“Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War” Harpoons Its Whales

A game I sometimes check in on to talk to old friends, Pirates of the Caribbean: Tidesof War, was going ballistic yesterday.  The largest alliances where being gutted and banned.  What the heck was going on?  It was a mass extinction event and the whales were going down.  Why does a game ban its biggest spenders?  What did they do?

The in-game chat was fired up with people being called cheaters, to “hey you know them, they are your friends”.  Ask what happened and get two or more versions.  One version is they used loaders, the other they abused the refund policy.  Another says the terms were changed over night and then people were banned.

I am stubborn.  I should actually change my name to it.  So seeing this is going to be a hard nut to crack, with nobody really talking, we reorganize our outreach.  Ask ask and ask.  Tonight we got the answer, and it is so more insane than the rumors.

I get invited to meet the players banned and they are already working with google and apple to get the game removed from the respective stores.  They are talking to lawyers about a lawsuit.  They have reached out to the FTC.  They are angry as hell, and the list goes on as to how far they  are going.

Remember now, these are the biggest spenders in a game.  These are the top 2% representing 90% of a game’s income.  These are the players the little guy hates, because they  can and will drop a couple grand to get the latest greatest thing, then enjoy themselves kicking your little base from here to a reset point if they  could.  At least some of them anyway.

So now we find out, why are the game’s bread and butter at the point they want to burn the game down?  Well yes, they are being banned.  But why.

FREE WILLY

Most whales and even other players use loaders.  Loaders use IP spoofing to disguise their location at a country the game offers packs at reduced rate, then usually buy gift cards or credits in bulk at a discount rate.   A player meets a loader, they talk, money and logins change hand, and the player gets to enjoy lower price packs.  Some smaller players call this cheating, but it is really just shopping around for a better price.  If its cheaper in another country, why not.  The developer gets paid, just at the lower price “they” set in a country, and the whales spends thousands upon thousands of dollars keeping the game going financially.  Developers usually say no to loaders, but turn a blind eye because they get paid tons of money in the end.

Here is what happened this time.  When you allow somebody access to your account, you take a risk.  This time the risk backfired and the loader, after doing his or her job, and after making tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, reversed the charges and got a refund.

This left Joycity, the developer, out of the money, and the player with all the virtual goods.  So there are many ways a developer could handle this.  Joycity chose to burn the house down because the tenants shorted them on the rent.  Here is how.

Once they identified the players involved, they changed their TOS.  Next stop was soft banning everyone of them.  Each was sent what they all perceived as a ransom letter.  They where told they  had to buy back all the virtual gold that was refunded, an amount was included, at full price.

These amounts ranged from a few hundred dollars to in excess of $54,000 dollars to get their accounts turned back on.

Some paid, only to be met with silence so far.  Let us go back to the letter.  It stated pay within 14 days in order to discuss the lift of the ban.  Read back, it said “discuss.”  Paying the ransom does not guarantee your account will be activated.  Players that paid are still waiting for a response as of writing this.

IMG_4839[1]

So we talked for a bit.  Some players are seeking a refund from google for their normal purchases.  These amounts will be in the thousands.  So Joycity, remember the sunk cost fallacy you addict players with, you forgot how that works?  Joycity not only lost the loader refunded amount, a sunk cost, but now stands to lose a great deal more.

I also came to find out they targeted players that received legit refunds from google and apple for a pack, here or there, that wasn’t delivered as promised.  One player is currently banned until he repays .99 worth of gold.

If anybody has any questions for the players banned, all are welcome to join the discord server to talk.  It is a shame how much a game will addict players and create ridiculous spending compulsions.  Its even more insane to treat them this way.

