PS2J 286 News – One Click Debt, No Refunds

Free Games

  • PS4

    • BioShock: The Collection

      • 2016
      • Remastered, 1080p ports of all three plot-driven first-person shooter games (BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite), taking you from the depths of Rapture to the skies of Columbia in some great stories in dystopias freed of “petty morality” summed up by “No gods or kings, only man”
    • The Sims 4

      • 2017
      • A reportedly decent port of the classic life simulation series that has you creating characters and households, then living their lives
    • Firewall Zero Hour

      • 2018
      • 4v4 tactical VR shooter developed exclusively for the PSVR that has you seizing or protecting sensitive information from opposing teams
  • Xbox One

    • TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge

      • 2018
      • Motorcycle racing game that has you challenging the deadly Snaefell Mountain course that has you taking on 38 miles of roads at over 180 mph
    • Call of Cthulhu

      • 2018
      • A role-playing psychological horror game inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s writing, while also being an adaptation of the 1981 RPG of the same title
    • Fable Heroes

      • 2012
      • A beat ’em up spinoff of the Fable series, with a toy-like aesthetic and mixed reviews, it’s at least the first family friendly Fable title
    • Star Wars Battlefront

      • 2004
      • The original Battlefront game for the first Xbox, it’s a first and third person shooter that primarily plays as a conquest game with limited respawns for each team and also has a Galactic Conquest mode with some strategy elements
  • Epic Games

    • Farming Simulator 19

      • 2018
      • Pretty much what it says on the tin- it’s a full farming simulator with huge American and European environments, over 300 vehicles and machines, online co-op play, and a surprisingly large mod community
    • Next week we can look forward to PC ports of some popular board games

Apparently Ring isn’t just a product that lets people surveil their neighbours and gives police access to a network of cameras, it also tracks its customers through its app

  • We talked about the Ring camera doorbells and Amazon’s shady agreements with local police to promote the products and get access to recorded footage last summer back in episodes 263 and 268
  • Well now the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) put together an investigation of the associated Android app and found it packed with third-party trackers sending out a plethora of personally identifiable information on its customers
    • This stuff includes names, IP addresses, mobile network carriers, persistent identifiers, and sensor data from the devices themselves
  • All of that info comes together to form a detailed fingerprint of the user that can be sold or used to see what people are doing in their digital lives, and most damning of all is that there is no notification, consent, or ways to mitigate the damage done
  • Ring is taking this information and delivering it to organizations like:
    • Facebook
    • Branch
      • a “deep linking” platform that builds those exact kind of digital fingerprints and associates them with other marketing and analytics data
    • AppsFlyer
      • another marketing data firm that’s now getting their hands on sensor data from all those devices
    • And Mixpanel
      • yet another business analytics service, but this one deserves special mention since Ring is sending them people’s full names, email address, details on your phone’s OS and hardware model, bluetooth settings, and how many locations you have Ring devices installed in
    • Of those services only Mixpanel is on Ring’s list of third-party services they say they work with, but they don’t make it clear just how much information they share
  • All that is to say, for being a company based around securing your home they sure don’t seem to have any consideration for your personal information. If you use a Ring device, it may be time to rethink that

Tesla’s taking heat this week because of their fairly predatory practices when it comes to buying upgrades

  • In a pretty suspicious move, about a week and a half before the end of their financial year Tesla rolled out a new feature in their phone app allowing people to buy software upgrades for their cars to enable full autopilot
  • Shortly afterward, they were hit with a lot of users complaining about unintended purchases and a terrible refund policy
    • In one case someone broke down exactly what happened- they essentially butt dialled the purchase, contacted support as soon as they could afterward and then a week later were told that there are no refunds for software purchases.
      • The support staff even compared it to “paying for an addition to a house, deciding you don’t like it, then requesting a refund from the contractor”
      • There are even some staff claiming that the upgrade can’t be removed from the car, when it’s basically just an enable/disable flag with no major download or installation involved
    • Eventually someone high-profile enough complained on Twitter and Elon Musk said that the refund situation would be addressed, but who knows if that will roll out to all the little people affected
  • The kicker here is how easy Tesla made it to accidentally make the purchase- it’s harder to download a free app
    • If you’re logged in to the Tesla app and go to the upgrades screen, the $4000 autopilot upgrade is automatically selected, added to your cart, and the payment prompt is immediately displayed
    • You then have two buttons- ApplePay, which would prompt for TouchID, FaceID, or your password, or Pay With Credit Card
      • One thing to note here is that they do have their refund denial policy shown at this point. On a black or very dark grey screen, below those buttons in slightly lighter grey text. All the other text is bright white.
      • Another interesting tidbit is that the refund policy was actually photoshopped off of the screen when it was shown in an investor presentation
    • If you do hit Pay With Credit Card it takes you to a confirmation screen with everything filled out- they don’t even ask for your card’s security code to verify, you just tap Pay at the bottom.
    • So if you’re in the Tesla app and put your phone in your pocket without locking it, whether by mistake or not, you’re three taps away from dropping $4000 without even knowing it
    • There are even some reports that the confirmation screen is new- some users last year just wanted to see the total with tax and were immediately charged
  • In investigating this I also stumbled upon some of the skeezy strategies Tesla has used on their website- when you look at the price of a car they default to showing it adjusted for “potential savings”
    • You might see that and expect some kind of rebates or sales, but in fact they bundle in the estimated savings from not buying gas for the life of the car, making a difference of thousands of dollars between the expected price and what Tesla actually charges for their vehicles.
  • All of this just really goes to show how Tesla seems to be trying to trick people into spending money, and the fact that it’s right before their fiscal year end makes it even more suspicious

