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R-F
11-09-2012, 04:35 PM
Linky to the Reddit post (http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/zph9s/activision_blizzard_secretly_watermarking_world/)

Quoted for those that don't want to go off site:-

A few days ago I noticed some weird artifacts covering the screenshots I captured using the WoW game client application. I sharpened the images and found a repeating pattern secretly embedded inside (http://i.imgur.com/ZK5l1.jpg). I posted this information on the OwnedCore forum (http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/world-of-warcraft/world-of-warcraft-general/375573-looking-inside-your-screenshots.html) and after an amazing 3 day cooperation marathon, we managed to prove that all our WoW screenshots, since at least 2008, contain a custom watermark inside. This watermark includes our userIDs, the time the screenshot was captured and the IP address of the server we were on at the time. It can be used to track down activities which are against Blizzard's Terms of Service, like hacking the game or running a private server. The users were never notified by the ToS (as they should) that this watermarking was going on so, for four years now, we have all been publicly sharing our account and realm information for hackers to decode and exploit. You can find more information on how to access the watermark in the aforementioned forum post which is still quite active.

Wow.

Just....

Wow.

DaftPunk
11-09-2012, 04:44 PM
Haha this is madness :D

Battle Programmer Spike
11-09-2012, 04:49 PM
Quick! someone get Nalano screenies and hack his account!

Jesus_Phish
11-09-2012, 04:50 PM
Linky to the Reddit post (http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/zph9s/activision_blizzard_secretly_watermarking_world/)

Quoted for those that don't want to go off site:-


Wow.

Just....

Wow.

I'm not bothered reading through all of Reddit for this, but why is this an issue? How does it effect me?

If all the watermark contains is character name/account name/server ip/date taken, why does that matter? Or are we meant to get up in arms that they're doing something they didn't tell us about? *gets pitchfork ready*

SirKicksalot
11-09-2012, 04:51 PM
Awesome and harmless.

Smashbox
11-09-2012, 04:52 PM
Do you ever make non-outraged posts?

Alex Bakke
11-09-2012, 04:54 PM
Straight from Reddit:

"You have time, date, account name, and server IP. It doesn't even include the client IP. The only identifying information is the account name, which can only really be used to prove that two screenshots are from the same user. It doesn't give the user's name, IP, or any other personally identifying information.

All the information is basically only relevant for two possible purposes: Identifying users who violate the NDA of betas, and identifying the IP address of private servers. Even if an external group decodes this information, what can they use it for? They can't use it to steal accounts. They can't use it to sell gold. And the data is only shared if you yourself post screenshots. And you can disable it by using TGA screenshots."

Jesus_Phish
11-09-2012, 04:58 PM
Straight from Reddit:

"You have time, date, account name, and server IP. It doesn't even include the client IP. The only identifying information is the account name, which can only really be used to prove that two screenshots are from the same user. It doesn't give the user's name, IP, or any other personally identifying information.

All the information is basically only relevant for two possible purposes: Identifying users who violate the NDA of betas, and identifying the IP address of private servers. Even if an external group decodes this information, what can they use it for? They can't use it to steal accounts. They can't use it to sell gold. And the data is only shared if you yourself post screenshots. And you can disable it by using TGA screenshots."

But what if leet hackers hack into my computer at home and locate my WoW folder and find the screen shot folder and decode my screen shots and get my account name!!! They, they might try sell me gold or message me in game or.. or steal my account!!

gundato
11-09-2012, 05:21 PM
Ha ha, this is funny.

I wonder how many people have actually gotten nailed by this though. It is a good trick either way.

Kaira-
11-09-2012, 05:24 PM
Reddit spilling beans over absolutely nothing? Who would've thought.

Rauten
11-09-2012, 05:29 PM
And suddenly a lot of WoW screenshots started returning 404s.

Personally more than "amagad dey r gunna hax mah account", what bothers me is that this isn't in the ToS when it should. I don't give a rat's ass if they got that info into screenshots, it could help a lot finding griefers, exploiters, etc etc etc, but still.

NathanH
11-09-2012, 05:38 PM
It is a bit rude on Blizzard's part, it has to be said.

Nalano
11-09-2012, 05:40 PM
Quick! someone get Nalano screenies and hack his account!

My long-since inactive account?

Dude. If you re-up my account, I can actually see all the things I'm getting posthumously reported for. You'd be doing me a favor!

But srsly, this is for post-WotLK screenies. I quit during WotLK.

Berzee
11-09-2012, 05:48 PM
PrtSc -- alt-tabbing and pasting into a graphics program and saving manually is a small price to pay for SECURITY

gundato
11-09-2012, 05:50 PM
Why should they have to add this to their TOS? And what is rude about it.

