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Old 07-08-2003, 11:16 PM   #1
Xorith
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Greetings...

Those who know me know I don't like pay to play MUDs. Most don't offer the service they should for the price they ask for. Regardless, a Pay to Play MUD is usually run by a company or by someone who is out to make a profit or at the very least cover expenses.

Having once lost myself to EverQuest, I found myself in awe at the graphics, and completely livid at the type of idiots that populate the game.

So here's a situation. Myself and my Guild are in a game. We're all paying a happy $12.95/mo to play this game and we're happy. Then, we come across some jerk who is being completely annoying... Unfortunately the MUD Admins are smart and refuse to accept a player-captured log as evidence. (We all know just how easy logs are to forge...) This continues for a month and my friends and I have HAD it. We're quitting! We're not going to pay for a game that lets people like THAT get off scott-free! Well, the jerk makes a final stand... an invisible staff member happens to catch it, AND catch my friends and I announcing that we're leaving the game due to that jerk's behavior.

Let's do the math. 10 * 12.95 = 129.50. That's roughly $130/mo that the owners of the game will lose because my little guild and I are quitting for cleaner pastures. Now, we've been playing for a good 3 years now. There's no reason to not assume that we wouldn't have continued for another 3 years if this jerk didn't ruin our fun. There's possibly 36 months that we won't be paying into a game. 36 * 130 = $4,680... That's a bit of change. Not enough to sue over though, right?

Lets go deeper and say this person made more waves than I've said thus far. So we can track now that this person has caused MANY people to quit. That's a lot of money lost due to one person.

Is this person legally responsible for the lost profits a company must now endure? Sure, the company took action and removed the jerk from the game. The damage was done, though. Isn't there a civil law of some sort that'd allow the owners of the game/company to sue for those lost profits and financial 'damages'?

Just curious.

-- X
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Old 07-09-2003, 02:59 AM   #2
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In a word: No.

*edit*

I suppose I ought to clarify. Based on what you described his actions to be, there is nothing you can do unless being annoying is against the ToS. Even then, I suspect that any lawsuits based on that particular term would be laughed out of court. At most, the admins of the game can revoke his account and refuse him service.

Sexual harassment, terroristic threatening, etc., when meant to extend beyond the context of the game, is, of course, an entirely different matter.
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Old 07-09-2003, 04:02 AM   #3
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Quote:
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In a word: No.
Which is a very good thing, IMO! Otherwise that would start leading into all sorts of dubious areas, like suing people for commiting PK or exploiting bugs, suing the mud owner for effort lost due to a crash, etc...
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Old 07-09-2003, 04:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Xorith @ July 08 2003,23:16)
Is this person legally responsible for the lost profits a company must now endure? Sure, the company took action and removed the jerk from the game. The damage was done, though. Isn't there a civil law of some sort that'd allow the owners of the game/company to sue for those lost profits and financial 'damages'?
Well, first keep in mind that it's possible to sue for almost anything. But beyond that all-encompassing possibility, yes, it is possible to sue and potentially win a case in which the player violated the TOS or EULA while playing the game and maliciously caused harm to the service.

Would it be worth it? I cannot imagine it would be. Even small claims court isn't worth the time and loss of focus from the operation of your business. The money is far better spent on prevention. Create rules designed to permit whatever level of grief play that you find acceptable and then enforce them. Find the troublemakers, and delete/ban them ruthlessly. (Note that grief activity doesn't necessarily equal troublemaking. It may be within the scope of the gameplay.)

--matt
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Old 07-09-2003, 07:52 AM   #5
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Pay to play MUD/MMORPG attitude: Pay up or get lost. For you 10 other players.

Free MUD/MMORPG attitude: Be glad it's free or get lost anyways. For you 10 other players.

See why both suck? COmplain at a pay to play game and they'll tell you to get lost to a free game. Complain at a free game and they'll tell you to go play a pay to play game then instead. Wee.
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Old 07-09-2003, 11:32 AM   #6
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Some of these replies seemed a bit heated. Might have misinterpreted them.

I wasn't asking so I could do it or not. Was just a thought as I've left a few games where I paid money due to the actions of someone else. In other real life cases, when a company loses money due to someone's actions, they can sue for damages. We've all seen it done... but yes most cases it's something serious - such as a hacker forcing a system down or the like.

Anyway, was worth a thought. Oh, and a note on the 'attitude' of MUDs... Your comment is generally speaking. I've been on many MUDs - both free and pay to play - where they DO care about a player. Your comment was obviously taken from MUDs who couldn't care less about their players... Like EverQuest. (Yes, EQ is a MUD by the by. Graphical MUD )

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Old 07-09-2003, 12:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Ingham @ July 09 2003,07:52)
Pay to play MUD/MMORPG attitude: Pay up or get lost. For you 10 other players.
Service varies by game, of course, but there are lots of commercial muds who do not maintain that attitude, and with #### good reason. That attitude loses customers and commercial services are all about customers.

--matt
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Old 07-09-2003, 05:39 PM   #8
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This question is directed at Matt. I am sure you have player rules in place but have you ever considered raising someone's fees for being a troublesome player? It seems to me that a tactic like this could be a very successful tool for putting someone in line, or I could be wrong and the whole playerbase would revolt with the end result being no playerbase Just curious if you have considered this sort of action before.

