It’s been several weeks since “ASGate” and even though it’s becoming old news I would like to overview the whole crisis and give my opinions on the matter.
Over the All-Star weekend Cat Daddy suffered a massive blow due to a perplexing error they made during a flash sale they offered for their All-Star packs. The sale in question occurred on the morning of Saturday, February 13th, offering All-Star packs for 100% off! Can’t beat that, huh? Those that noticed the flash sale went on a torrid shopping spree, “buying” as many 100% off (free) packs as possible. I’m not sure exactly how long the promotion was up, some have said just 15 minutes while others have claimed it was a full hour. Either way hordes of players were able to open nearly 100 packs each before the oversight was locked down. The lucky people that noticed the sale amassed so many cards so quickly that many of them had to train away or quick sell a large portion of their collection just to keep opening packs without their decks filling up.
Once it was clear that Cat Daddy had scrambled to their computers and hit the giant red ‘STOP’ button, users began hitting the interwebs to boast their unfathomable luck. The response from those that missed out on the deal varied from remorse to anger, as well as plenty of confusion. Some suggested maybe it wasn’t a mistake and that Cat Daddy was being extra generous for once, however none of the veteran gamers believed that to be true. Some hoped that CD would re-release the sale at 100% off once more, but we all knew deep down that wasn’t going to happen.
The difference in competition was immediately evident. A Rivals Clash event was being held at that time and all my +5 matchups from then on were full of Star Pro All-Star cards. Having just regular Star cards my +5 win rate plummeted from 8/10 to around 5-6/10. Fortunately for me I was playing that RC casually, but for those vying for a top spot it became a major crisis.
Many users predictably demanded an instant response from CD. Those that missed out on the deal bitterly stated how it wasn’t fair that anyone (especially new users) that noticed the gaffe now had some of the best decks in the game, and they had a point. I stated how much of a bummer it was that my deck, which took over 6 months to build, was now nothing compared to someone who just started the app and happened to notice the sale at the right hour. Those that were able to cash in on the deal naturally attempted to downplay the importance of CD taking action to reform the mistake, arguing they “purchased” the cards for the price advertised and those that missed out with just have to deal with it. The conflicting arguments boiled over online as everyone awaited CD’s response.
Cat Daddy’s Response
You have to imagine they were scrambling over at Cat Daddy headquarters. I have no idea what the actual data is but the glitch could have easily shelled out over $100,000 in packs. That’s not exactly a $100,000+ loss for CD but they did lose a considerable amount of money by releasing that amount of worth for free, not to mention the fact that no one will probably ever actually buy an All-Star pack ever again. People were getting frantic and angry waiting for a response from Cat Daddy and the closer it got to the end of the week the more upset people became. Finally late-Sunday NWGameDad (Danan Davis, Cat Daddy Producer) let everyone know he was unavailable all weekend but that they’ve been working on a resolution and they would present it to us that Tuesday.
It almost looked like there wasn’t going to be an announcement at all on Tuesday, but finally later in the day users were issued this in-game announcement:
Here’s the message that was displayed on their tumblr account:
“On Saturday, February 13, we discovered an issue in MyNBA2K16 that a small number of players exploited to gain massive amounts of All-Star packs and cards.
To preserve the integrity of competition and to protect the overall game experience across events and Seasons, players who took advantage of this exploit will soon find their MyCards returned to a state that closely resembles their composition prior to use of the exploit.
Catch @MyNBA2K on Twitter for more information or submit a ticket to Feedback within the app.”
Shortly thereafter everyone was stripped of their All-Star cards, even the cards that were gained through legitimate means like winning seasons or actually paying for packs. This put some gamers in a real jam because all their in-season All-Star cards were replaced with Common Pro cards. As always, scores of players threatened to quit the game or declared outright that they already had. Cat Daddy has asked anyone that is missing legitimate All-Star cards to send in a feedback ticket and they will get to it as soon as possible.
When I was a sophomore in high school I was attending a weeklong baseball camp at Oregon State University. While I was there the rest of my baseball team went on a spur of the moment trip to Seattle to attend a Mariners game. My coach’s uncle was Steve Ballmer, part owner of the Mariners (and now also full owner of the Los Angeles Clippers) and he allowed my team to watch the game from his suite, go into the clubhouse after the game to meet the team and then head over to his mansion to spend the night before traveling home the next day. Since I was out of town I missed the whole thing; I was devastated. I can’t say I was just as disappointed when I found out I missed out on ASGate but I definitively got that deep, sinking feeling when I found out I’d missed out on the free-for-all. Still, amongst the regret and anguish over being left out of the fun I also felt like I’d lucked out to a certain extent. All those that took part were going to have their accounts rifled through as CD tried to sort the whole mess out.