Screenshots contain usernames more often than not. This is just putting the same info in, but not plastering it in front of your eyes.

Reminds me of the people who got nailed for illegally being in a beta a while back. I forget what game (probably BF3?) and they blocked out their name on the chat box. But the problem was that they didn't remember to block out their name in the kill reports. So every time they got a kill, their name would be listed in the log.
Anyone remember which game that was? I want to say BF3 by virtue of me caring about that shooter, but it doesn't sound right.

r3dknight
11-09-2012, 06:06 PM
I'm amazed people are brushing this off easily like a mere 'oh that's neat lolz, big storm in teacup'
What's happening is that blizzard is tracing players and expose their private info without them being aware of it.

Username - there are some people who would black out their name when posting screenshot.
IP - Now why would I wanna share this to the ppl?
Server - Some people may not wanna give away that information.

This is just like what's happening to Bioware games online stuff. They talk about the sharing of information - your accomplishments in game posted instantly to the Bioware social network for people to see - that's the sunny part of the deal, the darker part is that you're being data-mined by EA when playing a single player game without knowing it.

The decisions you made in game, the armour you wear, the weapons you wield. Stuff like that.

Read it here:
http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/ea-no-more-single-player-games-on-playstation-4-xbox-720/


Fans of Electronic Arts single player games of the past five years don’t have much to look forward to on those platforms though. If anyone is waiting for the return of creative visions like the original Dead Space, DICE’s Mirror’s Edge, or classic BioWare efforts like Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins, Gibeau’s got bad news: EA is done with single player-focused games.

“I have not green lit one game to be developed as a single player experience. Today, all of our games include online applications and digital services that make them live 24/7/365.”

One ex-dev from Bioware puts it this way:

It's the mandatory (unless you know where to find the cunningly hidden privacy features) epeen waving that bugs me - the datamining and broadcasting on a web site of every single thing you do in the game. I knew the guy who programmed DAO's datamining systems, so I know just how deep that rabbit hole can go (for example, they didn't just measure which decision you made at a given conversation node, they could measure how long you idled on choices before making a decision).

So while you're making Leliana ride your greatsword of virility +12, Bioware is taking notes. How early do you do this. How long do you ponder. How many holes did your badass Grey Warden jammed in his quest to save Ferelden? Was he gay? Or is he straight? Or both? Did he give a pair of dirty pantaloons to Morrigan and get her into the tent?

Do you really want Chris Priestly to know those information?
Who's Chris Priestly, you ask?

Why, here is the fine gentleman:
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/829607/funny/bioware/biotrack.jpg

gundato
11-09-2012, 06:11 PM
red...

SERVER IP. Not client IP. So it says "I was on Server US East 4." not "I live in Allison, Texas"

And this has nothing to do with the data mining from various SP rpgs (which have pros and cons). This has to do with people who post screenshots being traceable to account for things like exploits. If you are a very private person, don't post a bunch of screenshots. Simple as that.

Nalano
11-09-2012, 06:12 PM
I'm amazed people are brushing this off easily like a mere 'oh that's neat lolz, big storm in teacup'
What's happening is that blizzard is tracing players and expose their private info without them being aware of it.

I doubt it's really that big of a surprise for anyone, considering ActiBlizzard's aggressive forays into the e-sports scene and their Battle.Net 2.0 asking for everything short of a blood sample to play your single-player game.

As it stands, I don't play any Blizzard games anymore - and haven't for years now - which puts them even below Ubisoft on my radar.

deano2099
11-09-2012, 06:22 PM
Isn't sharing your screenshots technically in breach of Blizzard's IP anyway? It's just something (like videos) that they allow as it's harmless are generally benefits the game. But it's not a right they have to grant.

Hypernetic
11-09-2012, 06:23 PM
Isn't sharing your screenshots technically in breach of Blizzard's IP anyway? It's just something (like videos) that they allow as it's harmless are generally benefits the game. But it's not a right they have to grant.

No. That is why we all fought so hard to prevent things like SOPA from happening...

deano2099
11-09-2012, 06:24 PM
Do you really want Chris Priestly to know those information?
Who's Chris Priestly, you ask?


Yes? Because the only use for that information is making better games?

gundato
11-09-2012, 06:26 PM
Yes? Because the only use for that information is making better games?
But Chris Priestly is fat so he must be a bad person?

VileThings
11-09-2012, 06:29 PM
I'm amazed people are brushing this off easily like a mere 'oh that's neat lolz, big storm in teacup'
What's happening is that blizzard is tracing players and expose their private info without them being aware of it.


Because those people understand what's really going on.



Username - there are some people who would black out their name when posting screenshot.
IP - Now why would I wanna share this to the ppl?
Server - Some people may not wanna give away that information.


