EA Wants to Sell DLC to Pirates

Electronic Arts has been known to try everything possible for the sake of combating pirates. They have included all kinds of much-hated DRM in their games. But now the CEO of EA has said that pirates are a new market that EA needs to make money from.

While this is great news for the anti-DRM activists, it might not be good news for gamers who actually buy their games. John Riccitiello, the CEO of Electronic Arts, wants to sell DLC – download content – to everyone who has the game, not just those who bought it. But this might turn into a very bad thing: DLC will contain most of the game, while the game itself will be more like a platform to add features onto. This would degrade the quality of games severely. And a lot of today’s games are already terrible enough.

It’s good that EA has recognized pirates as something they cannot defeat. It is impossible, just as it is impossible to stop all robbery and theft in the real world. Why waste money and resources fighting a war you cannot win? However, DLC is not the answer, at least for PC games. DLC can be illegally downloaded just like the game itself. And the biggest issue here is developers degrading the initial game on purpose so they can sell lots of DLC later on.

Download content for games is growing already, and I think developers are starting to see the profit in it. Personally I don’t like the whole DLC model because paying $50 for a game is too much in the first place. A lot more games would sell if they cost less, and in the end, the money made from the game would be the same, if not more. But pushing DLC on pirates will most likely produce no real results. Only inexperienced pirates might buy the DLC – people who know what they’re doing will just pirate the DLC.

Whether piracy affects the sale of media is still being debated, but one thing that’s been proven is that DRM only hurts legitimate gamers. DRM can only delay a game from being cracked, and that delay is typically only an hour or so. All games can be and will be cracked, shared, pirated. How game developers, movie producers, the music industry, and software companies will react to piracy depends on their success. I think it’s time for them to drop DRM, and find a way to profit off the games even if they’re pirated. DLC might not be the answer, but how about something like in-game advertising (only if done realistically and tastefully, like in Battlefield 2 or TrackMania Nations)?

Source: Kotaku, image via flickr

ISP’s Are Banning People from Playing Modern Warfare 2

It looks like internet service providers don’t like it when people play Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 on their connections. Gamers are reporting that some are receiving notices from the internet providers informing them that they are not allowed to use P2P so frequently, or that they are not allowed to host servers on their home connections.

And why is this happening? Because the smart people at Infinity Ward gave PC gamers a big middle finger, and removed dedicated servers from the game. But how can you play online then you might ask? Why, IW.net will just use your computer as a server. And that’s not allowed on any consumer ISP.

So what can you do now? Nothing really. Infinity Ward can try to pay every ISP there is to not recognize Modern Warfare 2 traffic as running a server or downloading through P2P. But there’s nothing you can really do, because the game is in fact using your computer as a server, and it is in fact using P2P protocols to let you play online.

Putting aside the issues of security – you are opening ports on your firewall and router to play the game after all – this issue with ISP’s could have been predicted. Everyone knows you can’t run a server from home if you’re using a normal internet service provider. So you can’t really do anything but stop playing CoD MW2 online. Sad, huh?

I will never buy Modern Warfare 2 because of the way Infinity Ward has treated PC gamers. The answers they gave in interviews regarding lack of dedicated servers made it seem like they were doing this just to dumb down the PC version, so it could be as simple as the console version. This is exactly the opposite of what everyone wanted. And the reviews show (take a look at the user score).

Sources: Infinity Ward forums (although most posts are probably now deleted), GossipGamers, ModernWarFail2

Comcast Buys NBC: Why Net Neutrality is Needed Now

It has just been announced that Comcast has made a deal to buy 51% of NBC. It hasn’t officially happened yet, and the paperwork hasn’t been done, but according to sources it is a done deal. What exactly does this have to do with the internet? NBC owns 30% of Hulu. Where does net neutrality come in? Comcast will be able to effectively shut down Hulu, and only allow NBC shows to be played online through Comcast.

Of course Comcast has claimed that they will not shut down Hulu. But without Net Neutrality laws to protect the internet from this sort of thing, Comcast will be able to affect what you can watch online. If you have Comcast internet, they can give NBC video streaming higher priority than competitors’ videos. That means if you want to stream a non NBC video online, it will be very slow, or even impossible.

