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Frogster: We won't give in to hacker's demands

Tue 01 Feb 2011 11:50am GMT / 6:50am EST / 3:50am PST
OnlineLegal

But COO does accept that there are security and community lessons to be learned

Frogster COO Dirk Weyel has told GamesIndustry.biz that his company will not negotiate with or cede to the demands of the hacker who is attempting to blackmail it over issues with Runes of Magic community management.

The hacker issued his demands last month - claiming that he would release the payment and account details of thousands of Runes of Magic users unless the company addressed what he felt was an unacceptable level of customer service and poor forum control. He duly backed up this claim by releasing the details of 2000 accounts.

Frogster contacted the police, and an investigation is ongoing, but Weyel says that despite the frustration and anger that the development team and community feel about the situation, there are clearly some lessons to be learned about interacting with the community.

"It's very frustrating for the team, in the first place. To see that a guy can hack accounts, claim things, influence public opinion and harm the users," Weyel told GamesIndustry.biz in an interview due to be published tomorrow.

"Our team has to focus and work on making the system more secure, on managing the whole incident. It means that they can't work on their regular goals and targets, like making events for the game, or improving it in other ways,"

Weyel said Frogster hopes to remain as open with its community as possible and to continue to improve its service for loyal users.

"Of course, we looked at what it means. Why is someone so angry? Why do they want to harm Frogster and the user base? Obviously, in any community you have people who complain. Some of them are reasonable, and some complain in a way that is unacceptable. What this guy did is definitely criminal, but is also unacceptable in terms of the way that the he communicated.

"On the other hand we can also try to make sure we're communicating as openly as possible with the community - which is an ongoing process. I'm not saying that our community management is perfect, or that they always do the right thing, but we know that our community is our most important asset, so we always try to be as open and transparent as possible.

"So we can try and keep continuously improving in that area, but we can't accept people hacking and threatening us."

12 Comments

Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College

294 27 0.1
Well that's one way to get a developers attention!

So, essentially Frogster needs to accept that it is failing in customer service and the problem goes away. Seems simple enough, admit any wrong doings, and fix them...much more of a win win situation than pursuing actions via the police and [eventually] court as the community would be happy and the hacker would be satisfied.

I'm not condoning the hackerís behaviour here by no means but the guy was probably a victim of the poor service and reacted in a way that only he could justify, unfortunately for the hacker that Frogster [and the law] donít see it that way.

Posted:3 years ago

#1

David Spender Lead Programmer

129 54 0.4
This story is a little one-sided.

I think the key question is how do other users feel about the following statement?

"what he felt was an unacceptable level of customer service and poor forum control."

His actions cannot be justified but this story makes it seem like it was a one man vendetta and Frogster's Runes of Magic is backed by AAA customer service and forum support..... which is probably not the case.

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Paul Shirley Programmers

178 150 0.8
Ignoring customers: bad
Ignoring security: very bad
Ignoring both: suicidal

It's an all too common story, companies believing they cant be hurt enough to take customer problems seriously. If you choose to screw over customers you'd better be damn sure you really are bullet proof, and not whine if you find out you aren't.

Posted:3 years ago

#3

David Bachowski VP Business Development, Babaroga

66 0 0.0
So he was angry over customer service....felt that he, as a user, was being screwed over...so he screwed over other users to make a point? That doesn't sound justified to me...

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Brian Lewis Operations Manager, Aeria Games Europe

134 84 0.6
There is a category of users that use online games to support their belief that they are superior in some way. In doing this, they may 'put down' others. This may be done with insults, actions, or with exposing them in real life. These sort of users feel that they should be catered too, and that they deserve better. If this does not happen, they often act out, in a way that will make them feel that they are superior.

I agree that the information being presented is one sided. However, I also feel that there is information NOT being presented that might be even more compelling. The reality is that if customer service is poor, customers will leave, and they will tell others. This will have an effect on the company as a whole.

Attempts to attack a company, to damage its business, or to expose its customers to discomfort have nothing to do with normal operations. This is simply a power play either for personal/political/commercial gain. When something like this happens, it falls into the category of terrorism. Two wrongs cant make a right.

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Sebastian Belton Assistant QA Manager, 2K Czech

2 0 0.0
I really have to say that someone playing around with people's personal details is just not on, period. There are many ways you can complain about a companies services, this is most certainly not the correct way. It's a disgrace to use something so personal as a tool to blackmail a games company, when it is in fact the customers who will suffer because of one persons attitude towards the service they received as an individual.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sebastian Belton on 1st February 2011 4:00pm

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Dan Pearson European Editor, GamesIndustry.biz

115 337 2.9
It's very difficult to accurately represent the feelings and specifics of what caused the move, as there's no spokesman representing the users' views.

However, if you follow the link to the original story, there's a fuller picture of the origins of the issue there, alongside links to the forums themselves.

Dan

Posted:3 years ago

#7
Stealing his fellow user's account details doesn't really sound that helpful to me. Regardless of motives, that sounds kind of suspect...

Posted:3 years ago

#8

BjŲrn Loesing Producer, OnnetCorp

16 0 0.0
Well, Dan, the spokesperson for the users should be the Community Manager.

The hacker certainly went too far - even though I'm certain that most of his claims are smoke and mirror, and he simply got his hands on an old piece of the database.

But I believe the communication strategy used by Frogster is not at the best industry-standard at this point.

Posted:3 years ago

#9

Matthew Butt

12 1 0.1
David Bachowski and Brian Lewis hit the nail for me. This guy exposes people personal details because he is angry? What did those customers ever do to him?

Posted:3 years ago

#10

gi biz ;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
I don't know about this customer service and all the rest, but in today's market users have no guarantees. If a game doesn't work because it requires an activation on the internet and it was not ckearly stated on the box, because the DRM fails on some disc readers or because you have alcohol installed, because you get no reply from the assistance, if the manufacturer removes a feature or shuts down the servers, you have no one to ask for justice.
Our history is full with people acting against the "power" to grant rights to himself and his fellows, and companies like Sony, Microsoft and the likes are becoming more and more like castles from which you hope to get some benefit but that is not really listening to you.

Posted:3 years ago

#11

Richard Pattie Critic/Writer

4 0 0.0
If he is doing this to his fellow players who probably wish for the same end result in better security and customer service then how on earth can anyone support him. It's unfair to everyone else but him and I hope he is caught. What a scumbag.

Posted:3 years ago

#12

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