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[P]
Does Loki Games deserve your money?

By maynard in Culture
Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 08:16:11 AM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

As a long time Linux/*BSD user, I found it a watershed mark of end user acceptance when Loki Games formed to port popular game titles over to Linux. Should Loki turn profitable, I and many others reasoned, there's no doubt of Linux as a viable desktop contender against MacOS or Windows.

So, last December I called tens of stores to find one in the Boston area which had a copy of Quake III for Linux in stock and promptly purchased the tin box. Since then I've purchased ten games from Loki, partly because I wanted to support their effort and partly because I've been game starved and thought it might be fun. I've been mostly pleased with their porting efforts, though I've grown outright angry at Loki's support policies. At this point, I'll never buy another game from them again.


This is not an 'I hate Loki' rant because they've been so late on Sim City 3000 and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri without informing their customer base of production problems or a delivery schedule. Rather it's a warning to anyone planning on purchasing multiple games directly from Loki's web site should any one of those games be on pre-release. If you purchase more than one game from Loki in the same order, and one of those games happens to be a pre-release, you won't receive delivery on any of those games until after the pre-release ships. I've tried everything I can think of to solve this problem with their staff. I've offered to pay extra shipping to split the order; I've asked to have the order canceled and re-instated as two orders so long as they kept my place in the order queue for delivery; all to no avail.

And this has happened twice. The first time I ordered several games which had gone to release previously, along with Sim City 3000 and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. After more than a month I hadn't received any of the games and called Digital River, their distribution company, only to learn that I would have to wait until both SMAC and SC3K were released before I would receive any of the games I'd ordered. I offered to pay the extra shipping costs and they still wouldn't relent. So I canceled the order and complained by posting a note on their news server on the first of August (Please see Loki's SMAC news spool and look for the thread entitled "Canceled my order") and received a fairly prompt reply within that thread from Kayt Sorhaindo (loki staff) that they would contact Digital River, their distributor, and solve the distribution problems.

After a time I cooled off and re-ordered five more games which had already been released (some of which were in the first order), and at the same time ordered Sim City 3000 and Alpha Centauri -- both pre-releases -- in a second order, hoping that by the time these were finished Loki would resolve this issue with their distributor. Then Loki released Sim City and I didn't receive my copy. After contacting Digital River yet again, who sent me back to Loki, I received from Kayt in email an offer for a game subscription service, but no solution to my delivery problem. Kayt suggested I cancel my order, re-order separately, and get back at the end of the line. This is no way to treat a customer who's purchased nearly every product they have to offer.

I suppose that given it's now been over a month since that exchange I probably would have been better off doing as Kayt suggested; I still haven't received either Sim City 3000 or Alpha Centauri, though SMAC has yet to be released. But it just seems wrong to tell one's customers, 'sorry you have to wait longer than anyone else because we have contractual problems with our distributor.' This is no way to do business, especially considering the fact that I offered to pay the extra shipping costs associated with splitting the delivery. I've never seen any other online business survive while treating their customers with this level of disrespect. At this point it's not a matter of receiving my order; frankly, I don't ever want to do business with Loki games again. And that's a bad sign for the premier Linux game porting company. Short of a few titles released by individual games manufacturers, such as Vicarious Vision's Terminus and MP Entertainment's Hopkins FBI, Loki has a near monopoly on the Linux commercial games market.

I'm not alone here, others have been burned in a similar fashion by Loki. As part of the Linux community I warn others against pre-ordering multiple products from Loki, at least until they resolve this issue. And I also warn that should you, the customer, have a problem they may well decide not to reply, stall, or reply with a non answer. Loki has lost my respect not only because they couldn't solve a simple delivery problem, but mostly because instead of offering a solution they attempted to sell me every game down the road on subscription, while not informing me or their customer base exactly why their products were months late while holding up secondary items on order.

I'm curious to see if users in the K5 community have had good or bad experiences with this company. I'm sure most customers haven't run into this particular problem, though if this is the way they treat customers over such a simple problem there may be other unrelated complaints. Of course it's entirely possible I just got shafted and am alone in experiencing problems with Loki. Either way, I look forward to the community response.

