Microsoft accidentally gave out free Halo maps, then made a mess

Posted by R2KA (6 posts) -

On December 10, 2012, the first Halo 4 map pack came out ... and most people could download it for free if they knew what to do. Then, Microsoft came up with some bogus story in an attempt to look like the god guys, but instead made a good portion of the Halo community furious.

-

Okay, so this whole affair looks like an innocent mistake that was very poorly handled.

Guessing at things I know nothing about, here's what I believe happened:

1) In an attempt to fix an issue preventing some Season Pass and Limited Edition owners from downloading the Map Pack at no cost, the Specialization Code accidentally began being seen by Halo 4 as the Season Pass, thus allowing anyone who redeemed it to be offered the Map Pack free of charge.

2) After almost a day of no response to this "mixup," Microsoft PR sent out a statement saying:

As an additional reward to those customers that participated in our "14 Day, Buy and Play" program (which ran from Nov. 6 – Nov. 20), we are providing complimentary access to the Crimson Map Pack for a limited time, through Tuesday, December 18 at 9am UTC/GMT.
There were some initial complications with the distribution of the "14 day, Buy and Play" reward tokens, and so we decided to provide the additional reward of complimentary access to the Crimson Map Pack, for a limited time, as a "thank you" to our customers that contributed to the success of the "Halo 4" launch.

I, again with no actual proof, find this statement to be total BS: mostly because it kind of makes the whole situation worse.

This is because

(a) You don't give out $10 map packs for free without making a big deal about it before hand.

(b) You don't give "qualifying" users multiple ways to actually pay money for an item without any notice that they can get it for free; for example, the description of the map pack in the dashboard reads "If you own Halo 4’s “War Game Map Pass,” DO NOT purchase this content here as you will be charged again." It would mention this "14 day, Buy and Play" if it was something they had intended.

(c) For anone who played Halo 4 online before Nov. 20, this "program" makes buying the Season Pass 25% MORE expensive than purchasing the map packs individually instead of 17% cheaper.

So...what should Microsoft do. Before it issued its statement, I would have said to fix the issue and let the people who got the maps for free keep them; after all, accidents happen. However, if Microsoft is going to say this was intentional, then it is going to have to to some other things if they want to keep the trust of the Halo community. First of all, just keep the Crimson Map Pack free forever, and issue an 800 MSP refund to anyone who actually paid money for it. Secondly, either (a) give all current Season Pass owners (and probably Limited Edition owners, as well, but that's a little different) 400 MSP so that they aren't spending more money on their pass than the individual maps, or (b), which is favorite idea, release a forth map pack in Summer 2013; this way Season Pass owners get $30 worth of maps. (And who doesn't like more maps?) Maybe this map pack is three remakes (I assume remaking maps from Halo 2, 3, and Reach is slightly less work than designing new maps from scratch); maybe you make a list of like ten maps and let the community vote on their favorites; hey, I'm just throwing out ideas.

If they aren't going to do any of these things, they at least need to put out official statements on Xbox.com and HaloWaypoint.com, as well as put some kind of notice on the Xbox dashboard so people don't continue to purchase maps they are supposed to get for free.

Anyway, this post is way too long, and to think I would have been totally satisfied if Microsoft just said, "Our bad," and moved on.

#1 Posted by R2KA (6 posts) -

On December 10, 2012, the first Halo 4 map pack came out ... and most people could download it for free if they knew what to do. Then, Microsoft came up with some bogus story in an attempt to look like the god guys, but instead made a good portion of the Halo community furious.

-

Okay, so this whole affair looks like an innocent mistake that was very poorly handled.

Guessing at things I know nothing about, here's what I believe happened:

1) In an attempt to fix an issue preventing some Season Pass and Limited Edition owners from downloading the Map Pack at no cost, the Specialization Code accidentally began being seen by Halo 4 as the Season Pass, thus allowing anyone who redeemed it to be offered the Map Pack free of charge.

