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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus somini's Avatar
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    Puffery in EAland

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2...urities-fraud/

    Saying that Battlefoods 4 was super special awesome and then tanking apparently annoyed some big cats that bough EA stock. Lawsuits followed.
    The courts ruled that saying a game is super special awesome is just "puffery".

    Advertising industry collapses overnight, advertmen start jumping out of windows, begging in the streets, selling their cars for bread.
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  2. #2
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    And the downside of that result is? :D

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus somini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrTijger View Post
    And the downside of that result is? :D
    Yes,
    /tencharacters
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  4. #4
    Activated Node Xzi's Avatar
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    Anybody who takes EA at their word for anything is a fool. You invest in EA to make money via screwing gamers, not because you expect them to release quality products. In this case, releasing a poor-quality product ended up hurting the investors, but that's a rarity. They deserve a big hit to their wallets for investing in that shit-churning mill anyway, so I say it's about time.
    Last edited by Xzi; 22-10-2014 at 05:58 PM.
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    I cannot help but think, or even hope, that the lawsuit might have seen a different result if it had been about some other product than a videogame.

    Yes, the law protects puffery, which is basically protecting lying to potential customers in order to promote or sell a product. But this particular case did go beyond a company overhyping a game. It wasn't the same as a movie studio saying that their new film is the best epic since Benji 2, because people buying to see tickets to the film were at least seeing a functional film.

    As one commenter on the link mentioned, the ruling effectively says that stockholders can't believe anything that a company says.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus somini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baines View Post
    I cannot help but think, or even hope, that the lawsuit might have seen a different result if it had been about some other product than a videogame.

    Yes, the law protects puffery, which is basically protecting lying to potential customers in order to promote or sell a product. But this particular case did go beyond a company overhyping a game. It wasn't the same as a movie studio saying that their new film is the best epic since Benji 2, because people buying to see tickets to the film were at least seeing a functional film.
    Did it really? Are you saying programs should be free of bugs at launch or else?
    Because that ship has sailed. Since the advent of widespread internet, patches being easy to apply means the launch is just an arbitrary milestone when you can stop taking money under the pretense of "pre-order" and just buying a game.

    And what is your definition of functional film? Because if you start going down that road, when works of art have to comply with standards and whatnot, you'll get an even more bland landscape than it is now.
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  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    1942 was revolutionary, Vietnam was a paradigm shift to action and flair, BF2 was a community integration idealised (then sacked), 2142 was precious with its design but bloated unlocks started to ruin the formula. Bad Company 2 refocused trying to take the cod4 crown and did well. Battlefield 3 tried to have it all, and... Yeah, I rage quit at unlocks, I was unloading SMG clips into people who were afk and had to reload to finish them off. When I got in a jet it didn't have flares, I didn't have shock paddles as a medic. Yeah... Then I stopped paying attention.
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  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus somini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    1942 was revolutionary, Vietnam was a paradigm shift to action and flair,
    You skipped Korea. And what are your opinions on the Gulf War?
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    thought this was another GG thread when i saw the title, puffery means something VERY different in England

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus somini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karaquazian View Post
    thought this was another GG thread when i saw the title, puffery means something VERY different in England
    Isn't that spelt poofery?
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  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by somini View Post
    You skipped Korea. And what are your opinions on the Gulf War?
    Bay of Pigs was my personal high point but it was over so quickly.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baines View Post
    As one commenter on the link mentioned, the ruling effectively says that stockholders can't believe anything that a company says.
    This isn't the first time, nor will it be the last. I invested a few dollars in Dick's Chicago's Greatest Hot Dogs. While okay, they were not Chicago's greatest. Boy was I angry when I found out. It took me years to regain my faith in capitalism.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus somini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nate View Post
    This isn't the first time, nor will it be the last. I invested a few dollars in Dick's Chicago's Greatest Hot Dogs. While okay, they were not Chicago's greatest. Boy was I angry when I found out. It took me years to regain my faith in capitalism.
    One of the reasons I never entered a Best Buy. Or user Goodreads. Or like George Best.
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  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Drake Sigar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karaquazian View Post
    thought this was another GG thread when i saw the title, puffery means something VERY different in England
    Does it mean to follow EA executives around and make Puffin noises?

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    Quote Originally Posted by somini View Post
    Did it really? Are you saying programs should be free of bugs at launch or else?
    Because that ship has sailed. Since the advent of widespread internet, patches being easy to apply means the launch is just an arbitrary milestone when you can stop taking money under the pretense of "pre-order" and just buying a game.