The Wawa chain of American convenience stores was targeted by credit card skimming malware last month, resulting in as many as 30M cards going up for sale on the dark web this week

  • Apparently the malware began rolling out on March 4th and wasn’t discovered until December 10th, so it had gathered about nine full months worth of numbers, names, and expiration dates
  • Anyone who used a payment card at a Wawa location last year should definitely check your bills closely. Wawa is reportedly offering affected customers one year of credit monitoring but those services may not be very effective, so if you’re concerned you may want to consider putting a security freeze on your file instead

Tidbits

  • Activision Blizzard makes exclusive streaming deal with YouTube, Overwatch League and Call of Duty will be streaming on YouTube
  • 343 Industries is looking to ban Halo: Reach players abusing the experience system by frequently joining games and not actually playing
    • Apparently the new release of Reach involves a new experience progression system to unlock customizations, rather than the old system where you could just buy whatever you have enough credits for, and going AFK is one strategy players are using to grind for more experience
    • Another has been dubbed “sword lining”, where two Griffball teams line up and take turns killing each other with swords
  • Bethesda has finally fully addressed the inventory hack in Fallout 76 that we talked about last year, wherein hackers could use your inventory like a lootable chest to steal everything from your character in seconds
    • Reportedly the company is creating clones of the affected characters with their entire inventory as of December 20th, as well as about $66 worth of their premium ‘atoms’ currency.
    • Players can then make a secure trade from the clone to their original character via a private server, and Bethesda is providing support agents to help with that process
  • Zuckerberg has gone on record that Facebook’s goal for the next decade “isn’t to be liked, but to be understood”, saying they didn’t always communicate their views clearly because they worried about offending people
    • The Daring Fireball says it best: “The more you understand Facebook, the less you like or trust them. So: mission accomplished.”
  • Nintendo’s Switch has officially become their third best-selling home console of all time, behind the Wii and the NES (and almost quadrupling the WiiU)
    • Fun fact, estimates show they surpassed the Xbox One during the 2019 holiday season despite the XBone being out for more than three years before the Switch’s release
    • And just to tack on to the end of this, The Outer Worlds is officially coming to the Switch on March 6th
  • Lastly, in a little bit of heartwarming news to close things out, professional Fortnite player and streamer Aydan Conrad went on Twitch last week to stream himself calling his mom and paying off her student debt
    • He gave full credit to his viewers, saying that everyone watching made the whole thing possible

Based on this tweet, I want to know what ten games our Fanily like. See how much crossover we all have.

And I can see some cool games to check out as well
I like top tens with no order, it all depends on mood.

Josh’s Top 10

  • Rollercoaster Tycoon
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Psyconauts
  • Overwatch
  • Slay The Spire
  • Fallout 4
  • Super Smash Bros Ultimate
  • Stardew Valley
  • Minecraft
  • The Sims

Alan’s Top 10

  • Eternal Darkness Sanity’s Requiem
  • Shovel Knight Treasure Trove
  • Kirby Superstar (honourable mention to Planet Robobot)
  • Pokemon Trading Card Game
  • God of War (2019)
  • Beat Saber
  • Titanfall 2
  • Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (honourable mention to A Link to the Past)
  • Superhot
  • Black Mesa

 

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Updates
  • Huawei has also introduced a folding tablet, but this one has the screen on the outside
    • On the plus side, that means they don’t need to bother with a second tiny screen like Samsung
    • On the downside, that means that when it’s closed there’s no way to put it down that can’t scratch the plastic screen
    • Also, this one costs about $2600 USD
 
