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Sony Games Your Rights Online

Sony To Delete Virtual Goods 171

Posted by Soulskill
from the satisfaction-is-not-guaranteed dept.
New submitter dommer2029 writes "A few years back, Sony bought up a small company running an online collectible card game called Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga. Two days ago, they announced that the servers will be shutting down on March 29, 2012. All of our virtual collectible cards? Poof. It's not surprising — the user base is small and dwindling — but it's proof that any server-based digital goods you 'own' can vanish on a corporation's whim."
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Sony To Delete Virtual Goods

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  • of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2012 @05:32PM (#39225451)

    Of course the user base for star chamber is dwindling. There hasn't been an expansion since 2007. Collectible games need expansions to survive. Otherwise people get bored and move on.

    Sony Online Entertainment. Where games go to die.

    • I was surprised to learn from TFA that EverQuest Online Adventures is still operating. They released that for the PS2 in 2003.

      • I know, I'm responding because I got the e-mail from SOE yesterday. As an aside, since EQOA predates PSN, payment and accounts are handled by SOE's PC gaming division. It's the only PS2 game that does that.

        It's also the oldest console MMORPG, pre-dating FFXI. They made the last month free, I suppose I could login again...I quit a looong time ago, because I didn't really have the time to devote to a game with a monthly fee. I got kicked out of a guild or two in 03 or 04 because I didn't play enough. I

        • by tepples (727027)
          Does EQOA predate Phantasy Star Online for Dreamcast and GameCube? I guess you're right that EQOA is the oldest console MMORPG still in operation.
          • PSO is not an MMORPG, but more akin to a Diablo clone, and in fact you can play the game offline as well. So yes, EQOA is both the first, and oldest console MMORPG.

            Now for first online action-rpg for console, that's where PSO takes the medal.

    • by iamhassi (659463)

      Of course the user base for star chamber is dwindling. There hasn't been an expansion since 2007. Collectible games need expansions to survive. Otherwise people get bored and move on.

      Sony Online Entertainment. Where games go to die.

      Doesn't have to be that way, has Sony even looked for a new buyer? Perhaps one of the players might even be interested in paying for the game and taking over, any alternative has got to be better than "Sony To Delete Virtual Goods".

      Obviously someone is concerned enough over this to have the story posted on /.

      This story concerns me because I still regularly play Supreme Commander which was released in 2007. [wikipedia.org] Fortunately it doesn't require an internet server to play, but what if it did, and they decide

      • Re:of course (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Saturday March 03, 2012 @04:34AM (#39229871) Journal

        Have you ever actually TRIED that? I have, I wanted to rescue some of the really funky ass old shareware titles that are damned near impossible to play on modern Windows and give them a new lease on life. i quickly found most of these companies expect something to the tune of 300%-3000% profits or they won't give you the time of day. I wish I had saved the emails so i could post 'em, one company wanted six figures for their "very valuable IP" when we are talking about something that wasn't even up to the level of "Codename:Tenka" but was one of those 50 bazillion Wolfenstein knockoff that came out back when that old thing was a hit and everyone tried to cash in.

        I bet if you were to contact Sony their asking price is right around what you would expect to pay for GTA 3 or NWN, not some nearly dead card trading game. never underestimate the incredible all consuming greed of these people. This is why I'm so against the extended copyrights we now have, thanks to the insatiable greed of the megacorps by the time most things do come out of copyright they won't exist and any source code will have been destroyed decades ago. Thanks to these greedy bastards the history of electronic gaming is gonna be more spotty and incomplete than the fossil record and that's just sad.

        • by ultranova (717540)

          by the time most things do come out of copyright

          Come out of copyright? Nothing has come out of copyright since Mickey Mouse was created; nothing ever will again.

          Luckily, in the age of Pirate Bay, that matters less than it used to; unfortunately, in the age of ubiquitous personal (super)computers, it matters a lot more than it used to.

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            The problem is without source code more and more of those games simply will have NO way to ever run, so many programs and games are quickly becoming unplayable. While DOSBox can save pre-Windows sadly it doesn't work worth a shit on Win9X era games and many of those are becoming completely unusable, programs too. You'd be surprised how many of the Win9X era games and programs simply won't run on modern hardware no matter what, they used hacks, made calls they shouldn't have, try getting something like Macro

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...when you take them from my cold, dead hands!

