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Lumberyard photo
Lumberyard

Amazon's new game engine has a 'zombie clause'


Finally, some Legal Fun
Feb 09
// Mike Cosimano
Normally, the Amazon Web Services Terms of Service is an interminable slog of legalese and jargon, a veritable Dagobah-esque mire only decipherable by super ambitious law-school kids. And with the addition of Amazon's new Lum...
Gigantic photo
Gigantic

Gigantic developer Motiga announces layoffs


The game is still in closed beta
Feb 09
// Mike Cosimano
Just over two months after its most recent layoff announcement, Gigantic developer Motiga has announced another round of redundancies. Motiga CEO Chris Chung made the announcement on the site's official blog earlier toda...

Inside the incredibly shady world of selling stolen PSN accounts

Jan 26 // Mike Cosimano
Earlier this month, Destructoid received a tip from a source [who we will refer to as 'Tim'] claiming they had unknowingly purchased a stolen PlayStation Network account via G2A.com. For those unaware, G2A is a Hong Kong-based site that primarily sells third-party keys and even accounts. (Some of you may remember G2A from this story about stolen Far Cry 4 keys.) Although G2A is itself a third-party seller, it also acts as a platform for individual sellers and buyers to conduct transactions. One such transaction resulted in the sale of an account belonging to a man [who we will refer to as 'Eric']. When an account sale is on the up-and-up, the account will be nigh-barren, apart from the advertised game. There's some mojo you can perform that will allow you to play this game on your console via your main account (which I won't recount here, because it kinda makes sense and I don't want any of you thinking this is a good idea). Of course, there are examples of people just selling their stacked account in the hopes of making some extra cash; buy a bunch of popular games on sale, flip the account for more than the games are worth. Or, hey, you've just sold your PS4 in a fit of rage, why not sell that account full of platinum Trophies too while you're at it? There are too many hypotheticals in play. When you buy an account, there's a 50% chance you've just committed a crime. Unless you sign in and find a bunch of credit cards and a still-active PlayStation Plus membership. This was Tim's red flag, and he immediately contacted the seller (who refunded the transaction without a word) and Eric, who took back control of his account. "I got this account, expecting some garbled random email address and password, but the email address was just some dude's name. I kind of raised an eyebrow at that, but thinking the email address might belong to the person who bought the code to sell, I tried it out, and... it was genuinely just some guy's account," Tim said in an email to Destructoid. This is exactly what happened to me. I wanted to get a feel for the account-buying process, so I went looking for popular big-budget video games (reasoning that more people would be selling those as opposed to an account made specifically for Race the Sun or whatever) before eventually settling on a listing for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I received an account that was as generic as they come. No name, no credit cards, no friends, no Trophies...and a copy of Ground Zeroes. Initially, I thought I had found a legit seller that had just made a mistake. That was ostensibly the end of my little experiment, so I went to the seller looking to get a refund. The seller was very insistent that I take a new key instead...which eschewed the generic email and password for a significantly less generic one. Again, much like Tim, I raised an eyebrow at this. But I logged in anyway, reasoning that I would either return the account and save a person from identity theft -- or, if this was an honest transaction, end up with an account that I could just gift to a friend. This account was very much someone else's, which is where the "light theft" part comes in. Nate Martin (his real name!) is the CEO of Puzzle Break, an Escape the Room venue located in Seattle. I know his address and the last four digits of two of his credit cards, thanks to the purchase I made through G2A. Again, luckily for Nate, I had zero intent of holding onto another person's account, so that information remains safe with me. But there's no telling what could've happened if Nate's account ended up in the wrong hands. And he has zero idea how his password ended up in my hands. "I couldn't begin to guess how it happened. I'm guessing it was that mass hack a while back I vaguely remember hearing about. No other accounts of mine (that I'm aware of) seem to be compromised," Nate told us. "I have not much in the way of free time. I'm not super interested in throwing myself against a byzantine [interactive voice response; the telephone robots that ask you if you meant 'billing' when you said 'operator'] that I'm sure Sony has in exchange for a gift card." Eric, the man whose account sparked this whole investigation, said it