It's not the username, it's the account name and that is pretty much useless since the advent of battle.net accounts. Still useful for Blizzard to identify hackers/exploiters though.
It's not your IP, it's the IP of the server you played on.
Plus a time stamp when the screenshot was taken.

-----------------------------------

The biggest danger I see here is if someone is really out to get you. That person could potentially decode every screenshot you ever uploaded to see when and where you usually play and use this information to harass you ingame. But if someone were to upload enough screenshots to actually make this viable that person clearly didn't care about everyone knowing his playing habits in the first place.

gundato
11-09-2012, 06:32 PM
The biggest danger I see here is if someone is really out to get you. That person could potentially decode every screenshot you ever uploaded to see when and where you usually play and use this information to harass you ingame. But if someone were to upload enough screenshots to actually make this viable that person clearly didn't care about everyone knowing his playing habits in the first place.
Actually, now that you mention that, I do think this is problematic for people like Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day. They can EASILY get followings to harrass the crap out of them (maliciously or otherwise).

But they are really the minority, and most of them don't really post too many screen caps anyway, so it might not be too big of a deal.

r3dknight
11-09-2012, 06:35 PM
Yes? Because the only use for that information is making better games?

Yes, I can see how that improves Dragon Age 2 tremendously.

http://cdn2.sbnation.com/imported_assets/1104309/KaragounisFace.gif

NathanH
11-09-2012, 06:37 PM
But if someone were to upload enough screenshots to actually make this viable that person clearly didn't care about everyone knowing his playing habits in the first place.

I think this point does not make sense. If you've uploaded a lot of screenshots, that shows that you don't care to reveal everything in the screenshot that you think it contains. It might not mean that you you don't care to reveal the secret contents that you didn't know about. That's why I said it is a bit rude. It's a feature to help the player to publish certain things but it involves the player publishing a bit more that they didn't know about. The extra things probably aren't really going to cause a real problem for the player but it's always a little bit irritating when information you weren't intending to divulge is divulged through rather underhand means.

Hypernetic
11-09-2012, 06:41 PM
You know what is weird about this? Blizzard has never taken screenshots from players as evidence of cheating, exploiting, or harassment because screen shots can be altered. Basically they only take action against players if a GM catches them in the act or if it can be verified through chat logs and such.

Drake Sigar
11-09-2012, 06:41 PM
The information sounds harmless enough, but come-on, secret watermarks in the screenshots? Anyone looking for the smallest excuse to launch into an anti-corporate speech just wet their pants. I wouldn't be entirely comfortable with it myself.

Tritagonist
11-09-2012, 06:42 PM
I'll be bothered about this once we get reports of legitimate players being negatively affected. The information allegedly collected seems purely aimed at addressing the - from Blizzard's perspective - problem of private servers.

Meanwhile, here's a website solely filled with WoW screenshots. Give it you best shot: http://www.wowuigallery.com/

Nalano
11-09-2012, 07:06 PM
But Chris Priestly is fat so he must be a bad person?

He'll find an ally in Valve, for sure.

gundato
11-09-2012, 07:09 PM
You know what is weird about this? Blizzard has never taken screenshots from players as evidence of cheating, exploiting, or harassment because screen shots can be altered. Basically they only take action against players if a GM catches them in the act or if it can be verified through chat logs and such.
Odds are that the point isn't that the screen shots are evidence. Its that they are look-up tables for the actual server logs.

Its like if an "eye witness" sees someone throwing a gun in a dumpster. The eye witness isn't particularly credible (on its own), but it does tell the cops to "look in the dumpster".

Hypernetic
11-09-2012, 07:11 PM
Odds are that the point isn't that the screen shots are evidence. Its that they are look-up tables for the actual server logs.

Its like if an "eye witness" sees someone throwing a gun in a dumpster. The eye witness isn't particularly credible (on its own), but it does tell the cops to "look in the dumpster".

They won't even TAKE screens from you though. They tell you not to send them.

gundato
11-09-2012, 07:13 PM
They won't even TAKE screens from you though. They tell you not to send them.

Well, if it is YOUR screen then it is of limited use, obviously. Unless you are reporting yourself, at which point I fully expect you to make a thread in these forums in a few weeks about how Blizzard is unfair and you are innocent :p

The info from a witness's screenshot is no more than just saying "This Happened on US East 9 at 1340 EST". Which the reporter should indicate anyway.

Kadayi
11-09-2012, 07:23 PM
Do you really want Chris Priestly to know those information?
Who's Chris Priestly, you ask?

A complete twat based on personal experience (really shouldn't be a community manager tbh), and judging by the picture dangerously close to requiring a Baron Harkonnen style hover nappy in another couple of years. Seriously I don't get how people can let themselves go to seed like that. I'm no slim jim, but jebus....

