SimCity Sadness

Welcome to EA games, a place where we hate customer service and release dates mean nothing. Or at least that’s what I assume EA tell newcomers.

Enter SimCity, a hotly anticipated game created by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts. Somewhere in the development of this game, EA decided to include DRM upon the release of SimCity. DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, and basically requires a product to be constantly connected to the internet at all times in order to work.

Electronic Arts is notorious for releasing nearly all of their games with this internet requirement (even games that don’t utilize online play in any way) only to have them fail consistently upon release. Needless to say, SimCity has not let anybody down in that regard. Three days later, and the game is still unplayable for some.

The EA client that runs the games, Origin, stated yesterday that they refused to issue refunds for their recently released product, stating that it does not offer refunds in general. After a firestorm of public outcry and frustration, retailers such as Amazon have stopped selling some of their copies of the game.

Today, a number of developments on the issue have cropped up.

The first major advancement was a petition that appeared on the Whitehouse website to require products with DRM to function at 100% upon the day of their release. This petition has received about 1,160 signatures on its first day out of the required 10,000.

Next up on the chopping block was the decision by EA to pull all marketing for the game. The decision came this afternoon as EA has received increasingly heated amounts of backlash regarding their decision to not offer refunds.

A few hours after the announcement to stop all promotions, Maxis released a public apology stating that they had an unprecedented amount of people logged on, and they weren’t ready to receive such as large number. Maxis announced that they have increased server space 120% since the release three days ago, and log on issues are down 80% as well.

On top of the apology, Maxis announced plans to offer victims of the games horrific release a free EA game by the 18th of March.

As this drags on, we will see just how devastating as effect this PR crisis has on the already very low consumer satisfaction of EA. I just hope that all those gamers out there will be able to play a great game before the weekends is over.      

The Hobbit PR Part 2

In last week’s blog, we talked a bit about some of the PR issues that The Hobbit project found itself in. With public outcry involving the decision to turn the movies into a three-part epic and the claims of animal rights violations on set, The Hobbit was quickly sinking in to hot water.

                For this segment, I would like to talk just a little bit about a minor detail I forgot to mention last time: the departure of Guillermo Del Toro. Upon the films conception, Guillermo Del Toro was slated to be the director of the film, but as pre-production dragged on, he realized that he could not commit the time to a movie that was looking less and less likely to see the light of day (an occurrence known as “production hell”).

                As time dragged on, Del Toro left the film as he realized he was being asked to stay much longer than previously intended. As Del Toro left the set, many fans speculated that while scheduling was an issue with his part in the film, the primary reason Del Toro left was due to his unwillingness to have his name of the project any longer.

                Now back to the more recent.

                As The Hobbit came closer to its red carpet release, news leaked about Cushla Norman being banned due to her consistent negative coverage of the film.  Reports stated that Peter Jackson was “mortified” at the idea of Ms. Norman attending the release, and that he personally dealt with preventing her appearance.

                Unfortunately, as the movie came to be released, the Tolkien estate was reportedly suing Warner Bros. for some released content they deemed “highly offensive.” The material in question was an online slot machine game that utilized the appearances of The Hobbit characters. The $80 million lawsuit has yet to be settled.

                As is per usual with any material Tolkien related, The Hobbit has suffered from a large amount public relations issues and it is truly a blessing that this film survived the box office to meet its brothers in the high grossing film heavens.  

The Hobbit PR Part 1

Who doesn’t absolutely love taking a trip down to Middle-Earth in their spare time? My favorite movies have found a way to solidify the strong position of nerd culture in popular American society, and I love recounting and explaining, to just about everyone, the tales of Middle-Earth.

With The Hobbit recently joining its fellow brother films in reaching the $300 million club, I feel now is as good a time as any to discuss the PR employed throughout the pre and post release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Leading up to The Hobbit, the PR team working behind the scenes came across some peculiar circumstances that set this movie’s release apart from others.

Shortly after their busy panel at the San Diego Comic-Con in July, Peter Jackson announced the decision to split The Hobbit up in to three movies rather than two. Public outcry was immediate and brutal.

On the very day of the announcement, Warner Bros and The Hobbit team came under fire for stretching The Hobbit (a book smaller than each of the Lord of the Rings books) in to three movies as opposed to two. Accusations of negligence and greedy intentions littered the news.

With such strong negative feedback from the public, Peter Jackson explained that this move would allow him to include source materials from other works of Tolkien that would expand the story and lore of the universe.

