Here's an imgur album showing several relevant screenshots from the map creator's Discord channel for the game.
The map, Trancespace Fortress 2, was a generally enjoyable but very grindy hero defense style map in Winter 2018. A collective of devoted players played many 8 hour long games to build up in-game currency and bank-bound items. In Spring 2019, the map creator, Galdios, suddenly started reducing the value of in-game currency and started nerfing items one by one. Additionally, the map specifics that allowed players to accumulate in-game currency were capped such that new players couldn't use such methods. Then came the announcement of a donation rewards program. Then, for 24 hours, a variety of donation rewards items were made available via map code to everyone who played the game, allowing new players to accumulate in hours what long-term players took weeks to get. At the end of that 24 hour period, heavy emphasis began to be placed on donating to the map creator, and Twitch streaming events with in-game account-bound (via player ID in the map's code) rewards began to be promoted.
Over the past month, several players have talked openly in the Discord and in the game about the potential TOS violations, and at least some have reported the map, but Blizzard hasn't yet provided anyone with a response. This post is being made to generate more awareness of the issue, in hopes that it is addressed.
Crucially, all item-benefit donations have been routed through Paypal instead of Patreon in order to obfuscate the money trail. In response to one of the players quoting the TOS in Discord and warning the creator that they believe the map violates the TOS, the map creator has said in his Discord (a screenshot is provided in the imgur link):
thanks for telling me, i'm aware of this risk, a risk that im willing to take… since all transactions happens in paypal and discord.. no one can really know in game… unless someone reports it… but i'm confident that the shop will be a good thing for me and all the donators
Edit: To be more accurate, I should say that my belief that the creator is violating TOS comes mostly from the fact that the Discord community for the game, the admins, and the creator all seem to believe that the map violates the TOS. And it's on that basis that I find the creator's actions to be worthy of being reported to Blizzard.
Even if Blizzard were to respond by saying that the creator's conduct doesn't violate TOS, at present the creator and admins and Discord community all believe that the map is in violation of the TOS. Selling game-altering items to a player base that is otherwise power-capped, when you believe that the map will get banned once this activity is discovered, is a scam in my view. It's especially egregious when some of these in-game items are priced at $50 (you'd spend $250 if you bought all of the current donor items), and the creator is promoting Twitch streams to show off the items in action, and the creator is purposely hiding the money trail from public vie, and the creator is telling players that there's a way to get the items "in-game" as if they were rare event-conditional drops instead of something the creator has to hard-code into the map's galaxy script.
Separately, the fact that the creator has essentially reworked his map (in a rather short amount of time) to be even more grindy for anyone who hasn't purchased "donation reward items" (let's be honest, these are microtransactions), and to reduce and put a cap on the abilities/power of players who have invested literal months of 4-8 hour long power-farming games, is incredibly scummy in my view. That motivated me to stop playing and to keep track of what was going on, but isn't the reason why I reported that the map violates Blizzard's TOS.
Also separately, this seems different different to me than a Kickstarter rewards kind of campaign, which is what Blizzard apparently endorsed int he past. This is a cash-for-items shop hosted on Discord, incentiveized by major map changes that limit non-donating players and massively boost donating players. This isn't a one-time tier rewards thing that offers a pet that doesn't alter gameplay, or some starting minerals upon new character creation or an item that can otherwise be obtained via an in-game drop. Furthermore, the creator has nerfed one of the donation items, and there's no reason to think that wouldn't happen again. That just seems to be part of a trend of the creator changing things at a whim in order to try to incentivize more donations/payments. This is a whole new bag of worms, n my view. And I think it's worth everyone's attention.
Even if Blizzard doesn't think they should get involved here, I think everyone needs to know about this so that they don't buy into (or invest lots of time into) something with one expectation, when the reality is something different.
Source: Original link
© Post "SC2 Arcade map violating ToS. (Trancespace Fortress 2) Map creator incentivizing donations in exchange for in-game benefits provided via player ID triggers in the map code." for game StarCraft.
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