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Networking PC Games (Games) Games Your Rights Online

Game Publishers Using Stealth P2P Clients 149

An anonymous reader writes "TorrentFreak has shed some light on the dark practice of installing stealth-mode P2P clients during game downloads and using unsuspecting gamers' PCs as 'bandwidth slaves.' The clients operate in the background and largely go unnoticed until problems arise that are caused by overactive uploading/seeding. While the Akamai NetSession Interface and Pando Media Booster are specifically called out, there appear to be other offenders as indicated in the comments left by TorrentFreak readers. A publisher called Solid State Networks is putting out a call for an industry-wide 'best practices' effort to promote transparency, control and privacy on behalf of gamers who are otherwise being abused for their bandwidth without their consent."
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Game Publishers Using Stealth P2P Clients

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  • Re:Blizzard (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @06:19PM (#33470586) Homepage
    Blizzard doesn't really try to hide it.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday September 03, 2010 @06:21PM (#33470610)

    Data usage costs money. Anybody offering a server with "Unlimited" bandwidth on a web server is lying to you, and the more data transfer a plan allows, the more expensive the hosting gets. Exceed your transfer limit on a server, and expect to pay cell-phone like overage fees.

    Right now, this isn't a big deal because what they're stealing from their users doesn't cost the user extra right now... but imagine if the GB they stole from you is the one that puts you over a Comcast-style cap. That would suck big.

    The network operators have already been complaining about illegal torrents not just because they're illegal content sharing, but because having people uploading like crazy from the consumer side of their network just isn't what they designed it to handle. Now, what are they going to say when the content is legal, and the user got suckered into agreeing to allow it in a game's TOS?

  • Re:I can haz? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by negRo_slim ( 636783 ) <> on Friday September 03, 2010 @06:26PM (#33470668) Homepage

    Hai, I'm in your services stealing your bandwidths?

    Seems that if bandwidth is truly a priority you're likely on a capped plan and likely already have the tools [] or software [] to see what's using what.

  • by jmerlin ( 1010641 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @06:46PM (#33470802)
    Can't wait until we get court rulings against clickwrap agreements that are so overly-verbose that no sane person will read it. Companies are following Washington in "how to sneak in something you want" by simply cleverly hiding it in the middle of a massively huge document and hoping nobody notices and instead just clicks the "Agree" button, even though it should really read "OK OK FINE. I'LL CLICK THIS DAMN BUTTON BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO READ 100 PAGES OF POORLY CRAFTED LEGALESE."
  • Fun stuff? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mashiki ( 184564 ) < minus caffeine> on Friday September 03, 2010 @06:46PM (#33470804) Homepage

    Okay sure. Well how about most places where you're on a capped bandwidth limit? Wonder what would happen if people started sending bills to the company who's sucking up all their bandwidth. It's sure not exactly cheap, some places have no cap on the amount they can charge you, and others cap at a max of $50/mo.

    And no, ELUA's, walls of text, and so on are not binding everywhere. And where they are binding, many places require them to be plain declarations of intent(so people can understand them).

  • Re:Turbine. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @07:34PM (#33471114)

    I called them out for it and it fell on deaf ears.
    They are using Pando Media Booster...

    Except, as mentioned above, they seem to be fairly open about using a P2P download system and it's easy to uninstall afterwards.

    It's some time since I installed DDO and LOTRO but from what I remember it told you to uninstall Pando after downloading the game if you didn't want it to continue using bandwidth, and it's just a matter of using the standard uninstall from the control panel.

  • Theft of service (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @07:43PM (#33471162) Homepage Journal

    If *I* did that id be in jail. Why aren't they?

