particle surge

the weblog of adrian j. watts

A legal letter, redacted

Hi, folks!

A mobile game I quite enjoy had an update recently… that was apparently incompatible with my device. Under the game’s ToS, I can’t play the game on another device (they’d never enforce that, of course, especially with the compatibility issue) and I don’t want to play on another device anyway.

The issue here lies in the game removing my access to content I already had, including in-app purchases. American companies feel they can put zero liability into their ToS and be protected. Wrong.

If the game is made available here in Australia, they are bound by the Australian Consumer Law between them and their customers. Under the ACL, while they may choose not to make further updates, they cannot take away what you already have (there’s a term for it – I think it was “undisturbed possession”).

With the update, you can’t continue playing the version that worked. They are taking away your access to what you already had – and even if their Terms of Service say they can do that, the ACL says they can’t, and a provision of the ACL says that when there’s a conflict, the ACL wins.

I emailed the game provider to let them know about this. I have asked them to refund all of my in-app purchases, since they took them away from me. I’ve included the letter below, with the name of the game and developer removed.

If you have questions, leave a comment or email me. I can direct you to the specific portions of the ACL you need.


Hi, game developer!

This is not going to be a pleasant email, so I would like to start off with some stuff that is pleasant: this game is fantastic. The writing is particularly brilliant (I’d love to know who writes the dialogue – I may well wish to offer them work in the future) and some of the more complex mechanics (during special events), while often initially more buggy than most games, ends up working really well.

After starting game, I was so impressed that I went to look up all of your other games. Even other game is great, and I’m not much a other game fan (it actually feels like game without any of the bad stuff). Earlier today I was looking at a couple of other game developer games (notably third game) and I’m sure they’ll be fun!

But you’ve irked me greatly with game.

A few weeks ago I sent a message through the in-game support system about frustration with in-app purchases, particularly of premium characters. I’d spend $30 AUD on a character, to find that after that they did not get any quests or tasks – almost all of them were used only for sparring with characters in the game feature; even then, some could not participate in that.

You replied, but I did not read your reply.

Earlier today, I went to play the game, and got a message about an update. When I pressed the button to update (yay! A licensed event!) the Google Play Store told me the new version was incompatible with my device.

This would normally be very irritating, but not a problem – if there was an option to continue playing the compatible version.

I note the following from your Terms of Service:

“Company may change, suspend or discontinue the Software at any time, including the availability of any feature, database, or content.  Company may also impose limits on certain features and services or restrict your access to parts or all of the Software without notice or liability.”

Unfortunately, that is meaningless under the Australian Consumer Law, which applies to the use of the product in Australia (where I am). By making the game available here, you are subject to the ACL.

Under the Australian Consumer Law, while you may not make further updates available (unless we explicitly had a contract requiring you to do so), you can’t remove my access to what I have already been given (and while I don’t think the ACL makes a distinction, morally this would apply doubly if it had been paid for). You also cannot make changes which require a secondary purchase (e.g., a different device) to ensure continued access to what I already have.

As a result, I would like to request that you either:

– enable me to have continued access to the game, including the benefits of my in-app purchases; or

– refund all of my in-app purchases; or

– if the compatibility issue can be resolved (e.g., if this is due to an inadvertent technical error, or something like that) that I be compensated so that the time I was unable to access the game and my in-app purchases does not impact my ability to complete the licensed event (or anything else that may be introduced while I cannot play on my device).

Thank you in advance for your consideration,

– Adrian Watts

Civil War II #4

cwii04coverWriter: Brian Bendis
Penciler: David Marquez
Publisher: Marvel Comics

You know, Spidey wasn’t even in this issue, unless he was standing in Iron Man’s crowd on the second last page. But, yeah, prime cover real estate. Good on you, Parker.

This issue was beyond absurd. Laughable, even. It isn’t even internally consistent.

Nonsense. Make it go away.

Stranger Things Season 1

strangerthings-s1Oh, God damn it.

I loved this to pieces, but can’t quite put my finger on why. I rarely “binge-watch” shows, unless I’m having a bipolar mixed episode, where I can’t really help it. But this… I’d watch four eps a night.