Tei
11-09-2012, 07:27 PM
Somewhere some people is building a account ID <---> User <---> Real name.

Blizzard is on the wrong by not reporting this ( screenshots are flagged with account ID, server and yadda yadda yadda).

I think something like this make sense for Closed Betas, or stuff like that, but for a game in production is somewhat insane. Maybe somebody forgot to disable it, or some antipatterns where built around the feature.

Hypernetic
11-09-2012, 08:43 PM
Well, if it is YOUR screen then it is of limited use, obviously. Unless you are reporting yourself, at which point I fully expect you to make a thread in these forums in a few weeks about how Blizzard is unfair and you are innocent :p

The info from a witness's screenshot is no more than just saying "This Happened on US East 9 at 1340 EST". Which the reporter should indicate anyway.

But they don't even accept screen shots at all...

gundato
11-09-2012, 08:55 PM
But they don't even accept screen shots at all...
Because there is no point...

Because if it is YOUR screen then it is of limited use, obviously. Unless you are reporting yourself, at which point I fully expect you to make a thread in these forums in a few weeks about how Blizzard is unfair and you are innocent :p

The info from a witness's screenshot is no more than just saying "This Happened on US East 9 at 1340 EST". Which the reporter should indicate anyway.

duff
11-09-2012, 09:06 PM
A complete twat based on personal experience (really shouldn't be a community manager tbh), and judging by the picture dangerously close to requiring a Baron Harkonnen style hover nappy in another couple of years. Seriously I don't get how people can let themselves go to seed like that. I'm no slim jim, but jebus....

You dislike him and he happens to be fat so that's what you go for? Grow up.

Nalano
11-09-2012, 09:07 PM
You dislike him and he happens to be fat so that's what you go for? Grow up.

If Chris Christie lost eighty pounds, he'd cease being a fat fuck.

He'd still be a fuck.

duff
11-09-2012, 09:08 PM
If Chris Christie lost eighty pounds, he'd cease being a fat fuck.

He'd still be a fuck.

That's more like it.

gundato
11-09-2012, 09:10 PM
That's more like it.
Exactly. Bash people and groups for the right reasons. That's my motto in life.

To paraphrase Church's epiphany in RvB: Don't hate somebody because of what side they are on. Don't hate somebody because of what color they are or how they talk. Hate somebody because you know them and you know that they are a fucking asshole that deserves to die.

Hypernetic
11-09-2012, 09:15 PM
Because there is no point...

Because if it is YOUR screen then it is of limited use, obviously. Unless you are reporting yourself, at which point I fully expect you to make a thread in these forums in a few weeks about how Blizzard is unfair and you are innocent :p

The info from a witness's screenshot is no more than just saying "This Happened on US East 9 at 1340 EST". Which the reporter should indicate anyway.

You are missing the point so hard it's not even funny. Why code user data into the screenshots then?

gundato
11-09-2012, 09:28 PM
You are missing the point so hard it's not even funny. Why code user data into the screenshots then?

So that if people who ARE violating rules post screenshots and a Blizzard employee notices it, action can be taken. Simple as that.

VileThings
11-09-2012, 09:35 PM
I think this point does not make sense. If you've uploaded a lot of screenshots, that shows that you don't care to reveal everything in the screenshot that you think it contains. It might not mean that you you don't care to reveal the secret contents that you didn't know about. That's why I said it is a bit rude. It's a feature to help the player to publish certain things but it involves the player publishing a bit more that they didn't know about. The extra things probably aren't really going to cause a real problem for the player but it's always a little bit irritating when information you weren't intending to divulge is divulged through rather underhand means.

I agree. I was outraged at first as well, simply because this has been kept from us for a full four years. Do I see their point of doing it? Yes. Do I condone it? Hell no. I'm just saying that people should calm down and take a closer look before they get all "1984" on this. Right now I'm curious what ActiBlizz has to say about this because I'm sure they will have prepared some sort of statement for just this occasion. They couldn't expect to keep this a secret forever. I'm just surprised no one found out sooner.


You are missing the point so hard it's not even funny. Why code user data into the screenshots then?

To identify players violating the NDA during a closed beta. To identify a hacker/exploiter who is dumb enough to brag about doing it on a screenshot. To identify the IP of a private server to have it shut down.

Identifying hackers seems the most legit reason to me, but I doubt this is used often enough to rationalize every player broadcasting this information unwittingly. Hackers and exploiters usually post this kind of stuff in closed forums that require you be manually cleared by someone, so the possibility of a Blizz employee just stumbling upon said screenshot is pretty much zero.

Catching players violating the NDA seems reasonable, but why then is this watermark in the retail version as well?