2) After almost a day of no response to this "mixup," Microsoft PR sent out a statement saying:

As an additional reward to those customers that participated in our "14 Day, Buy and Play" program (which ran from Nov. 6 – Nov. 20), we are providing complimentary access to the Crimson Map Pack for a limited time, through Tuesday, December 18 at 9am UTC/GMT.
There were some initial complications with the distribution of the "14 day, Buy and Play" reward tokens, and so we decided to provide the additional reward of complimentary access to the Crimson Map Pack, for a limited time, as a "thank you" to our customers that contributed to the success of the "Halo 4" launch.

I, again with no actual proof, find this statement to be total BS: mostly because it kind of makes the whole situation worse.

This is because

(a) You don't give out $10 map packs for free without making a big deal about it before hand.

(b) You don't give "qualifying" users multiple ways to actually pay money for an item without any notice that they can get it for free; for example, the description of the map pack in the dashboard reads "If you own Halo 4’s “War Game Map Pass,” DO NOT purchase this content here as you will be charged again." It would mention this "14 day, Buy and Play" if it was something they had intended.

(c) For anone who played Halo 4 online before Nov. 20, this "program" makes buying the Season Pass 25% MORE expensive than purchasing the map packs individually instead of 17% cheaper.

So...what should Microsoft do. Before it issued its statement, I would have said to fix the issue and let the people who got the maps for free keep them; after all, accidents happen. However, if Microsoft is going to say this was intentional, then it is going to have to to some other things if they want to keep the trust of the Halo community. First of all, just keep the Crimson Map Pack free forever, and issue an 800 MSP refund to anyone who actually paid money for it. Secondly, either (a) give all current Season Pass owners (and probably Limited Edition owners, as well, but that's a little different) 400 MSP so that they aren't spending more money on their pass than the individual maps, or (b), which is favorite idea, release a forth map pack in Summer 2013; this way Season Pass owners get $30 worth of maps. (And who doesn't like more maps?) Maybe this map pack is three remakes (I assume remaking maps from Halo 2, 3, and Reach is slightly less work than designing new maps from scratch); maybe you make a list of like ten maps and let the community vote on their favorites; hey, I'm just throwing out ideas.

If they aren't going to do any of these things, they at least need to put out official statements on Xbox.com and HaloWaypoint.com, as well as put some kind of notice on the Xbox dashboard so people don't continue to purchase maps they are supposed to get for free.

Anyway, this post is way too long, and to think I would have been totally satisfied if Microsoft just said, "Our bad," and moved on.

#2 Posted by StarFoxA (5163 posts) -

Wait, wait... people are getting mad because Microsoft (presumably, without any proof) "made a mistake," and are now giving away a map pack for free?! People are mad about this? What?

#3 Posted by MikkaQ (10344 posts) -

@StarFoxA said:

Wait, wait... people are getting mad because Microsoft (presumably, without any proof) "made a mistake," and are now giving away a map pack for free?! People are mad about this? What?

Well cause if you bought the season pass, you just got screwed out of money. The whole point of the pass was that you got all the maps at a reduced price, but by having this be free they literally spent more for those maps than someone buying them without a season pass.

#4 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4494 posts) -

@MikkaQ said:

@StarFoxA said:

Wait, wait... people are getting mad because Microsoft (presumably, without any proof) "made a mistake," and are now giving away a map pack for free?! People are mad about this? What?

Well cause if you bought the season pass, you just got screwed out of money. The whole point of the pass was that you got all the maps at a reduced price, but by having this be free they literally spent more for those maps than someone buying them without a season pass.

If I read that PR statement correctly I don't think they are really giving it out for free. It sounds like they are saying they are giving it away for free instead of admitting they made a mistake.

#5 Posted by ShadowConqueror (3085 posts) -

More people for me to play the maps with, so what?

#6 Posted by redefaulted (2829 posts) -

They only get the map pack "free" until December 18th, that's hardly enough to make season pass members enraged. No one is getting short-changed here. Microsoft obviously slipped, and they are doing what any PR mindful company does - cover it up. Anyone who honestly thinks a company should say "my bad" that is the size (reputation wise) of Microsoft doesn't understand the volatility of such a comment.

