sympleko writes "Zynga has the lion's share of traffic in Facebook applications, and Mafia Wars is one of their most popular social games. Collapsing under the weight of over 26 million users, Zynga has been scrambling to thwart hard-core gamers who reverse-engineer URLs or script the game to optimize their enjoyment. Many of the workarounds have annoyed users who were accustomed to various game features, and even worse, the hastily-deployed changes have resulted in many players losing access to the game, in-game prizes, or statistics. Fed up with a software company seemingly bent on discouraging people from enjoying their product, a number of tagged players have organized a boycott of all Zynga games. The first 24-hour boycott on Sunday 12/13 resulted in an 11% decline in Daily Active Users, and an emergency thread on Zynga's forums (from which most of the flames were deleted). The current boycott, extending Wednesday through Sunday is being supported by a 428K strong Facebook group. At issue is the social contract between software companies and their devoted user base, as well as the nefarious tactics Zynga has used to raise cash."
A recent post at the Press Start To Drink blog examined the relationship the games industry has with copyright laws. More so than in some other creative industries, the reactions of game companies to derivative works are widely varied and often unpredictable, ranging anywhere from active support to situations like the Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes debacle. Quoting: "... even within the gaming industry, there is a tension between IP holders and fan producers/poachers. Some companies, such as Epic and Square Enix, remain incredibly protective of their Intellectual Property, threatening those that use their creations, even for non-profit, cultural reasons, with legal suits. Other companies, like Valve, seem to, if not embrace, at least tolerate, and perhaps even tacitly encourage this kind of fan engagement with their work. Lessig suggests, 'The opportunity to create and transform becomes weakened in a world in which creation requires permission and creativity must check with a lawyer.' Indeed, the more developers and publishers that take up Valve's position, the more creativity and innovation will emerge out of video game fan communities, already known for their intense fandom and desire to add to, alter, and re-imagine their favorite gaming universes."
An anonymous reader writes "Controlling computers with our minds may sound like science fiction, but one Australian company claims to be able to let you do just that. The Emotiv device has been garnering attention at trade shows and conferences for several years, and now the company says it is set to launch the Emotiv EPOC headset on December 21. PC Authority spoke to co-founder Nam Do about the Emotiv technology and its potential as a mainstream gaming interface." One wonders what kind of adoption they expect with a $299 price tag.
An anonymous reader writes "Ben Kuchera from Ars Technica is reporting that EA/DICE has substantially changed the game model of Battlefield: Heroes, increasing the cost of weapons in Valor Points (the in-game currency that you earn by playing) to levels that even hardcore players cannot afford, and making them available in BattleFunds (the in-game currency that you buy with real money). Other consumables in the game, such as bandages to heal the players, suffered the same fate, turning the game into a subscription or pay-to-play model if players want to remain competitive. This goes against the creators' earlier stated objectives of not providing combat advantage to paying customers. Ben Cousins, from EA/DICE, argued, 'We also frankly wanted to make buying Battlefunds more appealing. We have wages to pay here in the Heroes team and in order to keep a team large enough to make new free content like maps and other game features we need to increase the amount of BF that people buy. Battlefield Heroes is a business at the end of the day and for a company like EA who recently laid off 16% of their workforce, we need to keep an eye on the accounts and make sure we are doing our bit for the company.' The official forums discussion thread is full of angry responses from upset users, who feel this change is a betrayal of the original stated objectives of the game."
mark.leaman writes "BoingBoing has a recent post regarding Games Workshop's aggressive posturing against fan sites featuring derivative work of their game products. 'Game publisher and miniature manufacturer Games Workshop just sent a cease and desist letter to boardgamegeek.com, telling them to remove all fan-made players' aids. This includes scenarios, rules summaries, inventory manifests, scans to help replace worn pieces — many of these created for long out of print, well-loved games...' As a lifelong hobby gamer of table, board, card and miniature games, I view this as pure heresy. It made me reject the idea of buying any Games Workshop (read Warhammer) products for my son this Christmas. Their fate was sealed, in terms of my wallet, after I Googled their shenanigans. In 2007 they forbid Warhammer fan films, this year they shut down Vassal Modules, and a while back they went after retailers as well. What ever happened to fair use?"
necro81 writes "The NY Times is reporting on a new study from Osram, a German lighting manufacturer, which has calculated the total lifecycle energy costs of three lightbulb technologies and found that both LEDs and CFLs use approximately 20% of the energy of incandescents over their lifetimes. While it is well known that the newer lighting technologies use a fraction of the energy of incandescents to produce the same amount of light, it has not been proven whether higher manufacturing energy costs kept the new lighting from offering a net gain. The study found that the manufacturing and distribution energy costs of all lightbulb technologies are only about 2% of their total lifetime energy cost — a tiny fraction of the energy used to produce light." The study uses the assumption that LEDs last 2.5 times longer than CFLs, and 25 times longer than incandescents.
thief21 writes "After claims that console versions Modern Warfare 2 had been recalled in Russia due to complaints from politicians and the gaming public over the infamous airport slaughter scene, it turns out the stories were completely untrue. Activision never released a console version of the game in Russia." Instead, they simply edited the notorious scene out of the PC version. They did this of their own volition, since Russia doesn't have a formal ratings committee.
An anonymous reader writes 'Volcanic activity may split the African continent in two, creating a new ocean, say experts. This is due to a recent geological crack which has appeared in northeastern Ethiopia.'