Playfire Controversy

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This is pretty bizarre. Here, we have a social networking site asking for pretty much every type of login you can imagine and getting a fair amount of criticism for it in the process. The way they go about it is somewhat peculiar, and though I don't think it was malicious on their part, it illustrates how what somebody thinks is a good idea can go horribly wrong very quickly.

The site in question is Playfire.com, a social networking site for people interested in videogames.

What were they doing? Well,it seemed messages were being sent to people on your XBox Live friends list, "reserving" a page for that username then presenting that individual with the below page:

pfire4.jpg
Click to Enlarge

Note that it asks for your XBox Live login. At that point, according to numerous complaints on forums, those friends would then receive a message on XBox Live that appeared to have come from you, recommending Playfire.

A Playfire employee has been busy posting to this blog post, and also this forum thread on the subject. From the last link:

"It looks like Microsoft's legal team has triumphed. According to Large Jaguar, Xbox.com Development Manager, "PlayFire is no longer collecting WLID credentials for people's Xbox LIVE accounts."

Again, I don't think there's anything malicious going on here - but it's a good example of how a few poorly chosen "features" can seriously damage your reputation.

When you're a new site, that's really the last thing you need...

4 Comments

Hi, Benji here from Playfire. Just to make clear, at no point do we email or send PMs without your permission. If you were to enter your details to retrieve your friends list/email contact list then you'd be presented with that list with an option to select/deselect who you wanted to contact. The PM that you'll send is also shown as well as an option to skip.

The email contact retrieval is a common way of giving you an easy way to invite your friends. It's used on Facebook, MySpace etc. and the Xbox LIVE PM system is an extension of that. At no time do we store your details or do anything without your permission.

hi Benji, thanks for clarifying - I've amended the article to focus purely on the xbox live side of things. I should say, however, that I don't really agree with sites like Myspace, Facebook etc doing the same thing either. It's not good practice to encourage people to enter logins for other services on sites not related to them.

I've been watching this tick over on many gaming websitesfor a while now - here's just one of many posts:

http://www.2old2play.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=51111


some observations:

1) you dont seem to let people enter xbox live ID information anymore. Nor do you seem to display xbox gaming related data anymore. As far as i'm aware, only certified sites such as gamerscore can scrape and display this data - as you dont ask for live ID info anymore or display said data, is it fair to say you shouldnt perhaps have been doing either of those to begin with? As far as I'm aware, you're not a member of XCDP, which i believe is required to be able to pull down stats.

2) most of this anger on gaming forums seems to be because you didnt perhaps make it clear enough (in certain places) exactly what youd be doing with data, or what people could expect to happen should they enter x, y and z info. so a tightening up of those clauses (for example, on the page where you enter your logins for the various emails, i cant see ANYTHING on that page that says exactly what you will and won't do with the data) would be extremely useful and perhaps ease the minds of those using the site. (Of course, its debatable whether a third party should be asking for xbox live login data in the first place).

it seems like a good idea for a website, and honestly, i hope you can sort these teething troubles out.

Hi Sub-Wrath,

The interface shown in the screenshot above doesn't invite people to the site. On the next page it shows you a list of friends, where you pick the ones you want to invite, and it also shows you the PM text for what is going to be sent. It is all very clear and transparent. We agree we should have done more, but we honestly thought it was a very clear system.

At the start we definitely made the mistake of not making it obvious enough, but we quickly changed this (within a day or so) after hearing feedback.

Our goal with Xbox integration is simply to provide a cool site for gamers. There is no other goal for us apart from this. We are keen to speak to Microsoft about getting set up in the XCDP as there are so many good ideas we have that we're able to build for the Xbox community. Unfortunately they didn't get back to us after we continually reached out a number of times for their support last year.

We've taken your feedback on board and will try and make things better in the future.

Any other issues or questions I'm happy to provide my direct email to talk more: ben [at] playfire [dotcom].

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This page contains a single entry by Christopher Boyd published on February 11, 2009 6:33 PM.

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