EA strips micro-transactions from Battlefront II

EA strips micro-transactions from Battlefront II

Just a couple of hours before the full launch of Battlefront II, Electronic Arts has announced that they’re removing in-game micro-transactions completely as they want to rethink their pricing strategy.

A backlash that was huge in the online gaming community on various gaming platforms, forums, and social media. Though EA emphasized the removal of in-game purchases was temporary, it’s apparent that the community is strong and will react negatively to changes that it doesn’t consider good.

Oskar Gabrielson, the EA game developer, noted the radical shift in strategy in a blog post this evening, announcing the new product strategy development.

He said that their goal has always been to build the best possible game for the community – devoted Star Wars fans and gamers. Also, they had an ongoing commitment always to listen, evolve and tune the experience as the company grows. You can see this in both the main adjustments and polish, that they have made over the past few weeks.

But as the company approaches the global launch, it’s lucid that many of gamers feel there are still some problem spots in the design. But the audience feedback is essential in the game development and finding customer complaints solutions. They’ve heard the concerns about possibly giving some players unfair advantages, which is overshadowing an otherwise awesome game. The stated that it was never their intention and that they are working hard to solve the problem.

Battlefront II development team will now spend more time listening, tuning, balancing and adjusting. This means that the option to buy crystals in the game is now offline, and all you will earn the progression through gameplay. The ability to buy crystals in-game will become available soon, but only after they will implement changes to the game.

Micro-transactions

Micro-transactions have been one of the primary takeaways that the PC/ console gaming community has taken from the mobile gaming industry. What has been a bit harder to adjust for users is that while the “freemium” model has involved free-to-download titles. EA and other major gaming giants have shaped it into a model that works on full-price experiences retailing for $60-$100, to begin with.

That’s mostly been fine though, game players have adapted, and the shelf life of these titles have grown greatly in the face of developing online multiplayer modes. Besides, players can buy personalizations or cool new outfits that demonstrate their dedication.

The grounds to why so many gamers were pissed off by EA’s recent news lay in a fairly important red line where gamers believe that microtransactions should not influence gameplay. Also, they don’t want that to lead to anything close to a “pay-to-win” situation. It was quite clear EA crossed that line, and the community was extremely clear in showing them their point of view.

After an official EA account explained the company’s reasoning, Redditors responded massively down-voting the comment to the lowest rating ever before it. A lot of gaming sites packed with posts with petitioning gamers who had pre-ordered Battlefront II to cancel their orders. Soon, EA responded by saying that they were lowering the in-game credits (crystals) amount that you need to unlock certain characters.

The band-aid solution didn’t satisfy angry gamers. Today’s full court press on taking down micro-transactions completely, it’s clear that this is all a fairly crucial moment for the company that will shape how it considers pricing content in future. It turns out the bottomless realm of in-game purchases may have a bottom after-all.

Where Self-Driving Cars Go to Learn

Where Self-Driving Cars Go to Learn

A new Arizona’s governor, Doug Ducey, made a shift that lined the way for his state to become a driverless cars utopia and won over Silicon Valley. Mr. Ducey finds out that a local regulator was planning a sting on Uber and Lyft drivers to shut down the ride-sharing services for operating illegally. He was furious about it.

He thought that it was the exact opposite message that should have been sending. All entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley should know that Arizona was open to new business ideas.  And as he became an Arizona’s governor he had legalized ride-sharing.

Since that time Arizona has become a preferential partner for the tech industry. Thus it turned itself into a live laboratory for self-driving vehicles. Over the past two years, Arizona intentionally cultivated a rules-free environment for autonomous vehicles, unlike other states that have enacted driverless cars regulations over safety, insurance, and taxes.

A tech boom was the payoff for Arizona, with multiple autonomous vehicle companies crowding here to start up. Every day, Waymo, the driverless car, with Lyft, Uber, Intel and General Motors now set up hundreds of cars that are driverless on the streets of Phoenix. It became a flourishing metropolis of 1.4 million people.

Some businesses have pushed themselves by doing first-of-its-kind experiments in the state. For instance, Waymo announced that it had begun testing self-driving cars without anyone at the wheel to take over in an emergency. All automotive car trials had a human driver in the front seat before, just in case. Than Uber announced that it was also exploring similar tests in innovation navigation product development.

But Arizona’s tolerance has drawn some criticism from safety advocates who thought the companies have too much freedom to do their trials on public roads. They said state officials and car companies hadn’t solved questions about the prevention of cyber attacks on autonomous cars, the privacy of passengers, and how to ensure the security of vehicles that don’t have a driver.