Unfortunately, as public outcry started to die down, The Hobbit crew found itself a scandal that could possibly derail the sales of the soon-to-be released movie.

Less than a month before the movie’s release, reports started to surface of a large number of animals dying under the care of The Hobbit’s production company. Reports stated that as much as 27 animals died during filming of the movie due to animals being housed in areas filled with hazardous areas to animals.

Initial statements from Warner Bros. stated that the issue was being looked into, but that they felt the reports were highly unlikely due to Jackson’s passion for animals, as evidenced by his adoptions of some of the animals from the sets. After a bit of back and forth between PETA and The Hobbit crew, there was no conclusive outcome of the scandal rather than a bad image…right?

Age of Consent

 

On February 10, 2013, the Human Rights Watch condemned Afghan policy over the arrest of a 13-year-old boy charged with having sex with two adult men. The Afghan law prohibits “pederasty,” which is sex between a boy and a man, but also accused the boy of “moral crimes,” which includes sexual relations outside of marriage, leading to pending mounting punishments. 

In the United States, the age of consent is set by states to be somewhere from 16-18, which means, if an individual over that age engages in sexual activity with someone under than that age, they are accused of rape and the child is not held liable. In Afghanistan, where there is no age of consent, the 13-year-old boy is being tried and punished as well as the adults in the incident.

Should the child should be held liable for his actions, or is he innocent under the veil of age? If he is guilty of this crime, what is the proper punishment (if any) to deal with this case? Should this boy be tried for multiple infractions with compounding sentences, or should he be let of a little easier for being so young?

I think the reason that Afghanistan is holding firm to its almost antiquated system of law is almost completely due to the importance of keeping to their Islam faith. Regardless of the fact that they are being constantly attacked for some of their practices, keeping to their traditional beliefs allows them to justify their actions in their own minds. It is important to note that for the Afghan government, there might be no doubt that their methods of law and punishment are absolute, and there might be no ethical issue with it.

After additional research, it has become more apparent that there is a growing culture in  Afghanistan known as “bacha bazi,” or “boy play,” in which young boys dress up as women and dance for grown men. While this practice is outlawed under Afghan laws, there have been known circumstances of dominant generals indulging in this act.  

While I do feel that the adults in the situation should be held wholly responsible for their actions, I personally believe that a degree of punishment for the child is a wise choice only if it can be proven that the act was consensual (which is almost impossible in my opinion.)  In terms of a power relationship, a young boy is completely helpless when it comes to avoiding the advances of a grown man, and although not explicitly stated, a boy could feel that his life is threatened should he say no to any advances.

Interestingly enough, this type of punishment doesn’t seem to be unusual. In a culture where women must cover their bodies in order to prevent men from temptation, I am not at all surprised that the government would seek to mercilessly punish all individuals involved in this sexcapade. It seems that in the past the Afghan people have been complacent to let many injustices be done unto them under the veil of religion, but I think with the increased attention being shown to them from worldly audiences, this trend may soon shift in favor of the people.

A good reactive measure to take for cases like this would be to offer services to boys who have undergone this type of treatment by older males. Children should be offered support groups or therapy to ensure the safety of their mental conditions after these occurrences. In respect to the government, it is time to rethink the policies that inflict injustices upon these children that are often so young, they cannot even prevent or defend themselves due to their sheer bodily inferiorities. In respects to children, in-depth reviews should be done over these cases to fully understand the nature of the crime, and where punishment lies. 

The Rise of the Nerds

My fellow gamers, today we celebrate a victory for popular nerd culture. TSM Snapdragon (formerly TSM) has signed a deal with Qualcomm and CBS to star in a show called “GameCrib,” a reality series that will take viewers on a journey of the daily lives of pro-gamers. The first season will specifically follow TSM as they enter into the freshly started season 3 of League of Legends.  

Let’s start this off by getting some necessary terminology and facts out of the way for people new to this scene. 

  • Yes, professional gaming is real, and in the case of TSM, all players make at least 6 figures a year. 
  • TSM Snapdragon is one of the most popular professional League of Legends (LoL) teams in the United States right now
  • League of Legends is a Massively Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game in which two teams of five players each duke it out and fight to destroy the enemies base.
  • Snapdragon is the name of Qualcomm’s processor for mobile phones and tablets, hence the re-branding of the TSM name.  
  • Koreans (although relatively new to the LoL scene) have attained almost complete dominance over the competition in the past year. 
  • Did I mention the season 2 finals had more viewers than the World Series?  

