Tag Archives: Epic

Right & wrong, 2 multi-dimensional sides

There was an article at the BBC a few hours ago and I had to sit down and ponder for a moment. I can revisit my view again and again, but the BBC gave a very specific side and it stopped me. As I see it loot boxes are not gambling, but the article ‘Loot boxes linked to problem gambling in new research’ gave an additional side, and it matters.

The article (at https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-56614281) gives a lot of the same, including the view of “About 5% of gamers generate half the entire revenue from the boxes”, which is an optional valid view, my emphasis is on ‘optional’. You see, even as we are given “Loot boxes are a video game feature involving a sealed mystery “box” – sometimes earned through playing the game and sometimes paid for with real money – which can be opened for a random collection of in-game items such as weapons or cosmetic costumes”, I noticed ‘sometimes earned through playing the game’ before, I got most of all gear in NHL19 without ever paying a cent! This is important, and there is a stage where we need to recognise the games that offer loot boxes as a reward from within the game. It is “The upcoming Gambling Act review is set to look at the question, with the UK’s House of Lords already having weighed in to say that loot boxes should be firmly regulated as “games of chance”” that made me pause, loot boxes are not gambling, but when it is stated that they are ‘games of chance’ I do not disagree. We can argue in all manner that EA games took loot boxes in FIFA and went overboard, I will not disagree on that. Consider that FIFA21 “In FUT, there are more than 16,000 Day 1 cards, corresponding to as many players”, as such, if there are 1,000 it would be a low estimate, 2,500 would be more likely, but I have no official numbers. This implies that to have them all you would have to buy a minimum of 2,500 packs, if each pack has only one rare, that is just insane. 

It is not gambling! You see, to have that premise, that needs to be a setting that buying one pack gets you one cards stating ‘Thank You’, that is not the case, you always get a set configuration of common, uncommon and 1 rare card. But the House of Lords goes with ‘games of chance’, which is the seemingly the case and even more, it has an exploitative side, I never denied that, and there is a difference, I opted in the past for an alternative. It is what is called ‘A factory set’ a set with every card, the set is not tradable and has no value as you cannot trade them, but you would have all the cards and to offer that set in the last quarter of the game might be an option. 

My issue with the article was “The link between gaming loot boxes and problem gambling has been “robustly verified”, according to a new report”, I have issues with that straight of the bat and I would want to see that full report and its data before giving it any validity. You see, in the last 6-12 months I have noticed that gambling and in game advertising that is pro gambling has been popping up all over iOS and Android, Google’s own YouTube now has an increasing amount of gambling advertisements, so the setting is as I personally see it rigged.

This included advertisements on how to win at gambling, a stage that in my mind has nowhere to go and shouldn’t be allowed in any advertisement setting of Google. I wonder if that factor was considered in that report, was it even investigated? Let’s take a look!

A stage that is on a sliding slope, as we see more and more pagers on the internet all set to the stage where you can win real money playing games, so the game is already rigged and it has nothing to do (as far as I can see it) with loot boxes. And the report by the GambleAware charity is off to the wrong start with “Loot boxes are purchasable video game content with randomised rewards. Due to structural and psychological similarities with gambling, they have come under increasing media, academic and legal scrutiny. The UK government is currently reviewing evidence on loot boxes, which will be considered in the forthcoming review of the Gambling Act 2005”, you see plenty of games allows you to win these boxes by playing, Mass Effect 3, NHL 19 and several others, some give several packs a day, you only have to enter the game to get them. The report (at https://www.begambleaware.org/sites/default/files/2021-03/Gaming_and_Gambling_Report_Final.pdf) has more. “relationships between loot box engagement and problem gambling have been robustly verified in around a dozen studies”, I have an issue with that statement, but lets continue for now. When we see “Participants also purchased loot boxes because of a ‘fear of missing out’” I wonder how this was proven, you see, when we see on page 6, ‘A game will offer loot boxes for free. Encouraging later real-money purchases’ it is an assumption, a speculation. I never spend money on NHL19 and I have all the jerseys, all the goalie masks and all the arena’s. In addition, Mass Effect never pushed for spending money, you can get it all by merely playing. That is a setting of two games straight of the bat. Yes, it was possible to spend money, but it was never needed. The research then give us Overwatch which is a free to play and loot boxes are their only revenue, but what is there?