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Poll
Have you run into ordering problems with Loki?
o Yes 0%
o No 23%
o Hmmpht! 8%
o Games, who plays games? 37%
o No, I run Windows and play Diablo II loser! 29%

Votes: 109
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Hopkins FBI
o Also by maynard


Display: Sort:
Does Loki Games deserve your money? | 30 comments (23 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
wrong target? (3.18 / 11) (#1)
by Arkady on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 05:12:36 PM EST

It seems most of the problems you've had have been Digital Rivers' fault. I know I've certainly had way more than a reasonable number of problems dealing with them in the past, so perhaps you're being a bit hard on Loki?

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


Boo Hoo (1.77 / 22) (#2)
by Kaa on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 05:14:33 PM EST

Bitch, bitch. Whine, whine.

So Loki has an extremely stupid ordering system. So you were burned by it -- twice (err... burned once, shame on you, burned twice...). So what? BFD. Life sucks, deal with it.

Me victim, Loki bad. No buy from them again! Yeah, sure, whatever.

Kaa
Kaa's Law: In any sufficiently large group of people most are idiots.


Re: Boo Hoo (4.28 / 7) (#14)
by Yeroc on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 08:28:39 PM EST

If no one ever complained would these types of problems ever be rectified?


[ Parent ]
Re: Boo Hoo (1.00 / 1) (#24)
by Kaa on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 11:31:12 AM EST

If no one ever complained would these types of problems ever be rectified?

So complain to Loki or Digital River. Why should Kuro5hin readers be interested in this?

Yesterday the laundry lost one of my socks. Do I post this as an article, too?

Kaa
Kaa's Law: In any sufficiently large group of people most are idiots.


[ Parent ]
badly labeled, badly aimed (2.88 / 9) (#4)
by blaine on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 05:37:35 PM EST

First off, this is a rant. If it were labeled as such, I might not have voted to dump it.

Second, and also important, is that your problem seems to be with Digital River, and not Loki. Digital River is in charge of the shipping.

Try talking to Digital River. Honestly, saying that Loki doesn't deserve your money just because Digital River's shipping method sucks is just dumb.

For the record, I'm somewhat biased though. I beta tested Descent 3 for Loki, and am currently on the beta test team for MindRover. I also own about 7 games that Loki ported. Still, I think that you're really angry at the wrong company, and you need to rethink this story.

and speaking topically... (3.85 / 7) (#7)
by mihalis on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 06:07:53 PM EST

I've been extremely happy with Loki. I suffered a long delay for my Quake III tin (note, I already had the game) and then on another order with a not-quite-release-yet game, but I figure they're a small company and they're contracting out their fulfillment so I'll just cut them some slack, especially since I've found their games to be really really good on my machine and when I find problems I get answers on their newsgroups which they actively monitor and post to.
-- Chris Morgan <see em at mihalis dot net>
Other motives? (3.16 / 6) (#12)
by bugeyedbill on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 08:27:00 PM EST

I really know nothing about this company.

But very often a shipping order company will postpone delivery for the longest possible time, the reason being that once they have your money on hand (assuming you paid when you ordered), they can earn interest on that money before using it against their costs. In affect, you are granting them a 1-2 month interest-free loan. That this company is doing this is not necessarily indicative that their shipping policies are screwed up (though that could be the reason), but that they are trying to maximize earnings from their liabilities.

Re: Other motives? (4.00 / 2) (#15)
by maxwell on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 09:54:59 PM EST

But very often a shipping order company will postpone delivery for the longest possible time, the reason being that once they have your money on hand (assuming you paid when you ordered), they can earn interest on that money before using it against their costs. In affect, you are granting them a 1-2 month interest-free loan. That this company is doing this is not necessarily indicative that their shipping policies are screwed up (though that could be the reason), but that they are trying to maximize earnings from their liabilities.

This is not true. In my experience, it takes awhile for a credit card sale to actually turn into cash in an account that a business can access. My company sold software online last year, and the process took about two weeks before we saw any actual cash. And this was with something we built - not through anything like a Yahoo! store or similar setup.

Loki, like most other software companies, has other companies manufacture copies of their products in large quantities. They most likely have accounts with them, and probably do not write checks for individual production runs.

Good businesses like to get things to customers as quickly as possible, and would only delay shipment of something because they don't have enough copies to ship to everyone, or because something is unintentionally screwed up.



