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What Activision Blizzard Is Losing, Besides The PR War – Forbes

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Yesterday, a controversial article made the rounds from VentureBeat about how Activision Blizzard was losing the “PR war” in the wake of horrific allegations about the mistreatment of women at the company over the years. Author Dean Takahashi has since apologized for the perception that he was being insensitive to the victims, and explained he was trying to analyze the situation on the business side of things.

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I think the main issue is framing this as a “PR problem,” which at the very least, the headline did, even if the article parsed it differently. But if we’re talking about what this current scandal could do to Activision as a company, the implications could reach far beyond poor perception of the corporate entity or its CEO, Bobby Kotick, who let me tell you, has not exactly been winning any PR wars for a very long time now.

The stories that are coming out about Activision Blizzard’s history with women are nauseating, and require content warnings for abuse and suicide. There were many terrible stories in the original lawsuit filling, but the one that stood out there was of a woman who died by suicide on a business trip, who had been in a relationship with a superior and had in the past, had photos of her genitals circulated around by employees at a holiday party.

Since that story broke, others outside of the lawsuit have emerged, including one where an Activision Blizzard employee was convinced of setting up cameras in bathrooms, and another where a woman was asked if she “liked to be penetrated” at job fair by a recruiter with the company.

What has been revealed to this point about the environment at Activision Blizzard has raised real moral questions for potential employees, journalists and fans.

As the original VentureBeat piece said, Activision Blizzard currently has thousands of open jobs they need to fill to actually keep making video games, and with the entire industry on a hiring spree, after this, it’s hard to know why many people would specifically seek out a job there, knowing everything that’s gone on. Especially women, which could make their current diversity problems even worse.

For journalists, we face the question of the moral responsibility of covering future releases from Activision Blizzard. Every outlet is handling this differently as we try to parse the behavior of management with the on-the-ground employees who are often victims, and who might be hurt more through blackouts or bans. Some outlets have said outright they’ll be covering Activision Blizzard games less, or not at all. What happens when say, hypothetically, the big, splashy Call of Duty Game Informer cover no longer materializes this year because of the objections of staff?

Fans are asking themselves something similar. It is always hard to hold “fan boycotts” to their word as they rarely pan out on a larger scale, but these allegations are so significant and severe that at least anecdotally, there have been reports of many people say, cancelling their long-term WoW subscription in protest. Some content creators have vowed to stop covering the games, even if they’re their bread and butter.

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This is all happening at an extremely precarious moment for Activision Blizzard, the Blizzard side especially. Call of Duty has a cushion, given how well it sells, but it is supposed to reveal its new game soon, and it is now forced to do so in the midst of this. For Blizzard, this is a developer that is the main focus of many of these allegations, and even before this, has slipped in the eyes of fans as a top tier studio. They need to roll out Diablo 2 Resurrected this fall, and they’re continuing to work on Overwatch 2, which has raised questions about “performative” inclusivity with its diverse characters juxtaposed with Blizzard’s treatment of women and minorities. Diablo 4, still years away, is a must-win for them, but that team is full of many “old guard” veterans that were around when many of these most severe allegations were taking place.

The moral side of this is the business side, in many ways. Because of its treatment of women, Activision Blizzard will find it harder to hire employees, gain coverage for its games and convince fans to buy them over alternatives. Activision Blizzard and Kotick have already been on thin ice with many for years, but these allegations have splintered it, if not shattered it. And yet, a main problem remains that the only people that really seem to matter are the company’s investors. Stocks have dropped this past week, yes, but are still 10 points above the yearly low for Activision stock. This hasn’t produced some massive crash, and the corporate response to the lawsuit seems designed to placate investors, not employees or fans. Bobby Kotick only issued his first statement about any of this after the stock finally started to drop, and did so on the Activision investor page, even if it was addressed to his employees.

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Things have quieted down a bit with no more corporate statements, even after the recent walkout by Activision Blizzard employees that does not seem to have produced a meaningful response by management. As for the longer term implications, we won’t know how that shakes out until they get back to actually trying to launch new games this fall, and we’ll see how that’s received.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series, and The Earthborn Trilogy, which is also on audiobook.

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Apple bans Fortnite from App Store until appeals are exhausted – Aljazeera.com

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Apple sent a letter to Epic Games Tuesday saying that it ‘will not consider any further requests for reinstatement until the district court’s judgment becomes final and nonappealable’.

Apple Inc. plans to keep Fortnite off of its App Store until appeals are exhausted in its legal fight with Epic Games Inc., the maker of the popular battle-royale game.

Apple sent a letter to Epic Tuesday saying that it “will not consider any further requests for reinstatement until the district court’s judgment becomes final and nonappealable.” The letter, sent to Epic’s lawyers from a firm representing Apple, was published on Twitter by Epic Chief Executive Officer Tim Sweeney. That process could take five years, he said.

