Why it's better to pay for games than invest time in games from gameforge.

I am spending a little bit of time this week blogging since I start a new job next week and time will be at a premium. One of the things that I have been doing over the last few month is playing a few games with the kids. One of the games that we were playing was Ikariam.Ikariam is a free browser based game that allows you to build cities, have wars and make alliances with other players. It's interesting in how you build your city and see it grow through the levels by making your towns people happy.

I was enjoying this game and it's casual atmosphere, I was attacked a few times but I was concentrating on building my town and not on wars just yet. I wanted to let my kids play and it seemed like a good idea. The game is not violent and could become a nice family activity. This is where I made my mistake. Because the game is free and because people can exploit the game by creating multiple accounts to share resources the game team is very strict on multiple accounts.

I encouraged my kids to create towns on the same server that I am on. The game team has strict rules that they must be informed when people are playing from the same connection. It was my mistake not to contact the game team and both my sons towns were deleted because the game team thought that they were multiple accounts of mine. I find it interesting that not all three accounts were deleted, just the two accounts that had not purchased game credits and invested money in the game.

The following are the threads that were open when I decided to plead my case to the game team. I spoke with three different mods all with different levels of responsibility and they still insisted that I had broken the rules and the accounts would not be reactivated. I believed that the punishment that their towns were deleted and they would have to start over in the game was not a fair one. The towns were deleted because they incorrectly believed that they were multiple accounts of mine. I freely admit that the rules of the game were broken when we registered three accounts from the same connection but they were not multi accounts.



Ticket ID: 24860
Status: Open
Date: 15/10/2008
Subject: banned?
Ingame Nick: nik
Ingame Permanent Email: deleted
IP: deleted
Issue: Ban Discussion
Section: SGO
Responsable: Revolution
Category: SGO
Transfer Note: Transferred from World Kappa Category By pinkpony

(Monday, October 20 2008 2:12pm) :
nik - SGO (Wednesday, October 15 2008 9:19pm)
Why was this account banned?

nik - SGO (Wednesday, October 15 2008 9:33pm)
Myself and My 2 boys each have an account. This is one of my boys accounts. The three accounts are knarf, nik and dragonben. We all play on 2 computers connected by a router so you will see the same ip address. Is it against the rules?

I first spoke to pinkpony, the game mod who banned the accounts because he believed that they were multi accounts.

pinkpony (Thursday, October 16 2008 12:45pm)
It is against the rules to have several accounts and not tell a GO about it. You agrees when you signed up not to have multiple accounts and you have broken that rule. If you wish to continue playing you should start on another server.

__________________
Pinkpony - Game Operator & Moderator

nik - SGO (Thursday, October 16 2008 3:31pm)
Is it against the rules to play a game with your kids? 3 people 3 accounts?

pinkpony (Friday, October 17 2008 7:28pm)
no it is not against the rules to play a game with your kids. If you wish to continue playing I recommmend you start on another server.

__________________
Pinkpony - Game Operator & Moderator
| Game Rules | Terms and Conditions | Ikariam Team |

nik - SGO (Saturday, October 18 2008 5:04am)
They have invested time in their towns and they can not be reactivated? We wanted to play on the same server so we could communicate and enjoy ourselves and play together as a team. We can not do that on different servers. We have not done anything to abuse the system, the game or other players and we have to start over? That does not seem logical? Can you explain why we should start over? I would like to see both accounts reactivated as they were banned in error. If you can not do this can you please escalate this ticket to someone who can.

Thank you

pinkpony (Saturday, October 18 2008 11:58am)
The only thing you have done wrong is that you need to notify a GO if you are wanting to have 2 people playing from the same connection. There are several things which point to this being a multi account but i have no way of knowing if your story is correct. I do not intend to unban your accounts yet and as such I will transfer this ticket to an SGO as per your request.

__________________
Pinkpony - Game Operator & Moderator
| Game Rules | Terms and Conditions | Ikariam Team |

nik - SGO (Saturday, October 18 2008 4:08pm)
I did not realize that I had to inform a mod because they were from the same connection. It does make sense if it's one of your main criteria for discovering multi accounts. If their were acts of aggression in the game or an abuse of power I could understand the ban. Please unban the accounts or let me know what has to be done to get them unbanned so my kids can continue to play the game.


Pinkpony states that the "The only thing you have done wrong is that you need to notify a GO if you are wanting to have 2 people playing from the same connection." I realize that I am not getting anywhere with him so I asked him to escalate the ticket.
Revolution (Monday, October 20 2008 5:41pm)
Users must report a shared connection because those accounts are held to certain rules and expectations, such as the rule about fleet contact between those accounts. You may start a new game if you abide by the in-game rules.

Thank you.

