Talk2Gaming

Talk2Gaming: Analysis And Comments on the Datablitz – X-Play Fiasco

Be warned.. this is a looooong post.

In one of the most public and recent issues that the local games community had to face, Datablitz was recently raided by CIDG operatives last monday after X-play issued a complaint against the local game reseller giant of  unfair competition.

Now I won’t go into the details about the conspiracies people have concocted about the whole mess. We already have Reimarufiles with his analysis of all that’s happened. We also have Gerard interviewing people from DB themselves and issuing his own thoughts on the matter. And if you’re looking into a blow by blow account of what happened. I for one made it easier by making a running timeline/update of the whole thing (in my pov as the info came in at least).

Names have been called, sides have been taken- and basically in typical pinoy fashion, we went out to the cyber streets and aired our voices/opinions through the various channels that are available to us. However, amidst the voices of the masses crying for blood and the various hate messages being spread through the net because of this. The lines of subjectivity and objectivity have been blurred specially since we gamers are the passionate kind.

Being passionate is good, but sometimes we need to have a cool head and look into what happened with a critical eye.

So as things have somewhat settled down- I decided to take a look back and see what really happened and hopefully we can at least shed some light on some of the things we ignored.

I’ll be trying my best to not include of the conspiracy theories that we have concocted as the issue happened. The analysis would try it’s best to be based on the facts that I have (and on some occasions, some personal experience, relevant to the whole situation). And as much as I can, try and take things with a grain of salt.

So here goes:

Datablitz

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I must say that DB played this one just right. Being the aggravated party, they were able to garner the support of their very diverse fanbase (haters and loyalists alike) and be their defenders and spokesperson. They also did well in releasing a statement that not only solidified their position as the bullied ones, they were able to appeal to the customers and indirectly marketed themselves as a company that truly cares for it’s customers.

I applaud DB for handling this issue beautifully. Not only were they able to gain a considerable number of supporters- they were able to position themselves better in the exchange between X-play.

Also, I noticed that Datablitz only released two statements on the whole issue. They didn’t need to cite proof unlike what X-play did or even call a sudden meeting for the media to explain their side. The community gobbled  everything up and took everything that Datablitz said with a grain of salt. Why? Because of two things:

  1. Datablitz already has a track record of providing legit copies of games and that it never ever tolerated piracy in any form or way
  2. Datablitz offered a cheaper option to the consumers and that’s the most important thing

Think about it, Datablitz in it’s 17 years of operation actually knew what the people want. And that is, cheaper games. While their after service and pre-ordering issues has caused problems for buyers in general, they almost always sold cheaper games compared to the other resellers (and in this case, X-Play).

As for the validity of the copies DB have, it’s only the courts to decide since X-Play claims they have strong legal proof for labeling the DB copies to be unauthorized.

If this were a court case, DB knew that it was about the jury (us, customers) and appealing to us is THE end game .

X-Play

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X-play in all it’s hopes to be “right” in the whole fiasco, not only ruined their name. They indirectly strengthened Datablitz’ position in the market. They got the shorter end of the stick in this whole mess. I must say however, that we should understand that the company is, well, a company. All of us who are working should know that interdepartmental communication (ideally) should be open and free flowing. But in reality it doesn’t work that way. And this whole mess is probably a clear example for that.

Hence my analysis for X-play would be two-fold. And you’ll see why.

I’d like to start with X-Play’s legal counsel. I don’t know if they went for an outside source on this or they have their own legal department. But the mistakes they did here was obvious and if I may say, fatal. In their “quest” to do their client good, they forgot that there’s another underlying factor at play here. The customers, and how their client’s image would look after all this has happened.

If the legal counsel of X-play even thought of that I don’t think they would’ve taken the actions that they did. I’m not saying that in a perfect world they should’ve ignored the wrongs DB did against them (based on what they said). But what I’m saying is that they should’ve considered what the customers would think before going in. They should’ve thought that even if they have “legal” papers giving them the right to do what they did. They should’ve at least released a statement to the public that there’s this problem that’s happening between them and Datablitz. Instead, the only time we heard of this “problem” was when the raid happened.

