Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mishaps In Other Games

Not only for VtES (see "VtES To Cease Production") bad things happen from time to time, butto other (card) games as well. In this and the past week two major incidents for the greater card game community happened:

For Magic the Gathering the new expansion New Phyrexia is scheduled for publication on May 13th, 2011. Unfortunately for Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro about four weeks before this release date the (so called) "godbook" was leaked to the public (apparently by internal sources) on April 19th, 2011.

In article on the official Magic the Gathering website Mark Rosewater explained some time ago what a godbook is used for in development:
"For example, we conduct a particular kind of market research called a "godbook study." A "godbook" is just a printout of all the cards. We ask a statistical sampling of hundreds of players to pick their favorite and least favorite cards in several categories (card mechanics, art, names, and flavor text) from memory. Then we show them a random portion of a set's godbook and ask the same questions. We take the data from the first part (what we call an open-ended survey) and combine the data with the second part."
Despite (more or less) immediate measures (forcing other sites to remove links to the godbook, securing IP addresses of participants of the IRC channel where the leak happened, starting to sue the offenders, etc.) the damage was done, and the contents of the whole set was spoiled. So usually the marketing efforts and the hype usually generated before the release of a new set is now null and void, and WotC may see some negative effect on sales for the set.

More significant was the shutdown of several major online websites (namely PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker) for American poker players by the FBI on April 15th, 2011. The FBI seized the domains of these poker sites not because online gambling is prohibited by law per se, but because the US has a law that made it illegal for payments to be processed by American banks (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (or UIGEA)). The online poker companies were charged with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offenses by the Department of Justice, and the DOJ even went as far as arresting top managers of these companies.

At first the online poker websites have show disclaimers from the FBI, that their domains have been seized (see below), but at least two of the websites are now redirected to non-American domains (using and instead of the respective .com domains), but US players are still excluded from online play on these sites.
All three companies have pulled out of the American market, at least until the issue is resolved in court.

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