Arizona authorities said that public has effective protection by basic rules that require a licensed driver somewhere in the automotive car. The state insurance regulator is waiting for the insurance industry to lead regulators on legal responsibility for driverless cars, especially in case a crash who will be responsible if a human being doesn’t drive the car?

Well, we think that it is good that they are not making regulations when they really don’t know how the automotive car development will perform.

Mr. Ducey impact on Uber

Mr. Ducey always thought that their state could beat California in every metric, fewer regulations, lower taxes and cost of living, higher quality of life.

Uber and Lyft executives thanked the governor for his support. At the time, Uber already had a little operation in Arizona for mapping roads. Two months later, the company announced that it would open a center in Phoenix for driver and customer support with 300 employees.

At that time, Mr. Ducey was taking his first steps into automotive vehicles and signed an executive order supporting them. He thought about the public safety, transportation factor, insurance, and other regulators to advance the operation and testing of automotive vehicles on public roads. But none suitable regulations existed at that time.

In California, Uber, Google, Ford, and GM, have fought lawmakers on self-driving rules. One rule required carmakers to account for the number of times a driverless car switched from autonomous mode to human-driven mode, which annoyed automakers who said those statistics give a false impression of safety.

That’s why may companies floured to Arizona, as the enthusiasm for new tech from the public and Governor Ducey makes it place where innovation can thrive.

Many Unknowns

Under Mr. Ducey, automotive car experiments in Arizona have grown over the last year.

Uber’s self-driving Volvo SUVs now pick up customers around Tempe on a daily basis. Waymo has sent more than 100 Chrysler automotive minivans to chauffeur families and other residents as part of a strongly guarded trial. The company plans to increase the car number to 600 vehicles by the end of the year. And many other vehicles for Ford, GM, Lyft, and Intel, are also driving around Phoenix.

Some residents have doubts. Groups that are representing the blind are enthusiastic supporters of such cars because they could give their members a lot of independence. Others support the idea of tech-related jobs coming to the state. But still, some are cautious. They are worried if the battery died in the car and it goes out of control and what about all the driver-employees?

Those questions are not just academic. The integration of automotive cars into human-driven traffic has faced some problems.

One of them is insurance, which is a huge debate in the industry, as who takes responsibility in a driverless car crash. Some think that the company, other that the third-party software or parts makers – since there is no driver.

The insurance companies need some time to figure out how they will ensure such cars. Arizona hasn’t changed its minimum insurance legal responsibility rules for self-driving car trials yet. The reason for this is that the government just doesn’t have the resources for that.

We must acknowledge that there are many unknowns. This phenomenon is relatively new, so there isn’t a lot of legislation yet. But the state ensures that smart machine development and incorporation will continue. It gives great cultural opportunities for Arizona to be seen as a place to live, work and have fun.

ITs and CIO leaders will face big challenges in 2018

ITs and CIO leaders will face big challenges in 2018

In the modern era of new technologies, digitization, and swiftly increasing data volumes, modern CIOs and IT leaders will face an increasing set of challenges. They will take on new roles and face major challenges. Only the most successful CIOs and ITs know how to recognize and adapt to these new circumstances. Every great specialist must deliver business value and drive innovation.

Some may view these changes as a problem because they add difficulty for the IT department. But, others consider them to be an opportunity. With the increasing role of technology in the modern business, ITs and CIO leaders can add more value than ever before.

So, what are these difficulties? On what should CIOs focus in 2018? Well, here are five major challenges facing leaders in the next year:

1. Making content a competitive advantage

Over the last few years, content has been the most important part of every business. The modern society now has access to the much larger amounts of information than ever before. But the problem is that many companies have no idea what to do with their content.

We see that many companies risk becoming rich in data but poor in insight. They accumulate gigantic stores of content that is useless.

The focus isn’t on gathering a huge amount of content now. It’s about making that content useful. It’s all about changing that data into important management information. Those who have a great brand strategy and can take advantage of their data will have a major advantage.

A lot of successful companies focused a lot of their attention on big data and how to gather it and analyze it. But they aren’t only segmenting it and compiling the content for marketing purposes, but they accurately use it for growing their business. Content does not lie. But there is a forensic way to apply it to maximize efficiencies and operations by finding bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the manufacturing and delivery process. Such company strategy services can get rid of the problem areas. Also, they can speed up production and therefore get more product to market in a shorter time span. Consequently, they see increases in productivity, profitability and overall efficiency.

2. Allowing constant innovation

There is a growing need for innovation in the modern business sphere. But it also goes far beyond that. In the tough business environment, only the agile survive.