Free games
  • Sony PS4
    • The Witness
      • 2016
      • First person puzzle exploration game, a la Myst, developed by the creator of Braid
    • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
      • 2016 remaster of the 2007 FPS
      • Classic first person military shooter with a somewhat dated story, but it’s the multiplayer that I feel really kicked off the multiplayer military shooter craze
      • In addition to the old game types they’ve also added modes like one called Prop Hunt, where players have to hide as inanimate objects from the opposing team
    • It looks like Sony isn’t increasing the number of PS4 games they’re handing out to make up for the PS3 and Vita titles they’re no longer offering
  • Microsoft
    • XBone
      • Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion
        • 2018
        • In this open world turn-based RPG, the Land of Ooo has been flooded and you have to find out what happened while saving all your favourite characters from the TV show
      • Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
        • 2016
        • Third person class-based shooter based on the old Plants vs Zombies tower defence mobile game
    • 360
      • Metal Gear Rising Revengance
        • 2013
        • Action hack and slash title from Platinum Games with the usual batshit Kojima plot and a Blade Mode mechanic that lets you slice up pretty much anything in slow motion
        • Still on of my favourite titles we played back when we did Let’s Play videos
    • Original
      • Star Wars: Republic Commando
        • 2005
        • Tactical FPS set in the Star Wars universe during the Clone Wars, where you play as the leader of a squad of clone commandos completing missions for the Republic
        • I’ve heard good things about this one, but the closest I’ve come is reading the excellent Karen Traviss series of the same name
    • And just a reminder that all Games with Gold are playable on the XBone via backward compatibility
  • No Twitch games so far this month, but BONUS ROUND
    • FFXIV – R4WU GJYD 886Z LPW4 SSN3
 
Nintendo released a Pokemon Direct this week, introducing Pokemon Sword and Shield coming to the Switch later this year
  • Looks like the games have a full 3D setting in a new region called Galar, described as a more modern world with factories, trains, and steelworks in addition to idyllic countryside and contemporary cities
    • It looks like the new region may be based on the UK, with many features on the map appearing to match landmarks like Big Ben and the London Eye.
    • Even some of the characters’ clothing looks fairly British
  • And some good news for fans of previous generations- they showed that older Pokemon like Pikachu, Tyranitar, and Munchlax will all be making appearances along with the new gen
  • The newest trio of starters are grass-type Grookey, fire-type Scorbunny, and water-type Sobble
 
Facebook is launching a platform to compete with Patreon that’s worse in every conceivable way (which should be more of a challenge, considering some of the stuff that Patreon’s pulled in the past)
  • The most obvious problem is that compared to Patreon’s 5% cut of supporter dollars, Facebook wants up to 30%
  • They also reserve the right to offer free trials to subscriptions that won’t compensate creators
  • And they demand a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license” to use creator content, and “this license survives even if you stop using Fan Subscriptions”
    • So they have rights to use your content. And give it away. And sell it. Anywhere in the world. Without paying you a dime. Forever.
  • This is straight-up abusive, and the worst part is Facebook knows it- they’ve run trials, and when creators asked questions or pointed out problems in the terms their invites were revoked and they were summarily banned from the platform
 
Microsoft workers are calling on the company to cancel their new contract with the US military
  • The $479M contract would see HoloLens, Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, used by the army in what workers are calling a corruption of designers’ and engineers’ earlier work and an affront to those opposed to designing weapons for war
    • HoloLens was announced in 2015, but just this last November Microsoft reached an agreement to develop an “Integrated Visual Augmentation System” based on the tech
    • The technology is explicitly meant to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”
  • While Microsoft has offered to accommodate employees opposed to developing tech for the military by moving them to other projects or teams, employees say that ignores the problem that they’re not properly informed of the uses of their work
    • A letter to Microsoft noted that “many engineers contributed to HoloLens before this contract even existed” on the assumption that it would be applied to fields like architecture, surgery, and space exploration, not helping people kill
    • Instead they argue that they’re now implicated as war profiteers
  • A Microsoft spokesperson, in a statement to The Guardian, didn’t respond to the criticisms but said the company “always appreciated feedback from employees”
 