Gold cost $.05 US each gold

 

 

 

 


25 thoughts on ““Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War” Harpoons Its Whales

  1. Your assessment or conclusion is flawed. Not all players used a loader. There are many that simply requested a refund at the instruction of JoyCity themselves. This resulted in them having a refund on their account and flagged. These unjust judgements hopefully will be reversed as they did nothing wrong. Their packs were flawed in not giving everything they advertised and they retuned said pack. Hopefully their proof will keep JoyCity from banning them for good. Please get a better all around view before being so certain. And yes, my account was banned. I have never used a loader, and I have never asked for a refund. However, the friend I bought it from did request a lot of refunds. He said he never got them because there was too much. Google denied him. After I get this evidence, I will be submitting it to JoyCity. This is going to kill their game, their company actually. Thank you for taking the time.

    1. Thank you for reading and contributing. I did in the write up indicate that some people were banned because of refunds. I appreciate you expanding on this. What I did neglect to include was that it is very likely that some people requested refunds, and received them fraudulently. This does not excuse the behavior of Joycity in this, but it was unfair of me not to include that some players, most likely did commit fraud. I would hope this percentage is extremely low, but there is absolutely no way to know. I do feel a very large percentage of the players effected acted in good faith.

    2. If you aren’t going to read the full article then please don’t respond. He addressed that quite a few people were banned because they got legitimate refunds. Have you bothered trying to email Joy City to explain this? They WILL be able to see in their logs that you never received the original pack. I swear some people refuse to help themselves and would rather just complain. They were completely justified in banning the people who manipulated the system. As a gamer for over 22 years I can tell you many games would have never given them the chance to get their account back. It would have been a complete and sudden and permanent ban. Paying Joy City the money that is owed to them does not promise that they will overlook the original oversight. Since you did not actually do anything wrong you have a chance to get your account back. That is fair. The cheaters getting their accounts back? Not fair. Even if they pay.

      1. So the developer paints everyone with one broad stroke of the brush? Singeling out cheaters who “they know with certainty” loaded and then claimed refund is one thing, but to ban people that legitimately got a refund due to the developers incompetence and lack of adaquate customer support is totally another deal. If they have the ability to look back at logs as you proclaim then they had the ability to do so before they banned someone and would know with certainty; but they didn’t do that, and to then put a bounty or a re-entrance fee on the account before the developer would even enter into a discussion is like many describe, it is extortion. They not only are expecting people to prove their innocence, but those people need to pay them for the privledge to do so… it’s a good thing that developer is based in SK because even with lax consumer protection laws in the U.S. they would be hard pressed to justify their actions and I am pretty certain those in the E.U. where consumer protection laws are much more stringent, there will be a price to pay… those who enforce won’t go to joycity, they will go to the distributors like Apple and Google to demand their removal and rightfully so. It seems JoyCity also does not value it’s license agreement for the Disney brand… I predict this will not end well for them, and frankly these predatory developers should be shunned all together from the app stores where they peddle their scams…