That’s why CIOs and IT leaders must drive consistent innovation. Today it’s not good enough to innovate once, and sit back. In the modern environment, you need to be constantly adapting to new changes. They must organize platforms that facilitate fast solution development. More than ever, it’s the agile businesses that will succeed.

The key challenge at a tactical level is keeping pace with changing technology and future-proof building solutions. You should think ten steps ahead of your competition and be able to imagine solutions that will enable right outcome. Therefore the challenge lays in moving quickly enough, being agile and nimble, obtaining proof quickly and pivot.

3. Managing security with user-friendliness

The biggest challenge for ITs and CIO leaders in 2018 is the tactical guard of PII and information for their enterprises. The well-publicized rise in security vulnerabilities and breaches within companies is tremendously damaging to executives, companies, and their customers. The reduce of trust between customers and companies, the loss of value that companies provide is the specifically urgent for CIOs and IT leaders to deal with. IT leaders must place a budget money and strategic on their company’s data protection. Especially everything around vulnerability awareness and security events will be at the forefront of cybersecurity and technology strategies of 2018.

However, we want to take this challenge one step further. Because in 2018 it isn’t just all about safety measures, it’s how you organize your protection system. The real challenge is in proving well-built security while maintaining data access and agility. It’s about protecting data without harming accessibility.

2018 is time to be fully prepared to defend against cyber attacks while at the same time making sure that all systems are rapid and open to users’ needs. As there are many different services and approaches for protection, the trick is to find the appropriate one, that suite all of your business needs. But don’t forget to be aware that if you run multiple businesses, one design might be appropriate for one and that same design may bad for other.

4. Finding the fitting talent

In recent years, there is a massive growth of new technologies. Areas like data science, AI, machine learning, etc.… have now become significant skills in the business world. Consequently, more businesses face an IT skills gap, while 75% of businesses have a digital strategy, only 16% claim to have the skills to deliver it.

That’s why the big challenge is facing CIOs – addressing this skills gap while being up to tech trends. Well, your business won’t stop and wait while you are fixing the skills gap. Remember that your competitors won’t take a timeout while you look for modern skills. You must find a solution while working at full speed.

Find enough experienced people for handling the new technological challenges of machine learning/AI, data science. Hiring a skillful data experts and scientists in all of those spheres presents a special challenge in that you must discover individuals that not only have a hard STEM background but also are an expert in the soft relational skills. That is very important for navigating ethical issues. Relating and conversing data in a very human way is the future focus of 2018 and beyond.

5. Combining old and new

In recent years nearly half of all businesses have started a digital transformation project. Companies that are without an existing program say the timeframe to take on one is a year or less.

Though, ITs and CIO leaders will face a rising challenge in their digital transformation journeys. It is quite a hard task to merge legacy technologies with modern ones.

Finding a balance between choosing the dependability of mature technologies against the alluring advantages of the newer technologies provide is extremely hard. Particularly when it relates to protection, the sense of balance becomes vital.

These are just a few large challenges CIOs and IT leaders will face in the coming year, but this list could be longer without a doubt. So take this information wisely and make your business benefit from it.

Five Groundbreaking Technologies That Will Shock You

Five Groundbreaking Technologies That Will Shock You

With the huge boom of the modern technologies, new gadgets and whole era of the internet many people start worrying that it has gone too far. But still, it continues to progress really fast.

With massive tech investment of the successful companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google, tech research is evolving so much. At the same time, the unexpected maturation of mathematical methods that can deliver what is normally called artificial intelligence gives an opportunity for expanding current possibilities.

New technologies cause concerns, but they are at the same time great root for optimism. The new wave of synthetic intelligence will cut jobs, but will also improve your health and products around you. The top development company, Geolance, wants to present you five areas where different tech companies will change the way we live.

1.     Health Care

The complex algorithms of deep neural networks helped computers to see. As they have a base of the web of neurons in the human brain, a neural network can learn tasks by identifying patterns in immense amounts of information. For example, analyzing millions of car photos, a neural network can learn to recognize a car.

This technology allows services like Google Photos and Facebook to immediately recognize objects and faces in images that you upload to the internet. But synthetic intelligence will also lead to a revolution in health care. These same techniques, machines can also learn to find out signs of illness and disease in medical scans. As it analyzes millions of retinal photos, a neural network will learn to spot early signs of diabetic blindness, or by analyzing CT scans, it can learn to recognize lung cancer.

This technology will advance health care in places where aren’t enough qualified doctors. But ultimately, it will make health care in the developed world more efficient as well. Google is already running tests in two Indian hospitals, and the start-up Infervision has implemented similar technology in hospitals across China. In the longer term, such methods are promising to quickly accelerate drug discovery in so many other spheres of health care.

