Feeds

Kabam! Facebook gamers fume after script deletes fake stuff

Anatomy of a social snafu

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

On August 4, Kabam turned up in The Los Angeles Times, lauded as a small social gaming company "quietly gaining momentum" in an arena dominated by giants like Zynga, Electronic Arts, and Disney. But that same day, engineers pushed out an update to one of its massively multiplayer Facebook games that would challenge the tiny startup's ability to cope with its own success.

With its update to Kingdoms of Camelot – a Facebook game that has 2 million active users – Kabam inadvertently introduced a bug that allowed players to gift each other virtual goods for which they would ordinarily have to pay (real) dollars. The following morning, the company realized that tens of thousands of players were creating an "astronomical" number of these digital game pieces, causing a kind of power imbalance across its virtual world. So, Kabam's engineers wrote a script to remove these illegitimate items.

The trouble is that the script also removed legitimate paid-for items from the accounts of an estimated 70,000 players, and the company is still struggling to appease an army of angry customers.

The snafu led to hundreds of complaints on the company's discussions forums, and nearly 3,500 people have joined a Facebook group calling for a boycott of the game.

Speaking with The Register, a Kabam spokesman acknowledged that the company made a mistake when its script removed legitimate items from accounts, but he said that this happened in error and that Kabam has spent the last six days working to restore the items in question – and then some. "We made a mistake and we're trying to rectify that," he said. "It's been tricky, but we're doing our best.'

According to the spokesman, in addition to the script removing legitimate items from the accounts of about 70,000 players, a "separate but related" problem involving a backup system affected additional players. He said that the company is working to restore the inventory of all these players, but also to compensate others who were playing the game at the time and thus were affected by the imbalance in play caused by the original update. This involves providing them a "high value" virtual item.

The spokesman says that the company pushed out an update to restore inventories and that it's also responding to emails, voicemails, and forum posts from individual users complaining about the state of their accounts. He estimates that the accounts of 95 per cent of the affected users have been restored, but he acknowledges that "some people are still unhappy".

Indeed they are. Rob Shepherd, a longtime Kings of Camelot player based in the UK, tells The Register that although Kabam has responded to his support ticket to say that his inventory has been restored, his missing items are still missing, and others continue to complain in the public forums. Shepherd and two other longtime players – Karin Franklin and Lise Broer – tell us that the Kings of Camelot community had already built up an ample amount of resentment for Kabam's engineering and customer support practices.

"My own inventory was restored correctly, but there are people on my team who are still missing paid inventory. These are people who went pretty deep into their pockets during a recession," Broer tells us.

"Kabam has cultivated the top of the gaming market at a social networking site," he said. "And the company did a lot of smart things with this game, but they have also delivered a buggy product whose customer support is consistently below industry norms...Basically, a lot of people resent this company for continually escalating the cost of competitive play at a flawed product. The dam burst when Kabam confiscated inventories."

In recent weeks, Kabam has also received heat from a competitor, Kixeye, which accuses the company of blatantly copying one its social games and threatens a lawsuit. Kabam denies the accusation, and it just released the game in question, Edgeworld, on both Facebook and the brand new Google+ gaming platform. After attracting 2 million users to Kingdoms of Camelot, the company launched three other massively multi-player Facebook games, and Edgeworld makes a fourth.

Indeed, momentum can build quite quickly for a small company building games atop Facebook. But for at least some playing Kingdoms of Camelot, it can build too quickly. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.