    And what is your definition of functional film? Because if you start going down that road, when works of art have to comply with standards and whatnot, you'll get an even more bland landscape than it is now.
    An important difference is that this lawsuit isn't disgruntled gamers complaining that EA lied about a game. This is disgruntled stock owners complaining that EA overhyped and lied about their ability to release a properly functional product, which pushed up the value of EA stock, only for the game to come out in such a controversial state that the value of EA stock dropped sharply. Only for EA to effectively defend itself by saying "Oh no, all that stuff about improving our ability to make games was all puffery. You can't blame us that you believed us and bought stock, only to see that stock lose value when we released a broken game that was so badly received that we had to tell gamers that we were stopping work on other projects just to fix it."

    As for a functional film, let's take a hypothetical... I'm not saying Battlefield 4 is the same as this hypothetical, but rather that BF4 is somewhere between this hypothetical and just a bad movie. Let's take The Hobbit in an alternate reality. People complained about things like 48fps looking fake, while Jackson promoted it as the future of film. Let's take an alternate reality where upon theatrical release, 25% of audiences felt nauseous watching a 48fps film. (Okay, I probably should have picked Avatar or some other 3D film for this example.) The Hobbit immediately gets pretty bad word of mouth, and the immediate future for 48fps films takes a hit. Jackson, concerned over audience reaction, said that he'd delay the sequels while trying to figure out what caused the nausea, and would even try to recut the first film to solve the issues. Stockholders then file a lawsuit citing Jackson's and the studio's pre-release claims that 48fps was much better, that viewers would quickly adapt, and that 48fps was the future of film. Also cited are articles claiming that there was no way that Jackson or the studio could be unaware that a quarter of audiences would feel sick watching 48fps film. (An alternative example would be a studio promoting a new audio process in a new film, sending the film to theaters, only for many theaters to find at the last moment that the new audio glitches on their sound systems after promises that it would work without issue.)

    Like I say, Battlefield 4 isn't quite as extreme as that hypothetical. Consumers honestly don't have many rights when it comes to software, and the rights that they do have often aren't even really enforced anyway. Software has been shipped in known broken or incomplete states since *before* the advent of widespread internet, and people have largely been willing to keep buying throughout.

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    In your hypothetical, Baines, the court would likely, again, decide against the plaintiffs, because statements like, "48fps is the future of film," "48fps is so much better," "Audiences will deal with it," are puffery.

    It doesn't matter whether Jackson knows that 25% of audience members will barf. Nothing he ever said referred to 100% of audience members. #notallaudiencemembers

    This is, however, a really far cry from, "the ruling effectively says that stockholders can't believe anything that a company says." It is instead that stockholders can't believe everything that a corporation says. Which they should already know.

    In fact, if Jackson (as a representative of Jacksoncorp) had said at the shareholders meeting, "We did focus testing and 99% of audience members reported no nausea," when he knows, no argument, that only 75% reported no nausea, he's definitely for sure losing the suit.

    But I'm not sure exactly what statements the shareholders object to-- I haven't seen a list anywhere. There might be something in there that makes me say, "That wacko judge! Jem is simply simply outrageous!" Was there some statement in particular about which you're speaking?

    EDIT: List of purported misstatements here, starting page 5, line 9. All looks like a bunch of vague, "We're really going to make a lot of money because we're so good" stuff to me.
    Last edited by nate; 23-10-2014 at 01:54 AM.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus somini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baines View Post
    An important difference is that this lawsuit isn't disgruntled gamers complaining that EA lied about a game. This is disgruntled stock owners complaining that EA overhyped and lied about their ability to release a properly functional product, which pushed up the value of EA stock, only for the game to come out in such a controversial state that the value of EA stock dropped sharply. Only for EA to effectively defend itself by saying "Oh no, all that stuff about improving our ability to make games was all puffery. You can't blame us that you believed us and bought stock, only to see that stock lose value when we released a broken game that was so badly received that we had to tell gamers that we were stopping work on other projects just to fix it."

