My favorite Xbox site, 360voice.com, is holding a $10,000 challenge in conjunction with the release of Gears of War 3. In fact, my last blog post was about a month ago announcing this very contest. The rules were laid down early, 40 players per team (called a brotherhood) in a race to unlock as many achievements as possible. The team which unlocks the most achievements in Gears of War 3 from the release date through the next 30 days would be crowned the champions. A side event was a small amount of the prize for the top 3 players who got the most referrals to the competition.
Before I go into too many more details, let me make this very clear. I love 360voice.com and the staff that runs it (which is two guys basically who work their tails off handling events, support, maintenance and technical issues). I love that someone secured sponsorship from Microsoft/Epic and that they were willing to try an out-of-the-box marketing/PR idea like this. I love the community around 360voice.com (200,000+ registered members) that is very active, cooperative and fun. I run events on the site myself and eBash has sponsored over $1k in prizes for these events.
When this was created they realized that 40 player teams are pretty big and it would be difficult to recruit solid players, so they decided to add the option for the captains of the teams to be able to add/remove players during the competition. I mean what happens when 1 guy on your team doesn’t show up at all during the competition? You would need the ability to remove that player and add a new player that would participate. Also, to try and encourage people to keep recruiting through the entire 30 days, a captain could still add people to the brotherhood. Whatever these new players unlock in Gears 3, even before being on the team, would count toward the team’s total.
About a week ago, we started seeing comments in the forums on the site and the “trash talk” section of the challenge. The trash talk section is basically a forum thread that runs down the side of the challenge with the ability to quick post and not edit/delete. Players were being unwillingly kicked from their teams and replaced with players who had more achievements unlocked. At the same time players with the maximum score of 830 (2 achievements for 170 were ruled ineligible due to a launch day glitch by Epic) were dumping their own teams and moving into the highest ranked teams.
Meanwhile, my eBash team that I had created fluctuated between 15th and 12th place as we casually completed the campaign and played multiplayer. I just made a public team and invited anyone to join, and the squad filled up quickly with players from my store, players I know online and just other players from 360voice.com. We knew pretty quickly when we saw these people jumping ship from other teams to join the top 2-3 teams that we wouldn’t win, so we just had fun with it.
On the referral side, I was sitting around 10th place with I believe around 60 referral points. A referral point is gained by bringing an Xbox LIVE Silver (free) account to the site that joins the challenge and unlocks 50 achievement points. Additionally you can earn 3 referral points by recruiting an Xbox LIVE Gold account ($59.99/year membership) that unlocks an achievement and joins the challenge. I posted it here on my blog, on my store’s facebook page and a few other sites that I frequent.
Now, before I continue I want to take a quick trip down memory lane and give everyone some of my background with my business and specifically the Gears of War franchise:
Begin sweet memory trip……
I started a video game center (LAN center) store 7 years ago called eBash. With my background playing high school and collegiate basketball my biggest desire was to run tournaments for the newest generation of games on consoles. We had 42 stations when we first started, 22 computers and 20 original xboxes and Halo 2 was our big competitive title. A fun fact was that in 2007 we hosted local and regional events for the World Cyber Games (WCG) which brought the 2v2 Halo 2 team with the Ogre Twins to our store in Terre Haute, IN.
Moving ahead a few years as we moved into our newly designed 4000 sq ft facility that I set-up specifically for tournaments. 9 private rooms throughout the building designed with 4 man teams in mind. We were all over the 360 and when Gears of War released we really pushed it on our tournament circuit. We started with a free tournament with $500 in prizes, followed by $1000, $1500 and $2000 tournaments. 100% funded and ran by us with no sponsors. By the time our biggest tournament rolled around we had 40 Xbox 360 stations and 40 copies of Gears so we could run 5 simultaneous matches. We had 35 teams of 4 players at our $2k tournament.