Charlie Heaton in particular was great, as was the main little nerdy boy. They’ll both go far. The kid with no teeth will do well, too.

This was the best performance of Wynonna Rider’s career, too. Why did she hide it all away for so long?

The big problem, for me, was Joe Keely. He should be hot… but he wasn’t, except when he was beaten up, which is always good.

I dunno, the show’s too weird to really pin anything down. 😛

I’m excited that there will be a season two, but it clearly won’t be a continuation of the same story. I hope they don’t go the American Horror Story route and just keep using the same cast for radically different stories. This series’ charm was in exactly what it is. You couldn’t just use the name and actors and tell another story. Only a continuation would work, but it won’t happen.

That said, this was so good, I can’t predict what the creators might pull out. They might make an AHS-style show work, finally.

Containment Season 1

containment-s1When I started watching this, I was a bit put off by Chris Wood, who plays Jake Ryan. He looked a bit funny. So I went instead and tried Cordon, the European show from which it is adapted. The Jake Ryan equivalent was foul. So I went back to Containment. Where Lex – the outside cop – is just… like… the worst actor ever, and so annoying.

So this, for me, very quickly became the Jake, Quentin and Kate show. They were lovely. Then Jake got really god damn hot somehow and it almost became softcore porn for me. I lasted long enough to start to get a bit interested in the plot…

… and then the show ended. No season two, and no real answers. God damn it. Now I’m going to have to watch Cordon.

This show would do really well with some YA novels continuing the story. I just want more Jake and Quentin now.

The big letdown was the cancellation. It meant things couldn’t really be answered, so the show became 13 (or however many eps there were) weeks of watching Jake be hot. (The shower bit. Jesus.) They could have at least extended the season by one or two episodes to get some answers in…

The Blacklist Season 2

blacklists2There wasn’t much that was very memorable about this.

I miss the female agent killed in season one. The Mossad agent who replaces her here isn’t very interesting. She sort of got a bit interesting when she had sex with Ressler, but that was killed off quickly. There was some mystery about where she came from, why Reddington wanted her on the taskforce, etc., but that was discarded very quickly with no answers, too. No idea what was going on with her, frankly.

Tom Keen just continued to annoy me throughout. I was hoping someone would kill him. For a second, it looked like Elizabeth might get interesting and do it. You know, it would actually make sense, given the plot – but why have her do that, when she can kill someone else, when she totally doesn’t need to, for no benefit to anyone?

The only good thing about the season was the ongoing drama with Harold. It was scary, and he eventually came out on top. But that was the fodder used to launch into Elizabeth’s “shock” ending to the season… and the horrible mess that is season three.

This was pretty average. There wasn’t a lot to hate until near the end, but nothing at all to get excited about.

Rom #1

rom01coverWriters: Chris Ryall & Christos Gage
Penciler: David Messina
Publisher: IDW Publishing

This book had sold me on a few points before I even read it.

First, it’s Rom. Rom is a freaking legend. I’ve heard nothing but glorious things, even though my only previous exposure to him was, I think, a guest appearance in an X-Men issue and one issue of his own series, with the gold, female human spaceknight.

Second, from all the things I had heard about the series, Rom should be right up my alley. He may as well be one of Toei’s Metal Heroes.

Third, it is written by Christos Gage.

I was not disappointed.

I get the feeling the original Rom series might be a bit more to my liking, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy this. It ticked every box. The art was great, the writing was great. I was even surprised by a logical plot twist!

The only problem I see is that the premise can’t go on forever. What I hope is that we get a good five, six or even ten years of Rom fighting the Dire Wraiths; then, with them defeated, he moves on to other adventures, perhaps journeying through space with the Transformers. Heck, he could become a Headmaster or something.

Anyway, short version: big fan. Can’t wait for issue two.

New Avengers #13

newavengers13coverWriter: Al Ewing
Penciler: Paco Medina
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Yay! A relevant cover!

There are two things I disliked about this issue. The first is Sunspot just unveiling one new bit of super-tech after another. It’s just getting absurd; no matter the situation, he has a bit of tech he has never mentioned before that is perfect for it. It’s getting really hard to suspend disbelief now. The second is the apparent harm that comes to Toni Ho – Marvel has already promoted Al Ewing’s upcoming USAvengers, which shows that Ho is still clearly alive.