The chance that Comcast will do this is not very high, but they have the ability now that they own NBC. This would make it unfair for competitors. Having Net Neutrality protection would prevent this from happening. While I am against government regulation for most situations, here it seems like it’s the only way to make sure the United States will keep having a fair and open internet. This is because of the way internet provider companies work in the US. A lot of places and regions in the US only have one broadband internet provider. This is kind of like having a monopoly, but it isn’t. If someone has only one choice of broadband internet, that broadband company can fully control the delivery of the internet to the customer. They can only allow access to certain sites, or slow down other sites. This would destroy the purpose of the internet, where currently every website is equal.

The internet needs to be protected with net neutrality. It cannot be allowed to be filtered by the internet companies. If ISP’s start filtering customers’ internet connections, the internet as we know it will stop existing.

Image via TechRepublic.com

Should you buy an ebook to learn how to make money online?

There are thousands of ebooks for sale online that promise to teach you how to make money online. People post ebooks for sale on popular online money making forums. Some claim that they now earn a living from once reading an ebook and putting its tactics to use. Lies, they’re all lies. 99.9% of ebooks are scams. Not exactly scams, but just a compilation of information that you can easily find online for free. You might think it’s worth paying $50 for organized, step-by-step information, but the truth is that there are websites where you can get all of this information for free, also in an organized manner.

What most ebooks contain is re-written basic information. They don’t contain any “secrets” like they all promise. It’s just organized information, with affiliate links plastered all over. That means more money to the author of the ebook. When you click on the links to sign up with advertising companies, the author of the ebook gets commission. This is just one reason why you can get the same quality of information, or even better, online for free. People write guides on making money online and just use these affiliate links as a way to get paid for the work of putting together the information.

Take ProBlogger for instance. Now he sells ebooks, but unlike everyone else, his ebooks are high quality. Why? I’m guessing because all the content in the book started out as a post on the website. And the fantastic posts on making money online still remain on the website. So you can still get all the information for free, without wasting money on an ebook.

The thing about ebooks is that it’s a relatively quick way for someone to make some cash. You can write an ebook by rewriting several articles, and put it up for sale somewhere. But when people make this information available online for free, they create long-term income from advertising and affiliate links. Usually if someone is in it for the long term, they have higher quality content to begin with.

The point here is that while a very, very small percentage of ebooks about making money online are good and filled with a great compilation of information, most ebooks are trash and a waste of your hard earned money. You can find this information in forums, websites, blogs, and anywhere online. All ebooks are in effect identical because again, they are just compilations of general ideas and money-making methods. Invest the money you would have otherwise spent on an ebook, and find the information you need online. Google makes the best ebook.

How would you invest $60 to start making money online?

I saw this interesting post today on a popular internet marketing forum. The question was: how would you invest $60? Many people replied they wouldn’t. $60 is simply too low of an amount to invest and notice any meaningful result. Others said to buy content and a web hosting package, and monetize it with Adsense. I say don’t listen to these people. Instead, start a good website. Hosting and a domain will cost you under $60 for a year. The software, WordPress, is free, and you can write the content yourself.

The problem with today’s internet marketing and make-money-online tactics is this – everyone outsources their work to India. This is the cheapest option for people who don’t want to or can’t write content themselves. Most people who can’t create content themselves don’t speak English. This creates a situation where the people buying content have no clue what they’re buying. The articles they are buying are written in atrocious English, with the type of grammar you get in Nigerian scam emails.

And this is polluting the internet. Someone hears about making money online. They go to a forum, read a lot of nonsense (and a bit of very useful advise), then go out and buy a domain, web hosting package, and hire a person through the forum to write articles for their new website. Then they plaster advertisements over their site, and expect money to roll in. And sadly it does. But it’s a small amount of money. Advertisers don’t want to pay much to have their ads displayed in India, which for some reason is where most of this is coming from.

I guess my point here is that if you are making a website, do not outsource to someone who can’t write in fluent English. Not only does it devalue your website and turn away potential advertisers – and private deals make you much more money than pay-per-click advertising – but it adds absolutely nothing to the internet. These people copy other people’s work, rewrite it in horrible English, and republish it. This cycle continues until the article makes absolutely no sense.