The report gives Fortnite a pass on a few settings, yet the Verge gives us ‘Epic Games will settle Fortnite loot box lawsuits in V-Bucks’ with the additional “The class action settlement also provides an additional $26 million in benefits” (at https://www.theverge.com/2021/2/22/22295676/epic-games-fortnite-loot-box-lawsuit-settlement-rocket-league-v-bucks), as such the report already has a few sides I find debatable and optional rejectable. When we are treated to “the game’s cooperative survival mode, “Save the World,” did — at least until 2019 when Epic changed its loot box system to allow players to see the item inside prior to purchase”, so why did that report not contain the part that gives us ‘when Epic changed its loot box system’, and all whilst another source gives us regarding Ubisoft “The Division 2 has both microtransactions and loot boxes and we said that Ubisoft didn’t go overboard with recurring revenue”, this was given to us in 2019, so why is a 2 billion dollar company excluded from this research? Is this EA games bashing?

There is more, and as gambling influences on other fields that the same group finds itself, the setting is as I personally see it rigged.

The report has some conclusions that make sense, they do have some grasp of the issue and as I personally see it, there needs to be a larger stage here, one that is beyond ‘self-regulating’, in this EA Games made several massive blunders on the stage and that Needs to be acknowledged too. I am all for the full disclosure of odds as well as a FULL LIST (including rarity) of all cards that can be obtained. I believe that a factory set, one that cannot be used for trading and optionally not for playing either, it might lower the ‘Pokemon’ impact (gotta catch them all) of those spending cards on it, some do want to have them all, merely for the having. Anyone who ever collected Football, Hockey or Basketball cards will get that part. A stage that will evolve over time and one that could reset the barriers we have now.

So yes, I feel I was right, loot boxes are not gambling, but they are a game of chance, even as every pack has the same dimensions, they tend to have 1 rare card and in case of EA’s FIFA that will not do, not in a game with 16,000 playable characters. There are several solutions, but it is up to EA to steer their ship to one of the solutions that gamers can live with, I for one think that the EA NHL solution is one that should limit damage, yet with 16,000 characters, the packs should be 500% larger, including at least 5 rare cards, but that is merely my initial view.

I have a few issues with the report, but it does give us a view that is not entirely wrong and it also gives us a few sides that matter. As for the BBC article, loot boxes might to some degree correlate to problem gambling, but that stage is a lot bigger than the report gives. And it starts in both the Android and the Apple store with their collection of free games that offer in-app purchases, the fact that these makers set the game up to mandatory show one advertisement EVERY level is a larger stage, and the oversight of that makes it an issue, if gambling is a factor, these influences should be looked at as well, as well as the deceptive conduct that we see in the advertisements with increasing amounts. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Law, Media, Politics, Science

Science in art, deception through science

Just as I got past the first female night-horse (read: nightmare) I got into another one. I am not sure why, but for some reason it matters, in this there is a CIA wet work operative played by Graham McTavish, there is a spotter with him, he minds the listening system. They are watching a man seemingly talking to himself, but it is too much of a one sided conversation, the sniper (McTavish) changes the scope to thermal, now he sees a shimmer, one he had seen before, it was digital cloaking. He signals the spotter, who starts changing the dials on a small box and after several seconds he nods, he listens. He says ‘the other person is whispering Greek’, and he listens, they are looking at an almost surreal setting, it is almost 30 seconds until the spotter states ‘I cannot be here’ McTavish looks around, the man is absolutely pale with fear “I cannot be here” he states again, puts his sidearms in his mouth and pulls the trigger. The sniper gets out fast, they were both using suppressors, as such there was too little sound to set the alarm off. He grabs all the gear and he gets out as quickly a possible, all whilst sending the alert signal.

The scene was weird, I do not remember seeing it on TV or in the movies, but it got me thinking on communication, and soon thereafter encryption, do not ask why, I have no idea, but the slithers of one, connected to the idea of another. To show this here is an image

As you can see, it is in foundation a sudoku setting, an 81 figure number (nine times nine), yet the stage is to some degree predictable, every number used once, per square and no number the same in a row or column, even as there are only nine combinations, there is a larger stage for encryption systems to work on, but what if we look at killer sudoku?