    • I put on my robe and wizard hat. And, play my Pickpocket Neopet +5 card.

    • ...when you take them from my cold, dead hands!

      technically they were never your Neopets. The Eula on typical online games state ownership of all virtual goods reside with the publishers. Thats how they can make things like gold farming illegal as technically you are selling someone elses 'property'.

  • SUCK FONY (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2012 @05:34PM (#39225479)

    I'm all for Sony bashing, but I also hate whiney nerds. So... fuck both of you

  • Yes, but... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Reasonable Facsimile (2478544) on Friday March 02, 2012 @05:35PM (#39225497)
    ... you'll be able to trade in the collectibles for rootkit'd CDs.
    • No no, you missed Sony's new product!

      Collectible Rootkit CD's! Each one will screw your computer in a brand new way! Collect them all! Get Malware Combos for even more fun!

  • Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday March 02, 2012 @05:37PM (#39225515) Homepage Journal

    At first glance I was going to say "after XCP, OtherOS, and leaving unencrypted CC info on an internet facing database, what did you expect?" but on re-reading TFS, the data being deleted wasn't collected by Sony.

    Maybe I should point out that "buying" data is stupid, you should buy media? Or that trusting ANY corporation to not be evil is stupid?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Big companies are too stupid to be evil. I used to work for Sun and I work for a large-ish one right now, and I can tell you the admin and marketing staff in them are sometimes borderline retarded. Just a few weeks ago, some marketing dumbass renamed our product from what it's always been (internally and to our clients) to a name that's not only incomprehensible, but doesn't say anything about what our product does. Trust me, they're not evil, just really fucking stupid.

      • by Phrogman (80473)

        Yeah, having worked near some marketing types and met others from other companies, I have to say they were mostly type-A personalities, and clueless as hell about anything. Obviously there must be good marketing people out there, someone creates the ads that are good enough to not get tiring quickly and generate a laugh or two, but the majority of people in marketing and sales seemed to me to be exactly the people I would not hire to do those functions.

      • by Nexzus (673421)

        If you didn't say a few weeks ago, I'd guess Opentext.

        "Yes, let's change the name of our flagship product that it's had for almost two decades."

      • But surely the new name is bold and fresh, ideally with some reference to clouds and crowd sourcing?

        Coming from the support/engineering side, I am both grateful to marketing people for their skills, and living in fear of their next "innovation". Marketing are just like everyone else, in that seemingly destructive acts are more likely to be the result of ineptitude than malice.

    • The problem is, for every one like you, there's some marketing/sales person who touts cloud computing as the second coming. People and companies don't think ahead. And even those that think ahead delude themselves that they can handle the risk if it comes - except years later, they have a different job/role in the company or have simply forgotten about it.

      It's good to repeat the message regularly.

  • by 0racle (667029) on Friday March 02, 2012 @05:38PM (#39225541)
    Virtual Collectable Cards. Did someone think the servers would be online forever so they could 'keep' these bits of data?
  • ...still trust gigabytes of data to corporate cloud storage like iCloud and Azure, even if they know the risks
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_storage [wikipedia.org]
    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      That's slightly different, in that the data would still have value if you pulled it out of the cloud. The challenge with a online game (collectibles or otherwise) is that they only have a relative value within a narrow system of the cloud. Without the game they have no value other than sentimental, which is of course important to some degree, but because you can duplicate the cards infinitely outside of the system they have no meaningful value otherwise.

    • by Ksevio (865461)
      And other morons will trust gigabytes of data on a single hard drive with no backups kept behind a dusty desk in their home...though I guess you could sell your dead hard drive for people to extract the trading cards off of if you really wanted.
      • by crutchy (1949900)
        cloud storage offers an excellent offsite backup solution, just not a good sole storage medium (talking about the "i don't need a hard disk at all any more" folk)

        i'll admit that much of my data isn't backed up off site, but my home onsite redundancy is a little bit more than for the average moron *looks over at 4x1TB RAID1 ReadyNAS*

        if my house burns down i'm as stuffed as the average moron, but surprisingly just thinking about it there isn't really that much that i would care to lose. i've suffered a
  • The Cloud (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blueforce (192332) <clannagael AT gmail DOT com> on Friday March 02, 2012 @05:46PM (#39225637) Homepage Journal
    Precisely why I don't trust Amazon's (or Apple's, or anyone else's) cloud to store books, music, movies, or other media that I purchase.
    • by TWX (665546)

      Worse than that, it's why I don't trust anyone to host anything for me that I don't also have a copy of and a way to use that copy.

