The Litigation Hammer

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I would buy SimLawsuit, sounds like fun. Wait, now we know why Activision does it.

I seem to be the only one of my friends who care if activision is evil as hell, they just want to play call of duty. I sorta feel bad that bungee is now working with them, they should have seen what happened with IW and gone somewhere else.

The problem with boycotting Activision products, is that it would more likely negatively affect the developers than Activision itself.

z3rostr1fe:

Worgen:
hmm, Im getting an idea, you could make an rts out of having to build an army of lawers and take entrenched companies to court with all your legal might in epic conflicts over the meaning of words and lasers, probably only get funding as a flash game tho... I wonder if newgrounds would be interested

lol all the units would be based on real legal jobs and such, the way you "defeat" a judge can be either using your backroom deal tanks or having your elite attorney unit use his epic argument skill

It's not the Judge that is being defeated... It's the... Accused? Since you are the one firing up the Lawsuits?

nah both sides would have to be trying to take on the judge, or the arbitration council (judge for single objective maps, council for capture the flag)

As an outsider (I live in New Zealand) it seems the US legal system has grown from an intended way for anyone to gain justice and punish wrong doing, into a massively bloated and feared monster which is effectively a rather large tax on your entire country, in the form of all the lawyers and litigation insurance which are supported by it.

Something is often needed but a more pragmatic approach would help...

Bungie, please try not to let Activision destroy you. The way you talked about it made it seem your in control of everything, Activision just publishes, nothing else. I really hope this is true. I would hate to see such a great developer full of awesome people with awesome beards go under in this way.

oranger:
And of course, the moral of the story: do your damn research before signing a contract.
And have contingencies.

edit: a flood is coming, and the animals are running. A frog comes to a riverbank, and sees a scorpion unable to cross the river. The frog gallantly swims the arachnid across, after which the scorpion stings him.
Dying, the frog asks why, to which the scorpion says, "you know what I am".

Except in this case, it's more like the scorpion carves out the frogs guts and wears his skin, allowing him to continue swimming across the river unimpeded.

Edit:

omicron1:
@Oranger: I've heard a variation on that in which the scorpion/other poisonous/deadly animal stings/bites the hapless ferrycreature mid-transit, killing both.

I heard it this way too, so I interpreted Oranger's post that way, but if he meant they get to the other side and then the scorpion kills the frog, the metaphor works better, without my meddling.

If you're an indie dev and a publisher wants to work with you, why not go to one more trustworthy?

I mean it's a kind of 'less evil' scenario, Activision screws people over until no one wants to work with them, people go to EA. EA gets an evil marketing exec, turns evil again, you go to 2K. By the time 2K becomes evil, Activision loses their market shares, becomes nice again.

Right?

Shamus Young, you've inspired me to boycott Activision. Fuck 'em.

heyheysg:
If you're an indie dev and a publisher wants to work with you, why not go to one more trustworthy?

I mean it's a kind of 'less evil' scenario, Activision screws people over until no one wants to work with them, people go to EA. EA gets an evil marketing exec, turns evil again, you go to 2K. By the time 2K becomes evil, Activision loses their market shares, becomes nice again.

Right?

Sometimes, you might not have the choice. The industry is famously cutthroat.

OT: Thank you so much for this article. I honestly learn more about how the games industry works through this site than I do through my games diploma studies!

Cody211282:
I seem to be the only one of my friends who care if activision is evil as hell, they just want to play call of duty. I sorta feel bad that bungee is now working with them, they should have seen what happened with IW and gone somewhere else.

Actually, they did see what happened, they've already secured the rights to their IP.

And I just wanted to ask, if I buy an Activision game used, does this support them in any way? I know they hate used sales b/c they supposedly don't make any money off them, but I'd like to do as little as possible to help them while still enjoying good games.

Mysnomer:

Cody211282:
I seem to be the only one of my friends who care if activision is evil as hell, they just want to play call of duty. I sorta feel bad that bungee is now working with them, they should have seen what happened with IW and gone somewhere else.

Actually, they did see what happened, they've already secured the rights to their IP.

And I just wanted to ask, if I buy an Activision game used, does this support them in any way? I know they hate used sales b/c they supposedly don't make any money off them, but I'd like to do as little as possible to help them while still enjoying good games.

Absolutely dood, buy used games when you want to boycott, and buy new when you want to support. that's what I do.

Bruden:
Just look on the Bright side, Activision is now partnered with Blizzard, which means in a decades time Blizzard will have expunged the cancer, probably merged with someone else, and Activision will be a vague name gamers used to whisper, just like what happened with Vivendi.

Actually, based on the way cancer operates, I would say that it's more likely that Activision will expand and choke the life out of Blizzard and every other company foolish enough to join with them (like Bungie). It will continue to spread and will end up destroying the entire organism.