The private server thing on the other hand I can't understand. Sure, you will identify that server but any server of sufficient size will sooner or later attract enough attention for Blizzard to gain knowledge of it and shut it down, without the need of the watermark. Now it could be argued that every private server could potentially steal away customers from the official ones, but that reeks of the "a pirated game copy is a lost sale" gaming industry mindset.

Kaira-
11-09-2012, 10:18 PM
Because there is no point...

And if you post screenshot of someone who has made clear that he cheats and posted a screenshot himself as evidence?

gundato
11-09-2012, 10:21 PM
And if you post screenshot of someone who has made clear that he cheats and posted a screenshot himself as evidence?

Then you would link Blizzard to the person's web page...

Before we knew about the metadata, there was no point in screenshots.You were saying "User X did bad stuff" or "User X did bad stuff on Server Y at time Z".
Now, X, Y, and Z are embedded in the screenshot if it is the bad person's screenshot. And if it isn't, it isn't. There is really no reason for Blizzard to accept large screenshot files in trouble tickets because you should already be providing X,Y, and Z. And if you are linking to the site, they can get said XYZ out of the images on the site.

Because it is only a matter of time until people "Crack the code" and start manufacturing fake screenshots with fake watermarks. So this solution is probably dead now.

Hypernetic
11-09-2012, 10:27 PM
So that if people who ARE violating rules post screenshots and a Blizzard employee notices it, action can be taken. Simple as that.

It is extremely unlikely that would EVER happen and does not justify the hidden information in the screenshots at all.


I agree. I was outraged at first as well, simply because this has been kept from us for a full four years. Do I see their point of doing it? Yes. Do I condone it? Hell no. I'm just saying that people should calm down and take a closer look before they get all "1984" on this. Right now I'm curious what ActiBlizz has to say about this because I'm sure they will have prepared some sort of statement for just this occasion. They couldn't expect to keep this a secret forever. I'm just surprised no one found out sooner.



To identify players violating the NDA during a closed beta. To identify a hacker/exploiter who is dumb enough to brag about doing it on a screenshot. To identify the IP of a private server to have it shut down.

Identifying hackers seems the most legit reason to me, but I doubt this is used often enough to rationalize every player broadcasting this information unwittingly. Hackers and exploiters usually post this kind of stuff in closed forums that require you be manually cleared by someone, so the possibility of a Blizz employee just stumbling upon said screenshot is pretty much zero.

Catching players violating the NDA seems reasonable, but why then is this watermark in the retail version as well?

The private server thing on the other hand I can't understand. Sure, you will identify that server but any server of sufficient size will sooner or later attract enough attention for Blizzard to gain knowledge of it and shut it down, without the need of the watermark. Now it could be argued that every private server could potentially steal away customers from the official ones, but that reeks of the "a pirated game copy is a lost sale" gaming industry mindset.

That's the thing, all of those things are such rare occurrences (if they've even ever happened) that it really doesn't make any sense.

Breaking the NDA I could understand, but as you said, why is it in the live builds? The MoP beta didn't even have an NDA and in previous betas information was leaked so hard they would have no beta testers if they kicked out everyone who leaked screens or videos. On top of that much of the information from WoW betas is data mined and posted on every fan site in the world within minutes of a new beta build being released, NDA or not. They also pretty much NEVER put spoilers in their betas (I've been in every single closed beta Blizzard has had pretty much, a good friend of mine works for Blizzard). The only thing I can think of is protecting the art direction of games, but even then this makes NO SENSE. This isn't a preventative measure, once a leak happens it's out in the open. Finding out who the leak was and removing them from the beta doesn't matter in this specific case since the cat is already out of the bag. It prevents further leaks from that specific individual, but not from anyone else. No, this makes no sense. If anything you would think they would TELL testers there was a hidden watermark so that they would be less inclined to leak things in the first place.


Identifying hackers also makes no sense. How often do serious exploiters/hackers (not some random kid who does an exploit or phishes an account or two before getting caught, but the kind that fuel the gold selling industry) post screen shots of themselves doing illicit activities? How often do they post screenshots at all? People who use speed hacks and other such crap are caught by being reported and then having a GM look at logs and observe the players account to catch him in the act. A screen shot proves nothing in this case, how do you even prove someone is speed hacking in a screen shot?

Private servers also make no sense. First they'd have to have an army of people searching through all the WoW screen shots on the internet and then somehow determine which ones are from private servers. Then they'd have to go through legal proceedings to shut down that server, which would just be put back up again elsewhere with a different host and IP a few days later. Wouldn't it be easier and more cost effective to just have people looking through message boards and other places for private server listings and such?

This whole scouring what probably amounts to TRILLIONS of images on the internet to find a few that might contain something they could ban someone for makes no sense.

There has to be a different reason for it.