Through these tournaments in 2007 I got to know a guy named Kendall (KL) Smith who was one of the head guys of a team called vBi. His team was very successful at our events and he and his guys went to most of the MLG events at the time. He did some journalistic writing for the game industry and he was asked if he knew someone to run the console side of the WSVG in 2007. He gave them my name and the next thing I was hired as the head console admin and I brought any of my staff with me to run their events. More on KL later…
In the WSVG event that year in Dallas, TX we not only ran the Guitar Hero 2 stage and Fight Night Round 3 ring (yes, it was an actual boxing ring) but we also did all of the gaming set-up for the entire event and set-up and ran the only Gears of War event for the season. They paid out $10k for the one tournament and I saw some teams represented that attended eBash events such as the NSAN3Z, N3 and vVv.
Jumping ahead to 2008 and the release of Gears 2. I started a circuit with multiple game centers around the US and called it ggCircuit. We held a $2500 tournament for Gears 2 in December of 2008 featuring 16 game centers around the US with LAN events on Saturday and a Sunday online championship. Heading into 2009 we ran another 2 events for Gears of War 2 paying out $2k at each event. We had 48 copies of Gears of War 2 at both eBash locations and all of the other centers involved were required to have a minimum of 16 copies of Gears of War 2.
During 2008 I also brought KL, his brother Kerrington and their good friend Colin (Skyllus) to work for our Bloomington, IN location. They had branched out of vBi, started a new team called AmazYn, and needed a place to practice for MLG for Gears 2 and this seemed like a perfect fit while they worked at eBash. That summer they even brought out their 4th player, Alex (Calinorth) to live with them and train for the Dallas MLG event. How did they do? Not bad, they took first. These guys are some of my good friends here in this world. When we shut down our Bloomington store we moved them to Terre Haute and the three of them lived in our house for a few months. I miss having them around for laughs and brainstorming.
Which brings us to good old 2011 and now Gears of War 3. I have already dropped over $3k in Gears of War 3 games at our stores and our first $500 tournament is scheduled for October 22nd which we hope is the first building up to $2500 tournaments once again.
End of the sweet memory trip and back to the present with the 360voice.com Gears of War 3 challenge…..
So last week I started a new team for the Xbox LIVE gold accounts in our store. We have a ton of players that do not own their own Xbox LIVE accounts and were excited to have the achievements count towards the event. I don’t give any of them access to the login data for these accounts but they all have their favorite spots in the store and claim certain eBash accounts as their own. If you take a look at any of them you can see which stations obviously have serious Gears 3 players and which ones do not (some of our accounts have 0 achievements unlocked). Either way as I added these accounts to the competition I put myself as the referrer, heck yeah I was going to get credit for adding all of these new players and accounts!
Four days ago the 360voice.com site got a bit stuck updating the referral leaderboard and I knew that when it updated I would jump ahead to first place with the eBash accounts being added. Some of them still don’t have any achievements, which do not give me any points, but most of them have quite a few, with players beating the campaign already in the store in groups. Sure enough, on Tuesday of this week it updated and low and behold I was now in 1st place. Who was the guy I jumped ahead of you might ask? Stallion83.
Stallion83 is the guy with the highest legit gamerscore in the world. He is somewhere around 650,000 at this point. He runs a little blog over at www.1milliongamerscore.com and constantly gets people harassing him because they all think he cheats. He loves posting the hate messages on his blog where people who don’t even know him attack his integrity and call him all sorts of colorful names. I don’t think he cheats at all, he was really the first guy to really go after gamerscore seriously and has kept it up the longest.
So Tuesday I check the leaderboard for referrals and I am excited. Woohoo I am in first! Then as I scroll down the page I find this “friendly” banter taking place in the trash talk section:
10/4/2011 9:56:48 AM PST
Please tell me the assclown using a million second accounts to refer himself doesn’t count.
10/4/2011 10:50:01 AM PST
@stallion83: To whom are you referring?
BoZack runs a group of gaming centers, so there is a lot of foot traffic, and I would not be surprised if he was working hard to get everyone through to signup with their gamertag.
Bunch of second accounts no matter how you slice it.
Dog of Thunder Says…
10/4/2011 11:30:31 AM PST
Those referral counts as it is still within the rules, just as how swapping Brotherhoods is within the rules. Again, there were some miscalculations, and nothing will be done to change things at this point.
10/4/2011 11:36:06 AM PST
What he is doing is worse than the gamesaving pricks ive dealt with in the past.