And my friend was arguing that humanity is ultimately good. HA. This is why so many people hate the United States. No way your getting away with shit like this in the glorious peoples republic of china. Like seriously, this makes me hate America (or at the very least its judicial system), and I fucking live there. SUPER RAGE NOT ABLE TO BE EXPRESSED WITH WORDS AAARRRGHHHH!!

I feel bad for the lowly peons. I bet there are quiet a few guys who receive quiet a bit of flak for the workings of upper management.

As I've said before, I think part of their behavior is that it's seen as a sign of success. Usually when people talk about things like this they refer back to the classic movie "Wall Street" and it's "Greed is Good" speech. The bottom line being that a company that has to be seen as the good guys and listen to their customers and play fair is seen as being "weak". One that can basically say "profit before everything" and insult their customer base and any little guy who works with them and still remain in business because the customers want their product so badly, and the little guys are running to them lemming-like in hopes that things will be differant... well that's a sign of a "strong" company. If your a serious investor and you have a choice between dealing with "Nice Guys Incorperated" which is careful to toe the line, and say "Activision" which pretty much takes a dump on everyone and everything while Bobby Kotick laughs about it and STILL makes money hand over fist, your probably going to go deal with Kotick assuming your in a position to deal with him on equal terms.

This generally blows chips, but that's just how the world is for the moment.

Also one admittedly insane point by today's standards:

I will be honest in saying that I believe there is a lot of truth behind the old maxim that "an armed society is a polite society". I think that the right to keep and bear arms was intended for a large number of reasons, not just for a militia, but to keep the goverment in line, and also simply because people respect a man with a gun, and if everyone has a gun and knows how to use it, people are going to tread far more carefully to be fair in their dealings. I mean even if your a really fast gunslinger, there is always that chance the guy your talking to is faster, or that your going to have a bad day.

The idea being that it's still illegal to murder someone, and the court system has it's place, but honestly people are going to be far more reluctant to serve their "I just screwed you and ruined your life, while stealing all your stuff" paperwork if there is a serious risk that they won't be leaving the room alive afterwards.

Yes, I know how crazy this is, but some authors like "Robert Heinlan" (one of my favorites, especially in the early days) made some pretty interesting points about things like this, and in a lot of cases when I read stuff like this article it makes me wonder what he'd have said about it (though also consider when he got older some of his positions changed a little, his book "Friday" detailed the society he built up in "Gulf" collapsing).

JayDub147:

Bruden:
Just look on the Bright side, Activision is now partnered with Blizzard, which means in a decades time Blizzard will have expunged the cancer, probably merged with someone else, and Activision will be a vague name gamers used to whisper, just like what happened with Vivendi.

Actually, based on the way cancer operates, I would say that it's more likely that Activision will expand and choke the life out of Blizzard and every other company foolish enough to join with them (like Bungie). It will continue to spread and will end up destroying the entire organism.

Blizzard is already showing signs of being horribly mutated into cancer itself. RealID and cover-up anyone?

OT:

Great article. Must...boycott...Activision rawr!

And when Activision gets that high score, I guarantee you the initials you'll see up there are "B $ K".

The primary problem with the law is that is written by politicians (usually former lawyers) so that only lawyers can understand it. If it were written in plain English so that anyone with a high-school reading ability could understand, law offices would be going out of business in droves and this kind of crap would be at least somewhat less likely to happen.

Apparently we're all following a new Golden Rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules.

Nice informative article Shamus.
Thanks--

--

Therumancer:
...

you're

Mr Companion:
Its funny how often evil genius get mentioned and yet they gone out of buisness. Perhaps one day enough gamers will demand it that a company will make a second one, improving on all the mistakes...

The IP currently belongs to Rebellion, and they might be doing something with it.

Hopeless Bastard:
"don't bother trying to change anything you'll just make it worse."

Yea yea, hip cynicism, big whoop.

Arguing that loopholes shouldn't be closed because of the possibility other loopholes may open is simply a surrender.

Yeah, i agree with this guy. I think we should always try to improve things - most of the time, we'll get a benefit, big or small. Hell, i thought that this kind of behavior is what drives our progress in the first place! Also, i find your username MASSIVELY ironic.

Freshman:
No way your getting away with shit like this in the glorious peoples republic of china.

What's the difference between corporations stealing all your stuff then spitting in your face and a totalitarian government stealing all your stuff and spitting in your face?

Therumancer:
Also one admittedly insane point by today's standards:

I will be honest in saying that I believe there is a lot of truth behind the old maxim that "an armed society is a polite society". I think that the right to keep and bear arms was intended for a large number of reasons, not just for a militia, but to keep the goverment in line, and also simply because people respect a man with a gun, and if everyone has a gun and knows how to use it, people are going to tread far more carefully to be fair in their dealings.

