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August 10, 2012

Zynga desperate to avoid losing all of its employees as its stock plummets even further

Offering them stock options at the current basement price is a ballsy move. If the stock rebounds the employees could make a mint, but how on Earth will the stock improve when people have stopped playing Zynga games on Facebook and Zynga is being sued by EA for full-on copying their game assets. The Escapist : News : Zynga Tries to Avert Potential "Mass Exodus" of Workers
Zynga is offering a one-shot financial incentive to keep almost 3,000 workers from walking out. Zynga's ship is barely staying afloat in a sea of poor earnings as it gets assailed by lawsuits and allegations of shady financial deals. Recently, one of its key board members was stripped of his responsibilities and has subsequently chosen to leave the company. Employees at Zynga are certainly feeling the pressure now, and may also be contemplating looking for more stable employment elsewhere. In a bid to stop the company's workers from leaving overnight, Zynga has offered stock options to all its full-time staff. The change came shortly after the lacklustre earnings report on July 25th that sent the company's share price tumbling to lows of $3 per share - a fall of approximately 70% compared to its initial opening price. Normally, Zynga would award company stock options and cash bonuses to its workers each quarter. In light of its dire situation, however, the decision was made to give stock options to approximately 3,000 workers that are still on Zynga's payroll. Arvind Bhatia, an analyst for investment banking firm Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., has given the temporary reward scheme a nod of approval. "It's a proactive move to prevent mass exodus," he said. "It's positive for morale and I think it's the fair thing to do."

August 08, 2012

The Internet Archive is now offering over a million books, films, and pieces of music free to download

Free and clear and legal. Thanks, bittorrent! Archive Torrents : Free Audio : Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

August 02, 2012

The game industry is starting to realize that unmoderated sexist jerks make people not want to play their games

I quit playing online games via Xbox years ago. I had just gotten sick of squeaky-voiced 12-year-olds screaming "NIGGER FAGGOT" at me endlessly. Which is not hyperbole. It seems that everyone knows that if you play in a public match on an online game you are basically volunteering to leap headfirst into the unmoderated filth that is a teenage boy's id. This needs to change. Sexual Harassment in Online Gaming Stirs Anger - NYTimes.com
Executives in the $25 billion-a-year industry are taking note. One game designer’s online call for civility prompted a meeting with Microsoft executives about how to better police Xbox Live. In February, shortly after the Cross Assault tournament, LevelUp, an Internet broadcaster of gaming events, barred two commentators who made light of sexual harassment on camera and issued a formal apology, including statements from the commentators. Even so, Tom Cannon, co-founder of the largest fighting game tournament, EVO, pulled his company’s sponsorship of the weekly LevelUp series, saying that “we cannot continue to let ignorant, hateful speech slide.” “The nasty undercurrent in the scene isn’t a joke or a meme,” he said. “It’s something we need to fix.” Mr. Bakhtanians, whose actions during the Cross Assault tournament were captured on video, later issued a statement in which he apologized if he had offended anyone. He also blamed “my own inability in the heat of the moment to defend myself and the community I have loved for over 15 years.” . . .

July 29, 2012

Here is how claw machines are rigged to not give you prizes

Why Yes, Those Claw Machines Are Rigged, Says Arcade Operator
The machines have variable PSI strength settings for the claws, wrote TheDJTec. It's designed so that they "pay out" (give you a toy) only as often as state regulations require. I had no idea that there were state regulations concerning this kind of an amusement, but there are. The odds in California require a prize dispensed on one in every 12 tries. In Nevada (and in many other states) the odds are 1 in 15. When the machine decides it's time to pay out, the strength of its grip changes, said TheDJTec. "My claw during 11/12 tries will apply 4-6 PSI, or just enough to shuffle it or barely pick it up," he said. "During the 1/12 tries the claw will apply 9-11 PSI, sometimes picking it up and dropping, some successful." He said that toys typically require 10 PSI to grasp. He goes into deeper detail about how the odds change (and are capped) if the thing fails to pay out on payout-strength grips. Here's the best part (to me anyway): "We pay between $.25 and $.50 a pop per toy," he said. That means at best you're paying 25 cents for a 1 in 12 chance to double your money. In other instances, you're just getting a toy worth your quarter (unless you're paying 50 cents or more per play). And bulk orders can drive the unit price down to 20 cents.