  2. One interesting side point to the discussion that has not been mentioned is as follows. Why did the big spenders become big spenders to begin with. Let me start by saying I am one of the ransom notes posted in you’re article. I never intended to become a serious e-gamer and I never even knew what a loader was as I had never played a mobile game. I didn’t get into clash of clans, lords mobile, or Mobile strike and never would have because there was no catch for me. I did get involved with Pirates of the Caribbean Tides of War because I was not only a fan of the movie franchise but of the company I thought was running the show Disney. I started off as a free player and as time went on I would spend 20 or 30 dollars here and there for a small benefit. However I was mainly able to enjoy life as a free player making marginal progress each day and enjoying it. After a bit of time I joined a small alliance and all of a sudden the game was changed. I was now playing with real people and I found myself in a small family. We were all learning the game together and enjoyed checking in at least once a day with each other. Then suddenly that world changed. A Romanian cash player called Chuck Norris showed up and basically round house kicked my alliance into flames. He destroyed everything and was doing things I didn’t even know was possible like porting around and speeding in ships to attack me. I thought he must be some kind of hacker because no one I had encountered in all that time could do the things he was doing. It turns out he was just a big cash player. On that day several of my alliance family members quit. Our fearless leader hid in his bubble but I decided to fight and I lost 5 ships. Doesn’t seem like much but as a free player it was more than a months work. Right there I should have been smart and quit the game. I should have just bubbled my fortress or just walked away from the game but I hate bullies. I spent most of the game fighting bullies. For a very long time I played legally and spent thousands of dollars not because I wanted to but because I had to. Finally I reached a point where I was able to (by myself) protect my alliance and my whole little server. Then they announced a server merge. A whole new set of players and a new bully alliance. Fought those guys too and put a hurting on them. Then the game did something I did not expect. They opened server jumps. Like an alien landing a large group of Koreans who may or may not have been developer funded arrived in mass. Imagine that siege scene where a large army storms a town burning and pillaging as they go. I mean when I first saw Chuck Norris I thought this is one super player but overnight I was faced with a group of 30 – 40 super players and they had malicious intent. They didn’t want to compete against the biggest alliance or fight an epic port battle. Their goal was simple hold the server prisoner. No one was allowed to farm the NPC resource bases, or capture a port city, or even move as one of the big players would sit their base next to every alliance hive as a scout waiting to call in their friends as the first sight of a shield failure. I couldn’t compete even if I spent every dollar I had and maxed out. I needed a team of spenders so I ran with my girlfriend at the time. Had no choice I knew what was about to happen and the only thing I could do was leave because I had no support and I wasn’t about to watch everything I built and everyone I cared about become the property of Korea. No matter where I went however it seemed that to even stay competitive I needed to spend more and more money. It got to a point where no matter how much I spent I couldn’t keep up and that’s when someone told me about loaders (Mind you up until that point I had paid full fare into the 10’s of thousands of dollars). It was explained to me like this. Nothing wrong or illegal with using a loader. A loader just uses currency exchange rates to offer you a discount. You are still buying the pack just at a discount like using a coupon. Oh did I forget to mention that the Koreans are offered “coupons” all the time no wonder they are able to max so easily. Of course I didn’t know any better and I believed in the honesty of others. I wanted to continue to be able to fight the bullies and this loader was able to help me keep pace without going broke. It was a while after that I met my second loader who was able to offer me even more of a discount. However what this loader never told me and I never knew to ask was how his price was more reduced. Apparently there was as you explained this refund method. Lets be clear I never approved stealing from the developer and I never expected that the person I was doing business with would do anything illegal. I paid thinking that this loader had just found the cheapest possible currency that could be used. In fact what I learned only later is that he was a cheat and would take my money buy a pack and then claim he never got it. Thus he took my money and got his full refund back. Cheating me and the developer at the same time. I guess you live and learn but lets be clear on the reason for all of this was the developer JoyCity practically forcing the hand of all the customers. Spend, quit, or live like a prisoner. Well today my account has no hope of being recovered and the main problem is that I don’t really care. I refuse to pay a ransom in the 10’s of thousands of dollars just to be able to discuss having my account un-banned and JoyCity did me a favor because it got me to break this never ending cycle of pay to play. Also at the same time JoyCity gave me justification for hefty refunds as they are accusing me of something that was never against the rules until they updated their terms of service and then applied it retro actively. Yes I lost some money but I got a years worth of entertainment. Some amazing friends, met the love of my life, and a hard learned lesson about micro transaction games. Stay away!!!! It becomes a worse addiction than drinking or drugs because it is legal, easily available, and you never really know how deep you are in until that credit card/bank statement comes. This will be my first and last micro transaction game. However JoyCity has made a grave mistake in the actions it has taken because I have a voice and I have been using it for some time now to keep other people away from this developer. I also have a wallet and were I just to have been warned I would have gone back to spending less but paying full fare giving the developer even more money. Now I won’t ever spend with them again. On top of that I have gotten some hefty refunds already. So overall I have lost very little (cost of doing business) and had alot of fun but JoyCity has lost even more because without someone like me to check the bullies even more people will continue to leave the server or quit and ask for their own refunds. It will eventually get to a point where most of the old school e-games are. A hand full of die hard players but a customer base hardly worth keeping the server open for. However JoyCity also has two other big problems to deal with. The first being that this is a licensed game and “The Mouse” aka Disney doesn’t like extortionists. This cannot be good publicity for them. Secondly when you break terms of service with the users and extort them you cast a poor light on your payment processors namely Apple and Google. At some point soon Apple and Google might come to the realization that its not worth the cost and hassle of dealing with JoyCity as a developer and may just remove the apps altogether. However in truth most of this may never happen because as the old adage goes there’s a sucker born every minute. Well this sucker is taking his money and running far far away.