    As for a functional film, let's take a hypothetical... I'm not saying Battlefield 4 is the same as this hypothetical, but rather that BF4 is somewhere between this hypothetical and just a bad movie. Let's take The Hobbit in an alternate reality. People complained about things like 48fps looking fake, while Jackson promoted it as the future of film. Let's take an alternate reality where upon theatrical release, 25% of audiences felt nauseous watching a 48fps film. (Okay, I probably should have picked Avatar or some other 3D film for this example.) The Hobbit immediately gets pretty bad word of mouth, and the immediate future for 48fps films takes a hit. Jackson, concerned over audience reaction, said that he'd delay the sequels while trying to figure out what caused the nausea, and would even try to recut the first film to solve the issues. Stockholders then file a lawsuit citing Jackson's and the studio's pre-release claims that 48fps was much better, that viewers would quickly adapt, and that 48fps was the future of film. Also cited are articles claiming that there was no way that Jackson or the studio could be unaware that a quarter of audiences would feel sick watching 48fps film. (An alternative example would be a studio promoting a new audio process in a new film, sending the film to theaters, only for many theaters to find at the last moment that the new audio glitches on their sound systems after promises that it would work without issue.)

    Like I say, Battlefield 4 isn't quite as extreme as that hypothetical. Consumers honestly don't have many rights when it comes to software, and the rights that they do have often aren't even really enforced anyway. Software has been shipped in known broken or incomplete states since *before* the advent of widespread internet, and people have largely been willing to keep buying throughout.
    I like that analogy, is quite apt. I just think both sides are completely wrong, and this lawsuits are just laughable "Apple vs Samsung"-type legal willy-waving.
    EA inflated their stock value artificially, so anyone wanting to invest in them will just run away fast, and put their chips in Activision (Note: I'm assuming stock buyers have memories larger than a goldfish, which might be wrong). The stockholders just go on record saying "We were duped by advertising aimed at teenage boys! We demand our money back!".
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  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus somini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nate View Post
    In fact, if Jackson (as a representative of Jacksoncorp) had said at the shareholders meeting, "We did focus testing and 99% of audience members reported no nausea," when he knows, no argument, that only 75% reported no nausea, he's definitely for sure losing the suit.
    Easy hack for CEO in this situation: don't talk about numbers, just use variations of "next gen", "procedural", and other buzzwords. After all, you flunked Math and that's why you took that MBA.
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    Quote Originally Posted by somini View Post
    I like that analogy, is quite apt. I just think both sides are completely wrong, and this lawsuits are just laughable "Apple vs Samsung"-type legal willy-waving.
    EA inflated their stock value artificially, so anyone wanting to invest in them will just run away fast, and put their chips in Activision (Note: I'm assuming stock buyers have memories larger than a goldfish, which might be wrong). The stockholders just go on record saying "We were duped by advertising aimed at teenage boys! We demand our money back!".
    Yes, from reading the released pdf, the case was a bit of a mess. Five of the eight statements that the lead plaintiffs used were dated *after* the lead plaintiffs bought stock, so they obviously couldn't have affected those plaintiffs choosing to buy stock. Though it read like the judge let them keep those bits because others had joined the case who had bought stock afterwards. And EA's defense was that all eight statements were puffery, anyway.

    The whole thing is really a mess. There isn't really anything good in the whole thing, and no particularly suitable conclusion. It isn't good that software companies can effectively try to brush off anything that doesn't involve hard numbers as 'puffery'. It wouldn't necessarily be good if EA lost on any of the statements though, because that could open some rather ugly lawsuit floodgates. It isn't good that lawsuits involving videogames might not being taken as seriously in court as other cases, not when consumers already have few rights when it comes to software, when software companies routinely ignore the few rights that consumers have, and when it can be so difficult to try to take such matters to court.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus somini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baines View Post
    Yes, from reading the released pdf, the case was a bit of a mess. Five of the eight statements that the lead plaintiffs used were dated *after* the lead plaintiffs bought stock, so they obviously couldn't have affected those plaintiffs choosing to buy stock. Though it read like the judge let them keep those bits because others had joined the case who had bought stock afterwards. And EA's defense was that all eight statements were puffery, anyway.

    The whole thing is really a mess. There isn't really anything good in the whole thing, and no particularly suitable conclusion. It isn't good that software companies can effectively try to brush off anything that doesn't involve hard numbers as 'puffery'. It wouldn't necessarily be good if EA lost on any of the statements though, because that could open some rather ugly lawsuit floodgates. It isn't good that lawsuits involving videogames might not being taken as seriously in court as other cases, not when consumers already have few rights when it comes to software, when software companies routinely ignore the few rights that consumers have, and when it can be so difficult to try to take such matters to court.
    The only real solution is probably what will happen: settlement out of court, everyone hangs their head in shame and status quo is maintaned.
    What's the launch date for EA's Counter Strike clone with the Battlefield brand? Can I still buy stock?
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