Thursday, August 16, 2007

Club Live cheating

Recently, I found out about Club Live by Microsoft. This is a service that by playing word games that utilize Microsoft's Live Search service you earn up tickets. With those tickets you can get various rewards, including the top reward being an xbox360. Now, I've wanted a 360 for a while, but the price tag has always been a deterant for the amount of enjoyment that I predicted I'd have with it. See, I have a Wii, original xbox, Dreamcast, Saturn, GameCube... well, you get the idea. Another game console is always a bit of a harsh decision at this point, but I really like the concept of the 360 and what it brings to the table. So I start playing, and I've earned up 13,000 "tickets". Now I'm doing some research as I'm running out of games to play (both the Chicktionary and Flexicon games are locked out to me -- seems I've played all the possible puzzles), and I find that folks have been using cheat programs in order to gain multiple copies of the same reward for whatever reason.

So.. because of these cheaters the costs of the rewards have gone up, but the number of puzzles haven't. Thus the people that are actually doing the puzzles to get the rewards are faced with an issue -- some of the rewards may not be attainable. This cheeses me off. The fact that cheaters are ruining the experience for the regular players is something that always upsets me, and this is no exception. Thus, I'm writing the following to Microsoft's Help service, the head of the Live Search Division, Steve Balhmer, and whoever else I can find to send it to. Hopefully I'll get some level of response.

There seems to be a lot of concern in various forums about the cheating that
seems to have occured inside of Club Live, and the impact that it is having on
the players that are playing the games and not using outside programs "cheat"
for them.

My main question is this - is it currently possible to earn
enough points to actually get the xbox 360 bundle reward? I've earned up over
13,000 points, but the games I'm enjoying are telling me that no more puzzles
are available. I'm trying out the new games you have provided, but it seems at
least according to the leader board that you have up there, that the number of
tickets that are required to get the 360 package is unattainable.

I can
fully appreciate the problems that you are experiencing with the service, and I
think that this system is an awesome idea by Microsoft to get traction in
markets where you have recently been struggling. My concern is that the
"cheaters" are going to cost you the folks that are helping out your market

I'd suggest that you consider some of the following concepts
that several of us that use the games legitimately have come up with -

- impose a rule on the rewards where you can only get a single type of reward
per physical mailing address. In a quick "Live Search" on the topic, I found
numerous message boards where folks are openly stating that they used outside
programs to complete the ticket requirement, and have ordered multiple rewards
to the same address. This includes copies of Windows, Office and Zunes.

2 - impose either shipping & handling or sales tax for the item.
Personally, I would have no issue with paying only the sales tax and/or a
shipping and handling charge for my reward, but for cheaters looking to 'resale'
the item, it would become some level of deterrant.

I'm sure there are
other concepts that you or your loyal customers can come up with that can help
twart these folks that are really ruining the concept of this service, without
having the service itself be disrupted (like it has recently).