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Xbox 360

If you're getting tired of reading tech stories about layoffs, I apologize in advance, but I'm duty-bound to tell you, Microsoft is laying off 5,000 workers over the next 18 months, which is nearly five percent of its total workforce.  The tech giant's total profits for the fourth quarter of 2008 declined to $4.17 billion from $4.71 billion in the same period last year, so heads will roll.

It's apparently not the Xbox's fault, though: Profits in Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division rose 3% over last year's fourth quarter to $3.18 billion.  But the division had less revenue in the second half of 2008 than it did in the second half of 2007 -- $4.99 billion versus $5.02 billion. Why is this? Probably because no one is buying the Zune and there was no huge game release like Halo 3 in 2008.

The cuts are coming in the areas of R&D, marketing, sales, finance, legal, HR, and IT. "The decision to eliminate jobs is a very difficult one," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a company-wide memo.  "Our people are the foundation of everything we have achieved and we place the highest value on the commitment and hard work that you have dedicated to building this company."

For their part, Sony said it's posting a $2.9 billion annual operating loss for the year to March. But hey, look on the bright side, things seem pretty solid over at Nintendo...

Source

Yesterday, I wrote about a naughty Belkin employee that was paying people to game Amazon.com's user reviews on the company's products. Belkin has fessed up to the dastardly deed (dramatization). InformationWeek has obtained a letter from Mark Reynoso, Belkin's president, that states:

"Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this. We know that people look to online user reviews for unbiased opinions from fellow users and instances like this challenge the implicit trust that is placed in this interaction. We regard our responsibility to our user community as sacred, and we are extremely sorry that this happened."
 

Reynoso also said that the company is taking action to remove the fake reviews. It's nice to see Belkin taking responsibility for this. It shouldn't have happened and it sucks that it did, but Belkin is trying to make things right.

A few of you left comments saying that you don't think much of user reviews. Certainly there are some that are just dumb (browse through EB Games, for example), but I find a lot of Amazon user reviews very useful -- especially when it comes to thinks I know very little about (vacuum cleaners, for example). What don't you like about user-generated reviews?

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Mad Catz's CES Product Extravaganza

kijibe
Posted January 7, 2009 - By kijibe

Mad Catz has announced some new toys at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

First, you now have even more choices when it comes to plugging up your ears when you need free hands and you gotta talk to mom on your drive home.

Mad Catz has released its AirDrives FIT Interactive Earphones and AirDrives FIT Interactive Earphones for iPhone.

It uses a patent pendidng InAir Technology which allows you to listen to the tunes but still be aware when someone is creeping up behind you. There are no frames in their earphones. Instead there's a wire loop that fits around the ears that's adjustable. Great for when you have your Blublockers or bike helmet on.

The AirDrives FIT earphones also has an integrated microphone that let's your pause your music to take those important calls, too.

They're priced at $59.99 -- yeah, a bit steep just for a pair of darn earphones, but let's see if the sonic quality makes it worth the price.

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Mass Microsoft Layoffs Confirmed?

frankmeyer
Posted December 31, 2008 - By Frank Meyer

According to fudzilla.com, after weeks of rumors, about 15,000 Microsoft employees are set to get their walking paper on January 15th, a week before Microsoft's Q2 earnings report.

Sadly, the computer giant appears to be cutting that many jobs from its worldwide operations, which currently employees around 90,000 people. That's almost 17 percent of Microsoft's total work force getting the boot.

No word on what departments will be hit yet, but fudzilla is reporting that “MSN might be carrying the brunt of the layoffs” with large staff cuts at Microsoft EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

Microsoft hasn't officially addressed this issue, by the way. So it's still all rumors...sad, sad rumors....

Source

At CES 2009, Capcom will hold a "three-way community battle" between Capcom, Microsoft, and Sony. Each community's representatives will choose 20 members from the CES attendees to fight in a tournament using the final version of Street Fighter IV.

Street Fighter IV Gouken Debut Trailer

 

Street Fighter IV : Gouken Debut Trailer »


 

Major Nelson will lead the Xbox community. The PlayStation Blog community will be lead by Jeff Rubenstein. Capcom fans will be lead by Seth Killian.

The tournament will go down on Saturday, January 10th from 3pm to 6pm the Las Vegas Planet Hollywood, thankfully away from the busy convention center floor.

Who are you rooting for? Me? I'm just happy I'll get to play more Street Fighter IV.

That is but one of the more cleverly named titles of the music included on the official soundtrack for EA’s Dead Space. Available for download from both Amazon and iTunes, the game’s official soundtrack album packs in a frightening amount of music from the space-based horror shoot-em-up. But how does it hold up when listened to away from the game? Fast forward through the jump for more.

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Alright, so maybe we shouldn’t start off a game soundtrack review with re-opening the whole “Vikings are better than (fill in the blank) debate, but, let’s face it, the truth is, Vikings rule. While the game Viking: Battle for Asgard came out earlier this year, its accompanying soundtrack album only recently dropped. Is it worth a listen, even if you didn’t play the game? Grab your horned helmet and read on.

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Microsoft has gained exclusivity with the second season of the Web show The Guild.

It will be the first to be distributed worldwide concurrently via Microsoft's triple platform of Xbox 360's Live Marketplace, MSN and Zune.

Sprint will also sponsor 12-episodes of The Guild. They will be the first to test Microsoft's approach to generate ad revenue by merging the concept of gaming console, Internet portal and portable media player.

The show premieres Tuesday on Independent Video, which is Xbox's original content channel. The channel has ad supported, as well as fee-based program.

Read More »

Wii Games Go to Bargain Bins First

TylerColfax
Posted November 21, 2008 - By TylerColfax

Today's flamebait article relates to how fast a game gets tossed to the bargain bin at retailers. According to a study from Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, Nintendo Wii titles are the fastest to have their publisher's price-per-unit cost dip.

Typically when a retailer gets games delivered to them cheaper, they drop the price so that the consumer is more tempted to make the purchase, meanwhile they maintain their mark-up percentages. When the average selling price of a game drops by 20% for 3 consecutive months, this is called "price protection."

The study showed that "Over 7.5% of Xbox 360 and 9.09% PS3 third-party published titles go into price protection early. The Wii, however, nearly doubles the Xbox 360 and PS3s average at 15.1%... This disparity on the Wii reinforces concerns that the market has had with third-party publishers developing successful titles on the Wii," explained EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich.

Take that, Wiifans, wherever you are! Today's flamebait post is brought to you by The Xbox 360.*

Source

*not really

Ubisoft Buys Massive for MMOs

kijibe
Posted November 18, 2008 - By kijibe

Ubisoft purchased Massive Entertainment last week after Activision Blizzard put it up for sale.

The studio that made World in Conflict will help Ubisoft tap into the MMO market.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said, "Our goal there is to go first with light MMO's. They have been extremely popular for a long time in China, but are also coming to the U.S. and Europe, generating lots of good revenue."

Other MMO projects in the works for Ubisoft include one based on upcoming film by James Cameron called Avatar; and a Tom Clancy MMO (World of Tom Clancy's Six Ghost H.A.W.X. of EndWar Splinter Cells is due out in 2009).

It's interesting to note that Ubisoft is the only publisher among the heavy hitters that does not have an MMO, whereas its competitors like EA and Activision, with games like Warhammer Online and World of WarCraft, respectively, are doing better than well.

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