Now, let’s get in to the significance of the matter. 

With the exception of StarCraft in Korea, eSports has not been made regularly available on television in the history of gaming. While tournaments have all been available exclusively online, this new deal that TSM has signed could allow for regular exposure to the flourishing world of eSports in the future. While the show will initially be streamed online, there is hope that a rise in interest could lead to a television debut.

It is interesting to note that every bit of PR done by this team is handled by the team leader Andy “Reginald” Dinh. In the rising scene of eSports, it is not uncommon to see teams managing themselves with the leaders of each team taking on the role of business to business and business to consumer relations.

This trend in self-management has led to a lot of woes on the TSM team, with snarky comments and strategies sometimes getting leaked to the public with devastating results. It will be interesting to see how consumer relations will be handled at future live events with TSM having their lives exposed for viewers to see and understand. 

My fellow nerds, it looks like our time has come, and it is up to us to project our culture into the spotlight of America.

I love you Ray

Ray Lewis…I love you.

Ray Lewis makes me want the Ravens to win the Super Bowl. After a heated discussion with some friends over the expected winner of Sunday’s game, I was asked why I so adamantly wanted the Ravens to win. My reply was simple “I love Ray Lewis.”

Image

And then my world was shaken to its very foundations.

“Yeah, lets cheer for the guy who was charged with murder a few years back.”

Excuse me? Ray Lewis might be a murdered? Surely you are mistaken.

As it turns out, Ray Lewis was charged with murder in 2000 after a fight broke out at a bar and two men ended up dead. Interestingly enough, Lewis ended up dodging a bullet when he testified against his two friends and avoided jail time.   

Flash forward to now and look at what Ray Lewis has become. Surely his PR agent isn’t getting payed enough. Hilarious advertisements and and an image of strong christian faith have catapulted Lewis to stardom among casual football watchers such as myself. 

It is also interesting to note the shift in advertising in the past few years from serious ads to advertisements more focused on comedy and consumer interaction. Would Ray Lewis have  had such powerful image repair without this tool to make him more likable? I don’t really think so. 

A case like Ray Lewis just really goes to show that with the right kind of PR, anyone can be recover from a hit to their public image. 

Just Like Cancer

Get ready for a rant.

Let’s rewind to Tuesday afternoon. As usual, I find myself wondering the best method for purchasing my books for the semester. While I usually buy/rent all my books online since the prices are by far the cheapest, I decided a $15 dollar book was worth getting now rather than waiting.

After walking around the UNT bookstore for a little while, I realized the book was not there, and so I decided to ask the service worker if they had any left. The individual notified me that there were no copies available, but I can purchase the book online and should expect it “hopefully sometime next week.” “Hopefully?” I don’t go to a four-year university and pay ungodly amounts of money to “hopefully” get a book from said university at a reasonable time.

Fast forward a few hours to a call I make to another bookstore to see the availability of the book I require. After asking a lady who sounds too busy to talk whether or not she has the book, she lets me know that the book is not in store, but I could purchase it online and it would be there by Friday. “That’s great,” I respond, “but how much will it cost?”

“I can’t tell you the price because our registers are closed.”

Did I hear her correctly? She cannot check the price of a textbook that I wish to purchase online because the register is closed at 3:30 in the afternoon the second week of school? Does this woman take me for a fool?

Lo and behold, after calling nearly all the bookstores surrounding UNT, I found that their efforts to communicate effectively with me were nearly non-existent.

What has happened to the University of North Texas students that they have been subdued like dogs by the whims of these bookstores?

Not only must I often pay $100+ for a textbook, but now I must deal with businesses that have absolutely no regard towards me as a student or a consumer.

When did service and customer relationships get thrown out the window, and since when is it OK with students to be treated this way?

Much like a parasite, these bookstores benefit off a toxic relationship with us as their hosts. We need these bookstores to get through school and these bookstores know that. Unfortunately, when these lecherous entities realized they had to give nothing in order to take from us (and I mean this almost literally in respects to returning books), they seized the opportunity and we find ourselves with the dismal service that we have today.   

I tell you now, the reason for this disgusting state of mind is largely due to the students unwillingness to take action. The student body has a voice that is powerful enough to shake these vermin from their greed focused ideals and cause some change for the better for students in the Denton area. An unwillingness to communicate effectively with the student body is absolutely unacceptable, and it is up to us students to fix these injustices done unto us, or just like cancer, they will worsen and further inhibit our ability to succeed.