As you see in the image, the stage becomes a little different, we get a combination of puzzles and it is that combination that could give reality to a new encryption method. A stage where the sudoku itself is merely part of the puzzle, it is the other part that gets us the encryption. Is it a 2H box, a 2V box and so on, but in that stage it becomes a lot harder to figure out the numbers. The shapes can be anything, a letter, numbers, any combination. The numbers are numbers but there are ways to encrypting that too, and as every level is larger the computer undoing the cypher will take more and more time, all whilst there is an optional setting to reset that setting, a solution in apps that makes any high end encrypted system a much larger option for diplomatic staff to keep encrypted data with them, without them knowing what they are carrying, or anyone for that matter. If they are not part of it, they are merely the vessel that the channel carries.

Or in humorous terms (an ode to Danny Kaye) “The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!”, as such the issue is not the servant, that person has no idea what they are carrying, a new stage where 2-3 apps set a larger stage and with the security out of the way (thanks to Microsoft and Epic) anyone can be a courier. Yes, when you (optionally) saw ‘Microsoft sides with Epic in its fight with Apple, promises a more open MS Store’ with the text “Microsoft filed a declaration in support of Epic’s request for an injunction against Apple’s plan to remove its access to iOS development tools. The company said in the filing that the Unreal Engine is “critical technology for numerous game creators,” and that taking away Epic’s ability to support it on iOS and MacOS devices “will harm game creators and gamers.”” Most people do not see the larger picture, all this was merely a way for Epic to shun its duties, duties that allow smaller players to avoid larger costs, yet once greed sets in there is a larger stage and they paved the way for organised crime to take much larger steps for people to be tempted to quick cash only to learn at a much larger stage that they became mules. It is that stage that also allows for a new encryption systems, with people having 1-2 apps, that the person with the third app will be able to capture what they need, sometimes it will be with the persons consent, but not always, and that is where we are at. The rich taking what they want and not wanting to be held responsible, no matter what damage they are at the head of, what a world we live in, it seems that my nightmares are a much more pleasant place to be soon enough.

Leave a comment

Filed under IT, Military, Science

Not for minors

OK, this is not the most subtle article I have ever written, but at times subtle just doesn’t do the story any justice, it happens. So this is a question to parents “If you have a daughter between 22-32, and she looks like Laura Vandervoort, Olivia Wilde, or Alexina Graham. Can I please fuck the bejesus out of her vagina?” To be honest, I don’t really need to, but it has been a while, so there. 

Are we all awake now? So consider ‘Facebook and Apple are in a fight. Your browsing history is in the middle’ (at https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/facebook-apple-are-fight-your-browsing-history-middle-n1251612), apart from all the hackers getting access through Microsoft, we see another stage develop. The headline might not get you on board, so perhaps the by-line will “Facebook on Thursday ran its second full-page newspaper advertisement in as many days, attacking Apple’s plans to tell iPhone and iPad users when apps are tracking them online”, which implies that Facebook does NOT want you to know that apps are tracking your every move, and Apple does. It seems to me that Apple is in a stage to put awareness and security at the centre of your digital life, Facebook not so much. Now, I have no problems with Facebook keeping track of my actions ON FACEBOOK, but dos their ‘free’ service imply that they are allowed to do that anywhere I am? I believe that this is not the case and the money Facebook is getting is starting to feel tight around my digital profile, their actions had already made it important to delete Facebook software from my mobile phone (it was draining my battery), but the stage is larger and that is seen in the NBC News article (and a few others too).

So as the quote “Facebook on Thursday ran its second full-page newspaper advertisement in as many days, attacking Apple’s plans to tell iPhone and iPad users when apps are tracking them online” is given, how many of you are considering the following:

  1. A full page ad in the newspapers is pretty expensive.
  2. Facebook is seemingly untouched that multiple apps are following us.
  3. We are seemingly not allowed to know all the facts!