      My wife wanted to get a subscription service for a Netflix-type movie service, given how much space 1600 titles take up with their packaging on our shelves. Thing is, they certainly don't have everything we have, and worse, if they choose to drop some titles or if their license ends, the titles are no longer available.

      I think that relying on others like that is not a good idea.

      • Re:The Cloud (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Rakishi (759894) on Friday March 02, 2012 @06:03PM (#39225821)

        if they choose to drop some titles or if their license ends, the titles are no longer available.

        So? How many titles do you watch more than once? How much did all those titles cost you? Is having to, gasp, find another source for an occasional title that is dropped seriously going to cost you more than buying all those titles to begin with? Do you really need to have access to 1600 titles at a second's notice?

        Sounds like you've got an irrational hatred of cloud services that is, ahem, clouding your rational judgement.

        • Re:The Cloud (Score:4, Interesting)

          by spire3661 (1038968) on Friday March 02, 2012 @06:29PM (#39226193) Journal
          The convergence of cheap hardware and cheap storage(thai floods or not, its still very cheap) means the barrier to entry for a PC jukebox is VERY low. I picked up a Lenovo dual core Athlon II desktop (with hardware virtualization, 500 GB HDD and 2 GB of ram new-in-box for $250). It now holds and serves about 350 movies in compressed HD format that i ripped from my DVD collection.

          It also connects to my HDHomerun PRIME cable tuners and records, compresses and serves HD Premium cable TV (ESPN, TNT etc ), in addition to serving up windows media center to my Xbox 360. It also serves those files to my family members in remote locations. We have all the Disney movies for all the kids in the family mirrored at each location for a total cost of $400 (desktop 'server' PC + Apple TV or ) per node. Do you see now why this could be compelling to have?
        • Sounds like you've got an irrational hatred of cloud services that is, ahem, clouding your rational judgement.

          I always find it funny how certain people say it's irrational to have different preferences than them.

        • by Hartree (191324)

          Sounds like you have an irrational thing for cloud services that is, ahem, clouding your rational judgement.

          Cloud services are good tools to use in the right situation, but they are limited in certain ways. Permanence of data is one of them. The idea of "the cloud" and its claimed reliability doesn't absolve the user of good data backup and control policies. As in all things, making sensible decisions about what systems you use is key regardless how much Amazon or whoever reassures you.

          That applies to busin

          • by Rakishi (759894)

            You seem confused. None of that matters to the discussion. Netflix is not a data storage service. It's not a cloud storage system for your digital good's. It's a service. As long as you pay you get access to whatever they happen to have. Nothing on Netflix is yours in any meaning of the word except maybe your ratings/comments. Nor are you forced to use only them. They're also incredibly inexpensive.

            Now Amazon or Itunes are a different type of beast but we're not talking about those.

            So as I already said, you

            • by 0123456 (636235)

              So as I already said, you do the math over what you value and then decide what you want prefer to buy (and what streaming is good enough for).

              I don't need to do any math, because they refuse to let me view their crap on my operating system.

            • by Hartree (191324)

              Yes, Rashiki, you're confusing me.

              You were the one who linked it to the cloud when you made your comment "irrational hatred of cloud services", not the original poster you were replying to.

              You make the comparison yourself and then criticise someone else for commenting on your comparison.

              Are you just tossing out arguments at random?

              • by Rakishi (759894)

                Sigh. Cloud means many things. Please stop buying into the market speak that there is this single entity or system or idea called "the cloud."

                Netflix is a cloud based service provider. They do not host data for you and the data is not yours. You rent access to their data.

                That is very different from Amazon or iTunes which also store similar data on the cloud. But they claim to "sell" this data to you and then simply host a copy for you (for easy access).

