A Debacle about Data Mining

Just before the release of several updates – the new Warframe Harrow, the opening of the Void Vault for Mag and Rhino Prime and their yearly Tennocon, Digital Extremes’ lawyers got very jumpy and sent what was essentially a cease and desist letter to VoiD_Glitch, the main person behind the data mining of Warframe. VoiD_Glitch has removed the public GitHub repository for his data mining stuff. This has caused a huge uproar in the more knowledgeable parts of the Warframe community.

Yeah, I know Volt, that really does sound like a stupid system. What if a Grineer guy needs to get in?
To be honest, I don’t really care, I just want to shoot people as a space ninja. But I am supposed to write up to date news stuff about the games I play, so I’m writing whatever the hell this article is.

Now everyone is pissed off, shouting and screaming that they can’t trust the developers with their own game, and that they are reliant on the data mining of Warframe in order to find things like weapon stats and drop tables. Digital Extremes’ community manager person Rebecca tried to calm things down by asking a few people to PM her on reddit but it turned out that she couldn’t do anything and they should speak to their lawyers. Players all over the place are saying they want to uninstall and stop spending money because they can’t get access to data mined stuff any more.

And the data mining stuff is genuinely useful. Through it, players have found out stats for new weapons, parts and requirements of quest lines, new cosmetics and bits and pieces, the drop tables for all sorts of items and they have even managed to get a few bugs fixed because of data-mined information.

In response to people asking for transparency, Digital Extremes have said that they will publish drop tables from now own, but despite that, others are screaming that they still can’t trust DE because of a handful of mistakes in the past which were found by data mining (and quickly fixed). Other people are screaming at DE because it turns out that VoiD_Glitch is only 17 years old, and they think it’s unacceptable that a 17 year old be sent a cease and desist letter. Yet more people are screaming that data mining is completely legal and that people can’t be held accountable to the Terms of Service we accept whenever we play. Although they do say that a user can be banned for any or no reason, so people should watch out for that.

A lot of this information comes from a set of rather emotionally charged interviews with VoiD_Glitch. Digital Extremes have been remaining silent, because that’s generally what you do when you have lawyers around. Even if it’s a scary letter asking people to stop going through their code.

But I think people are forgetting something. A little bit before the VoiD_Glitch stuff, someone managed to get an Excalibur Umbra and a Primed Streamline into the main version of Warframe, two things that are supposed to be strictly unavailable for non-Chinese players of the game.

While VoiD_Glitch didn’t do the hacking to get these unreleased items, in a second interview, he later said he knew the guy who did the hack and kicked them out of his data mining team when he found out about it. VoiD_Glitch also admitted to finding exploits while data mining and rather than report the exploits, he ignored them, claiming that he felt they would be ignored. Despite the fact that he never attempted to contact DE outside of trying to message Rebecca on Discord.

Although the majority can agree that data mining is fine (and apparently 100% legal according to all the armchair lawyers now in r/warframe), in such unusual circumstances, perhaps it’s not as awful as the community is making it out to be. After all, DE has allowed VoiD_Glitch to data mine and publish information for years, and even put up with him leaking scripts for upcoming events and quests, it wasn’t until the Excalibur Umbra thing that they asked for him to stop.

In the end, VoiD_Glitch has done as the legal letter has asked, the legal team thanked him and everything else was dropped. In response, Digital Extremes will be publishing the drop tables for everything in game and have promised more transparency. Whether the community believes them or not, that’s a whole different matter.

Meanwhile, people will continue to scream and shout and grab their pitchforks like they always do. But at least it’s all simmering down now.

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