This is the big one “attacking Apple’s plans to tell iPhone and iPad users when apps are tracking them online”, so why are we not allowed to know what is being done to us, that we are being followed in a digital way and Facebook does not want us to be aware? This is where we see my (not so) subtle hint regarding your daughter and “fuck the bejesus out of her vagina”, how many fathers will be slightly less than enthusiastic? I get it, your little princess (your consenting and adult) little princess needs a knight on a white horse and always bring flowers and chocolates, have honourable intentions and to set your mind at ease keeps your daughter a virgin until the day she marries. It is not realistic, but parents are allowed to be overly protective of their princes and princesses. Yet Facebook seemingly does not want you to be in that park, they want you to be unaware of what is going on, and Apple drive it to the surface. So when we see “Apple is planning to roll out a new feature on its devices that will alert people when an app such as Facebook is trying to “track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites.” People will have options such as “Ask App not to Track” or “Allow.””, they did something really clever, if Microsoft (after they resolve all their hacks) does not follow suit, Microsoft stands to lose a massive slice of the consumer pie and that will not make them happy. I for the most am completely on the Apple side when we see “Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not”, I personally am realistic enough to see that Apple has an additional side to this, not sure what yet, but this is about a lot more than mere advertisements, I am however not too sure about what that is. When we see “Facebook uses data such as browsing history to show people ads they’re more likely to want to see, and to prove to marketers that its ads are working”, we need to realise that I would have no issues with any link opened within Facebook towards whatever we were going to in any advertisement. For example, if Facebook opens up a browser window, within Facebook and tracks the clicker, I would not completely be opposed to it, but Facebook realises that the data it I tracking is a much larger stage and I feel that this is not merely about “prove to marketers that its ads are working”, I believe that these trackers keep tabs on a lot more, keep tabs on what we do, where we do it and how we do it. I believe that it is a first step in the overly effective phishing attacks we face, Facebook might not be part to that, but I reckon the phishing industry got access to data that is not normally collected and I personally believe that Facebook is part of that problem, I also believe that this will turn from bad to worse with all the ‘via browser gaming apps’ we are currently being offered. I believe that these dedicated non console gaming ‘solutions’ will make things worse, it might be about money for players like Epic (Fortnite), but the data collected in this will cater to a much larger and optionally fairly darker player in this, I just haven’t found any direct evidence proving this, in my defence, I had no way of seeing the weakness that SolarWinds introduced. It does not surprise me, because there is always someone smarter and any firm that has a revenue and a cost issue will find a cheaper way, opening the door for all the nefarious characters surfing the life of IoT, there was never any doubt in this.

And in this, it was for them NEVER directly about the money, in this look at the ‘victims’:
The US Treasury Department, The US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), The Department of Health’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), The US Department of State, The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) (also disclosed today), The US Department of Energy (DOE) (also disclosed today), Three US states (also disclosed today), City of Austin (also disclosed today) (source: ZDNET). It was about the information, the stage of a more complete fingerprint of people and administrations. It gives the worry, but it also gives the stage where we can see that Apple has a point and we need to protect ourselves, because players like Microsoft will not (no matter what they claim). In this I name Microsoft, but they are not alone, anyone skating around margins of cost are potential data leaks and that list is a hell of a lot larger than any of us (including me) thinks it is.

So whilst we look and admire the models, actors and actresses and we imagine whatever we imagine, consider that they are not a realistic path, a desirable one, but not a realistic one and that is the opening that organised crime needs to claimingly give you ‘access’ to what you desire whilst taking your data. It is the oldest game in the book, all wars Arte based on deception and you need to wake up, the moment your data is captures and categorised you are no longer considered an interesting party, you are sold and they move onto the next target. So whilst you get trivialised, consider that Apple has a plan, but whatever they plan, it seems you are better off on that side, than the one Facebook is planning. When was the last time that you were better off staying in the dark on what happens to your data, on what happens when others keep tabs on you?

And in this consider “Facebook is making a last-ditch effort to persuade Apple to back off or compromise with industry standard-setters.With offline ads in newspapers such as The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, the social networking company is trying to rally to its side the millions of small businesses who buy ads on Facebook and Instagram”, so in that quote where do we see any consideration on the people or us as the consumers? When we see “millions of small businesses who buy ads on Facebook and Instagram” where is the consideration that they should have for the customers who walk into their business? When you get in any shop what do you hear? How can I be of service? Or do you hear: What do you want? I let you consider that whilst you consider the position Facebook needs to have and consider that non digital advertisement never kept track of what other newspapers you were reading. 

We seemingly forgot that there is a price for the presence of IoT, Apple is making us aware of that. I am not silly enough that Apple is holier than though, but at least they created the awareness and the greed driven players are not looking too good today, are they?

Leave a comment

Filed under IT, Law, Media, Science