Friday, December 19, 2014

Killzone: the Next "Hot Coffee" Lawsuit?

In 1994 a 79-year-old woman named Stella Liebeck, became the center of a nation wide controversy over what many believed to be a "plague"of frivolous lawsuits hitting corporations, hospitals and Ma n' Pop shops all over America. Stella was privileged to have this wonderful stigma bestowed upon her for having the audacity to sue over one of MURICAs favorite pastimes...spilling McDonald's coffee on your crotch.

And who could blame us for condemning her as an "entitled whiny baby"? Who among us hasn't had the pleasure of having a steaming puddle of scolding hot coffee/chocolate/tea/or whatever finding it's way to your nether regions? It's one of those facts of life, it's happened to everyone at some point and most of the time you don't get a $3 million "get well soon" check when it happens. For this reason the lawsuit resonated heavily with people at the time and they were quick to pass judgment on Stella.

I was 8 years old when it happened and I still remember knowing aboutthe entitled hot coffee lady. Everyone talked about it! Dear Abbey, Dr. Laura and a pill riddled Rush Limbaugh gabbed their jowls day in and day out about Stella being a sign of the further decay of American morality. Hell, even Seinfeld had an episode about it, in which Kramer burns himself with hot coffee, only to screw up his big payday at the last moment.

Time went on and the Dear's, Dr.'s and Limbaugh's of the world moved on to the next controversy. It wasn't until much later that the actual details of the lawsuit came to light for the American public. An HBO documentary entitled "Hot Coffee" came out on June 27, 2011, which helped change many peoples perspective about the landmark case. Stella's 3rd degree burns were too horrific to show on TV at the time, so no one really understood the extent of the injury's (Google them if you want), and the toted $3 million that talking heads were so quick to rattle off was actually estimated to be more around a $500k figure. Ultimately Stella Liebeck was way more justified than anyone was willing to give her credit for and she ended up changing the industry. McDonald's lowered it's standard temperature for it's coffee.

Which ultimately brings me to Killzone: Shadow Fall and the current lawsuit that Sony is facing over native 1080p. If you don't know what the difference between 1080p, 1080i or 720p, just check out this quick tutorial. Yesterday Judge Edward Chen gave the green light to a $5 million class action lawsuit against Sony for false advertising claims. Basically the suit claims that Sony allegedly advertised the game would run at a "native" 1080p, "Native" meaning that the images are created or rendered in 1080p, but in multiplayer they used a technique called 'temporal reprojection' "which combines pixels and motion vectors from multiple lower-resolution frames to reconstruct a full 1080p image". So it's not "1080p". To the human eye though, under most circumstances you can't tell the difference.

The plaintiff, Douglas Ladore, claims that the multiplayer graphics are "blurry" and not up to the 1080p promise that Sony gave initially...and this is where my dilemma comes in. I want to call Douglas the next "hot coffee" lady. I mean, Shadow Fall was the first game that I picked up for PS4 and it looks fucking amazing, in and out of multiplayer. To this day there are very few games, that I've come across at least that hold a candle to what Shadow Fall has achieved on the PS4, yet we have this lawsuit? Douglas must have the eyes of the falcon or the cynicism of a British game critic to see such minute differences to warrant a $5 million dollar payoff for the difference.

But as I stated before, this is actually a dilemma for me. As much as I want to say that it's frivolous and unfounded, it may just be the lawsuit this industry needs. How many developers would be willing to advertise outrages claims if they feared the next Douglas Ladore coming after them? And this has always been a huge problem with developers. Destiny, Aliens, Watchdogs off the top of my head. I could list more examples but I'm out of time and you already know what I'm talking about. Maybe developers need to have their wings clipped a bit to bring them back to ground level. It's ok to wait until you KNOW what your game is capable of before promising the moon and stars. Think of how many of the issues we've been complaining about over the years could be solved. Maybe that's just what we need, to lower the temperature of the coffee just a bit.    

Let me know your thoughts! How do you like your coffee?
Thanks for reading!


1 comment:

  1. this lawsuit makes me roll my eyes so hard.. It will hurt for weeks.