                That in turn is different from, say, DropBox who host d

        • No, it sounds like he has a well reasoned suspicion of cloud services, and you have an irrational need to be a douche who not only can recognize his very valid points, but wishes to try to deny they exist.

          Nice try douche.

        • So? How many titles do you watch more than once?

          If I liked it, all of them, except for the ones that that I haven't watched again yet, but guarantee you that I will.

      • by suutar (1860506)
        This would be kind of cool, but for the reasons you mention I'd still need to keep all the originals, and if I'm doing that anyway, why pay money to have someone stream them to me? *shrug*
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      I trust Steam with my games... at least, I trust them to keep the games around longer on average than I can be trusted to keep the discs operational. There are also an operating-system lifetime issues, too.

      It helps that Steam wrecking my games like this would totally demolish their primary business model (not so much with Sony).

    • Re:The Cloud (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday March 02, 2012 @06:10PM (#39225903)

      Different problem. Books, movies, etc. have value outside of the cloud service that's hosting them. This game has characters... I'm sorry.. cards, in it, that people have spent time/money to acquire, but they aren't anything outside of the game. I suppose you could print off a PDF of all of the cards in game, but you can't do anything with it.

      You can't just have a gnome deathknight that you refuse to store on WoW because you don't trust blizzard to not shut down the servers. The gnome deathknight doesn't exist without the servers, regardless of how much you did, or didn't pay for it (directly or indirectly), if you prefer a more F2P comparison, ships in Star Trek Online, or some of the tanks in World Tanks are examples of a this. You can get a statue made of your ship, tank, or gnome deathknight, but it's not a ship, tank or DK, it's just a statue of it. Without the world that makes it exist it isn't anything. An ebook is just another variant on book, book on papyrus, book on paper, book from printing press, book in german, book in english, book in electronic format, and without amazon you'd be locked out of the only format of that book you paid for, even though one of the other book formats would still have had value to you. A Magic The gathering card stored 'in the cloud' that you could access anywhere would still have play value if you could take it out of the cloud if the service was to shut down, as you could still play the game without the cloud storage. In this case the game is shutting down, and the data it has can't be 'pulled out' separately.

      Whether or not it's a good idea to pay for virtual cards vs physical ones is a whole other argument.

      A more interesting question is whether or not you are more likely to lose your own data (house fire, hard drive/raid failure etc.) than amazon is. For most people on /. the answer is a definitive no, since we are savvy enough to have various layers of storage for our stuff. But that isn't true of everyone. If all your data is on one computer with one hard drive and it gets stolen/fails/etc you're SOL.

      • I used to playing on MUDs. I never liked them more than my paper and dice based RPGs. I don't really understand this overemphasis on virtual property. I've played WoW and Magic online. I understand that one pays real money for virtual goods, but I prefer to think of it as paying to extend a gaming experience. None of these items have value to me outside of the context of the game. So, once the game is over, that's it. In Dungeons & Dragons (before all this computer gaming), I once had a +5 Holy Avenger

    • The trick is to use more than one cloud.

  • Nothing to see here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2012 @05:53PM (#39225719)

    I don't like Sony any more than most people here, but let's face it. Online game servers shutting down are bound to happen eventually. Accordingly, it's implied that purchases made in virtual worlds won't last beyond the life of the world itself. There's no need to spin this story into Sony taking candy from babies.

    • Accordingly, it's implied that purchases made in virtual worlds won't last beyond the life of the world itself. There's no need to spin this story into Sony taking candy from babies.

      Agreed. However:

      I've heard some talk of legislating that virtual goods earned and traded in games should be taxable. [wikipedia.org] This is not much of a story ATM, but it may become one if I've got to claim my virtual property on my taxes... How much do I get to claim as a loss when the game servers are shut down? Will the hosts be required to hold onto their server logs for 7 years in case the need arises to dispute a (fraudulent) virtual property assessment, audit, or to investigate (grand) theft v-goods?

      Meh, it'

  • How much does it cost to keep the servers running? Surely it can't be a lot if not many people use it and they don't update often.
    How many sales will Sony lose on other products now they have annoyed another few thousand users?