__________________
Revolution - SGO

nik - SGO (Monday, October 20 2008 6:03pm)
I am happy to abide by the rules. I was not aware that shared connections must be reported. Can the 2 accounts be reopened(unbanned)? I don't think that my kids want to start over with new accounts.
nik - SGO (Monday, October 20 2008 6:17pm)
I am happy to abide by the rules. I was not aware that shared connections must be reported. Can the 2 accounts be reopened(unbanned)? I don't think that my kids want to start over with new accounts.

Revolution (Tuesday, October 21 2008 1:31am)
Unfortunately, in cases of multi-accounting, accounts cannot be unbanned.

__________________
Revolution - SGO

Revolution still states that they are multi accounts even though I have explained the sisuation to him.

nik - SGO (Tuesday, October 21 2008 9:23pm)
Revolution, Thank you for your reply but that makes no sense. I could understand if they were not deleted in error but it was a misunderstanding, not an abuse of the rules or system. It seems a little heavy handed that accounts are deleted because of a misunderstanding of the rules. I could understand a warning or an email to confirm the situation and gather the facts. I hope you understand but if this is the reply and final decision I will encourage my kids to play a different game and not any of the games from Gameforge.

The terms and conditions do not specify that you must be notified when their are multiple accounts in a household but only specify that the game rules apply. To Ban a user and delete their cities is unfair and arbitrary and an abuse of power by those that dedicate their time to make the game better. I am sure as a SGO you have seen your fair share of abuse but I do not believe that your decision reflects well on Gameforge and it's games.

I would ask that you reverse your decision.

I look forward to your reply

Revolution (Thursday, October 23 2008 12:35am)
The terms and conditions state that the game rules apply, and the very first rule listed is in regard to multiple accounts and what to do if they happen to share a connection, come from the same household, etc. The T&C state that game staff has the prerogative ban any and all accounts that fail to follow the game rules, (your account has not been deleted by a staff member, I just want to clear that up).

To be frank, users do not really need to know the T&C to play this game in an acceptable fashion. The game rules are a different story. By the very nature of them being called the game rules, that should be obvious.

That being said, your request for a decision reversal has been denied.

Thank you.

__________________
Revolution - Super Game Operator
| Game Rules | Terms and Conditions | Ikariam Team |

nik - SGO (Thursday, October 23 2008 2:50am)
Thanks you very much for your reply. I still believe that a ban in this instance is an inappropriate response to this situation, but since their is no appeal process and your decision seems to be final than I believe I have no options. I believe that you are applying the rules inflexibly.

It is interesting to note that you only banned my kids accounts and not my account. I guess that since I have purchased Ambrosia on my account that this account plays by different rules? In free games I am aware that roughly 5% of the players pay the whole cost for the game.

I know that you are just enforcing the rules but I believe that their is room for a bit of flexibility. The accounts in question did not abuse the game system, they may have made some mistakes but they did not abuse the game or it's players. What we are debating is the fact that the game mods were not informed that their was more than one player on this connection. As I have stated before I do not believe that the punishment fits the infraction that was noted.

I will not be investing in anymore Gameforge games and actually I will be posting this thread on the internet and recommending that players stay away from gameforge games for this very reason. I have also contacted gameforge with the situation, I am sure that they will back your stance up but I feel that it is the proper thing to do.

I am not getting anywhere with Revolution so I thought that I would send an email to the game creators. It seems that they don't even read them.
nik - SGO (Thursday, October 23 2008 3:05am)
I thought that you might want to read the email that I sent to Gameforge:

Good day, First off I want to thank you for providing free games on the internet. I play Ikariam and I do enjoy the game. In fact I enjoy the game so much that I have purchased game credits to enhance my game play experience. I play the game with my 2 kids age 9 and 12, it has become an enjoyable experience and something that we could do together. They actually become quite excited and come to me and tell me how they are progressing in the game. We are on the same game world (Kappa). Last week when my child tried to log in he was directed to a page that told him he was banned from the game. Apparently when they saw the same IP address they assumed that they were multiple accounts for the same person and banned both my childrens accounts.

I have been in discussions (Ticket ID:24860) with both the game mods, Pinkpony and Revolution and they refuse to unban the accounts.

I hate to sound threatening but if my kids accounts are not unbanned I do not plan on investing and time or money in any of your games. The only rule that was broken was out of ignorance and I do not believe that a game ban on their accounts is an appropriate response.

Thank you for your time,

Frank

Revolution (Thursday, October 23 2008 8:21pm)
Feel free to pursue any and all instances on action that you feel are necessary. Please just keep in mind that in the end you were at fault, and that posting private discussion without consent of both parties is not allowed on any Gameforge owned or operated website/forum/etc.

Have a nice day!