I take exception to CD’s verbiage when they call the whole deal an “exploit”. To me an exploit is using something for an alternative purpose to gain an advantage. For instance, pick stashing; the true purpose of keeping your picks even when the game closes out is so you aren’t cheated out of your picks if the game crashes, that’s a good feature that I’m thankful exists. When you purposefully quit out to stash picks that’s taking a feature and using it for completely different reasons, that is truly exploitation. What we had with ASGate wasn’t exploitation. The packs were legitimately advertised as 100% off; by posting them as 100% off CD was agreeing to give them out for free. By clicking ‘Purchase’ the users were agreeing to “buy” those packs for the advertised price. Now if it said 50% off yet players weren’t being charged at all that would be another story. One could argue that legally the users are entitled to keep all those packs because they were acquired as advertised, 100% off.
Another disagreement I have with CD’s message is the statement that it was a “small number” of players that took advantage of the sale. When compared to everyone in the world that plays the game it may seem like a small number but my quick game matchups and season opponents were nearly all packed with All-Star cards, other gamers reported the same issue. That’s a clear sign that a large number of people were about to cash in on this.
Everyone knew (whether they admitted it or not) that it was a mistake, so it’s not surprising that CD took action, I’d even submit that it was a good thing. Should people with fewer than 1,000 quick games be allowed to instantly have a deck that’s better than 95% of everyone else? Of course not!
As I was mulling over CD’s options (before they revealed their decision) I came up with 3 options, one of which they ended up using (on their own, not by my suggestion).
Leave the “exploiters” with two All-Star pro cards and take away the rest, and give everyone else the chance to have one free All-Star card of their choice. With this option the exploiters still get to benefit from the free-for-all but it doesn’t allow them to have a totally stacked deck. Even if they knew when they were opening the packs that it was a mistake and it all my be reversed there’s still this sense of euphoria you get every time you open a pack. After opening all those packs and getting so excited it’s a major letdown to have that all nullified. It reminds me of the rabbit in the old Trix commercials: every time the poor guy got ahold of some Trix they would be snatched from him and told “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!”
With this option there would still be complaining on both sides, but the complaints wouldn’t be as loud. The exploiters would be upset that most of their new cards got taken away, but they couldn’t be too upset because they picked up two new Star pro cards. Those that missed out on the deal would only get one Star card, which isn’t much compared to two pros but it’s way better than nothing, and it’s free; if they complained about that then they’re just complaining for the sake of complaining. This was probably my favorite option of the three, but here’s the other two I came up with…
Let the exploiters keep all of the cards and start a new tier. The exploiters would still have a leg up but it wouldn’t be as extreme as the cards from the new tier would quickly make the All-Star cards less and less important. The best case for this option is that it doesn’t involve CD confiscating any cards, which (as I stated earlier) is morally questionable at best, legally questionable at worst. The drawback to this option is that it’s not that plausible to begin with. Creating a new tier would be a massive undertaking and couldn’t be whipped up in a day or two, and we all know how long it takes Apple to approve big updates like that. While it’s an interesting idea I don’t think it was realistically possible.
Take all the All-Star cards back. Although this is the option CD ended up landing on I didn’t think it would be possible because of how much sorting would be involved. Many of those cards were trained with legitimate cards and pro’d with legitimate wild cards and contracts. If you want to talk about legal issues, imagine the legal implications connected to taking away a card that was pro’d using a Star contract, bought from a contracts pack; you just can’t do that. So if CD was going to use this option they were going to have to make sure everyone got all of their legitimate cards back. Even then you know there will be plenty of players that will lie and say that they never fully recouped their pre-ASGate deck. To my surprise CD went with this option. As expected the sorting process has been slow and arduous; several weeks after the incident many people are still waiting for some cards to be returned. If you are one of those people you need to send a feedback ticket in to CD detailing what cards are missing. See below for info on how to send in a feedback ticket.
As the dust continues to settle ASGate will soon be a complete thing of the past. Before long new young gamers will come along not even knowing this happened, which is probably what CD wants and would honestly be good for the game overall. However it will always be remembered to an extent and will go down with Scamazon and the Cyber Monday deal as one of the biggest blunders in MyNBA history.
*Additional Note: I am in no way suggesting legal action should be taken on this matter, that would be absurd. If you’re missing cards legitimate cards you will get them back, just keep sending feedback tickets. Thanks.