Dog of Thunder Says…
10/4/2011 11:41:56 AM PST
I don’t agree with it, I don’t even like it. It is underhanded, it is dirty and it is against the spirit of the rules. I can not do anything to stop it, as that would mean making sure everyone else’s referrals are actually real as well.
I’m just disappointed. That’s all.
10/4/2011 11:50:02 AM PST
Yoru logic is off then.
My teammates were on my ass to delete people, ask them about that. So it was either upset the group and have them leave or axe some people.
So no, it’s not even in the same league.
Bond OO7 Says…
10/4/2011 11:56:11 AM PST
Two can play at that game…… right DoT? Don’t worry stal we’ll get your crown back
10/4/2011 12:02:35 PM PST
Hey dog, man up. You sound like a clown as well. Open your eyes.
Bond OO7 Says…
10/4/2011 12:06:55 PM PST
Stal calm down, The rules were put up and you cant change them mid way through. There were a lot of rules that were exploited like being able to kick etc which we used to our advantage. That guys using that loophole to his advantage. But everyone can use that loophole
10/4/2011 12:11:36 PM PST
Yes bond, because you guys bugged the crap out of me everyday to kick people.
I personally never searched for a loophole.
Bond OO7 Says…
10/4/2011 12:15:59 PM PST
Yes but at the end of the day it was your group and your decision. I dont see why you are attacking everyone else about this
There was quite a bit after all of this and most was deleted by the moderators later. I was shocked, then kind of mad, then pretty much dumbfounded. I have never met this guy in my life, I have read his blog a few times but he wouldn’t know me if I was sitting next to him on the bus. I was on my way out of the office to spend some time with my family on the pontoon boat and so I decided I would just take a look at it later.
Later that night I had all kinds of messages from people. Nice ones that told me not to worry about what Stallion83 was accusing me of because he didn’t know my background. Other messages that asked if I could sign up a few eBash accounts under their names so they could get the referral credits. But I was dumbfounded that a few notes here and there from some who were mad at me for causing all of this “trouble”?? The argument that many people took against me was that what I was doing was not helping to “promote Gears of War 3 for Epic/Microsoft”, that I was “making us look back to sponsors”, that “I wasn’t helping the community of 360voice.com” and of course Stallion83’s accusation that I was using “secondary accounts”. Let’s look at these accusations:
Not promoting Gears of War 3 for Epic/Microsoft? Really?
By my counts in the history of the Gears franchise I have:
– Paid out directly over $11,000 in cash tournament prizes for Gears 1, 2 and 3 tournaments and indirectly an additional $10k through the WSVG event we ran
– Purchased over 100 Xbox 360 systems (actually we own over 200, they break so often I need 2:1 systems for the stores) = over $40k
– Actively run over 60 Xbox LIVE Gold accounts in our stores for more than 30,000 UNIQUE gamers that have played in our facility over 7 years = ~$15k over 7 years
– Our game library in our stores consist of over 100 copies of Gears 1, 100 copies of Gears 2 and so far over 40 copies of Gears 3. = ~$12k
Total spent with Microsoft/Epic to run our store and Gears Events ~ $78k directly and $10k indirectly
Making us look bad to sponsors? Really?
The main reason I am writing this blog article is to show the sponsors just exactly what it means when there are 60 Xbox LIVE accounts in the competition with the name eBash01, eBash02, eBash03, etc. I have thought about shooting some video this weekend during our lock-in Friday night of the actual players using the Xbox systems, Gears of War 3 copies and eBash LIVE accounts to play because they don’t own one or more of those items at home.
Maybe some footage of all of those assets also being used during our tournament on the 22nd of this month? Maybe the giant Gears of War banners that we custom printed on our $2k large format printer? Maybe the Gears of War 3 stand-up in the lobby right by the front doors where over 2500 unique customers a month walk by? Maybe a link to our home page where it has been themed for Gears of War 3 for the last month? (http://terrehaute.ebash.com)
Wasn’t helping the community of 360voice.com?