[ Parent ]
Agreed. I'm not accusing Loki of wrongdoing. (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by maynard on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 06:30:52 AM EST

Yes, I would like to add that I'm not accusing Loki of any wrongdoing, just of poor customer service. I believe that in certain states within the USA what the original poster alluded to is illegal, and I'm most certainly NOT stating intent to defraud or other misappropriations of money. To my knowledge, Loki has NOT charged my credit card for those items they wouldn't or couldn't (for whatever reason) ship.

Cheers,
--Maynard

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Also burned by Loki; valid cc rejected (3.77 / 9) (#13)
by Jonathan Walther on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 08:28:30 PM EST

The problem seems to be with Wind River. Loki should go to a new distributor. I ordered SC3000 and Heroes of Might and Magic to go along with it because it was only $7 more. I KNEW my credit card was valid; it still had $1000 spendable on it. Loki referred me to Wind River; when complaining to Wind River didn't work; they couldn't help me. So I'm stuck not being able to buy their products locally or via the web. No local stores stock Loki titles for "lack of market". I'm frustrated.

I even know the source of Wind River rejecting my credit card; but they refuse to do anything about it. A little company called directnic.com registers domain names. I had them register a couple domains. Comes along my visa bill, I see some charges from an unknown Media Company based in LA. I do a websearch on them. Find their website. No clue *What* their business is, no clue *Where* I can get ahold of them (address or phone number). When I called the VISA company to cancel the charge their first assumption (as was mine) was that it was a scam or a porn company. 3 months running, the charges reappeared, and I cancelled them each time. Not ONCE did DirectNIC contact me to tell me the charges weren't going through; they never even emailed to tell how the charges would appear on my VISA bill.

I finally did figure out that the Media Company and DirectNIC were connected, and told them to charge my cc again, but shortly after that certain sites stopped accepting my credit card online. So yes, I have done 3 chargebacks. Thats put me over some limit or something; now sites that subscribe to whatever "hotlist" of scam artists that DirectNIC subscribed to reject my orders. That includes sites like Loki, Propaganda, and others who don't have the volume to create their own "scam artist list".

Phooey. Please Loki, get away from WindRiver, or twist their arm to let me buy your products.

Jonathan Walther
Debian GNU/Linux Developer

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")


Not Loki's fault (3.00 / 1) (#17)
by Paul Johnson on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 05:39:45 AM EST

This isn't Loki's fault, or even Wind River. Its the fault of the interaction between your semi-competent domain registry and Wind River's credit reference service.

Its perfectly sensible of Wind River to use a credit reference service. Even if they had high volume, its still more efficient to centralise the information from many vendors than to keep a separate list for each vendor. Otherwise a scammer could just work their way through all the vendors in turn.

Can you find out who the credit reference service is? Your best bet is probably to explain it to them and demand that they put your rating back into the black.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

Customer Service (4.50 / 10) (#16)
by sigyn on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 02:39:14 AM EST

We have had several exchanges with Maynard over the last few weeks trying to address his concerns, and we have offered him several possible resolutions.

We believe his narrative is factually incorrect and misrepresents our various exchanges. With his permission, we'd be happy to post copies of the entire conversation so that people can decide for themselves what kind of customer service we provide.

Sincerely,

Kayt Sorhaindo
Loki Software, Inc.

Permission Granted. (4.00 / 3) (#18)
by maynard on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 06:04:22 AM EST

Please post the emails Kayt. In addition, here is what I have saved in my outbox:

This is after my first post on the Loki news server:

To: sales@lokigames.com
Subject: Order ########<br>
Date: Sun, 17 Sep 2000 14:55:37 -0500
From: "J. Maynard Gelinas" <maynard@mr-gateway.internal.net>

Loki staff,

I'm an extremely frustrated customer. A few months back I pre-ordered Sim
City 3000, Alpha Centauri, Soldier of Fortune, and Heavy Gear II.
Unfortunately, because of the backlog on Sim City and Alpha Centauri your
distributo, Digital River, chose not to ship *ANY* of my games. So, I canceled
the order and re-ordered what games were available back in Aug, and then
re-ordered Sim City and Alpha Centauri as represented by order # 15421749. I
then complained about this whole mess on your news server, whereupon I was
informed by a Loki staff member that the issue would be resolved with Digital
River.