A lot of people promote this outsourcing as a cheap way of getting yourself started in the blogging or general web publishing, internet marketing business. But I say leave it alone and stay far, far away from it. It will only bring in short-term visitors to your new website. You will get no returning visitors, no feed subscribers, nothing but short term search result clicks. Once people start reading your cheap content, they will immediately leave the page, or accidentally click on an advertisement.

If you really want to invest $60 to make money online, you sure can. It is definitely not too small an amount. WordPlop was started with around $6. Yes, this website had an initial investment of $6, and that was for the domain.  The hosting was free, without ads, from 000webhost. Original articles were written, and here we are today making a 10,000% profit (almost).

So how would you invest $60 to start making money online? Start a quality website. Do not outsource. Write with perfect English. Spend less time reading forums and more time writing articles. Write only what you are interested about. Don’t copy content. Read some tips on ProBlogger.

Whatever you do, please, do not contribute to the internet trash can that is the world of re-written content with bad grammar.

Insurance Company Cancels Benefits Thanks to Facebook Pictures

Imagine being in disability leave due to a medical condition and having your benefits taken away because of a single picture that appeared of you on Facebook. Suppose you are somebody who is indeed ill in one form or another, and you’ve been on long term disability for eighteen months thanks to that illness, and then suddenly your only source of income is ripped away from you.

FacebookThat’s what happened to Nathalie Blanchard, an IBM employee that was on long-term disability leave due to heavy depression. Nathalie was put onto disability leave when she became unable to work over a year and half ago, since then her insurance carrier had been paying her salary – until now.

Manulife Insurance, the carrier in question, recently discovered Nathalie’s profile on facebook and discovered pictures that were posted of her having fun with friends in social situations (“girls night out”), and also on a vacation she took to a tropical paradise.

“Her Facebook pictures were enough to prove that she is ready to return to work,” was the statement issued by Manulife when this hit the fan.

Going out and having fun was suggested to her by her doctor, as research has shown over the years that those diagnosed with severe depression will often seclude themselves to an extreme measure. By going out and socializing, it helps them cope with their situation while maintaining a social life.

In a statement issued to the CBC, Manulife stated “We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.” However actions speak louder than words and it appears that it just takes a few pictures to make things more stressful than they already are.

Simply having pictures of you on a social network should not be enough to strip you of your insurance benefits. Not only can they be easily taken out of context (i.e. just because you see somebody happy and enjoying themselves for the 1 second that it takes to shoot a picture, it doesn’t mean they are like that for the other 3,599 seconds in the day), but it also invokes paranoia about using social networks because of cases like this.

Imagine if this was a life-or-death type situation where your insurance benefits covered special treatment or medications that are keeping you alive, and then suddenly that is taken away from you because of a few innocent pictures. What if you were on blood thinners to prevent clots, or you were about to go in for brain surgery to remove a cancer lump that was pressing dangerously on your brain stem.

The truth of the matter is that insurance companies look for any excuse to drop beneficiaries when they start to cost a significant amount of money. And unfortunately there is not much that anybody can do about it, as burried deep within your insurance contract there is almost always a tiny little clause that says something like “The insurer reserves the right to cancel benefits at any time with due cause.” Due cause has apparently shifted from medical doctor testimony and patient records to pictures posted on the web.

Google Search Deal With Twitter Will Include Tweets in Google Search Results

Google has partnered with Twitter to include Twitter updates in Google’s search results. This will have a big impact on both Google’s search results and Twitter. This deal has great potential for news applications, but it can also go really bad if not implemented correctly.

A lot of people use Twitter to post random thoughts, and probably even more use it for self promotion. Companies treat it as a free advertising medium. This means that a lot of the content on Twitter is unprofessional and not search result worthy.

However, the very positive aspect of Twitter can come from news tweets. Through Twitter, people can post news that have literally just happened a few seconds ago. Real news websites simply cannot do this due to lack of resources. With Twitter, there are millions of people who can act as news reporters.

Taking all of this into account, Google needs to find a way to include only real news tweets in their search results. They need to find a way to separate the advertising, promoting, and personal tweets from tweets that are useful and report something relevant. This sounds like a very difficult thing to accomplish, but if anyone can do it, it would be companies with huge budgets, like Google and Microsoft. Microsoft has a similar deal with Twitter.

Twitter being included in Google search results has great potential for real, unedited, live news. However, it needs to be implemented very carefully, or else Google search results will include a lot of garbage.

image copyright Twitter