took "over an hour" to prove his identity to Sony. "I would say Friday I went to my PS4 and was unable to do anything with the system. About two minutes after that, I received three emails from Sony stating that my PayPal had been removed and my passwords had changed, along with my first and last name being changed as well." Sony did not respond to request for comment. It appears the modus operandi changes between scammers. According to Nate, the hacker didn't change his password. I was going to make sure the account belonged to him before I gave him what I assumed was a new password set by the seller, but it turns out Nate knew it off the top of his head. So how does the law work in this particular case? For the purposes of this article, we'll be working with California penal codes -- code 496 in particular. Obviously, a person who knowingly receives stolen property (with the intent of withholding it from the owner), will be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor. In the case of both Tim and myself, returning the account means we're off the hook, and the person who stole the account in the hopes of selling it is definitely 100% a criminal. I was curious if PSN accounts having no basis in the physical world meant something regarding the legality of this transaction. For this story, I talked to New York City-based lawyer Harvey Lippman about selling accounts that don't belong to you, on the off chance there was some crazy loophole that made all of this legal. According to Harvey, that is absolutely not the case. "From what I've read, a lot of this stuff is evolving. There are some newer laws being written," Harvey said in a phone interview. From a lawyer's perspective, he likened it to the theft of a movie ticket. "You don't own the film, but that ticket gives you the right to watch it." That license constitutes "property," and is thus subject to stolen property laws. The next question we have to ask is the placement of G2A in this whole situation. Unless G2A knew for sure that something was up, Harvey says the site is not liable. "Absent some kind of negligence of knowledge, the site is not liable -- unless there is a statute saying they have a duty."  Well, the site's Terms of Service states that "G2A.COM is neither a party to the agreement between the User and the Seller, nor between the Selling User and the User, nor between Sellers -- it merely provides specific assistance and administration services to the Sellers and the Users." The site claims it is the thirdest of parties, but let's dig into that claim a little bit. Going back to penal code 496, in the case of "every swap meet vendor and every person whose principal business is dealing in, or collecting, merchandise or personal property, and every agent, employee, or representative of that person," third-party sellers have a duty to make sure the product is not stolen. So, in this particular case, based on G2A's Terms of Service, the site defines the seller as a second third-party; G2A is more like the person who owns the parking lot where the illegal swap meet happened. As if that wasn't enough, the site that sold me the stolen account also claims to be a third-party, having purchased the code from a seller on Taobao -- a Chinese e-commerce site owned by Alibaba. Yes, that Alibaba. Last we saw, the company was working on a credit system with the Chinese government. Somebody buy me a corkboard, some red yarn, and some thumbtacks. According to a source inside G2A, the company is currently investigating both my case and Tim's. "Sellers of PSN accounts (or any other digital product present on our marketplace) are under supervision of our Customer Experience specialists. Our specialists react every time when there is even a shadow of doubt as to any credibility and trustworthiness. In such cases of an invalid product, sellers are banned and the customers refunded promptly," our source said in an email to Destructoid. Researching this story was like trying to escape from Alcatraz with only a nail file. The deeper I got, the more I hoped to find some measure of closure -- a feeling that never came. I only had to stop reporting on this because at some point, you just have to publish what you've got. We're still waiting on emails from G2A, the organization that sold me the stolen account, and (hopefully) Sony. Taobao was a dead end, because I don't speak a lick of Chinese, and even then I doubt the seller in question would confess to a reporter. At best, I would get another deflection. I can't promise you an ending, at least one that provides a sense of finality. I don't know who stole either account, and nobody's owning up to the deed. All I can tell you is that I've left this experience less trusting of my fellow man. Keep your information safe, gang.
True Crime photo
Lawyers have already been contacted
When I start looking into a story that I know will go much longer than my average Destructoid news post, I like to get as hands-on as possible. I don't just want to read a bunch of other articles about the subject in question...