Also, the legal department should’ve kept the operations updated with what was happening- because as seen by the fallout of what their actions did, the operations team (or so I like to call them) were blindsided with the questions and now they are being called liars for being “ignorant” of what has happened.

Next would be the products/operations team. After seeing the papers chronicling what really happened and heard of what your plans were, I’d say that you guys have fallen into the same mistake people in their positions make. The average NBA fan, would not care less for having a more “enriched” NBA experience. What they want is a cheaper game and that’s that.

I have seen this oversight by product managers in the line of work I’m in. Yes, in paper the “gimmicks” would seem good, but they never did once consider what the customers wanted. People who would want a “better” experience would’ve already paid for that, and in this case people would’ve lined up for the  “NBA 2k13 Dynasty Ed.”. People do not want to spend more than they should and if they would, it better be something worthwhile let’s say, anyone who got the X-play ver. of NBA 2k13 can stand a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to an NBA all-star game (I mean NBA fans dig that right?).

The lack of X-play’s consideration to the end game (ie. customers, or rather to what they really wanted) led to the mess that may have ruined X-play’s name for years to come.

CIDG

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Now this side of the whole fiasco, was actually given light to by sir Jing Garcia (InterAksyon) during the emergency meeting of X-play. He mentioned the similarities of the Datablitz report and a Fake Knorr report that was posted on the CIDG website.

After I inspected the two reports, I also noticed the same similarities. If you’d noticed, the way the reports were written had similarities such as, the way some paragraphs were started and written. It would seem that they just changed the names of the people in charge and the “case” that was presented to them.

Also, I’d also like to express the lack of the use of the term “alleged” when Datablitz was accused of smuggling the games into the country. The lack of thoughtful consideration on how the report was made not only insulted Datablitz, but it also insulted the patrons of the store, and indirectly saying “so, the store you’ve been buying original games from? they’re smuggled”.

Also, I have no idea if “detaining” the staff was part of the SOP of the CIDG for such matters, it complicated things more since the people see them as the innocent once. And making them suffer through the overnight stay in jail just plainly cried out foul for the people.

Of course, in the end- they don’t really care about the customers really as long as they did their “job”.

News Agencies

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Now this would be the last focus of the analysis. In fact, it was because of the first news report (that GMA news changed without even apologizing or clarifying the change) that came out that triggered this whole mess. The haphazard use of the word piracy into the raid not only seemed lazy, but it also insulted the intelligence of the patrons of the store who practically knew better.

I’m glad at least that Bombo Radyo retained their earlier report but the way GMA News removed and even changed the whole post without so much as a sorry reeked of a cover up. Since the company had ties to X-Play through IPVG, it should’ve been expected that people would jump the gun and think that GMA was trying to cover it’s bases to come out squeaky clean.

Plus the only proof we have of the earlier GMA post is at Yahoo news.

I sympathize to the person who did the report, he/she’s probably be one of those writers who are forced to work with the PRs released by agencies and are unable to get out of the office to verify the info. I mean, that happened to me when I was OJT-ing for a wire agency, and I experienced first hand how the Police handle “newbies” or the less hardened journalists.

But of course, there’s no excuse for bad reporting.

I personally think that this would’ve been avoided if X-Play issued an official statement first and went to legal matters next. At least, the ramifications wouldn’t be as severe. But that as the saying goes is that.

Majority of the local game community has formed an alliance against X-Play, (at least the very vocal ones). In as much as I’d like to say that we are the forgiving kind, reality is, we’re not- and we remember. In the end of this whole mess, it’s now the courts to decide. But in the community’s mind though, the case is already a closed one.

And in the end, (specially with December and bonuses coming in) that’s going to be the deciding factor.


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10 Comments

  1. On Datablitz: 

    We give them the benefit of the doubt on the accusations that they smuggle their merchandise into the country. 17 years in the market and having expanded as much as they have with a clean track record of not having sold any pirated software or even supporting modified consoles.

