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Raven Software employees walk out to protest Activision Blizzard layoffs – VentureBeat

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Several employees at Raven Software, one of the development teams under Activision Blizzard, are walking out to protest layoffs at the company. Several members of the QA team were laid off last week, and other employees are asking that they be reinstated, saying Activision Blizzard had promised them better pay in the future.

The Washington Post reported on the layoffs last Friday, saying that management laid off (or planned to lay off) up to a third of Raven’s quality assurance team. Associate community manager Austin O’Brien shed some more light on it in a tweet chain, saying that Activision promised the QA team better pay following an upcoming pay restructure, only for some to be let go instead. Some had also recently relocated to Madison, Wisconsin. At the time of this writing, some workers still do not know whether they are being kept on or being let go.

Raven Software is the major development team behind Call of Duty Warzone, one of Activision’s staple games. The most recent release, Call of Duty: Vanguard, is due to cross over with Warzone shortly. According to a letter written by the protesting workers to management, Warzone generates $5.2 million a day. Alex Dupont, a member of the QA team, told Bloomberg that the other members who were let go were not given a clear reason for it.

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Activision Blizzard initially responded to the news of the layoffs with a statement that implied that these workers were the unfortunate few whose contracts were not upgraded to a full-time position, but that 500 contract workers would be upgraded eventually.

This is just the latest in a series of problems at Activision Blizzard. Its sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination scandal has continued apace since July, when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the company. More and more employees are coming forward with new reports from within the company. Most recently, a report last month in the Wall Street Journal leveled allegations against CEO Bobby Kotick.

Activision Blizzard employees have walked out during those previous reports in protest of the way the company handled these allegations. Other major figures in the gaming industry, including the heads of all three console manufacturers (Phil Spencer of Xbox, Jim Ryan of PlayStation, and Doug Bowser of Nintendo), have criticized the company’s actions.

The company has also shown signs of problems on the game development side, too. At its recent quarterly report, Activision revealed it was maintaining decent numbers, but it was also delaying two of its most anticipated releases: Diablo IV and Overwatch 2. The company currently has thousands of job openings, and seems to be eager to bring in new talent.

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Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard Buy Is Not A ‘Metaverse Bet’ – Forbes

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When Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard this past week for nearly $70 billion, the same refrain kept being repeated, first by Microsoft, then by mainstream outlets. That this purchase was a “big bet on the metaverse.”

And yet no one, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella included, have been able to articulate exactly what that means, or why that’s the case. Unless we have finally arrived at the inescapable conclusion that the true metaverse as it exists right now, is mostly just…video games, and has been for decades now.

There is nothing about the Activision Blizzard purchase that actually speaks to this new, often VR or web3-driven vision of the metaverse. Activision is not a VR or AR developer in any meaningful capacity. Their most “immersive” virtual world game is World of Warcraft, the MMO that has existed as a “livable” virtual space since 2004, and these days, is often badly showing its age.

The metaverse is supposed to be a shared, interconnected digital space, but there’s nothing about this purchase that signals Microsoft is building something like that. This is simply a very large tech company buying a very large video game publisher, and they will then start making a lot of money from those very popular video games.

What idea of the metaverse are we even trying to qualify here? Is it simply the idea that if you own a bunch of IPs under one company, they could theoretically be combined someday to create a “metaverse”? If that’s the definition, than Fortnite is far ahead of everyone, licensing hundreds of IPs for use in its game, including a number across Sony and Microsoft video games (Master Chief, Kratos, Aloy, Marcus Fenix, etc).

Microsoft is betting on the video game industry, you know, the thing that has existed for forty years and is bigger than all other entertainment industries combined? The metaverse remains little more than a buzzword, something to spur investment in web3 projects, or try to justify Facebook’s colossal investment in VR. I do agree that video games, as a concept, are closer to the fictionalized vision of the metaverse than anything else, and yet this has been true for eons. Purchasing Activision Blizzard, which does not really have much of a roster of “living universe” games, seems entirely outside of this. Minecraft was more of a “metaverse purchase than this,” but that buzzword didn’t exist back then.

I think tech investment in video games is a good thing overall, and I expect to see more of it. But pretending like buying the company who produces the highest selling video game of the year, every year, is about making a “metaverse play” is disingenuous, and simply repackaging something that has already existed for decades.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 series now rumoured to launch February 9 – MobileSyrup

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Samsung recently revealed an Unpacked event is coming but didn’t set a specific date for the keynote. Rumours previously indicated that the event would take place on February 8th. However, information from reliable tipster Ice Universe suggests the S22 series will instead be revealed on February 9th.

Ice Universe reportedly made the post on the China-based microblogging site Weibo, stating that the Galaxy S22 series will launch on February 9th alongside the Galaxy Tab S8.

However, Digital Daily says that the phone series will launch on February 8th, with the devices releasing on February 24th.

Rumours indicate Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra will feature a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, up to 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage and work with an S Pen. The other S22 models will lack the S Pen, sport an S21-like design, a trio of cameras, and the aforementioned Snapdragon 8 gen 1 chipset.

Samsung will likely unveil the official launch date for the Galaxy S22 series in the coming weeks.

Source: Weibo, Android Police 

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Samsung Galaxy A53 passes through TENAA, some specifications revealed – XDA Developers

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The Galaxy S22 series isn’t too far off, with Samsung now accepting reservation orders for the phones, but there are a few other devices in the pipeline too. One of them is the Galaxy A53, the upcoming entry in Samsung’s super-popular A50 lineup, which has already leaked a few times. Now we have the first concrete information about the phone’s hardware, thanks to a new regulatory listing.

TENAA, China’s equivalent to the FCC, has published certification information for the Galaxy A53 (via Android Authority). The page includes dimly-lit photos of the phone from the front, rear, and side, which appear to match the renders published by OnLeaks from November. There is some new information though, especially about the internal hardware.

The phone is identified as the SM-A5360, and has 5G support — there was speculation that Samsung might be ditching the 4G option and only selling a 5G-capabel A53, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s true for every region. TENAA says the device measures 159.5×74.7×8.1 mm, again matching the information from OnLeaks, and weighs 190 grams.

Other hardware details include a 6.46-inch 1080×2400 display, a 4,860mAh battery, an unspecified 8-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, 128 or 256GB of internal storage, microSD card support up to 1TB, and an under-screen fingerprint sensor. There are three rear cameras: 64MP, 32MP, and two 5MP. The listing also reaffirms the Galaxy A53 won’t have a headphone jack, which is a shame.

Overall, the phone doesn’t appear to be significantly different from last year’s Galaxy A52. The screen is nearly identical in size, though we don’t know the refresh rate — the A52 4G had a 90Hz display, while the A52 5G/A52S was 120Hz. The Galaxy A52 also had the same 8GB RAM, 128/256GB storage, and in-display fingerprint sensor. We don’t know for sure what each camera will do, but the A52 had a 64MP primary lens, a 12MP ultra-wide, a 5MP macro, and a 5MP depth sensor. The 32MP camera mentioned in the listing could be an upgraded ultra-wide, or Samsung might be swapping it for something else (like a telephoto camera).

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