    1. You lost me during your lomg winded article noone has made it through at bully….its a war game. I still cant believe people enter into these fighting games and tale the fighting so personal. You spent money to gain an advantage. And like so many others got addicted to it

    2. Also the people got banned for breaking the tos. So how can joy be guilty of breakimg the tos to the tos breakers? Lol

      1. Breaking tos! You can’t make up a rule and make it retroactive. It’s not breaking the rules if it wasn’t a rule at the time of alleged violation!!!!

    3. And btw everyone knows loaders are a deal breaker. You use them at your own risk. This game and every other like it can ban you for even letting someone log in your account to look. So cheating the pack system is obvious. And i used loaders in other games but i assumed the risk

    4. That whole i need to be a superhero and protect from the bullies is your addiction talking. Justifying blowing a ton of money on an app lol

  3. Can you put this on reddit to? We also have a line group with a lot of information going on with the banned players. My line id is damiagracia..

    1. I can’t. Its called self promotion and frowned upon on reddit. Feel free to do so if active on reddit.

  4. Joycity is negligent..to the players that were subjected to game-play that was allowed to be played on unlevel playing field. Joycity had foreknowledge of the existence and use of “Loaders” and in not protecting against the obvious conclusion which would be an unfair balance of power,capabilities and ability to simply destroy the entire playing field and it’s combatants. Joycity needs an accounting algorithm to watch for exploits…like my tiny little credit union uses. Joycity getting plundered is ironic as hell..Later Pops.

    1. Well the minute you log on (agreeing to the tos) you agreed to play in that uneven playing field…who made you? Go play another game

  5. I write this as an avid gamer of 25 years, as someone who has watched the gaming landscape change as the industry has evolved into a wildly profitable platform at the expense of the 98% of players who aren’t maxing out credit cards to win.

    The Terms of Service in the majority of games explicitly prohibits the sharing of account details – using a loader is a clear infraction on the ToS. Within the ToS it usually states in no uncertain terms that:

    1. The account remains property of the developer;
    2. The ToS are subject to change at the developers discretion.

    The developer has acted lawfully and legal action will go nowhere. I’m pretty sure nobody reads the ToS but that’s on the player, not the developer. This also refutes the argument in the comments about having purchased an account and the original owner rescinding payments. You bought the account details (not the account itself) therefore the ToS have been violated. None of you have a legal leg to stand on. That’s the official view.

    My personal view is also unsympathetic. Using a loader is not “shopping around”. It’s a direct attempt to contravene the wishes of the developer. Prices aren’t adjusted in other countries just to give them an advantage (or disadvantage), they are adjusted to match the various taxes levied on the developer for “trading” in those countries. Using a workaround reduces the profits made and is at the developers detriment. The idea that players using a workaround at the developers expense now want to sue is a ridiculous notion, especially when using loaders is clearly a shady move. If you were meant to receive goods at those prices, you would be able to do it in game and without making infractions on the ToS.

    This kind of behaviour is what is slowly destroying the gaming community. Games used to be a level playing field, an arena that favoured nobody, regardless of age, creed, or financial situation. Now games are won based on how much cash someone is willing to throw at it, to the point of it being a running joke in the community. Developers are ruthlessly flogging an industry to death while the players (the same players now complaining) enable them with every micro-transaction.

    1. As a gamer of 22 years myself you sir, NAILED it. I don’t feel sorry for any of the cheaters. In fact, they shouldn’t even be able to pay to get it back. They manipulated the system and got caught and now they are throwing tantrums. The only exception to this is people that got banned for legitimate refunds. But Joy City can easily solve that by looking at their logs if those players just reach to them.