We investigated Riot Games' new owner and its Chinese social credit system

Jan 05 // Mike Cosimano
[embed]330544:61689:0[/embed] Before we can break down the impact that Sesame Credit could have on Riot Games (and I believe such an impact is plausible), we have to come to an understanding regarding the system. According to Extra Credits: "The owners of China's biggest social networks have partnered with the government to create something akin to the US credit score. They dredge data from your social networks, so post something about the recent stock market crash and your score goes down. Post something from the state-sponsored news agency about how good the economy's doing, and your score goes up. But Alibaba and Tencent are also the largest retailers in China, so Sesame Credit is also able to pull data from your purchases." There are benefits for high scores, and the possibility of consequences for low-scoring citizens -- as is the case with the American credit score. The system also notifies you of social media friends with low scores, and will lower your own score just for associating. Extra Credits paints a bleak, dystopian picture -- but Destructoid user Nonymous believes it's not quite as bad as some think. We can look at a comment like this, deflating fears about the Chinese government, and assume we have a propaganda official in the mix, but I'm going with the simplest explanation on this one -- people from China definitely visit this site, and comment sections are 50% corrections anyway. Nonymous claims Tencent and Alibaba are just one of eight companies working on credit systems at the behest of the government in the hopes of cleaning up China's banking system. "Alibaba created Sesame Credit, and while it does factor in purchases, it's explicitly stated to not factor in Social Media or who your friends are. It does factor in things like professional conduct, or crimes, or fiscal responsibility," our mystery Dtoider said. "Tencent's system, conversely, is just plain evil, as it does factor in social media. Judging by the wealth of news articles about Alibaba's system in favor of Tencent's systems, nobody appears to be using Tencent's system. This is good, because their system is quite literally the devil, and I don't think that it'll be chosen." That last sentence is particularly interesting, because it not only implies China might avoid Tencent's system altogether, but also that six other companies are in the mix as well -- possibly working on systems that score citizens exclusively on monetary factors. [Image Credit: Rico Shen] Nonymous' comment is supplemented by this article from Tech in Asia, and even adds a new wrinkle entirely. The site makes no mention of eight separate companies, but does draw a distinction between Tencent and Alibaba, and throws a third hat in the ring: China itself. According to Tech in Asia editor Charlie Custer, the oft-mentioned government-mandated credit system, set to be implemented in 2020, is developed by the government itself. Tech in Asia, along with Wired, cite a document mirrored on a WordPress blog published by Oxford scholar Rogier Creemers. We've been unable to verify the document's veracity, and are currently waiting on comment from Creemers. Chinese newspaper Caixin, conversely, verifies the "eight companies" idea, but makes no mention of a government-mandated score. This is where Tencent comes in. Everything I've been able to find on Tencent's credit system (including Nonymous' comment) indicates that Tencent is the one people should be worried about. "Alibaba's rating is more based on people's online shopping behavior while Tencent's based on social networks. It is likely that the two will come up with different ratings for the same person," analyst Wang Weidong said in a comment to China Daily. "The credit rating service can help Tencent leverage its massive social networking data, commercialize it, and eventually boost its income." So, based on every article I've read, and the information collated above, here's what I feel comfortable believing: Tencent is making a social credit system, but one that is entirely separate from Alibaba's (aka Sesame Credit); Sesame Credit factors social elements, but is primarily financial in nature, and Tencent's credit rating is based on the "quality" of citizens' social networks. My next port of call for this story wasn't a news article, but a personal friend, who I will refer to as "Jay." She's from China, and is certainly familiar with Tencent's products, especially messenger app WeChat. "I barely send text messages in China because a lot of people use WeChat to contact each other," Jay said in an interview. WeChat also has traditional social hooks similar to Facebook or Twitter, where users can update their status -- another social credit variable. Jay is skeptical about Tencent's ability to track financial information. Tencent has an enormous amount of users who use the company's online payment system, but the purchases made through that system don't account for much of the average citizen's spending habits. However, that could easily change. Tencent recently implemented an Apple Pay-esque feature for WeChat, where users can use funds in their WeChat wallet to pay their bill in physical stores like Carrefour -- one of the largest retail chains in the world. Not to force video games into this wide-reaching discussion, but should Tencent's system defy expectations and take off, this could have negative repercussions for League of Legends. Alibaba's rival credit system labels people who play video games for ten hours or more as "idle," while Tencent owns one of the most popular free-to-play games in the world. Under Tencent's system, would citizens be thus incentivized to make frequent LoL purchases, since they are technically supporting a Chinese business? Or would Tencent be forced to disown its recent acquisition in favor of making its system appear more productive, edging out the competition? I am not a Chinese citizen. Unless something drastic changes in the immediate future, I likely never will be. As a result, there will always be holes in my understanding of this story, but I hope I've put together a fairly comprehensive look at the controversy surrounding the folks who now own a massively influential company and its iconic product. If you have any questions, corrections, or first-hand experience, my door is always open.
Riot Games photo
Is it as evil as people say?
When I originally reported on Chinese holding company Tencent's purchase of League of Legends developer Riot Games, I let you all down. I spent time looking into Tencent's numerous endeavors, but it appears I only s...