Epic sued Apple in August 2020 after the iPhone maker removed Fortnite from its App Store, citing a workaround that circumvented Apple’s commission on purchases. The battle came to a head this month, with U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers mostly siding with Apple — though she said the company should allow app developers to point users to outside payment systems. The ruling doesn’t take effect until early December, and Epic has already said it will appeal.

On Sept. 16, Sweeney asked Phil Schiller, Apple’s executive in charge of the App Store, to reinstate Epic’s developer account. That would allow the future resubmission of Fortnite and let the gaming company develop its Unreal Engine and other software for Apple devices. “Epic promises that it will adhere to Apple’s guidelines whenever and wherever we release products on Apple’s platforms,” Sweeney wrote in an email, which he published on Twitter Wednesday.

Sweeney said that if Epic gets its developer account back, it plans to rerelease Fortnite for Mac computers “as soon as possible” and reincorporate Fortnite for iPhones and iPads into its Unreal Engine development process. He said, however, that the company would only rerelease Fortnite on Apple’s most popular products if Apple updates its review guidelines to match the “plain language” of the recent ruling.

While the judge’s ruling clearly states that Apple can no longer ban developers from pointing users to the web to complete transactions — bypassing the in-app-purchase system — the ruling doesn’t state outright that Apple cannot collect its commissions. That has led some observers to believe that Apple could still take its cut of revenue via other means.

In addition to Epic’s appeal, Apple could choose to contest the ruling itself or seek a stay from the court to delay changes.

Mark Perry, a lawyer representing Apple, said the company won’t reinstate the developer account immediately because of Epic’s “duplicitous conduct” in the past and statements made by Sweeney after the ruling.

Sweeney said at the time that the ruling wasn’t a win for developers or for consumers.

Following the decision, Epic paid Apple $6 million for circumventing the company’s in-app-purchase fees. During the trial, Apple said it would reinstate Fortnite if Epic followed the same App Store rules as other developers.

“Apple lied,” Sweeney said Wednesday. “Apple spent a year telling the world, the court and the press they’d ‘welcome Epic’s return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else.’ Epic agreed, and now Apple has reneged in another abuse of its monopoly power over a billion users.”

In his email to Schiller, Sweeney said that even if Apple changes its rules to allow Fortnite to point users to the web to complete transactions, it still takes issue with Apple’s stance of barring third-party app stores.

Representatives for Epic and Apple declined to comment further.

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Costco slashes iPhone 12 series price, other retailers might follow – MobileSyrup

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Now that Apple’s iPhone 13 lineup has released, the price of the last-gen iPhone 12 series — which is almost identical to the current-gen models in some ways — is experiencing a price drop.

First shared by RedFlagDeals users ‘DJ Trance AZ,‘ Costco is one of the first Canadian retailers to slash a few dollars of the iPhone 12 series.

Check Costco’s pricing below:

It’s worth noting that the deals are exclusive to Costco members only. Still, if you are a member, the savings are pretty great and considering that the iPhone 13 includes very incremental upgrades, last year’s Apple flagship is still an excellent device.

If you want to read about the major differences between the iPhone 12 and 13 series, check out our comparison story.

Source: Costco Via: RedFlagDeals

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iOS 15 Removes Do Not Disturb Option That Silenced Notifications Only When iPhone Was Locked – MacRumors

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With iOS 15, Apple expanded the Do Not Disturb feature from iOS 14 into a full Focus Mode option that’s designed to allow users to set up different scenarios to manage their incoming notifications.


Focus Mode is handy because it lets you decide exactly what alerts and apps you want to see at home, while at work, when sleeping, when exercising, and in other situations, but as Reddit users have pointed out, Apple has dropped a key Do Not Disturb feature.

Do Not Disturb in ‌iOS 14‌ had a setting that allowed incoming calls and notifications to be silenced at all times, or only when the iPhone was locked. With this setting, you could turn on Do Not Disturb but still get all of your calls and notifications if you unlocked your phone and were actively using it.

Some people used this setting to have Do Not Disturb active at all times during the day so the ‌iPhone‌ was silenced when it was locked, but they weren’t missing alerts when the ‌iPhone‌ was in use. From Reddit:

Really surprised they’ve done this, but it appears there is no longer an option in iOS 15 to still show notifications when in Do Not Disturb but unlocked.

My phone basically lived on Do Not Disturb mode up until now but I’ll have to stop using it now which is really annoying.

Like, I don’t want notifications when my phone is locked, but while I’m actively using it I still need them to pop up.

There is no equivalent setting in Focus Mode, so there’s no longer an option to receive notifications when the ‌iPhone‌ is unlocked and silence them when it’s not in use. With Focus Mode, it’s an all or nothing experience – notifications are being received, or they’re silenced in all situations.

Many Reddit users are unhappy with the change and are hoping that Apple will reintroduce a similar feature in a future ‌iOS 15‌ update.

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