NathanH
11-09-2012, 10:28 PM
VileThings: I agree it's not a torches-and-pitchforks issue. It's a bit annoying and I don't like it much but no big deal.

As to the question of why they did it, perhaps just "why not"? It probably wasn't much effort to do, and maybe it might prove useful occasionally, who knows, let's add it anyway and see later. It's doubtful it's going to affect customer goodwill hugely. It seems more like the sort of thing that will make haters crow and fanboys defend, and that's about all. They're going to do that about something anyway, nothing really lost for them there. I mean, come on, they removed single player mode from Diablo and only a few freaks actually cared.

gundato
11-09-2012, 11:00 PM
It is extremely unlikely that would EVER happen and does not justify the hidden information in the screenshots at all.
The controversial hidden information being "What your account name is, what time it is, and what server you are on", right?

Oh god, the humanity, the humanity. My privacy is oh so very very violated! I must sue Blizzard!

Also, wasn't there a recent controversy over the guy who made a nude hack for Star Trek got caught BECAUSE he posted screenshots? Admittedly, he was somehow sharing his directory or something, but there is definitely precedent.

So yeah, pointless information being shared and potentially catching a few people running exploits and abusing the game. Really not seeing the problem here.

Hypernetic
11-09-2012, 11:36 PM
The controversial hidden information being "What your account name is, what time it is, and what server you are on", right?

Oh god, the humanity, the humanity. My privacy is oh so very very violated! I must sue Blizzard!

Also, wasn't there a recent controversy over the guy who made a nude hack for Star Trek got caught BECAUSE he posted screenshots? Admittedly, he was somehow sharing his directory or something, but there is definitely precedent.

So yeah, pointless information being shared and potentially catching a few people running exploits and abusing the game. Really not seeing the problem here.

I never said any of that. I'm questioning the point of it in the first place not the ethical/privacy implications. I don't really give a fuck about that shit.

gundato
11-09-2012, 11:42 PM
I never said any of that. I'm questioning the point of it in the first place not the ethical/privacy implications. I don't really give a fuck about that shit.

Well, like I said, someone WAS caught in Star Trek Online with screenshots. And I wouldn't be surprised if quite a few people were caught from posting crap like this on warez sites and Blizzard just didn't say how they got them.

But the point is: The "costs" are trivial, at best. So if it helps out at all (or if they think it can help), there is no reason not to. But now the costs probably outweigh the benefits (since people will spoof it), so whatever.

Kadayi
12-09-2012, 12:25 AM
You dislike him and he happens to be fat so that's what you go for? Grow up.

Go for? I'm merely observing that the man is quite clearly obese. That doesn't alter my already low opinion of him tbh (he's a tragic enough figure as it is). Up to now I've never seen an actual picture of him.

I bought Jade empire for PC at retail and it literally came out about a month after Vista had been released and I got home and found out that the game wouldn't run (eventually they/microsoft patched the problem out a few weeks later). So I contacted Bioware and C'Evil'P was all 'tough shit fuckers' to me and bunch of other people who were in exactly the same boat. I basically emailed the bioware board and asked them directly whether they thought this guy was the right face for their gaming community. Needless to say apologies and all and the vista issue got resolved, but it still amazes me that they continue to employ the man tbh because he's a long litany of such behaviour.

I don't particularly care that he's fat (that's his prerogative) I'm just kind of amazed that he's that far gone. Long term that kind of heft is just damaging for your health.

Feldspar
12-09-2012, 12:43 AM
1) Has anyone actually asked Blizzard to verify this?

2) I'd image they would put something like this in just because it might prove useful sometime, not to target anything in particular. These screenshots or your new game? They look remarkably like ours, right down to the watermark...

Hypernetic
12-09-2012, 12:52 AM
Go for? I'm merely observing that the man is quite clearly obese. That doesn't alter my already low opinion of him tbh (he's a tragic enough figure as it is). Up to now I've never seen an actual picture of him.

I bought Jade empire for PC at retail and it literally came out about a month after Vista had been released and I got home and found out that the game wouldn't run (eventually they/microsoft patched the problem out a few weeks later). So I contacted Bioware and C'Evil'P was all 'tough shit fuckers' to me and bunch of other people who were in exactly the same boat. I basically emailed the bioware board and asked them directly whether they thought this guy was the right face for their gaming community. Needless to say apologies and all and the vista issue got resolved, but it still amazes me that they continue to employ the man tbh because he's a long litany of such behaviour.

I don't particularly care that he's fat (that's his prerogative) I'm just kind of amazed that he's that far gone. Long term that kind of heft is just damaging for your health.

Oddly enough, it seems most community managers of large/popular game companies are shit heads like that. (see Blizzard).