This one probably hurt the most because the regulars on the site should know how much I do for the community there already. The mean and hurtful emails and private messages WAY outweighed any messages of encouragement. I was super bummed to see no one jump in to defend me besides one of my guys at the store who played through the campaign with me for our brotherhood. Just looking back over the last year on the site I have:
– Built and updated the mini-site for Lausdomini‘s Skyline competition DAILY for over 100 days. Oh.. and sponsored the event from eBash with $100 in MS Points.
– Built and updated the team portion of the Mega Challenge for 30 days DAILY. Oh… and sponsored the team portion from eBash with $280 in MS Points.
– Provide the hosting space for Lausdomini to load and update his Buffet competition
– Currently running an 8 week competition called the eBash Gamers Group (EGG) featuring over $400 in prizes provide by eBash.
– Gave away codes for the full version of Blacklight Tango Down all summer sponsored by eBash.
Using Secondary Accounts for the Gears 3 Challenge referral program? (aka: using a “loophole” in the rules)?
My favorite part of the dialogue I copied above between Stallion83, Dog of Thunder and BondOO7 was the portion where Bond who was on Stallion’s team called him out for exploiting a feature of the competition for his own team’s gain. Stallion’s response was so amazing to me, basically, don’t blame me, you guys made me do it.
I guess the other problem people can’t seem to look past is that the names of these accounts are all generic because multiple people use them. I am bringing more eyeballs to the contest through these accounts than any other player. I was in the process of posting the Gears 3 Challenge as the homepage on all 34 of our computer stations in the store so that guys could track their progress on the eBash accounts. Our store is like the show Cheers, where everyone knows your name and everyone has their “spot” they like to sit and play. So when a kid like Jordan plays through the Gears 3 campaign and he wants to see how many points he has added for the eBash Store Accounts brotherhood he knows which eBash account is “his” for the event.
An account named eBash172 is not a secondary account. Each of our accounts are installed and belong to a single Xbox station in our stores. Those stations have frequent customers who basically “adopt” those tags as their own. On the weekends we have players line up at the door to get their favorite spot, or to make sure and get on the account they have leveled up with their save game. Just because the account is not named “BobSmithsPersonalXboxAccount” doesn’t mean that these are all “secondary accounts”.
So what does all of this mean? Why did I take the time to write all of this out?
Honestly the only reason I wanted to get this posted was because I couldn’t believe that more people didn’t stick up for me and I thought perhaps not that many know the entire story. I thought it was wrong for the guy who has everyone call him a cheater for having such a high gamerscore to immediately assume I was a cheater. It seemed wrong that the admin of the tournament was called names also and did not reprimand Stallion83 and instead made some insulting comments towards me about ruining all future tournaments and being “underhanded, dirty and against the spirit of the rules”.
The bottom line here is that honestly do not care about the money at all. I am super competitive and I want to win, but I told the admins on 360voice they could delete my store accounts from the competition. If I can win without those accounts it will be much sweeter anyway and I don’t have to put up with listening to people make their own ASSumptions on why they think I am cheating.
So if you want to help me out and show your support it is very simple to sign-up for the challenge. It is free to make a 360voice.com account and free to join the challenge. All you need to do is use my gamertag as your referral (BoZack) and unlock at least one achievement in Gears of War 3 in a brotherhood. Here are the easy links for you:
Step 1: Make a free 360voice.com account with your Xbox LIVE gold account here: www.360voice.com
Step 2: Use this link once you have registered and verified your email with your new account: http://360voice.com/gears/join/BoZack
Step 3: Make your own brotherhood or join another public one, it doesn’t matter
Step 4: Unlock at least 1 achievement in Gears of War 3. Boom! You just gave me 3 referral points.
You can track my progress on the leaderboard for referrals on the right side of the page here:
Maybe after reading this I will get a few more people to understand where I am coming from?
EDIT: 10/6/2011 @ 10 PM EST
The admins finished my request to remove the eBash store groups from the challenge so as of right now I have dropped back to 19th place. Enjoy the journey over the next few days as I bring “REAL” eBash customers with me to the top of the leaderboard.
I am going to give my $250 winnings evenly to the first two 360voice.com watchers of my blog that are below Stallion83.