Pillars of Eternity

If you’re a member of the Epic Games Store, you get free games every week. And this week’s free games are absolute fire. First off, you get Pillars of Eternity – Definitive Edition, which has a MSRP of $39.99. Then there’s Tyranny – Gold Edition, which has a MSRP of $49.99. Both of these games are by the fantastic Obsidian Entertainment, and both come with all of their respective DLC. This is a total value of 90 friggin’ bucks.

Oh, and an Epic Games Store membership is free, so there’s no reason to not have one if you so much as casually play a PC game now and again.

Obviously, I’m grabbing these freebies this week. Only to get into my account, I had to face off against the Arkose Labs Captcha system.

If you’ve ever felt the sheer dread of being asked by Google to identify squares with stop signs or busses in them, then you’re at least familiar with Captcha systems. But Arkose Labs won’t simply ask you to identify (often vaguely pictured) objects in boxes. No, they’ll send you on a journey of frustration, panic, regret, and utter despair.

So when I tried to log into my Epic account, I was faced with this demon from my absolute worst nightmare:

Arkose Labs Captcha system

Come on, Epic! It’s Friday night, and I just want to play some video games, not try to work out this horrendously evil math problem.

So I sat and stared at this for a bit, disbelief in my heart and weariness in my soul, when suddenly this comes up:

Arkose Labs Captcha system

What? Really? Are you freaking kidding me? Now I’m on a timer.

So I have a brief aside here. Stick with me, because I promise you that I’m going somewhere with this.

Back when I worked in marketing, everyone in the office (including me) was forced to take a cyber-security course. If that sounds fancy, it really wasn’t. It was pretty much just goofy animated exercises that ultimately tried to teach us the value of having a difficult-to-guess password, and to avoid the most common phishing scams.

One of the things they taught us in that class is that scammers try to get you into situations where you start to feel panicked, because when you’re panicked, the logical part of your brain takes a backseat to your flight-or-fight response and you can be goaded into doing things that a rational person wouldn’t normally do. In fact, this was probably the only useful piece of information that I got out of this entire course, and I promise you, it wasn’t put as eloquently as the way I just explained it.

That wasn’t intended to read as me puffing myself up for being eloquent, by the way. That was my attempt at throwing shade at a course for adults that felt like it was written for toddlers.

Though, I can be pretty poetic sometimes…

Rat doing math

Anyway, seeing that this was a timed exercise was a red flag for me, so this is where I took a deep breath and started Googling. Was I being scammed? Had someone spoofed the Epic Games Store so convincingly that I’ve been navigating a fake page for the past ten minutes?

As it turns out, this is very much a real thing, and I’m not the only one to be bewildered by the sheer audacity that Arkose Labs is putting on display with these dice puzzles. I mean, this is some evil, evil stuff we’re dealing with here.

So I finished the puzzle, thinking this whole thing could be put behind me, when a progress bar popped up. I would have to do not one, but five of these math problems. So I did. And maybe this is just a result of how fragile my mental state was after I’d been put through such a gruelling mind game, but it started feeling like the dice were getting progressively smaller as I solved the challenges.

So I solved the fifth puzzle, put on a self-satisfied smirk, and…

Arkose Labs Captcha system

I’m not kidding. The bar changed from having five notches to ten. At this point, I sighed and just stared at my screen in disbelief for a bit.


Arkose Labs Captcha system

No! No no nononono no no no!!!!

So I clicked TRY AGAIN and was taken to the very beginning of this godforsaken exercise once again. At this point, I was starting to doubt that $90 worth of free games was even worth this kind of hellish torment. But my brain was far too muddled to do the math on that one. I had to save whatever gas was left in the old math tank for another trip through these dice puzzles.

So I did the puzzles, claimed my free games, and sat back in my chair in a deeply anxious state — though at this point I could feel my adrenaline level finally start to wane.

Now I’m just scratching my head over this whole situation. Who on Earth decided this was the best way to root out bot traffic? Or was this one designed to dissuade folks from creating multiple accounts to claim multiple copies of these wonderful games? I know I certainly wouldn’t be willing to do this whole exercise over again, even if it meant securing additional copies of these games.

Either way, I hope to never see the words Arkose Labs again for as long as I live.

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Arkoe Bad
Arkoe Bad
6 months ago

https://myprepaidcenter.com/home uses that Arkose Labs crap.In this case it was “Pick the image where the star and cube touch” and you see six squares where there are moving images of stars, cubes, cones, quarter moons floating in and out of the frame and you are supposed to click where they touch. Got a few, never got them all, Finally gave up. Phoned to find the card balance.

5 months ago

Seriously, F these guys. They can truly go to hell. The sheer disrespect involved in designing this kind of frustrating exercise to force people to go through.

5 months ago

I restarted the launcher after failing the dice game after many attempts, audio captcha didnt work either. After restarting the captcha typed changed literally to “click on the penguin” and showed 5 images of snow and 1 of a penguin. And pass. So much rage 🙂

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