  • Re:Blizzard (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @07:55PM (#33471292)
    You have to agree to use the peer to peer thing with WoW. I don't like WoW but played it for about a month, and remember specifically the P2P warning. I think it's a great idea as long as the user knows about it. The one thing none of them have come up with is to have the client CHECK THE LAN! I have a whole family that plays and it's ridiculous to have to patch the same same game on 4 different computers at once. I should be able to have 1 patch and the others transfer the same files over the lan. Instead I have to patch 1 client and then use backup software to write to the other computers.
  • Re:Not very stealthy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by illumin8 ( 148082 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @08:48PM (#33471640) Journal

    I reinstalled Dungeons and Dragons Online recently. The installer uses Pando. However, it wasn't very sneaky about it. It was in the install at some point.

    The problem is that Turbine, makers of DDO and Lord of the Rings Online, is installing what is essentially the equivalent of adware or spyware without the user's permission. You have to manually uninstall it afterwards, and you are not given a choice whether or not to install it. Would you accept it if a game publisher installed adware toolbars into your browser without your permission?

    This automatically puts Turbine on my shit list. I thought they were pretty cool for releasing DDO as a free to play game, but then when I found they installed Pando Media Booster, I uninstalled both Pando and DDO. You don't get to treat your customers like shit and expect us not to uninstall your software and send it to the /dev/null where it belongs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 03, 2010 @09:21PM (#33471874)

    For people who use a school network that permanently bans p2p users, yes.

  • Re:Blizzard (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 03, 2010 @11:08PM (#33472436)

    Man, how protective we have become (can't exactly blame you because anonymity ain't what it used to be.) Just today someone posted AC because some Dell supervisor or legal team once replied to his non-AC for revealing priviledged info (no details on whether it was NDA, but it had to do with slacking off and outsourcing.)

    A different slashdotter (0123456) refused to name his laptop brand [] on some useful non-purchase advice he gave us --though in this particular case no liability exists for the casual/uninvolved advise given.

    Holding our free speech will be much worse when we're all forced to take the RealID "pill." It's coming sooner or later, (several countries followed India's lead forcing RIM to submit to wire-tapping laws.) At least it's good practice to not say much. I bet you live in the US and are afraid of the lawyers :)

    --vlueboy, AC due to spent modpoints

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 04, 2010 @12:31AM (#33472738)

    Over here (Australia), we have metered bandwidth. Back in the day, it used to be metered downloads, and if you went over your limit, you were charged high overage fees. Dollars per megabyte. That was common... 8 years ago?

    Until recently, most ISPs used metered downloads, with shaping instead of overage fees (stupidly labelled as "unlimited" by marketing departments, despite being nothing of the sort). Generally, you go over your quota, and your connection speed is reduced to approximately dial-up speeds.

    Shaping really sucks - going from ~8Mbit/s to ~64Kbit/s is ridiculous, especially considering they usually implement shaping by simply dropping packets. It doesn't just slow things down - it makes it unreliable as well. It basically leaves you with an unusable internet connection for the remainder of the billing period.

    There's no provision for adding more quota either. You could upgrade to the next highest plan (if you aren't on the maximum already - the highest most ISPs offered was around 100GB/month until the last month or so). Assuming they don't adjust the extra quota depending on the remaining time in the billing period. Mine does - if I upgraded to a plan with an additional 10GB/month, but only had 1 week remaining, I'd only get 2.5GB extra. I'd then be stuck on that plan, unless I wanted to pay a $20 downgrade fee.

    The two largest ISPs also have metered uploads, and have done for years. The third largest ISP is introducing them as part of their recent plan upgrades. I expect others to follow, if they haven't already.

  • Re:Blizzard (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 04, 2010 @04:43AM (#33473560)

    You'll be happy to know Cataclysm will break this as the new launcher does not download and apply patches but instead downloads directly into final positions in the mpq files.

    Probably have to transfer the whole client over from another computer instead.

  • Re:Not very stealthy (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 04, 2010 @07:29AM (#33474054)

    Preying on computer illiterate people to accidentally install your crapware doesn't count as polite in my book. I'm not worried about having to uninstall it from my machines (not a Windows person), but I'm very worried when mom and dad call me with the dreaded "something is wrong with our computer".

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_