2.     Conversational Computing

In modern society, neural networks aren’t limited to image recognition. Natural technology understands the way people talk and write. And it is improving so fast, especially in the realm of coffee-table gadgets like the Amazon Echo.  This gadget can recognize spoken commands from across the room. Another example is online services like Skype, which can immediately translate phone calls from one language to another.

Recently there has been a huge phase shift in the area of natural language understanding. Companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Google are at the head of this movement. They invest in the development of technologies which promise to vitally change how we interact with cars, phones, and potentially any machine.

Many other companies are moving down the same way, including a San Francisco start-up – Replika. It offers a smartphone “chatbot” that acts as a kind of personal confidante, chatting with you in moments when no one else is around. The “chatbot” is based on machine learning technology and can recognize your voice and give a response. We hope that these technologies will improve our lives in so many ways.

3.     Mind Control

Voice recognition is great, but some people argue that there are even better ways of interacting with gadgets. And it is communication with the help of brain waves. Instead of telling a computer what you want, many corporations claim to believe that you could just think of it.

The electroencephalography, or EEG — a longstanding means of measuring electrical brain activity from sensors placed on the head — can make it happen. EEG is a new the start-up of Neurable that builds a virtual reality game that you can play with your mind only. EEG limits for this kind of use, but other researchers, including at Facebook, aim to build far more influential systems with special optical sensors. Facebook hopes that, in a couple of years, this technology will let people type by brain-power. They will be able to type five times faster than regularly on smartphone keyboard.

Various start-ups, including Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, are going several steps further. They are hoping to create technology that will be able to read brain activity from chips implanted inside the skull. At first, they plan to help people with disabilities. But eventually, Mr. Musk and others hope to also widen horizons of people’s abilities by implanting chips in healthy individuals.

4.     The Flying Car

Have you dreamt of more science fiction in your everyday reality? As entrepreneurs like Mr. Musk work to put a chip in your head, others are thinking of ways how to put cars in the sky.

Even as Google sets the pace in the race to autonomous cars, is backing Kitty Hawk too. Kitty Hawk is a start-up that wishes to take commuting into the air. And many others, like the start-up Joby Aviation, Airbus, and Uber, are working on vehicles that can fly above jam-packed roads. These vehicles take various forms, but commonly, they have a single rider and take off like a helicopter – straight up.

At first, Kitty Hawk plan to sell its vehicles to hobbyists. But they hope to sooner or later convince the general public, and regulators, those flying cars make sense. For sure, that is not an easy task. After all, these cars will need a new kind of air traffic control.

5.     The Quantum Computer

Want something even more bizarre? It’s the possibility of a quantum computer. Based on the seemingly miraculous properties of quantum physics, such a machine would be exponentially more powerful than computers of today. Think of it this way: A quantum computer could crack the encryption that preserves the world’s most confidential data right away.

The problem is that these apparatus are extremely difficult to build. But the hopes are high as the progress has accelerated. Google, Intel, and IBM are investing hard in this push, as are start-ups like Rigetti Computing.

Also, researchers declare to believe that quantum machines in time could speed up drug discovery, solve traffic problems, make financial markets more efficient and more.

The quantum computer is a completely unusual paradigm for processing information. That’s why many researchers believe that known applications are just the tip of the iceberg.

Electric Rival on Tesla Semi Trucks

Electric Rival on Tesla Semi Trucks

Tesla set a new goal – upgrading their automobiles and changing the way of generating electricity in our homes. With those plans still in progress, it is setting out on another project – the multibillion-dollar trucking industry restoration.

On Thursday Elon Musk, Tesla chief executive presented a prototype for a battery-powered, almost self-driving semi truck. In a highly produced nighttime presentation the company stated that it would prove more resourceful and less pricey to operate than the diesel trucks that currently drag goods across the country. And of course, the huge benefit is that it will produce no exhaust gases.

Also, Mr. Musk showed he was not letting up on the car side of the business, unveiling a new Tesla Roadster that he said would be able to reach 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds (first invention the car ever with a zero-to-60 time under two seconds). Besides, it has the highest speed of at least 250 miles per hour, and it would be able to travel 620 miles before needing to recharge.

The new truck would be no less revolutionary. Mr. Musk claims that it would have 500 miles single-charge range. Also, it can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in five seconds with no a trailer, and in 20 seconds when transporting a maximum weight of 80,000 pounds.