That's not insane, that's what i wanted to say! Okay, i'm not exactly 100% normal, so it might be insane, but it's still a great point. I wish i could resolve conflicts by simply shooting the big fat moneybag who tried to steal from me. Or blow up his limo. Or firebomb his office. Or, y'know, something else in that vein. The only (AND HUGE!) problem is that people who want to attack instead of defending would also start murdering.

This reminds me of an old article on this site talking about what Majesco did to Taldren Games.

Kollega:

Therumancer:
Also one admittedly insane point by today's standards:

I will be honest in saying that I believe there is a lot of truth behind the old maxim that "an armed society is a polite society". I think that the right to keep and bear arms was intended for a large number of reasons, not just for a militia, but to keep the goverment in line, and also simply because people respect a man with a gun, and if everyone has a gun and knows how to use it, people are going to tread far more carefully to be fair in their dealings.

That's not insane, that's what i wanted to say! Okay, i'm not exactly 100% normal, so it might be insane, but it's still a great point. I wish i could resolve conflicts by simply shooting the big fat moneybag who tried to steal from me. Or blow up his limo. Or firebomb his office. Or, y'know, something else in that vein. The only (AND HUGE!) problem is that people who want to attack instead of defending would also start murdering.

Well, the central idea is more along the lines that it would do a lot to prevent such dubious dealings to begin with, rather than turning into a massive free-for-all bloodbath.

Simply put the idea is that if they were to say remove the idea of gun liscences and registration entirely, as well as passing laws making it impossible to ban armament on private property, and everyone was armed (or assumed to be) people would be less willing to take risks.

The idea being that contracts would be done "old school" where it would require both you and the other guy to sit down with a notary and sign in person with a notary to verify it (which is increasingly optional). If someone like Bobby Kotick tried to give you an ultimatum like that, he'd be risking a bullet in the head to do so. The right to be armed even on his private property means he can't arrange to meet you unarmed in his company HQ, and even if it's surrounded by security guards there is always that chance that your going to get your shot off before they do.

The point being not that you's shoot a Bobby Kotick, but more along the lines that like Heinlan supposed (if I am remembering this correctly) there wouldn't be businessmen operating like this to begin with. I mean the courts are all well and good, but you have to get there.

It comes down to my arguement that today's society is very much governed by "Might Makes Right" as the article author was mentioning. It's just that today instead of physical brawn, society is governed by what amounts to a ruthless intellectual elite. The smarter guy typically wins and dominates the less intelligent and ruthless just as a warlord could dominate peasants through armed might. Lawyers representing the gladiators, "personal champions", and most appropriatly professional duellists of yesteryear. The pen being mightier than the sword because of a society that allows itself to be ruled by excessive bureaucracy.

My point, and I guess that of Heinlan in some of his stuff, is that there is no more purity and justice in the current way of doing things, than there was when policy was decided by having two dudes in armor fight to the death.

What I propose is sort of a comprimise between the two extremes. Of course the reason why I'm "insane" is that no system actually works out as well as it does on paper or in speculative fiction. I myself could point out plenty of flaws with it, but that doesn't stop me from thinking that if someone like Bobby Kotick and a small publisher he wanted to bully both met at a table, and both had guns at their hip, that what happened at that table would be a lot more equitable since both of them want to be able to get up from that table and go home at the end of the day... all the legal repercussions against the guy who killed you mean nothing to you once your dead.

Gamers can't stick to boycotts and piracy has no real effect on mega-publishers... how can regular folks force them into bankruptcy when people are happily buying their games without any idea of what's going on?

Out of principle, I'm not buying another game from Activision until something changes and they mend their ways.

... Shit, that means I can't get Starcraft 2. Oh well.

its not always big bastards, small bastards exist, almost everyone coming out of eastern district of texas is. As someone who is involved in buisness and law (albit a newb, but knows more then a layman) my assumption if you file in eastern texas, your case is bullshit and your taking advantage of a broken court and you have a special place in hell waiting for you. Also, its almost all small companies with crap vulture patents who sue out of there <.<

Oh i dont think big guys sueing to abuse people is good, but the small ones i find worse.

Shamus Young:
...but having a majority of your customers hate your freaking guts is bad for any business.

Apple makes preposterous sums of money defying this very concept. Mostly because it's not a majority of people who hate their guts, only the majority of people who know and care enough. And those are few and far between compared to the millions upon millions who will still buy the next Call of Duty and the iPad 2.

Hopeless Bastard:
"don't bother trying to change anything you'll just make it worse."

Yea yea, hip cynicism, big whoop.

The main problem with law is its increased exponentially in complexity since it was first solidified as a concept, but the tools of the trade remain in the stone age. Most large law firms being little more than two or three actual practicing lawyers (the guys on the letterhead) and a couple hundred guys working on an assembly line, cutting briefs into stone tablets. If, say, law was digitized, and briefs were filed and resolved instantly, rather than over the course of several months, pretty much every legal loophole would vanish. That being what the cases you're talking about are, loopholes.

