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Submission + - Cliff Bleszinski: vote with your dollars (tumblr.com) 5

silentbrad writes: Cliff Bleszinski, formerly of Epic Games, posted a blog entry titled "Nickels, dimes, and quarters" yesterday:

"The video game industry is just that.An industry. Which means that it exists in a capitalistic world. You know, a free market. A place where you’re welcome to spend your money on whatever you please or to refrain from spending that money. ... Adjusted for inflation, your average video game is actually cheaper than it ever has been. Never mind the ratio of the hours of joy you get from a game per dollar compared to film. To produce a high quality game it takes tens of millions of dollars, and when you add in marketing that can get up to 100+ million. In the AAA console market you need to spend a ton of cash on television ads alone, never mind other marketing stunts, launch events, swag, and the hip marketing agency that costs a boatload in your attempts to “go viral” with something. ... Another factor to consider is the fact that many game development studios are in places like the San Francisco bay area, where the cost of living is extraordinarily high. (Even Seattle is pretty pricey these days.) Those talented artists, programmers, designers, and producers that spent their time building the game you love? They need to eat and feed their families. ... I’ve seen a lot of comments online about microtransactions. They’re a dirty word lately, it seems. Gamers are upset that publishers/developers are “nickel and diming them.” They’re raging at “big and evil corporations who are clueless and trying to steal their money.” I’m going to come right out and say it. I’m tired of EA being seen as “the bad guy.” I think it’s bullshit that EA has the “scumbag EA” memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong. ... If you don’t like EA, don’t buy their games. If you don’t like their microtransactions, don’t spend money on them. It’s that simple. ... The market as I have previously stated is in such a sense of turmoil that the old business model is either evolving, growing, or dying. No one really knows. “Free to play” aka “Free to spend 4 grand on it” is here to stay, like it or not. ... People like to act like we should go back to “the good ol’ days” before microtransactions but they forget that arcades were the original change munchers. Those games were designed to make you lose so that you had to keep spending money on them. Ask any of the old Midway vets about their design techniques. The second to last boss in Mortal Kombat 2 was harder than the last boss, because when you see the last boss that’s sometimes enough for a gamer. ... If you don’t like the games, or the sales techniques, don’t spend your money on them. You vote with your dollars."


Submission + - Canadian musician fined $1200 for pennies on album cover (nationalpost.com)

silentbrad writes: The National Post reports: "The [Royal Canadian] Mint recently issued a warning to Halifax-based folk music singer Dave Gunning — whose upcoming album depicts pennies on both the front and back cover — that he has violated the government’s copyright on the currency. Most of us have probably never thought of inspecting our money in great detail, but Canadian bills do indeed contain a copyright notice in the lower right corner, and coins are covered under the same provisions. The album, entitled No More Pennies, includes lyrics about the coin and features a man sitting in a coffee shop with a bunch of pennies strewn across the counter on its front cover. On the back is a picture of a giant penny falling below the horizon like a sunset. The Mint says it will not charge Mr. Gunning a fee for the first 2,000 albums he produces, but will levy a charge of $1,200 for the next 2,000 copies — a cost this struggling artist says he cannot afford. According to one government bureaucrat, however, the Mint is helping 'this guy out by giving him a break.' ... 'It is pennies to them but is pretty substantial for me,' said Mr. Gunning, who has launched a 'Penny Drive' to try and raise the money to pay this unexpected tax. ... The Canadian dollar is not the only major currency protected by copyright — the British Pound and the Euro also feature copyright notices. But the idea that the government can own the copyright on its works is a concept that’s completely foreign to Americans and citizens of many other countries. Under this country’s Copyright Act, all government works 'belong to Her Majesty' and remain copyrighted 'for a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year.' This is known as 'Crown Copyright,' which is different from how public works are handled in countries such as the United States, where government documents are automatically put into the public domain."

Submission + - Canadian banks rushing to offer virtual wallets (theglobeandmail.com) 1

silentbrad writes: From the Globe and Mail: Canada’s big banks are preparing to launch “virtual wallets” as early as this fall that will allow consumers to digitally consolidate their credit and debit cards from any financial institution, and use them to make purchases online and through their cellphones at cash registers. It is being called the biggest change to the way consumers pay for goods in Canada in decades, and for the banks moving quickly into this space, the strategy is about keeping ownership of the vast and potentially lucrative stores of data that are involved in transactions. Royal Bank of Canada is expected to be first into the market in October, when it launches a digital wallet for mobile phones that will use RBC cards at first, but will eventually expand to welcome all brands of debit and credit cards. A few months later, the bank will launch a digital wallet for online purchases in partnership with Visa that holds all varieties of cards, regardless of brand. The majority of the banking sector is expected to follow suit in the next year or so, with each financial institution relying on the concept of “aliases,” where a password lets consumers access their payment cards, but protects personal information from being passed to the merchant. The alias method is similar to how online services such as PayPal work. ... Retailers can use the information contained in transactions, stripped of details that violate privacy laws, to tailor offerings or promotions to consumers. And the banks figure they can build a new business from that new world. Location data on phones can help neighbourhood stores connect with customers in the area, while transaction data online can give insight into consumer habits and tastes. Consumers will be able to turn this feature on and off, Mr. McKay said, but will have access to offers, promotions and sales that would make it attractive. It is a potentially lucrative new business for the banks – making money off the data collected from each payment made via credit or debit cards, and the access the bank has to the consumer.

Hotels are tired of getting ripped off. I checked into a hotel and they had towels from my house. -- Mark Guido