GOTY 2015 photo
GOTY 2015

Mike Cosimano's personal picks for Game of the Year 2015


The People's Choice(es)
Jan 04
// Mike Cosimano
2015 was a divisive year -- tremendous in terms of media (TV like Master of None and The 100; movies like Spotlight and The Force Awakens; games like...well, keep reading) and a garbage year in terms of my life. Entertai...
amiibo photo
amiibo

Update: The Shovel Knight amiibo was available for pre-order at Amazon


Can you dig it?
Dec 30
// Mike Cosimano
[Update: All gone! We'll keep you appraised if Shovel Knight returns to Amazon or Best Buy.] Recently, I purchased a Silver Mario amiibo just because I wanted to say that I had completed Wave 3. Help me. Anyway, the Shovel Kn...
Descent photo
Descent

GOG removes the first two Descent games due to licensing issues


They're still on Steam, though
Dec 30
// Mike Cosimano
GOG.com (née Good Old Games) has removed the Descent games from sale after developer Parallax Software terminated its contract with publisher Interplay over unpaid royalties. According to a post on GOG's forums from de...
Halo: Reach photo
Halo: Reach

Halo Reach on Xbox One has a crummy framerate


Halo on Xbox One is 1 for 3
Dec 29
// Mike Cosimano
When Halo: Reach was added to the Xbox One backward compatibility list, I was mondo excited. Reach is easily my favorite Halo game, with a campaign that eschewed complex mythology in favor of atmosphere and more accessib...
Indivisible photo
Indivisible

Indivisible hits another stretch goal, aims for full VO and multiple endings


The slacker backer campaign rolls on
Dec 26
// Mike Cosimano
Even though Indivisible hit its funding goal earlier this month, developer/publisher team Lab Zero and 505 Games continue to seek additional funding through a "slacker backer" campaign, also conducted via the game's exis...
Steam photo
Steam

(Updates) PSA: Steam is giving people access to random accounts, don't log in


Do NOT visit the Steam Store
Dec 25
// Mike Cosimano
[Update 2: We've received comment from a Valve representative, who confirms that a caching bug was responsible for the leak. According to Valve, only cached information was viewable, and no "unauthorized actions" were perform...
PSN Flash Sale photo
PSN Flash Sale

The PSN Holiday Flash Sale has some fine deals


The Ghost of Deals Present
Dec 25
// Mike Cosimano
It's finally Christmas here in the United States; a country known for big ol' prisons and giving video game consoles as Christmas gifts. Unless something drastic has changed in the past year, the post-dinner console unboxing ...
Telltale Games photo
Telltale Games

Telltale plans to implement cloud saving


Add yet another account to the list
Dec 22
// Mike Cosimano
Telltale Games rep Job Stauffer recently confirmed that cross-platform saving, most recently seen in Minecraft: Story Mode, is something the company plans to implement going forward. The feature is exclusive to Telltale Games...
Nintendo photo
Nintendo

Nintendo wins Mii-related lawsuit


Pictured: Nintendo's legal counsel
Dec 22
// Mike Cosimano
Over the years, many people have sued Nintendo for a whole host of reasons. They've been sued over the Wii's motion technology (and won the same case again in appeals court), the clocks in the DSi and 3DS, the Wii's...
Monolith Productions photo
Monolith Productions

Monolith organizes medical fundraiser for producer


It runs on Tuesday
Dec 20
// Mike Cosimano
Back in May, Monolith Productions executive producer Michael Forgey was diagnosed with a "highly aggressive" form of glioblastoma (brain cancer). His friends at Monolith are doing the best they can to ease the burden of ...
HTC Vive photo
HTC Vive

The HTC Vive has been improved, details at CES


They've apparently made a 'breakthrough'
Dec 20
// Mike Cosimano
Recently, Engadget published a report from an HTC Vive-centric developer forum in China that claims HTC has made a "very big technological breakthrough" on its Steam VR-powered virtual reality headset. Originally, the headset...
Star Wars photo
Star Wars

PSA: Watch out for Star Wars spoilers on Xbox Live and Battlefront


Subverting spoilerphobic safeguards
Dec 19
// Mike Cosimano
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has officially hit theaters, which means everyone who cares a modicum about popular culture is booking to the theaters to experience this sweeping cultural moment before some jerk spoils the ...
Black Ops III photo
Black Ops III

Black Ops III multiplayer is free this weekend


May the Scorestreaks be with you
Dec 19
// Mike Cosimano
Once you're done with your obligatory two Star Wars viewings this weekend (one to get it in before the spoilers hit, and another to make sure it was really that good), maybe you should fire up your PC and play some ...
Threes photo
Threes

