Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Briscident: CCP Reopens The Investigation

"THE CONTENTS OF THIS DEVBLOG ARE OUT OF DATE. WE ARE CURRENTLY CONDUCTING A FOLLOW UP INVESTIGATION INTO THIS MATTER.

"YOU CAN READ THE LATEST INFORMATION IN THIS INTERIM STATEMENT FROM THE COMMUNICATIONS TEAM."

- Update to announcement that Brisc Rubal was removed from CSM, posted 17 April 2019
On 9 April, Brisc Rubal was removed from the Council of Stellar Management for a breach of the CSM non-disclosure agreement. CCP announced that Brisc revealed confidential information to a strategic-level fleet commander in The Initiative., with the information later falling into the hands of a second strategic-level fleet commander who then profited from the information. From the description provided in the original dev blog, Brisc said something to someone, who then said something to someone else, who then used the information to play the market.

I think those familiar with the situation figured that Brisc probably asked a knowledgeable person in his alliance about some aspect of the game and thought he had done it in a clever enough way to avoid disclosing what CCP's upcoming plans were. The other individuals involved, being clever people themselves, figured out that Brisc was asking about something CCP planned to do in the near-term future and one of them acted upon the information. Nothing malicious, but a bad event all the same.

I was prepared to accept that CCP had done their due diligence, performed a proper investigation, and Brisc just was too clever by half and got burned. Then CCP released the following statement, which I will provide below in full:
"Last week, on April 8 2019, we announced the permanent banning of Brisc Rubal and their ejection from the Council of Stellar Management. We also issued one-year bans to two other players involved in this incident and confiscated their associated in-game assets and ISK.

"Following this statement, we have held further discussions with the affected parties. We have also been conducting an internal review to substantiate the evidence available to us and evaluate our handling of the situation. We intend to share a full follow-up statement next week.

"Transparency, fairness and trust is of utmost importance to us, which is why we’re issuing this brief update while also taking the time to ensure that we conduct a thorough investigation. We understand that there are many questions lingering over the incident, and we want to assure you that we take this matter very seriously. Both the sanctity of the CSM and the relationship we have with our players is of paramount importance to CCP.

"As should be expected, we will issue a full and frank apology for any mistakes for which we are responsible, as well as provide appropriate reparations to those affected by any erroneous actions we’ve taken." (emphasis mine)
I learned a lot of technical language when I served in the Army appropriate to describe what I read in the latest dev blog, but I'll try to keep this to a level a layman can understand. If CCP is going to level charges of real-world misconduct, I would hope they would have conducted an adequate investigation before taking the actions they did. According to the statement, CCP failed to do so.

If I had to guess, the source of the allegations probably led CCP to not look into the situation as closely as they should. Here are the quotes that lead me to believe this is the case.
"To be fully transparent, this misconduct was brought to us by the CSM themselves as an immediate threat to the integrity of the CSM as an institution."
"We would like to take the opportunity to thank CSM 13 for their transparency and their respect for the council as an institution, which was demonstrated by their coming together to condemn this kind of behavior and report it to CCP."
Of course, the involvement of other members of the CSM potentially opens up another can of worms. What if someone decided to weaponize CCP in order to settle some grudges or gain an in-game advantage by taking out important members of The Initiative.'s command team? Yesterday's news opens up that possibility. One that I hope is shut down fairly quickly.

Now, I do need to take note of the people asserting that Pearl Abyss needs to step in and clean up the mess. I think CCP's parent company is a little busy trying to figure out exactly what went wrong with its ban wave that apparently caught up hundreds of innocent players. The situation with cheating in Black Desert Online's Shadow Arena battle royale mode was so bad that Pearl Abyss ended up removing the feature from the game. Remember when Hilmar and CCP's communications team stated one of the reasons Pearl Abyss purchased CCP was the Icelandic studio's experience? We've recently seen Pearl Abyss needs it.

We get another dose of CSM investigative news next week. Hopefully, the next dev blog on the matter is the last. Up until this month, CSM had done nothing to embarrass itself. No matter the outcome of this latest kerfluffle, CSM 13 received a stain that will remain with it forever more.

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