Forums Kongregate

Outernauts and sleazy advertisement.

52 posts

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Note: I am singling out the recently badged game Outernauts for this practice because it is the first game I have seen doing it. I make no claim that this sleazy behavior started with Outernauts.

In case you’ve never played Outernauts, let me set the stage for you. The mechanics and specifics of the game are irrelevant, all you need to know is that Outernauts is a massively single player game on this site. ‘Single player’ because their is no live interaction with other players as part of the normal course of the game, but the game tries to pretend that it sort of has some anyway. One such way is highly problematic and it is the one I wish to discuss in this thread.

This thread is about the player mailbox in Outernauts. Although it is presented as a “mailbox”, this game element is not used to send or receive messages at all. Instead it is periodically ‘activated’ by the game, and its owner can then click it for a small reward. When active, mousing over it will display a small window in which the game will claim that “{insert random Kong user that is on player’s friend’s list} has send you a message”. There is no in-game messaging system, that message simply does not exist.

One can only speculate about the motivations behind this window (this lie, really), but I suspect the reasoning worked as follows:
1) Kong user John tries out Outernauts.
2) Upon seeing his mailbox active, John learns that his friend Alex has sent him a message. Having no reason to suspect foul play on the part of the game, John is now convinced that Alex plays Outernauts.
3) John is made aware of the game’s ‘friend’ feature, which requires that players spam the people on their friend list for them to be included as their friends in the game. Thinking Alex already plays the game, John sends her an invite.
4) Kong user Alex receives a spam message from John telling her to play Outernauts, a game she was not aware of until that point. She has been successfully targeted by an Outernauts ad.

I am calling this advertising method sleazy. I could have used the words ‘underhanded’, ‘unethical’, ‘unsavory’, or a number of other qualifiers, so please do not consider ‘sleazy’ to be meant exclusively. It is dishonest because the game is using John’s friend list to misrepresent one of its features as a bona fide attempt at in-game interaction by another player.

In plain English, the game designers are lying to their players in order to incite them to advertise their game for them.

So, is fraud a big deal? Does Outernauts go too far? Have you seen worse examples of information abuse by other games? Debate, discuss.

 
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I think I see what you mean and that’s uncool. I don’t think it’s as dramatic as you make it out to be, but still not okay. I really thought/hoped that the developer invite/spam/advertising issues from around a year ago were done and over with.

Have you tried talking to the developer about this?

 
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yea ikr its kongs fault for giving badges to games like this.

 
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I’m not quite sure in this.
I haven’t added any friend yet, but still got some emails from random people.
What possibly could happen – someone invited you from chat or game randomly distributed players by neighbourhoods.

Overall med badge is easy if compared to most MMOs on this site, I did it within 10 hours, with really big window for improvement.

 
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Nice catch. I’ve seen many MMOs here encouraging to spam invites and such, but no one that makes the player think his friend actually plays the game.

 
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Originally posted by SumGato:

Nice catch. I’ve seen many MMOs here encouraging to spam invites and such, but no one that makes the player think his friend actually plays the game.

yep there’s quite a few like that.

 
This post has been removed by an administrator or moderator
 
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Originally posted by Ace_Blue:

Note: I am singling out the recently badged game Outernauts for this practice because it is the first game I have seen doing it. I make no claim that this sleazy behavior started with Outernauts.

In case you’ve never played Outernauts, let me set the stage for you. The mechanics and specifics of the game are irrelevant, all you need to know is that Outernauts is a massively single player game on this site. ‘Single player’ because their is no live interaction with other players as part of the normal course of the game, but the game tries to pretend that it sort of has some anyway. One such way is highly problematic and it is the one I wish to discuss in this thread.

This thread is about the player mailbox in Outernauts. Although it is presented as a “mailbox”, this game element is not used to send or receive messages at all. Instead it is periodically ‘activated’ by the game, and its owner can then click it for a small reward. When active, mousing over it will display a small window in which the game will claim that “{insert random Kong user that is on player’s friend’s list} has send you a message”. There is no in-game messaging system, that message simply does not exist.

One can only speculate about the motivations behind this window (this lie, really), but I suspect the reasoning worked as follows:
1) Kong user John tries out Outernauts.
2) Upon seeing his mailbox active, John learns that his friend Alex has sent him a message. Having no reason to suspect foul play on the part of the game, John is now convinced that Alex plays Outernauts.
3) John is made aware of the game’s ‘friend’ feature, which requires that players spam the people on their friend list for them to be included as their friends in the game. Thinking Alex already plays the game, John sends her an invite.
4) Kong user Alex receives a spam message from John telling her to play Outernauts, a game she was not aware of until that point. She has been successfully targeted by an Outernauts ad.

I am calling this advertising method sleazy. I could have used the words ‘underhanded’, ‘unethical’, ‘unsavory’, or a number of other qualifiers, so please do not consider ‘sleazy’ to be meant exclusively. It is dishonest because the game is using John’s friend list to misrepresent one of its features as a bona fide attempt at in-game interaction by another player.

In plain English, the game designers are lying to their players in order to incite them to advertise their game for them.