Arguing that loopholes shouldn't be closed because of the possibility other loopholes may open is simply a surrender.

And about activision... all corporations act in the exact same way once they reach sufficient size. So acting like activision is evil implies other massive middlemen corporations aren't. While in reality, it just means acitivision has a lazy PR department.

I wasn't saying that the system couldn't be improved or that we should just accept it, I was more warning against the kind of kneejerk changes people want to make when they hear stories like this.

"Oh they should just make it so that big companies have to pay some crazy tax if they want to sue a little company."

Stuff like that. I guess I shouldn't have said you "couldn't" fix it, just that it's harder than it seems at first glance.

Sometimes I hear things like this story. Or things like when my friend worked briefly for a game studio that worked its employees regularly for 60-80 hour weeks and could do so, because everyone working for a game studio was apparently considered an IT worker and under the law were considered an "essential service" (ie, the same category as police, firefighters, EMTS and other first responders--because someone might die if the next Modern Warfare isn't released dontcha know) and thus could be worked like slaves for the equivalent of practically minimum wage, without the usual protections of labour law.

When I hear things like this, I can't help but wonder what might have happened if IT workers of all stripes had gotten together back in the mid-90s during the dot-com boom and the PC gaming boom, and organized a union or guild to negotiate contracts and set workplace conditions and minimum rates for workers in the industry (and hopefully anticipate and minimize the seep of corruption older unions eventually succumbed to). Then maybe, there would be a large, wealthy organization able to stand up to large corporations on these kinds of issues. But that's just a passing thought.

honestly, I have ALWAYS hated activision, never enjoyed a single game from those bastards, I hope they lose everything one day because they thought they could pull the strings of a not so lowly game studio, oh to see a underdog come out on top and ruin them in the process truely I will hold a party for such an event!

Shamus Young:
I wasn't saying that the system couldn't be improved or that we should just accept it, I was more warning against the kind of kneejerk changes people want to make when they hear stories like this.

"Oh they should just make it so that big companies have to pay some crazy tax if they want to sue a little company."

Stuff like that. I guess I shouldn't have said you "couldn't" fix it, just that it's harder than it seems at first glance.

Well, a simple fix would be to place a soft cap on what corporations can spend in legal fees to sue other corporations. Say, ASSHOLE inc. can't spend more than 25% of VICTIM llc.'s net worth in legal fees. Something like this premise exists somewhere else, I just can't remember where, so its not a completely new precedent. Then any attempt to circumvent this cap is already a crime (faux pro bono, falsified billings, etc), meaning it would be an incredibly simple matter to expose once the case goes to trial, and every lawyer involved would be close to instantly disbarred.

But, of course, that brings us to a way the system is actually corrupt. There is no way in hell such a law would ever get passed. Literally every law firm in existence would suspend all other operations to fight in every way possible anything resembling a cap on allowable legal spending. Any and every remaining private land containing one or more trees would be clear-cut (at the owner's profit) and all the old paper mills would have to be reopened just to keep up with the amount of shit that would be filed. The whole of washington DC would be buried under an ocean of paper. Not even mentioning lobbyists.

Shamus Young:
They seem to end up in court about as often as often as Princess Peach gets kidnapped.

Oh snap! Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of "people."

I havent been following Activision's stock, but perhaps someone knows what the current value is compared to before all these shenanigins started?

good read, if nothing else :) It's always important to keep these things exposed to the open air of debate if for no other reason then to keep new customers as well as old aware of what's going on.

z3rostr1fe:
SimLawsuit... Interesting...

*Creates design document*

Only if you call it Escapists presents Shamus Yung's SimLawsuit Featuring Yachtzee, have it published by Activision and dare someone to sue.

008Zulu:

Shamus Young:
They seem to end up in court about as often as often as Princess Peach gets kidnapped.

Oh snap! Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of "people."

I havent been following Activision's stock, but perhaps someone knows what the current value is compared to before all these shenanigins started?

As of the end of trading Friday, they were down .76 (-6.47%) closing at $10.99 a share, and the previous 52 week high was $13.00 and low was $9.93. You'd think that with Starcraft 2 releasing last week theyh would still be riding high which tells me one of two thing; either investors are looking at SC2 as a product that has already shot it's wad or something is up at Activision.

RowdyRodimus:
As of the end of trading Friday, they were down .76 (-6.47%) closing at $10.99 a share, and the previous 52 week high was $13.00 and low was $9.93. You'd think that with Starcraft 2 releasing last week theyh would still be riding high which tells me one of two thing; either investors are looking at SC2 as a product that has already shot it's wad or something is up at Activision.

Either that they (the stockholders) are no longer 100% confident in Activision's ability to make money. Interesting numbers tho, may be worth further watching.

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