    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      The savings in electricity, rack space rental, physical maintenance and backup processes will more than cover any losses incurred by angering players of a game that hasn't updated in five years.
  • Email them (Score:5, Funny)

    by RichMan (8097) on Friday March 02, 2012 @06:06PM (#39225853)

    Sony should email people their virtual property.

    ---
    Please find attached your items.
    0x208910812
    0x291919111
    0x233311102

    • Since they only exist as database IDs, email the users the database IDs, and problem solved.

      -- Terry

    • Actually, if the game is of no value to Sony any more, they should sell the rights to someone who wants to keep running the game servers, even if that's players who just want to keep playing. In that sense, Crytek offering Community Dedicated Servers ( http://www.crydev.net/dm_eds/download_detail.php?id=5 [crydev.net] ) makes their game worth more, since people can keep playing as long as someone wants to host the server.

      • by kcbnac (854015)

        By selling it off, they're sending those customers elsewhere. Sony would rather close down that product entirely, forcing the customers to pick NEW things with "modern" profit margins.

  • Can we really call these virtual goods ? It's just a row in the game operator's database. The user didn't buy that data, they bought a license to access what it represents: some imaginary doodad with stats that is then used to play against other similar doodads.

    I suppose the 2-second fix to this would be: you want your "virtual goods" ? Here:

    SELECT * FROM CARDS WHERE USER='poindexter'

    And yes, fuck both parties.

  • 'Own'. That's an interesting choice of punctuation on TFA's part. It's like 'breathe'. Porous materials 'breathe', but that's only a semblance of breathing-- they don't respire. You might 'own' virtual goods, but that's only a semblance of actual ownership-- you've been granted a license to use those goods, not true ownership. Even TFA realizes that, else its writer wouldn't have bothered with scare quotes.
  • Why did you need proof of the perfectly self-evident?
  • [...] proof that any server-based digital goods you 'own' can vanish on a corporation's whim.

    It amazes me that anyone has ever thought otherwise.

    After 30 years of using computers and a CS degree, I can say one thing about any "pile of bits" on a computer: it doesn't really exist. Print your photos or use film. Keep your cd's and DVD's. Print out your important docs and put them in a lockbox.

    I can't wait to show my grandkids the Amiga floppies all my old school work is on...(which require an Amiga floppy drive, which is physically different from a PC floppy drive)

  • Sony is pulling a clever scheme that will instantly make every participant's collectible cards even more rare than any other card ever was in the whole game.

    Seth
  • I remain baffled at how companies like Wizards of the Coast think it's acceptable to charge as much for online versions of stuff as they do for the real items (example here is MTG cards). Why the fuck would I pay the same price for something you can take away at your whim for any reason (or no reason) at all?

    • by Guppy (12314)

      I remain baffled at how companies like Wizards of the Coast think it's acceptable to charge as much for online versions of stuff as they do for the real items (example here is MTG cards).

      WoTC attempted to answer this by allowing MTG:Online players to trade a completed set of online cards for their real physical equivalents (originally for no extra cost, although they have since started tacking on a redemption fee). So in theory you could arbitrage the real and virtual versions.

  • These people trusted themselves to a star chamber [wikipedia.org]. They should have known that it was going to turn bad.

    It's really true of just about anything based on the cloud system.

  • I think there are going to be a lot of kids that are butt hurt when they lose access to all their Xbox / PS3 DLC shortly after the next generation systems come out.
  • by odie5533 (989896) on Friday March 02, 2012 @07:56PM (#39227121)
    SOE previously shut down Lord of the Rings Online TCG and Stargate Online TCG, so this is not their first time pressing the big delete key on everyone's purchases.
  • by symbolset (646467) * on Friday March 02, 2012 @10:42PM (#39228633) Journal
    They'll still be there. They'll just be offline. Where they're safe.
  • I'd like to know who thinks these things will last forever. The crap on their own hard drives won't last forever, why would they expect crap on someone else's computer to be there? Why would anyone even pay money for virtual goods instead of real goods? They deserve to lose their virtual goods, to teach them lessons in life. Paying for nothingness is about as intelligent as selling your kidney for an iPad.
  • ... cough cough... Star Wars Galaxies..cough cough... I will hold a grudge forever against SOE because of the CU and NGE.

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