__________________
Revolution - Super Game Operator
| Game Rules | Terms and Conditions | Ikariam Team |

I don't think he liked the idea of this thread becoming public.

nik - SGO (Thursday, October 23 2008 9:38pm)
I would not post it on any Gameforge owned website, It is not my intention to defame you or the game in any way. I do believe that the gaming public would like to know how you apply the rules and treat your players. They will make the ultimate decision on what is fair. If I wanted to I could have posted this thread before it has come to a conclusion, but I have not. I hoped that we could come to a reasonable understanding. At this point it is a private discussion and hopefully will remain one.

I do believe that in this instance you are not taking into account the facts and applying the rules in a fair and unbiased manner. If I was truly multi accounting I don't think that the discussion would have gone this far. I do realize and openly admit that we did break a rule by not informing you that we were playing on the same connection. Did I do this to circumvent the rules or cheat the game? No, I did it because I did not realize that I had to inform you. Do I believe that you should hold your players to a high standard and ban multi accounts? Yes. The accounts are marked as multi 1 and 2, which they are not. As I have said before I just do not believe that the punishment of having their towns banned are appropriate.

I hold no hard feelings nor will I lose any sleep because of your decision and this has been a learning experience for them and we will move on to a different game. You have the ability and the power to unban them if you chose but I believe that you will not do this under any circumstances at this point.
Have a good day

As it was clear that I was getting nowhere with Revolution, I decided to persue it with a Game Admin.

Ticket ID: 25637
Status: Answered
Date: 23/10/2008
Subject: Need to have my kids accounts unbanned
Ingame Nick: nik
Ingame Permanent Email: deleted
IP: deleted
Issue: Ban Discussion
Section: GameAdmin
Responsable: marko_tmc
Category: GameAdmin
nik - GameAdmin (Thursday, October 23 2008 7:11pm)
I have been having a discussion with Revolution about the banning of my kids accounts. I have an account and have encouraged each of them to open an account. They have been using the same connection that I have and were banned as multi accounts. They are not multi accounts and the only game rules that we have broken is that we were on the same connection and did not inform the mods.

I feel that they should have their towns unbanned and revolution has the opposite opinion.

Please read the ticket # ##### and make a final decision on if the towns will be unbanned or not. I think that my opinion is well stated in that discussion and that a ban is a little heavy handed. Hopefully you are far enough removed from the discussion to make an unbiased decision.

Thank you for your time.

And their reply:

marko_tmc (Saturday, October 25 2008 1:10pm)
after looking on your case I must agree with my operators.

sorry but your ban can't be lifted just because you didn't read the game rules.

you agreed on them when you registered and also with every login you agree to them.

they are linked in every game page and on the board as well.
and I assume that you could have read them because they are not very long.

and if you bought ambrosia I can't help you with that because there is no special set of rules for the paying and non paying costumers, all the ppl are the same...

__________________
marko_tmc
Game Administrator

That's interesting 1 paying account and 2 non paying accounts from the same connection. Two out of three accounts are banned but not the paying one. I guess that it's an easy assumption to make.

Thank you very much for your reply and taking the time to look at the case. I do agree that it was my fault for not fully reading and understanding the rules. I also feel that their should be a little leeway in the application of the rules, perhaps a suspension or warning first, especially in the case where it is not a multi account. The decision is yours and I respect that. I can see how multi accounting does change the game.

As for the ambrosia issue, my only observation was that the account that purchased Ambrosia was not banned, only the accounts of my kids that had not purchased ambrosia. They all came from the same connection but were not treated equally.

I fully respect your decision and I hope that you respect mine to no longer play the game or any gameforge game.

I wish you the best.

Frank

I have deleted my account and have requested that these 2 accounts be deleted, here is the reply:

Revolution (Sunday, October 26 2008 3:06am)
Accounts will be deleted by the server automatically after a set period of time. Game staff does not terminate player accounts.

Thank you.

__________________
Revolution - Super Game Operator
| Game Rules | Terms and Conditions | Ikariam Team |

I also got a reply as to why my account was not banned when the other 2 were:

the third account isn't banned not because of ambrosia, because we can't see ambrosia on accounts, only GF sys admins can know that.

It wasn't banned because it didn't fit the same profile for multi accounts as the other two accounts ...

__________________
marko_tmc
Game Administrator

Just wanted to post this because others might be in the same situation I was and wanted to play a Gameforge game (their are lot's of them) with their kids. Make sure you read the rules and make sure your aware, it's their ball and they can take it home at anytime. At no time did I deny that the games rules were not broken or it was not my fault but they were not interested in accommodation at all. I did not think it was an unreasonable request but they thought different.

My kids and I will move on to a different game and I am sure that we have learned something from this experience. I won't be playing any gameforge games anymore especially if this is how they treat their customers.

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