      1. If joycity had the technical competence they would have been able to identify those who were cheating the system with certainty before banning anyone. I don’t play the game for good reason, but the fact is there are far too many get rich quick scam driven developers out there and JoyCity is one of them. They put out crap and either they can not maintain them properly due to technical incompetence, or just refuse to do so and also refuse to provide adaquate customer service to rectify problems people will encounter. Apple and Google share a lot of the blame – they are not enforcing their own TOS as it relates to the developers and the level of quality expected of products that they are paid to distribute. From what I have read JoyCity is like many of these scam artists, they take no accountability for their unstable apps and platforms and are unresponsive and uncooperative to a paying customer that got burned during an IAP transaction or lost something they paid for due to a bug or failure of the app/back end system. The irony of it all is they are complaining about people gaming a system that they designed themselves.. and to boot, the crap that is being purportedly stolen or cheated from them is actually worth $0.00 by their own TOS… go figure. I am not condoning loaders or people who game the system, but before a developer takes people’s money, they need to be prepared to take responsibility and be accountable for the low quality systems and apps they designed themselves. Had they produced a better system and provided adaquate customer service to those who had problems, they wouldnt have the problems they do with loaders and people getting refunds. I hope they get yanked off the app stores and lose the Disney license… and for those who like to look into things, this is not the first time they have done something similar – they did it with their dice title too… this is JoyCity’s fault – they didn’t fix their crap back end system and processes. They get what they deserve and the people who continue to fall for these scams because they didn’t research the developer history and reputations kind of get what they deserve too… kind of like those who still fall for the MZ titles.

  6. Either way Joycitys recourse should have been to dispute the refunded amounts. Not to demand payment for NEW products that they would then void. All of the players who did use loaders would clearly provide evidence that they didn’t request refunds and the refunds should have been reversed. At least those that Joycity disputed within the appropriate timeframe. All merchants using credit card processors receive disputes. They challenge thare se and then win some and lose others based on evidence. Joycity should have disputed the reversals with google play and iTunes. Moreover they also had the option of voiding the digital products. But to ask anyone to pay MORE in order to continue to access their account is not just tantamount to extortion, it IS extortion. Note also that many people haven’t received a response from joyCity regarding which packs were purchased and refunded or even the platform these so called transactions happened on. Beyond poor judgment it smacks of greed. And given how difficult it is for individual players to get refunds from google and iTunes it also smells like someone working wherever these refunds occurred was actually complicit. Was Joycity complicit? Many transactions are more than 6 months old and the volumes are enormous. Why did they wait until now? And why should they profit from their own negligence. The loader fraud could have been stemmed months ago if they hadn’t focused only on their monthly revenues. Someone clearly knew this was happening and they chose to be blind to it.

      1. It should not have been about the refunds at all. If JoyCity didn’t have such a crap product that was being represented as something other than crap, then people would not have had a reason to ask for a refund nor got one from Apple or Google. From what I have read many refunds stemmed from the lack of reliable service to use the app or they didn’t get what they paid for and JoyCity ignored them when trying to get support through the recommended methods. As the person pointed out JoyCity has the means available to them to dispute a refund and I would opine they had the means to identify loaders or most accounts that were using loaders. The data being collected by the apps and the stores themselves could have easily provided the identifying red flags… e.g. an account that was generated and used primarily in the U.S. using a Ukraine App Store for IAP’s – this isn’t rocket scientists, but it does require competence on the developers behalf, and from what I have read, they are severely lacking the competence needed to run a business that accepts payment for services and goods.

  7. One of the biggest problems in this and many other games where you gain gain levels eccetra buy spending real cash is it ends up with peopl who dont have any or much money to spend being driven from the game and i would say to anyone who has used loaders, or bought from scammers or cheated in any other way go play a different game.

  8. There is new evidence and information shared since publication including more details in Joycity responses. I will consult site editors on best way to update and have those updates out this weekend.

  9. I am a spender…over 10k…legit way. Glad to see cheaters banned. Am i a bully because i spend money? Dont be stupid. If u play for free and dont like results…move on. Nobody forcing u to play. Welcome to a free market economy.

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