Mobile puzzler Threes playable online for free


They're actually giving it away!
Dec 18
// Mike Cosimano
Boy, do I love Threes. It's a charming puzzle game; a sublime blend of simplicity and polish. It's won many awards, including a 'Best of 2014' from Apple itself. Unfortunately, developers Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend ...
Riot Games photo
Riot Games

League dev Riot Games purchased by Chinese company


Yeah, that sounds about right
Dec 18
// Mike Cosimano
Recently, League of Legends developers Riot Games inadvertently announced the acquisition of Riot by Chinese holdings company Tencent Holdings Ltd in a blog post regarding changes to the company's compensation policy. "O...
Indivisible photo
Indivisible

Lab Zero's Indivisible hits funding goal


I have just lost several bets
Dec 02
// Mike Cosimano
Indivisible, an action RPG from the minds behind Skullgirls, was just funded through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. The drive hit its $1.5 million goal after receiving a 20-day extension from Indiegogo administrators wit...
Danganronpa photo
Danganronpa

Danganronpa 3 is an anime, new Danganronpa game also coming


Danganronpa V3: The Phantom Pain
Dec 02
// Mike Cosimano
Two new Danganronpa projects have just been announced and I have no idea how I feel about either of them. For one, Danganronpa 3 is actually not a video game. It's an anime, subtitled The End of Hope's Peak, and wil...
PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

Research group says millennials prefer PlayStation


Especially on Black Friday
Nov 30
// Mike Cosimano
Shopping research group InfoScout has published its post-Black Friday findings as they relate to video game consoles. As you can see in the chart below, 40% of participating millennials (defined as ages 18-35) buy PlayStation...
Star Wars Battlefront photo
Star Wars Battlefront

Breaking Benjamin frontman hates Star Wars Battlefront


He seems like a reasonable man
Nov 30
// Mike Cosimano
Within the first thirty seconds of the video linked below, Breaking Benjamin founder Benjamin Burnley admits to punching his Xbox One to the point where there is damage visible on the console. This comes on the heels of a muc...
Famicom photo
Famicom

Chiptune musicians release album on Famicom


The plan: release music on cartridges
Nov 29
// Mike Cosimano
We've seen new releases for the Sega Dreamcast come to fruition in the past few years, but a brand new Famicom cartridge is an even more potent throwback. 8-Bit Music Power is a chiptune music compilation from Japanese artist...
amiibo photo
amiibo

PSA: Ike and other rare amiibo are back at GameStop


It's a Black Friday miracle!
Nov 27
// Mike Cosimano
GameStop has made good on its advertised Black Friday amiibo restock. Not only are stores packed with the promised Ike amiibo, but you can also find the other restocked figures through its website. As of writing, the reissued...
Kentucky Route Zero photo
Kentucky Route Zero

Kentucky Route Zero Act 4 is 'almost done'


It's (not) too late to love you now
Nov 25
// Mike Cosimano
Hey, quick question. Do you pronounce the word 'route' as "R-out" or "root"? I'm in the latter camp, myself. Anyway, independent developers Cardboard Computer released another 140-character progress update on the much-an...
PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

Sony claims PS4 sold around 30 million units


Pictured: the future of PS VR
Nov 25
// Mike Cosimano
According to a press release from Sony, the PlayStation 4 has sold through (read: units actually sold to people, not units shipped to stores) 30.2 million units as of November 22. That's a considerable amount of consoles; for...
Walmart Black Friday photo
Walmart Black Friday

Walmart Black Friday deals include amiibo, $250 Wii U, $299 PS4, and more


Get ready to stand on the edge
Nov 11
// Mike Cosimano
Best Black Friday, one of the many sites dedicated to collating deals available during the ebony-black altar of consumerism and bloodlust known as Black Friday, has published an early version of Walmart's ad, detailing its en...
Fallout 4 photo
Fallout 4

Steam analyst claims 1.2 million people owned Fallout 4 at launch


No info on actual launch sales
Nov 11
// Mike Cosimano
Sergey Galyonkin, the man behind Steam analytics site SteamSpy, recently published some initial thoughts on Fallout 4's PC launch via Twitter. Galyonkin acknowledged the unreliability inherent to the way the site pulls in dat...
Minecraft Wii U photo
Minecraft Wii U

PEGI site lists Minecraft for Wii U


Super Enderman Maker
Nov 11
// Mike Cosimano
PEGI, also known as the Pan European Game Information (the video games rating board for most PAL territories), may have leaked a Minecraft port for the Wii U via its official website, apparently set for release tomorrow, Nove...

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