Utnac
12-09-2012, 01:00 AM
This really isn't news and I'm not sure why this story is getting so much interest, games developers have been actively doing this for years, it's a great way to catch people breaking NDAs for starters and it's completely harmless. I have no issue with it happening and I don't really understand why you would.

deano2099
12-09-2012, 02:23 AM
Oddly enough, it seems most community managers of large/popular game companies are shit heads like that. (see Blizzard).

I don't think it's that odd. The crap you have to deal with every day from the 'community' must be horrendous - you'd need an incredibly thick skin (do your own Priestly joke) and you're going to crack at some point, and to be honest I give credit to the companies that have kept employing CMs and such after public breakdowns rather than throwing them to the wolves.

'The customer is always right' doesn't work so much when all your customers have a direct line to you to bitch about anything and everything.

NathanH
12-09-2012, 08:50 AM
They probably don't pay their community managers well enough to be picky. Being a good community manager requires rather a lot of skill, but I doubt the good ones get the reward their efforts deserve. There are probably more lucrative things for people with those skills to do.

Ravelle
12-09-2012, 09:08 AM
Oh noes my personal information.

Meanwhile Google and many other websites gather information based on your search results.

Oshada
12-09-2012, 11:30 AM
Chris Priestly runs the Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer community forums. He's not very popular, to put it mildly. And then you have Ninja 'End of Line' Stan...

bonkers
12-09-2012, 11:33 AM
Oh noes my personal information.

Meanwhile Google and many other websites gather information based on your search results.
But Google isn't evil! It's even in their slogan, you silly little fella.

duff
12-09-2012, 05:24 PM
Chris Priestly runs the Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer community forums. He's not very popular, to put it mildly. And then you have Ninja 'End of Line' Stan...

Most of these guys aren't very popular. But can you imagine working as the primary point of contact with the gaming community? They must have to put up with a massive amount of shit.

Kadayi
12-09-2012, 06:59 PM
Most of these guys aren't very popular. But can you imagine working as the primary point of contact with the gaming community? They must have to put up with a massive amount of shit.

No. I think as long as you're straight forward about things and as honest as you can be then you've nothing to fear really. Plain truth of the matter is though that a lot of these people have delusions of grandeur as to what their role is and how they should act. Fundamentally they're there to manage the community, cascade news down to players and pass customer feedback up the line for action by the development team, anything else is really beyond remit.

gundato
12-09-2012, 07:05 PM
No. I think as long as you're straight forward about things and as honest as you can be then you've nothing to fear really. Plain truth of the matter is though that a lot of these people have delusions of grandeur as to what their role is and how they should act.

Not really.

Excluding a small blow-up during the first few hours, the Zomboid devs have been very open about their screw-ups. Now take a look at every time they are mentioned here and count the number of people who seem to actively want them to fail.

From most of what I have seen, the JA:BIA devs are also pretty honest about their screw-ups and are actually open to community feedback. They are almost universally hated just because of the franchise they are attached to.

ANY person on the internet with a vagina.

Whereas.

Notch is a master of telling half-truths and PR. People love him, even as he tries to screw over everyone he can and win every trial (right or wrong) in the court of public opinion.

Valve almost never says anything of worth to anyone, and people love Gabe Newell (for the most part).

Relic used to talk to the community and arguably ruined balance on quite a few games. Now they ignore their community and hire PR people (even if one of them ALSO exploded :p) and do whatever they want, and they are probably some of the most well-liked devs out there.


Gamers in general are asshats, and internet people are even worse. So yeah, just "being honest" isn't enough. You might get a following, but you'll still have to deal with the people who hate you on a personal level for no good reason. That is why one of the first non-developmental investments should be a person dedicated to PR and dealing with the bottom feeders that said devs call fans. Because those bottom feeders are going to be the ones to spread everything as far and wide as possible.

Because we have been trained to call anyone who doesn't hate something a "fanboy". But that just means people think you have to hate stuff to be "smart".

Kadayi
12-09-2012, 07:17 PM
Notch is a master of telling half-truths and PR. People love him, even as he tries to screw over everyone he can and win every trial (right or wrong) in the court of public opinion.

Valve almost never says anything of worth to anyone, and people love Gabe Newell (for the most part).

Speak for yourself dude. Notch is no one to me and I think people love Steam summer/winter sales more than Valve itself.


Gamers in general are asshats, and internet people are even worse. So yeah, just "being honest" isn't enough. You might get a following, but you'll still have to deal with the people who hate you on a personal level for no good reason. That is why one of the first non-developmental investments should be a person dedicated to PR and dealing with the bottom feeders that said devs call fans.