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Old 07-09-2003, 06:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Ytrewtsu @ July 09 2003,17:39)
This question is directed at Matt. I am sure you have player rules in place but have you ever considered raising someone's fees for being a troublesome player? It seems to me that a tactic like this could be a very successful tool for putting someone in line, or I could be wrong and the whole playerbase would revolt with the end result being no playerbase Just curious if you have considered this sort of action before.

Ytrewtsu
Ponder, that's an interesting idea actually, but not really workable in our business model which involves never having to pay to play, and paying only when you want.

Now, in a subscription mud, while it'd be hard to do what you're talking about fairly on a case-by-case basis it might be interesting to allow griefers to get away with more by paying more per month or something. Still, I don't think it's something I'd want to do to the other players since it's not just the company's bottom line that suffers from grief activities: It's the other players as well, and the fact that a griefer is paying the company extra in order to grief you isn't likely to make you, the victim, feel much better.

Now what'd be interesting, though probably not workable, would be using our business model to essentially force grief players to pay their victims (upon admin decision that the grief players were victimizing someone against the rules) in our 'credits'. (You buy credits from us or other players, but they all come from us originally via purchase or rewards for writing or art or quests, etc.)

Imagine: Bob kills Pete against our rules, and Bob has to cough up a few credits to pay Pete for his trouble. Bob endures some sort of hindering punishment until he pays off his 'fine' to Pete.

The problem with it is that credits involve real money and the admins who enforce our rules are not perfect. I wouldn't want to be taking credits from people without being absolutely sure it was deserved, and it's nearly impossible to be absolutely sure an admin judgement is right. Certainly over time, some will definitely be wrong.

--matt
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Old 07-09-2003, 07:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ July 09 2003,18[img
http://www.topmudsites.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif[/img]9)]The problem with it is that credits involve real money and the admins who enforce our rules are not perfect. I wouldn't want to be taking credits from people without being absolutely sure it was deserved, and it's nearly impossible to be absolutely sure an admin judgement is right. Certainly over time, some will definitely be wrong.
Okay, I understand how flawed administrators could be a problem with your pay structure and that idea, but doesn't your pay structure already have bias in it, as the richer irl players gain more in-game? I don't understand where your ethics lie on these issues. If it's okay to put Joe-who-doesn't-pay at a disadvantage amongst the playerbase who does pay, why isn't it okay to create hardships for those that annoy or heckle the administrators? Both involve randomness based on a gameplay-unrelated factor, namely, the irl wealth of the player and the biases of the administration.

What's the difference in your mind? Where do you draw the line for what you can charge for and what you can't?
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Old 07-09-2003, 07:42 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Wik @ July 09 2003,19:12)
What's the difference in your mind? Where do you draw the line for what you can charge for and what you can't?
Purely a judgement call really. I don't think players would react well to losing stuff they bought with real money to an incorrect admin judgement. They tend to tolerate losing things they bought with time (xp for instance) much more readily.

In the end, there are only two "lines in the sand" as it were:
1. What's legal.
2. What people are willing to buy.

Other than that, it's all about judgement. By way of example: Will we sell a sword that is 10% better than an average forged sword? Sure. Will we sell a sword that is twice as good? Definitely not.

--matt
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Old 07-09-2003, 07:47 PM   #12
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The problem with the situation (to the original poster of the thread) is that there's no way to assess future loss. An admin has no way of knowing that a person wouldn't have left the game ANYWAY. And I doubt any court of law would give credence to such a case for that reason alone.

A dozen people could all say "If this guy doesn't get site-banned I'm quitting!" and then quit. But if I was a defendant, I would go out of my way to find even the tiniest bit of information that would lead a judge to wonder if these 12 people might have had other reasons in *addition* to this griefer to leave. Things like changes to the game, changes to the staff, deaths of their friends' characters, deaths of their own characters, introduction of a new skill they could've had if they picked another profession when they started out, introduction of a new hunting area with interesting things that they are too high-leveled to hunt, etc. etc. etc.

And then I'd make a point of laying out each and every one of these things and suggest that these 12 people had ample reason to leave, even if the griefer had never existed.

And then the case would end, and the company would be SOL.
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Old 07-09-2003, 09:15 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by (Jazuela @ July 09 2003,19:47)
And then the case would end, and the company would be SOL.
Well, our lawyers would disagree with you there. It's a subject we've specifically discussed with them, in fact. The key is a violation of a EULA or TOS combined with a demonstrated malicious intent to harm your the company. It wouldn't be very difficult to sue someone and win in this situation. It just wouldn't be worth it except in the most extreme of circumstances (and I have a hard time imagining what those circumstances would be).

--matt
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Old 07-09-2003, 11:29 PM   #14
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You might be able to allege some form of tortious interference if you can demonstate the offender intentionally attempted to cause people to leave.   Torts really isn't my specialty and I haven't looked at any caselaw so I could be dead wrong.   The one benefit for suing under this theory instead of breaching the EULA or TOS is that you wouldn't necessarily be confined to contract damages - you could possibly ask for punitive damages, too.

(But I could also be completely full of sh*t.)
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