    From our understanding, Datablitz’s games are cheaper than US/EU SRP most of the time because the stocks they get are for the asian market. Asian Region PC, Xbox, and PC are really much cheaper. As far as US/EU versions of games, Datablitz’s prices are always above US/EU SRP but only by a slim margin. I think this would clarify the pricing of games in Datablitz to the unaware.

    Datablitz mentioned that their games are purchased from an authorized Singapore distributor and pay the proper taxes and duties. This already clears the first of three terms X-Play and the media have used against Datablitz, namely: Piracy, and Smuggling.

    Datablitz is clearly the victim here.- We Support Datablitz (WSD) – http://facebook.com/DatablitzFTW

  2. On X-Play:

    This might take a while. 

    To explain how a X-Play moved into these recent series of events, we must look back to other companies who have tried a similar business model and ultimately failed. 

    Circa 2003. Asian Media Development Group inks a deal with Vivendi Universal Games (formerly associated to Blizzard -for Warcraft III and Sierra – for Counterstrike) to purchase and sell their games in the Philippines. Long story short, they didn’t make money.

    Circa 2005-2006. AMDG also tried another game title, namely Guild Wars developed by ArenaNet and published by NCsoft. Ultimately, the problem both ventures encountered was the fact that the minimum required stocks the local distributor had to purchase was an amount above the actual demand of the game titles in the Philippines. If a company had to buy say… 50,000 boxes of games to seal the partnership and the actual demand of the sum of all game titles in that 50,000 boxes was actually say… 10,000. 

    I’m sure the next question would be: “If that’s the case, why pursue the business venture?” Our answer is: “Incompetent planner, bloated figures, bullshit convinces the board anyway.” Then it moves on to: “The actual result is in plain sight, incompetent planner finds a scapegoat, board goes after the scapegoat.”

    While we at WSD would love to get official support from the big guys like Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and top publishers like EA, and that long list of other companies, we recognize that the Philippine market is not mature enough for that. We have piracy running rampant in front of us and nothing is done against it because in the first place, not a lot of people can afford to buy original games and make that industry thrive.

    Datablitz should know this very well as they have been in the industry for 17 years. If they haven’t made a move, it was with good reason.

    Now to talk about the series of events. We believe it happened based on this order:

    1.) Incompetent Planner makes contact with executives from 2K Sports. 2K Sports lays down the deal (it’s probably cost an insane amount of money. So much money, you’d be crazy to pursue it in the first place).

    – They were most-likely required to buy so many copies of ONE game. So much that after every single person in the Philippines who can afford and is willing to buy the game has purchased their copies, there would still be loads of game boxes in their inventory.

    – Some idiots surrounding Incompetent Planner says it’s doable anyway. Incompetent Planner believes idiots. 

    Why? Because he’s incompetent.

    2.) Incompetent Planner convinces the board that they have a shot at retail gaming. He pulls some figures out of his ass to convince the board to pursue the venture.

    3.) Incompetent Planner rolls out the activities to promote and sell 2K13.

    4.) Board finds out they still have a lot of game boxes which remain unsold to-date.

    5.) Incompetent Planner finds a scapegoat. Datablitz.

    6.) Board lashes out at Datablitz because they are positioned as the cause of their business failing.

    Who is really at fault here? 

    We blame Incompetent Planner and the Idiots around him. They convinced a company to go through a business venture which was not viable in the first place. Plotted their margins poorly, and ultimately wanted to ride along Datablitz’s distribution network which is obviously the biggest in the country.

    We can imagine statements like this before X-Play’s problems surfaced: “Kaya yan, lagay mo yung 50% stock sa Datablitz, benta na agad yan!”

    And then statements like this after X-Play’s problems surfaced: “Kasi yung Datablitz, hindi kumuha ng stock sa amin. Eh official distributor tayo, dapat sa atin lang sila kukuha. Smuggled yan stocks nila.” Ultimately, they had to find a scapegoat as to why their business is not doing well.

    Why did we draw the conclusion that they had to buy so much game games? We know AMDG had game boxes stocked up to the end of it’s life in 2009. Stocks that were purchased since 2004-2006. During the period of 2007-2009, they were still trying to liquidate or dispose their game boxes as X-deals in sponsorship agreements.