THQ Nordic held an AMA this week on a website created because 4chan was too strict
  • For some reason they decided to host the Q&A session on 8chan- the website involved in incidents regarding child pornography, swatting, GamerGate, and more
    • 8chan is a spinoff of 4chan, a site already notorious for racist, sexist, and inflammatory rhetoric, created out of a belief that 4chan was too limiting
  • Many thought that someone had hacked THQ Nordic’s social media, but were shocked when the session actually started and had two higher-level staff answering questions on that internet hellscape
    • PR and marketing director Philipp Brock responded to things like asking them not to appeal to the “SocJUs crowd” with “thanks! We’ll try to stay that way.”, and when one person asked “where the big tiddie lolis at?” with a picture of a many groping two girls, he replied “you got them already we’d say”
  • While this seems like a massive hacker stunt, with no way that a company would actually do this kind of thing, Vice contacted THQ Nordic and received this reply from Philipp Brock
    • “I personally agreed to this AMA without doing my proper due diligence to understand the history and the controversy of the site,” he said in a statement. “I do not condone child pornography, white supremacy, or racism in any shape or form. I am terribly sorry for the short-sightedness of my (!) decision, and promise to be far more vigorous in my assessment of these activities in the future. This was not about being edgy, this blew up and I very much regret to have done it in the first place.”
  • And while they’re backpedaling and looking for excuses, it’s not like 8chan is ever sneaky about what it’s doing. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin.
    • That, combined with the responses posted and the fact that their Twitter account is liking tweets supporting the AMA after the fact, makes the apology even weaker than it already is
 
Josh found a PC childhood favorite made for modern operating systems
  • I’ll just read the about us section from their site
    • OpenRA is a project that recreates and modernizes the classic Command & Conquer real time strategy games. We have developed a flexible open source game engine (the OpenRA engine) that provides a common platform for rebuilding and reimagining classic 2D and 2.5D RTS games (the OpenRA mods).
    • This means that OpenRA is not restricted by the technical limitations of the original closed-source games: it includes native support for modern operating systems and screen resolutions (including Windows 10, Mac OS X, and most Linux distros) without relying on emulation or binary hacks, and features integrated online multiplayer.
    • While we love the classic RTS gameplay, multiplayer game design has evolved significantly since the early 1990’s. The OpenRA mods include new features and gameplay improvements that bring them into the modern era:
      • A choice between “right click” and classic “left click” control schemes
      • Overhauled sidebar interfaces for managing production
      • Support for game replays and an observer interface designed for streaming games online
      • The “fog of war” that obscures the battlefield outside your units’ line of sight
      • Civilian structures that can be captured for strategic advantage
      • Units gain experience as they fight and improve when they earn new ranks
    • OpenRA is 100% free, and comes bundled with three distinct mods. When you run a mod for the first time the game can automatically download the original game assets, or you can use the original game disks.
  • They have Tibetan Dawn the original Command and Conquer, Red Alert the alternate history to WWII, and Dune 2000, possibly my favourite out of these 3.
 
 
1TB mini SD cards coming
  • At Mobile World Congress 
    • UHS-I microSDXC
    • For me and others UHS stands for Ultra High Speed and the 1 denotes its interface speed. Where 1 is 104 MB/s
  • SanDisk
    • 1 Tb available April
      • $449.99 USD
    • 512 GB of the same line
      • $199.99 USD
 
 
 
 
Harley Quinn
  • Life-Size Figure by DC Collectibles
    • $5,200
      • $668.57/mo payment plan
  • DC Collectibles has created the ultimate Harley Quinn collectible- a full sized, 1:1 ratio statue of the Cupid of Crime herself.  This stylish life-size statue is packed with larger-than-life personality, featuring Gotham’s very own Maid of Mischief decked out in her iconic red, black, and white costume.
 
 
Tidbits
  • If you’ve been saving your Scene points, you might want to redeem them soon- Cineplex is updating their rewards structure and raising the points cost of tickets as of April 17th
    • It’ll still take 10 movies to earn enough points for a free ticket, but that’s just because you’ll also be earning them more quickly as well. They’re being de-valued across the board
  • The popular disease simulation game Plague Inc is adding anti-vaxxers after receiving a player petition with over 21,000 signatures
    • The petition simply reads “Anti-vaxxers are stupid”
    • They’ll be joining the array of potential health risks in the game including science deniers, xenophobes, and reality TV induced apathy
  • In a somewhat controversial move, annual eSports fighting event Evo is replacing their usual Smash Bros Melee event with Smash Ultimate
    • From a casual player’s perspective it seems like an easy choice, but as always there are some vocal opinions against it online
  • According to EA’s Twitter, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will be at this year’s Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on April 13th
    • I’m looking forward to a Star Wars game that isn’t cancelled for once
 
Alan Recommends Russian Doll
  • Nadia keeps dying and reliving her 36th birthday party. She’s trapped in a surreal time loop — and staring down the barrel of her own mortality.
  • More like a video game than Groundhog Day
  • If you like complicated characters gorgeously performed in a richly realized setting shot through with dark veins & drum-tight storytelling, then this is for you

Bad Description of Movies and Games

Gangs fight for control of the city with graffiti, problem is they appear to be kids. (Game)

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