Gamers are just people (I've done my share of customer services before). Fundamentally when people are pissed off about something there are two ways to deal with it, you can diffuse a situation or you can inflame it. The problem is people like Chris Priestley tend to do the latter rather than the former and use ban hammers and locked threads to make up for their deficiency in being able to do the former. The fact that it's Chris 'evil' Priestley and not Chris Priestley says a lot about the guy tbh.

Nalano
12-09-2012, 07:34 PM
No. I think as long as you're straight forward about things and as honest as you can be then you've nothing to fear really.

As CM, your job isn't to be straightforward and honest. Your job is to calm people down long enough for the parent company to extract money from them.

Kadayi
12-09-2012, 07:38 PM
As CM, your job isn't to be straightforward and honest. Your job is to calm people down long enough for the parent company to extract money from them.

Rockstar seem to manage to do that easily enough and they don't operate any kind of forum.

Nalano
12-09-2012, 07:47 PM
Rockstar seem to manage to do that easily enough and they don't operate any kind of forum.

Rockstar ran an MMO?

gundato
12-09-2012, 07:53 PM
Also, the large majority of R*s fans these days are console gamers who probably don't bother with the official forums. So that helps a lot.

archonsod
12-09-2012, 08:13 PM
There has to be a different reason for it.

It's more than likely there so Blizzard can demonstrate it's theirs. There's plenty of scams and straight up pirate industries in certain parts of the world that are notorious for utilising screenshots and the like from other games as their own advertising. The watermark would allow Blizzard to identify that it was WoW being used in screenshots.

Also worth noting the username, IP and server are all technically Blizzard's data, not the users.

Ravelle
12-09-2012, 08:21 PM
I don't know much about community managers but Jessica Merizan's job from Bioware was to calm and ease the crowd and answering questions through twitter.

b0rsuk
12-09-2012, 09:10 PM
It's a self-fulfilling prophecy in case of Blizzard. They treat people like idiots, and they end up filtering idiots. Look at battle.net forums. Pretty much everything goes in there. Bad neighbors drive away the good ones, and it's similar with forum posters. If you let idiots to stay, they make decent people want to leave.

Hypernetic
12-09-2012, 09:22 PM
It's a self-fulfilling prophecy in case of Blizzard. They treat people like idiots, and they end up filtering idiots. Look at battle.net forums. Pretty much everything goes in there. Bad neighbors drive away the good ones, and it's similar with forum posters. If you let idiots to stay, they make decent people want to leave.

Aren't you thankful?

AgamemnonV1
13-09-2012, 10:35 PM
All I have to say is: I'm glad I use FRAPS exclusively for all of my PC screenshot needs.

Vizjerie
14-09-2012, 02:37 AM
lol is this really that big of a deal?

Moraven
14-09-2012, 03:15 AM
Anything about Blizzard is a big deal, you miss the memo?

Kadayi
14-09-2012, 07:39 AM
Rockstar ran an MMO?

The Bioware forums have been around a lot longer than TOR Nalano.


Also, the large majority of R*s fans these days are console gamers who probably don't bother with the official forums. So that helps a lot.

There are no official forums. The point being that most developers put them up for feedback (not pacification as claimed). They're not obligated to provide them. They choose to have them (because the see worth in having them). Most multi-platform games still sell more on the consoles than on the PC, yet I don't see that stopping most developers from having forums.

Grizzly
14-09-2012, 11:42 AM
Private servers also make no sense. First they'd have to have an army of people searching through all the WoW screen shots on the internet and then somehow determine which ones are from private servers. Then they'd have to go through legal proceedings to shut down that server, which would just be put back up again elsewhere with a different host and IP a few days later. Wouldn't it be easier and more cost effective to just have people looking through message boards and other places for private server listings and such?
Actually, you can just automate the process. You use a program which can read the watermarks on wow screenshots.
It is not that hard to figure out which servers are private either, since Blizzards knows all the public ones anyway. And AFAIK, they host all the public ones!.
Then send a C&D letter and you're done. This also can be automated.

Also, why is everyone so concerned about their Account iD? I thought WoW uses Battle.net, and I am quite sure that Battle.net uses E-Mail logins.



Identifying hackers also makes no sense. How often do serious exploiters/hackers (not some random kid who does an exploit or phishes an account or two before getting caught, but the kind that fuel the gold selling industry) post screen shots of themselves doing illicit activities? How often do they post screenshots at all? People who use speed hacks and other such crap are caught by being reported and then having a GM look at logs and observe the players account to catch him in the act. A screen shot proves nothing in this case, how do you even prove someone is speed hacking in a screen shot?

Actually, quite a few websites do exactly that (including the website the OP links to, as it turns out)- making screenshots of exploits - because exploiting the game is FUN (apperently). They do this in the safe knowledge that if they blot out their account name they don't get caught.

Turns out they could get caught anyway. Sucks to be them.