    We have testimonies from ex E-Games employees that their company had a surplus of Diablo 3 and GTA 4 game boxes in their office way after the game’s release. 

    Why do they have surplus? Because the demand was not as much as their supply.

    Why did they buy so much? It’s probably because it was part of the deal and they still agreed to it.

  3. On the issue of the raids:

    During the AMDG days, there were also raids conducted. But the difference was it was actually targeted towards business which ADVOCATED PIRACY. Internet cafes were raided when it was proven that they were using PIRATED Operating Systems and GAMES. It’s no different from what Microsoft does. Furthermore, these raids according to our sources were conducted by the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) similar to the FBI in America. Is the CIDG the proper agency? We are no legal experts here but something is fishy. VERY FISHY.

    Why is it very fishy? Not too long ago (2011), an online game publisher was raided at the behest of IP E-Games. Their servers in the data center were confiscated… by the CIDG where the search warrant was also issued from a Makati court (although the raid was conducted in Pasig). Again, not legal experts here, but does a court in one city have jurisdiction over another city? There were circulating pictures of the cease and desist order dated back to 2010 during this time word broke out about the raid. 

    The publisher that was raided was the company called Gameclub. Also known as the publishers of Special Force and Crossfire. What could have lead to this raid?

    1.) Special Force was introduced by Gameclub Circa 2007 and became a national phenomenon from 2008 – 2010. E-Games wanted a slice of the online FPS market and introduced Operation 7 in 2009 along with Gameclub’s Crossfire. Operation 7 had a big campaign. It was supposed to have a televised tournament with a prize pot of P1,000,000. The tournament never happened because the number of players playing their game Operation 7 was not increasing.

    2.) We can repeat the blame game in my post about X-Play since they are pretty much the same people.

    3.) Gameclub is made the scapegoat and FORTUNATELY for E-Games at the time, they had a real claim. Because word is that Gameclub was hiding behind a dummy company to mask the fact that the company is 100% foreign owned. There are laws about online games in the country are treated like public utilities. In other words, there should be at least 60% Filipino ownership in the company. UNFORTUNATELY for E-Games, the legal system didn’t work in their favor and Gameclub is still running wild having found a loop-hole in the system. Even more unfortunate is the players who they thought they could acquire for their then newly released game Point Blank, didn’t flock over as they thought they would.

    4.) In our opinion, the series of these events X-Play on Datablitz, and E-Games on Gameclub draw from a similar pattern.

    What do you guys think?

  4. On the media:

    We really don’t care much. We do take the mainstream media with a grain of salt. For networks who produce TV programs we couldn’t care less about, what is to say their news is close to credible? It is just sad that those who don’t know better may be mislead to believe what the mainstream media says.

    But chances are, these uninformed people don’t matter as they wouldn’t be gamers.

  5. Thanks for linking to my previous article, my new article on this is linked below:

    Vidjogames has been contacted by a source connected to X-Play; and we’ve verified the validity of the source’s connection to the company. The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, sheds light on how X-Play has been dealing with the PR nightmare that the CIDG raids on Datablitz has  created, and X-Play’s  partnerships with game publishers.http://vidjogames.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/from-inside-x-play-how-x-play-is-dealing-with-pr-nightmare-more-info-on-x-plays-partnerships/

  6. Stupid XPlay, don’t use your political power plays to disrupt my gaming experience. You fools, are you trying to drive gamers back to piracy? I support the gaming industry and Data Blitz made it easy and reasonable to do so: they gave me availability of the games I want, at prices that are usually very reasonable, below the dollar price. 

    Enter Xplay, with your bungling legal moves reminiscent of Apple Courtroom Jiujitsu, and exorbitant prices well above what Data Blitz is charging. I don’t give a crap for your dreams of monopoly, consumers hate monopolies and we hate companies who try to break a good thing for their own greed. Shrivel up and die, don’t bother me, else I turn to piracy and screw the local gaming industry for good.

  7. @facebook-1528387646:disqus  teh, masyado ka madada. I will jiujitsu your mouth with my open mouth. kiss kiss.

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