Well, now that Sim City has been released and Alpha Centauri is still back
ordered, I called Digital River to determine the status of my order only to
find out that they're going to hold my *second* order until both products ship.
Also, they tell me that in order to get them to ship both separately I'll have
to *CANCEL MY ORDER AGAIN AND RE-ORDER!* This puts me back at square one with
my order, and back at the end of the line for shipping.

I've ordered ten games from your company; I'm a professional with money and
a known repeat customer. However, if you don't solve this problem I will
simply cancel this order and refuse to deal with your company again. I mean
it. I can understand production problems, but I can't accept this quality of
customer service. Loki, don't screw the customer on delivery once the product
is in place and available to ship. I'll pay the extra shipping costs if
necessary, but I'm sick of jumping through hoops in order to *BUY* a product.

Please reply with a solution, or suggest I cancel the order. If I cancel
this order, I won't re-order, and I *WON'T* buy from your company again.

J. Maynard Gelinas

And here is my note in reply:

To: Kayt Sorhaindo <sigyn@lokigames.com>
Cc: "Loki Sales" <sales@lokigames.com>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2000 17:25:18 -0500
From: "J. Maynard Gelinas" <maynard@mr-gateway.internal.net>

I decline your offer. Now, how do you plan on solving my problem?

--Maynard


> > I've ordered ten games from your company; I'm a professional with
> >money and
> >a known repeat customer. However, if you don't solve this problem I will
> >simply cancel this order and refuse to deal with your company again. I
> >mean
> >it. I can understand production problems, but I can't accept this quality
> >of
> >customer service. Loki, don't screw the customer on delivery once the
> >product
> >is in place and available to ship. I'll pay the extra shipping costs if
> >necessary, but I'm sick of jumping through hoops in order to *BUY* a
> >product.
>
> Thank you for writing to us to voice your frustration.
>
> We would like to make a special offer to you as one of our loyal
> customers.
>
> We haven't yet rolled our or announced our upcoming subscription service,
> but we are willing to implement it immediately for you.
>
> Here are the terms:
> We send you every game that comes out at 25% off the MSRP plus free
> shipping. Every time we release a new game, we automatically charge your
> card and send you the game. You could also buy our older titles at these
> terms.
>
> When we officially roll-out the program, it will cost $29.95 to everyone
> else to subscribe. With the subscription they will receive a t-shirt and
> a poster. We're waiving the start-up fee for you this time, but we also
> don't have the t-shirts or posters yet, so it's a fair trade. You will
> also be able to cancel your subscription at any time.
>
> Please let us know if this interests you.
>
> Sincerely,
>
>
>
>
> Kayt Sorhaindo
> Loki Software, Inc.


I don't have the original you sent, this is embedded in the reply. Now I would NOT have posted these, since they are personal email, without your having asked. I don't think I misrepresented the situation, I think I posted an accurate account of what happened.

Kayt, based on my experience, Loki games has a serious delivery problem. I encourage you to dig those emails out and present your position in detail on this issue. It's my recollection that this is the entirety of our communication. Kayt, just where have I posted a factually incorrect statement?

Finally, one person stated in email that maybe I should have suggested that Loki stop accepting pre-orders within multi-item orders to resolve this problem. This is the most reasonable suggestion I've seen yet to solve this problem.

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
Whoops, missed one; Kayt's reply to my last messag (4.00 / 2) (#19)
by maynard on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 06:12:48 AM EST

This is Kayt's reply.

Subject: Re:
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 20:15:14 -0700
From: Kayt Sorhaindo <sigyn@lokigames.com>
To: "J. Maynard Gelinas" <maynard@jmg.com>
Cc: "Loki Sales" <sales@lokigames.com>

> I decline your offer. Now, how do you plan on solving my problem?

Dear Maynard:

The subscription service is our best offer.

We are not currently in the position to change the shipping policies of
the online store. You may cancel your orders there, and re-order the
titles elsewhere. You can see a list of other resellers and distributors
at:
http://www.lokigames.com/orders/resellers.php3

We appreciate your continued support.

Sincer

Kayt Sorhaindo
Loki Software, Inc.

As I wrote in my original rant, Loki offered me a subscription service to purchase every game they released in the future, NOT a solution to my delivery problem NOW.