So, is fraud a big deal? Does Outernauts go too far? Have you seen worse examples of information abuse by other games? Debate, discuss.

sad what kong has gone to

 
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You can’t really blame Kongregate for this.

 
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Originally posted by adv0catus:

You can’t really blame Kongregate for this.

True. But Kongregate is responsible for the Medium Badge requirements (Raise your beast value to 10,000). While you can do this without spamming for friends, doing so greatly reduces the time you need to invest in this badge when the reward for adding several friends gives you up to 10 super gravity orbs, enabling you to capture high value creatures easily.

 
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Originally posted by adv0catus:

You can’t really blame Kongregate for this.

Yes you can. It’s a little thing called ‘minimum quality standards’ and/or ‘putting quality over profit’.

Sure it’s in every way opposed to the core ideals of capitalism, but hey.

Kong could easily disable the premium currency system entirely. They wont, but they could.

 
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From a badge perspective… Kongregate puts the user in an awkward situation. This is true. However, “minimum quality standards” (Are you being vague or specifically referring to he badge? I’ll assume vague.) isn’t Kongregate’s fault. They let the highest quality games be uploaded right alongside the 10 minutes of Stencyl that someone does.

 
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There are a lot of garbage games that get through, but stopping the MMO flood is as easy as removing the premium system. Again, it wont ever happen (Because profit) but it would put a stop to the majority of the problems that pop up. Another option would be to disable badges for any game with premium content (Which, again, wont happen. Badges lead to more plays which leads to more profit).

Additionally, a “Report Copyrighted Material” option (One which would allow the inclusion of text and/or screenshots) would serve well to destroy the MMOs. A large portion of them use blatantly ripped artwork, relatively few even take the effort to recolour or modify them.

Then, lately, there seem to have been more cases of games shutting down after players have spent money on the nonsense; though, I seem to recall something about a new consumer rights law proposed in some places that would make companies liable to refund content lost due to a game’s closure (enforcement of it would surely be laughable, however).

 
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There is nothing wrong with Kongregate offering MMO’s with premium content. Even giving badges to some of those games. Especially when all of those badges can be completed without the user spending any money.

What can be done more effectively is more carefully weighing the requirements when making the badge, so that those badges won’t negatively impact the entire Kongregate user base. (ie. avoiding badge requirements that promote spamming your friends list.)

I think overall Kongregate does do a decent job when it comes to promoting premium MMO’s (making money) and protecting the best interests of it’s user base. It is a fine line. MMO’s are profitable and some might consider them a necessary evil. Others like them, and when an MMO is done right, they can be quite enjoyable.

Getting rid of every MMO is not the answer. Encouraging them to adhere to better practices is. That can only be done by the players themselves. If they stop spending money on the games that abuse the system…those games will die out.

 
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Wait, people are complaining about a badge that can be earned for free in a weekend?

 
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Originally posted by Thok:

Wait, people are complaining about a medium badge that takes an entire weekend to earn?

FTFY

 
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I’ve spent a hell of a lot longer than a weekend on dozens of non-MMO medium badges.

 
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Ace_Blue,

Thank you for creating a thread about this. In order to get a full understanding of the situation and what’s going on with the game mechanics, I’d like to ask for a bit more detail about the source of the problem.

I pulled up the game on an alternate account that has never played the game before, and I can’t seem to find this “mailbox”. Does it appear later on in the game? If you can provide a few more steps to your process, I’d like to try and work things out.

 
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Originally posted by Zshadow:

Ace_Blue,

Thank you for creating a thread about this. In order to get a full understanding of the situation and what’s going on with the game mechanics, I’d like to ask for a bit more detail about the source of the problem.

I pulled up the game on an alternate account that has never played the game before, and I can’t seem to find this “mailbox”. Does it appear later on in the game? If you can provide a few more steps to your process, I’d like to try and work things out.

The “mailbox” appears in your Homeworld.

And the Mouse over:

 
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Forcing friends… is a bad way to go

I ended up with 500 friends and 500 fans. After playing Berserk Cataclym for a while – since its an optimal way to go in this game.

It took me whole evening to delete them again, so I advice dont do this people.

 
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Originally posted by NicolBolas:

I ended up with 500 friends and 500 fans. After playing Berserk Cataclym for a while – since its an optimal way to go in this game.

It took me whole evening to delete them again, so I advice dont do this people.

Try this

 
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Originally posted by MaistlinRajere:
Originally posted by NicolBolas:

I ended up with 500 friends and 500 fans. After playing Berserk Cataclym for a while – since its an optimal way to go in this game.

It took me whole evening to delete them again, so I advice dont do this people.

Try this

oh damn, i will rem,eber for next time

 
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yea ikr. i played this game a lil bit and instantly got a lot of fans.

 
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Originally posted by adv0catus:

However, “minimum quality standards” (Are you being vague or specifically referring to he badge? I’ll assume vague.) isn’t Kongregate’s fault.

I think he’s referring to all badges in general.

And he’s speaking the truth, badges have fell on an all time minimum lately.

 
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If anything, I’m disappointed in Insomniac. Sucks that the guys who put out stuff like Ratchet & Clank and Resistance would seriously think they needed to resort to something that underhanded, even for a throwaway Facebook MMO.