That said, Skar! I thought all along that this was the Earth-616 version of Skar, but from what the Maker says, it could well be the Skar from the Killraven/GotG future (which would take a bit more explaining, but is okay). Maybe we can even get Skar vs Skar one day!

This really felt a bit like filler, like the book was forced on the Civil War II bandwagon. There was one small detail that seems quite relevant to the broader New Avengers story, and Sunspot dropped a hint about something else that has me scratching my head, but most was just finding a way to insert a prophecy to play with the big boys.

I’ll be glad when the normal work resumes – but please, Marvel, stop teasing us with good artists. It always makes it hurt when Sandoval comes back.

Civil War II #3

cwii03coverWriter: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: David Marquez
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It’s funny – at the supermarket, I can get 24 rolls of unused toilet paper for $9… but I paid $8.95 for this used toilet paper.

Yes. I am saying this comic was utter, utter, utter shit.

Like, shit on a crumpet. A crumpet also made of shit.

I mean… where do I even begin on this?

The Hawkeye stuff shouldn’t need explaining. Any writer and/or editor who wrote that or let that be written is beyond idiotic. To call it shit is actually a compliment. It is of such poor quality, both technically and in the more subjective ways, that those responsible for it should be utterly ashamed – and should refund everyone’s money.

But let’s move on to the less obvious things.

Why is Cap just standing around as this stuff happens?

Why is no-one asking how Matt Murdock can be the prosecuting attorney when he’s working for Danvers, a fraud, and a murderer himself?

I…

I mean, there is so much shit on this already that I wouldn’t even be able to use it to wipe my arse. My shit-covered arse would become dirtier if I tried to use this as toilet paper.

Seriously. Just… like… I’m literally stunned by how utterly terrible this is.

Wacky Raceland #2

wackyraceland02coverWriter: Ken Pontac
Penciler: Leonardo Manco
Publisher: DC Comics

Don’t get me wrong – this issue was excellent. But it was also very disappointing.

We got some interesting backstory for Dick Dastardly, stuff I would absolutely not have expected, but which I enjoyed nonetheless. But we got next to nothing about why the world is the way it is and who The Announcer is; there was a tiny bit, but it didn’t add anything to what we learned in the first issue.

It’s fine to do issues like this in an ongoing series, or even a decent-length limited series, but this is only four or six issues. We don’t have time for this.

Also, while the whole premise and the individual stories are quite compelling, the creators miss a lot of opportunities for awesomeness. Again, don’t get me wrong – this is one of the best books out at the moment. It craps all over 95% of what Marvel is doing, and 99% of DC’s other titles. But it could still be much, much better.

I don’t know if I’m as excited for issue three as I was for issue two – I’m now wary that it might be awkwardly paced and miss the important stuff. But I will definitely be reading it!

Nighthawk #2

nighthawk02coverWriter: David Walker
Penciler: Ramon Villalobos
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Do you know what other comics David Walker has written?

Cyborg for DC. Shaft for IDW. A Marvel custom comic featuring Luke Cage. A character of his own named Darius Logan.

Know what they all have in common with Nighthawk? Yep, that’s it.

I’m just saying, if I wanted to read about a stereotypical black character, with writing by David Walker, I could pick any of those other titles. Why am I getting this? Not only is the main character a black stereotype, the only thing he has going for him is that he’s a Batman ripoff.

So, you know. Nothing.

And the bad guy? A white property developer who wants to “make America great again”. And the book is set in Chicago, so of course it features white cops shooting black people. (And the cops are always 100% wrong, because whenever a white cop shoots a black person it must be a racist thing.)

It’s kinda funny – Nighthawk criticises the police for not being able to stop the cops, who have killed more people than the serial killer they’re hunting, but Nighthawk has also killed lots of people. So he’s a hypocritical, stereotypical black Batman ripoff. What fun!

Gah.

I’m pretty much utterly disinterested at this point but, as usual, will give it until the end of the first arc, at least.

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