Cheers,
--Maynard

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
You don't read very well (4.50 / 2) (#22)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 10:25:16 AM EST

You said:
"Loki offered me a subscription service to purchase every game they released in the future, NOT a solution to my delivery problem NOW."

Yes they did:
Kayt said:
"You may cancel your orders there, and re-order the titles elsewhere.

There you go. They can't deliver the order you placed and they can't modify the order. Solution: Cancel the existing order and place one (or more) they can deliver.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
I read perfectly fine. (3.00 / 2) (#23)
by maynard on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 10:38:36 AM EST

This would have placed me at the end of the delivery queue, as I wrote in the original article. I have not factually misrepresented Loki's position, nor have I misunderstood their policy. The point is that I disagree with the policy and consider it a serious problem from a consumers standpoint.

If Loki is in a contractual bind with Digital River, which is quite possible, then they should remove the option of multiple orders combined with pre-ordered product from their web based ordering form. Most every online company I've delt with would have also handled this issue personally by cancelling the order with Digital River and handling shipping my order internally as a one off. IOW: they would have made an exception to resolve a single customer's problem and then delt with the policy issue for the rest of their customers.

Cheers,
--Maynard

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Time differential? (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by El Volio on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 01:53:12 PM EST

This would have placed me at the end of the delivery queue, as I wrote in the original article.
What's the time differential? IOW, how much longer would it have taken at that point if you had been sent to the 'end of the line'? If it were on the order of a month, then I think you have a good gripe. If it were on the order of 3 days, then it might have been worth it.



[ Parent ]

Re: I read perfectly fine. (4.66 / 3) (#28)
by blp on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 07:02:40 PM EST

Why are you so woried about position in the delivery queue? How much time do you really think it going to set you back? Furthermore what did you expect to happen when you agreed to pay _one_ shiping and handling fee for _five_ games?

I can no longer sit back and allow: Communist Infiltration, Communist Indoctrination, Communist Subversion and the International Communist Conspiracy to sap and inpurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
[ Parent ]

Ummmm....are you an idiot? (4.00 / 6) (#21)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 10:21:28 AM EST

Because you are acting like one.

They won't split the order for you. So what? You've already proved you can cancel and clearly you can order. Why not just do it yourself? Cancel all outstanding orders. Place X orders, one for each game you want. To save shipping, combine those you know are available. Alternatively, combine them ALL and then "extract" those that are giving you problems.

Unless you are being charged just to place an order (in which case I would stop buying from Loki) this should cost you, at most, a few minutes. And it will generate a lot of churn in their database and/or ordering process. You will get what you want and it will cost them more money (however little that may be). If they are smart, they will eventually make the process more intelligent, if they aren't, they lose money. Either way, you get the games and its no big deal.

Play 囲碁
um... parent post idiot detector... WOOP WOOP WOOP (1.50 / 2) (#25)
by Holloway on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 09:01:37 AM EST

If he takes your advice he looses his placing to get the software and starts at the back of the queue.

Natch, eh?

Oh, and I would definitely say it's Loki's fault. If I choose Alcoholic Joe to deliver your packages it's my fault too. I should choose a better delivery company, one that suits my was of releasing products. At least be up front about it, kids.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]

um... parent post idiot detector... WOOP WOOP WOOP (2.00 / 2) (#26)
by Holloway on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 09:51:26 AM EST

If he takes your advice he looses his placing to get the software and starts at the back of the queue.

Natch, eh?

Oh, and I would definitely say it's Loki's fault. If I choose Alcoholic Joe to deliver your packages it's my fault too. I should choose a better delivery company, one that suits my was of releasing products. At least be up front about it, kids.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]

Excuse me... (none / 0) (#29)
by cronio on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 10:26:11 PM EST

but it costs MORE to send 2 boxes than 1. The shipping company is not going to send 2 boxes unless you've paid for it (and if you've ordered them in one order, you've only paid for the 1 shipping and handling cost).

[ Parent ]
Not that you probably care anymore... (none / 0) (#30)
by msphil on Mon Apr 16, 2001 at 12:12:14 PM EST

...nor will this ever be seen (since this is now such an old story), but the SMAC Planetary Pack for Linux began shipping today, April 16, 2001.

There were some changes (DVD-style case, lower pricing), but it made it out the door.

Does Loki Games deserve your money? | 30 comments (23 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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