#7 Posted by MikkaQ (10344 posts) -

@Colourful_Hippie said:

@MikkaQ said:

@StarFoxA said:

Wait, wait... people are getting mad because Microsoft (presumably, without any proof) "made a mistake," and are now giving away a map pack for free?! People are mad about this? What?

Well cause if you bought the season pass, you just got screwed out of money. The whole point of the pass was that you got all the maps at a reduced price, but by having this be free they literally spent more for those maps than someone buying them without a season pass.

If I read that PR statement correctly I don't think they are really giving it out for free. It sounds like they are saying they are giving it away for free instead of admitting they made a mistake.

Either way they fucked up and devalued the season pass by accident, and they should probably address that. I'd be surprised if they didn't.

#8 Posted by murisan (1119 posts) -

All I want to know is this: if I don't buy map packs, will I be unable to play certain playlists ala Halo 3?

#9 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4494 posts) -

@murisan: Reach did the same and so far they didn't put specific playlists in DLC only ones...yet.

@MikkaQ: If that statement is any indication it looks like that's a no.

#10 Posted by MikkaQ (10344 posts) -

@Colourful_Hippie: That statement seems like a hasty "OH GOD HIT THE SWITCH, WHAT HAVE DONE!?!" than anything, I imagine before the period of time the pass spans ends, they'll do something.

#11 Posted by musclerider (594 posts) -

I paid $25 for the season pass and now the map pack is available for free so what was the point? If had just waited and downloaded this for free I would've only paid $20 for the three map packs. So instead of saving $5 I spent $5 too much.

#12 Posted by big_jon (5783 posts) -

The map pack is only going to work till the 18th for those who got it free, it is a trial.

#13 Posted by Wampa1 (744 posts) -

@musclerider: Since you are one of the people that are supposedly enraged... are you? Or is it a "Well it's five dollars, I'll deal" kind of annoyed.

#14 Posted by musclerider (594 posts) -

@Wampa1: At some point in my life I bought every costume for SFIV/SSFIV so I don't think I'm allowed to complain about 400 MS points going to waste.

#15 Posted by xyzygy (10078 posts) -

I don't understand how they will be able to take this away from us who have downloaded it already though. I am currently downloading the 580 MB file for the map pack and I don't see how they can simply restrict access to something that I have on my system. The whole "map pass" thing grants you access to the maps at a lower price - meaning that it gives you access to download these maps for cheap. If I already have one downloaded, how can they delete it from my console or tell my 360 not to recognize it? It just seems like they're trying to cover their own tracks.

Poor 343, working on these maps only for MSFT to fuck up the distribution.

#16 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8606 posts) -

They made an error and instead of fixing it they decided to let everyone else (ie: people who don't spend all day online/able to down the thing before MS fixes it) have it anyway and people are mad?
 
People are mad indeed, bloody fucking psycho and spoiled as hell.

#17 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (3906 posts) -
@TaliciaDragonsong said:
They made an error and instead of fixing it they decided to let everyone else (ie: people who don't spend all day online/able to down the thing before MS fixes it) have it anyway and people are mad?  
Technically, they made an error and instead of fixing it, they let it continue for over 24 hours while official Microsoft representatives told people that they would be able to keep the maps if they were able to download them.  They should have just fixed the issue as soon as possible, and cut their losses.  Instead, they're making up some BS "trial" excuse, after specifically telling customers otherwise.  
 
https://twitter.com/XboxSupport1/status/278254316253507584 
http://www.cheapassgamer.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10268354&postcount=292 
 
I'm not upset about losing maps I didn't pay for.  I am somewhat bothered by MS not owning up to their mistake--even if they wouldn't admit making one--and instead lying to customers with this "trial version" nonsense.   
 
Either way, I have to say that I feel deeply sorry for anyone working in MS customer service next week.

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