Producing the truck

The Tesla expects to begin producing the truck by the end of 2019. Although he gave no specific price, he hinted that it would be quite expensive. But he also explained the electric truck would be less costly to operate. That is because it has a smaller amount of components that need regular maintenance. Instead of the engine, transmission or drive shaft, the truck, called the Tesla Semi, is powered by a huge battery under the cab. It has two rear axles, each equipped with two electric motors, one for each wheel. Its uphill speeds and acceleration will allow conquering longer distances in less time than diesel trucks. Consequently, Tesla is estimating that it will cost $1.26 per mile to run.

The company stated that they had no partnerships to announce on the truck project at the moment, but an early adopter appeared Friday when Walmart said it had preordered 15 test vehicles. The Walmart spokesman said that they believe that implementation of this technology within their supply chain, could help them to meet some of the long-term sustainability goals. Besides, this technology will lower their emission rate.

In typical Tesla fashion, the truck is different from the industry standard. The cabin is large enough for a driver and passenger to stand. Also, the driver’s seat is not on the left side but in the center of the cab. It has two laptop-size video screens that provide scheduling data and navigation as well as blind spots and other areas around the truck.

Recharging

The interesting feature is that it will be set with radar cameras, sensors, and processors to allow drivers to use a version of Autopilot. Autopilot can automatically maneuver, accelerate and brake for other obstacles and vehicles, though drivers still must keep their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes on the road while using the feature.

Analysts at Bernstein, an investment bank, assume that Tesla’s truck would be able to travel maximum 300 to 450 miles a day before needing to recharge its battery pack. That’s why they think Tesla could face difficulty if they fail to deliver on its promised range of 500 miles on a single charge.

Mr. Musk said Tesla consider building a network of special superchargers for trucks across the United States and other countries. He gave hardly any details but said they would run on solar power.

Tesla took the challenge of electric trucks even as it is struggling with some issues in its car business. The company just introduced its most affordable car, the Model 3, but the launching delays.

When Model 3 production started in July, they hoped to raise output to 20,000 vehicles a month by December, but they had gathered just 260 by the end of September. And last month the company fired several hundred workers, increasing further concerns about its ability to meet Mr. Musk’s aggressive manufacturing goals.

The Model 3, with a starting price of $35,000, intended to become Tesla’s top-selling car. Because of affordable price, will appeal to a wider class of consumers. That’s why Tesla has high hopes for it.

Main competitors

To this point, the company has explained the slow pace of Model 3 launching to difficulties in producing battery packs at its Nevada plant. They also stated that final assembly tasks and welding processes in the Fremont factory were moving more slowly than other parts of the manufacturing system.

With all of the concerns up in the air, a lot of specialists hope that Tesla won’t over-promise and under-deliver on a new truck. Competitors have already begun testing self-driving technology and electric trucks. Last month, Daimler presented an electric tractor-trailer. Embark, a Silicon Valley start-up, said this week that it had begun using self-driving trucks. They are transporting Frigidaire refrigerators from a warehouse in El Paso to a distribution center 650 miles away in Palm Springs, Calif using this technology.

While Tesla is head over heels with its electric cars, automotive systems and technologies like its Autopilot system, it faces a much different situation with trucks. They just don’t have enough experience in the truck market. Besides, competitors, like Daimler, are quite tough with a built-in customer base.

They need to pay a lot of attention to quality and longevity of the product because a critical thing of the truck is that it is a work tool. It must work all the time. It’s not similar to a sports car when you have something else in the garage to drive if it’s in maintenance or whatever.

Aston Martin is presenting limited edition submarine car

Aston Martin is presenting limited edition submarine car

Aston Martin designed a new concept submarine in collaboration with Triton Submarines, popular submarine maker. The codename of the project is “Neptune”. The concept designs picture a smooth craft at the bottom of the sea with edgy pointy-ended pontoons and a central passenger bubble cockpit with an open, all-around view. We need to admit that design is stunning!

Limited edition

The Neptune submersible combines Aston Martin’s design skills with Triton’s ability to make practical submersibles for explorers, researchers, and the super wealthy people. Triton’s team makes sure that submarines can submerge safe and sound. That gives us hope that this project will go on to the limited edition production phase.  And Aston Martin states that it for sure will. So, we stay tuned!

An interesting fact is that Neptune has a base of an existing three-person submarine platform from Triton’s lineup. That’s one more win regarding production practicality. And even when it will be made and presented to the public, it’s going to be a “strictly limited, exclusive edition vehicle.” So, you most likely won’t see these dotting the neighboring harbor regardless.

But still, the new concept submarine is a great idea and innovative break-through in the technology field. This is a collaboration of future that will open the new vehicle experience for researchers and hopefully a lot of people in the future.