolicy is for. You can control what images/scripts/content from other domains gets loaded on a site-by-site basis in a way similar to Noscript. It's great in addition to Noscript (not as a replacement).

For example, when you load Slashdot with RequestPolicy turned on, you don't get any of the static content like images/css because that all seems to be stored on You can easily select the RequestPolicy icon and tell it to allow requests from to In a similar manner, you can let load scripts and content from while preventing other domains from doing so.

It's really the only way to prevent client-side tracking services that haven't yet hit the blacklists. It's more than the average user would be willing to do, but if you really want to stop tracking or you're just interesting in seeing which CDNs and how many off-domain resources sites use, it's worth checking out.

Comment Re:War on anonymity (Score 1) 315

Whoops, looks like I used a greater-than sign without using the proper HTML entity. The last sentence should read:

I'd wager it's only when you start billing eliminating anonymity as "the only way to free ourselves from Internet Fuckwads" that support goes from <10% to something significant.

Comment Re:War on anonymity (Score 1) 315

It's possible to express unpopular, embarrassing, and taboo ideas without being anonymous. Problem is it just takes a heck of a lot more conviction to put your name behind these sorts of beliefs.

If you're independently wealthy or okay with just scraping by your entire life, sure, conviction is all you need.

Otherwise, though, what you're doing by making your unorthodox political views, sexual orientation, free time activities, world view, past relationships, etc. easily findable with your name is opening yourself up to discrimination in employment and limiting other social opportunities. While the rules are certainly changing, there still definitely are many social rules you must follow (or at least appear to follow) if you don't want to be discriminated against.

So while in some places you may have to fear for your personal safety by posting certain things, in the rest you still have to worry about your "social safety" one may say. For those who are willing to follow the necessary rules and one day become politicians to try to make important changes, don't you think they should at least be able to express themselves honestly online and develop these aspects of their personality without a record of every word they type to be used against them in the future? At least in the US, simply posting online at any point that you're actually an atheist could prevent you from or greatly decrease your chances from succeeding at in politics for life.

You could say that everyone will then post these details online under their real names and it will be okay, but I consider that unlikely. On the contrary, everything online will be an indelible record with your name attached, so expression will all be at the extremes: politically correct, for those who have prospects and ambitions, and like it is now or still fuckwad-ish, for those who don't mind being easily marginalized in the future. It won't even prevent the original problem.

It's not fair, but it's how society works, and it's why expression without worrying about personal repercussions from every word you ever string together is an important service the Internet provides.

Comment Re:War on anonymity (Score 1) 315

The people you are talking about would like to see taboo cease to exist since they don't want to see it and will be especially happy if there is zero chance of encountering it ever regardless of how that affects anyone else.

In general, I don't think so. Sure, some of the forces in this "coalition against anonymity" would like to erase everything that is taboo, but not by any means a majority.

In fact, the war only seems to be effectively sold to your average person when the goal becomes eradicating the "Internet Fuckwad". I think most people think it's good that Jimmy can post online about [bad experience with an employer, wife potentially cheating on him, being a video gaming adult, being molested as a child, ideas for planning a surprise party / marriage proposal, etc.] without this being found with a search of his name. I'd wager it's only when you start billing eliminating anonymity as "the only way to free ourselves from Internet Fuckwads" that support goes from

Comment Re:War on anonymity (Score 1) 315

They just fracture the internet into radicalized cliques.

How about a multi-site reputation system?

Just look at Slashdot... no matter how honestly someone believes that Microsoft is a good company [. . .]

That's not true in my experience. While a pro-Microsoft post requires a little more explanation and good reasoning, I've seen plenty of them with +5s. Sure, a one-sentence pro-Microsoft post like "MS just does it better!" isn't going to be received favorably, but Microsoft posts with reason seem to be up-modded by some and not down-modded by those who hate everything about Microsoft.

[. . . ] if they try to express that view on a routine basis, they'll be banned from participating in the moderation system at no time.

I don't think this is true. A Microsoft troll may be, but I imagine someone who consistently makes well-reasoned posts about the virtues of Microsoft would at worst have a neutral karma, and probably has pretty good karma. If you have a counter-example, please provide UID.

Comment War on anonymity (Score 3, Insightful) 315

I'm not so sure the "war on anonymity" is carefully being orchestrated, though I certainly hear the loudening beat of its drums. And there are certainly forces that are very much behind the cause.

What worries me most is the support for it I hear from those who aren't very interested in the topic. I think many people see horrible comments on websites or blogs, hear something like the "Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory", and just assume that's the problem, with the obvious solution being banning anonymity without thinking about the negative consequences for true expression of the unpopular, embarrassing, and taboo.

Systems using pseudonyms and reputation systems are up to the challenge--while not obvious at first, a little thought into the problem shows this. You could even have adding your legal name give you a reputation boost (doesn't Amazon do something like this?). But with all the blaring bile about how humans are not capable of having the power of anonymity without reverting to sub-human pseudo-demons, too little attention is being paid to the real solution that doesn't stifle discourse.

I hope that the problem is that the pseudonym+reputation solution isn't obvious to the person who is first confronted with this problem, and that over time it will become clear and a consensus will build that anonymity doesn't need to be removed--we just need to add a reputation element. There are certainly forces that will push against this and favor getting rid of anonymity as soon as possible, but I'm far from convinced they will succeed. [Perhaps this is too hopeful?]

Comment Pseudonymity vs Anonymity (Score 1, Insightful) 315

I agree completely. I think most of the Internet's commenting problems don't require legal names to be revealed at all and that they can effectively be solved with pseudonymity and reputation systems. Essentially, reputation is being conflated with legal identity in most of the reports on these problems. I hope it's just accidental and short-sighted thinking and writing, but it sounds increasingly like a war drum against being able to have a voice on the Internet without revealing your legal name and having it permanently attached, in one way or another, to every comment you ever make.

Why is there so little talk of building systems where creating a pseudonym and establishing a reputation are important? Perhaps a real identity could be divulged to gain reputation outside of the normal system, but what benefit could it have beyond that? Such a requirement will just kill the discussion of many worthwhile (though perhaps embarrassing or taboo) subjects on the Internet.

Comment Re:Also has SD card slot (Score 1) 132

Because to most consumers it's not as the importance as nerds place on it?

If that's true, that's only because they don't know what it is.

Most people, if told they they could get the 16GB tablet now and add another 16GB later if they need it, would consider that a nice feature that makes it so they don't have to spend the extra $100 on the 32GB tablet "just in case".

Clearly it's not important enough for the average consumer to buy one tablet over another based solely on this feature, but that doesn't mean it isn't a great feature (or, more realistically, a horrible omission by the market leader to fleece more money from customers).

Comment Also has SD card slot (Score 1) 132

This tablet also has an SD card slot for storage.

I don't understand why publications are so focused on presenting the varying built-in storage options but not even mentioning whether a memory card slot of some type is present. I'd much rather know if the device has cheap expandable storage than know how much the company is going to overcharge me for the largest built-in storage option.

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