- EA is the latest game publisher to make major layoffs, announcing plans to cut around 4 percent of its workforce.
- The move comes during a difficult time in the gaming industry and has been expected internally for several months.
CEO Announces Layoffs
The video game publisher Electronic Arts confirmed Tuesday that it is laying off 350 people in marketing, publishing, and other areas.
The layoffs were announced in an email to employees from EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson. In the email obtained by Kotau, Wilson said the company’s goals are to streamline decision making in the marketing and publishing departments. He also said the company wanted to improve customer support, and change some of its international strategies.
“We have a vision to be the World’s Greatest Games Company,” he wrote. “If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re not there right now. We have work to do with our games, our player relationships, and our business.”
According to Kotaku, the company behind FIFA and Apex Legends said it would be “ramping down” its current operations in Japan and Russia and finding “different ways” to serve players in these regions. A later report from Famitsu (via GameIndustry.biz) confirmed that EA has closed its Japanese office entirely.
In a statement EA said, “In addition to organizational changes, we are deeply focused on increasing quality in our games and services. Great games will continue to be at the core of everything we do, and we are thinking differently about how to amaze and inspire our players.”
Employees Suspected Restructuring
Those affected have reportedly been aware of potential layoffs since at least October. One employee told Kotaku that EA had put hiring and travel freezes on marketing for several months.
According to an EA representative, laid off employees will be given severance and other resources. The video game publisher also said it would try to find positions elsewhere in the company for some of the affected employees.
The layoffs come during a challenging time for EA and others in the gaming industry. Some of EA’s competitors have also faced layoffs this year. Activision Blizzard cut around 800 jobs in early February. Shortly after, ArenaNet, the studio behind Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, laid off well over 100 employees.
See what others are saying: (Kotaku) (The Verge) (Engadget)
New EU Law Protects the Rights of Gig Economy Workers
- The EU Parliament passed a new law on Tuesday that sets minimum rights and other protections for gig economy workers.
- Currently, gig economy workers in the EU are considered private contractors and are not given the same rights as those employed at more traditional jobs.
- The new rules include increased employer transparency and are expected to impact a growing economic sector of about 3 million people in Europe.
EU Passes New Law
Lawmakers in the European Union Parliament approved a new law Tuesday that sets minimum rights for gig economy workers, along with other rules to ensure worker protections.
The move is expected to benefit those who work for prominent gig services such as Uber drivers, food couriers for popular delivery companies in Europe like Deliveroo and Just Eat, and many others.
Currently, gig economy workers are considered independent contractors, meaning they do not receive any of the employment rights or benefits that come as a part of more traditional jobs.
While employees with more traditional jobs in EU member states have a wide array of protections for working hours, breaks, and vacation time, workers in the gig economy have not been afforded the same protections.
Companies that employ gig workers often say that being an independent contractor provides more flexibility, but critics have said this often results in worker exploitation.
What Does the Law Change?
The new rules will apply to anyone in the gig economy who works at least three hours in a week and an average of 12 hours in four weeks.
The rules apply to casual or short-term workers, on-demand workers, intermittent workers, as well as paid trainees and apprentices, though it does not apply to self-employed workers.
Under the new law, employers will be required to inform all workers about “essential aspects” of their working conditions from the first day of employment. This includes the duration of a job, payment, and other features that are intended to increase transparency and “prevent abusive practices.”
Employers will also be prohibited from preventing workers from working for other companies and will be required to provide free mandatory training.
Additionally, the law will give workers the right to refuse an assignment that is given outside of their predetermined hours without consequences, and recieve compensation if the job is not canceled in time.
Member states will now be given three years to implement the law, which is expected to apply to at least 3 million people in the gig economy in Europe, though this economic sector is expected to grow.
Enrique Calvet Chambon, the Member of European Parliament who pushed the passage of the law said it was the first legislation in the EU that set minimum workers’ rights in 20 years.
“This directive is the first big step towards implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, affecting all EU workers,” Chambon said.
“All workers who have been in limbo will now be granted minimum rights thanks to this directive, and the European Court of Justice rulings, from now on no employer will be able to abuse the flexibility in the labour market.”
Read the full press EU press release here.
See what others are saying: (BBC) (Reuters) (Financial Times)
Zuckerberg Used Facebook User Data to Help Friends and Hurt Competitors
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once considered 100 deals with app developers to potentially sell user data in an attempt to learn the “real market value” of the information, according to an NBC News report.
- The report cites around 4,000 pages of leaked internal Facebook documents that show that the company instead opted to use the data as a bargaining chip to reward apps that purchased ads, were close friends of executives, or shared data with them in return.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once considered selling the company’s user data to third-party app developers to find out just how much the user’s data is worth, all while publically claiming to be protecting that same data.
NBC News released a report Tuesday, saying it had obtained around 4,000 pages of leaked company documents spanning from 2011 to 2015. The documents contained emails, web chats, presentations, spreadsheets, and meeting summaries which reportedly showed that Zuckerberg and his team found ways to leverage Facebook user data to companies it partnered with.
It’s not uncommon for companies to work together to share information about customers, however, Facebook has access to sensitive data that many other companies don’t have access to, like information about friends, relationships, photos, and more.
In some cases, NBC News said that Facebook would reward favored companies by giving them access to the data of its users. It would then deny that same data to rival companies or apps that were not considered “strategic partners.”
For instance, Facebook gave Amazon extended access to user data because Amazon had invested heavily in Facebook advertising and partnered with the company for the launch of the Fire smartphone.
By contrast, Facebook reportedly discussed cutting the app, MessageMe, off from user data access. Facebook’s reasoning was that the app had grown too popular and was now a competitor.
Protecting User Data
All the while, Facebook was publically creating a narrative around its concern for user trust, promising to prioritizer data protections.
Private communication between users is “increasingly important,” Zuckerberg said in a 2014 New York Times interview. “Anything we can do that makes people feel more comfortable is really good.”
However, the documents show that behind the scenes, the company was formulating ways to require third-party applications to compensate them for access to user data, through direct payment, spending on advertising, or data sharing agreements.
Facebook Wants to Maintain Its Dominance
Zuckerberg reportedly talked about pursuing 100 deals to sell data access to developers, “as a path to figuring out the real market value” of Facebook user data and then “setting a public rate” for developers, NBC reported.
“The goal here wouldn’t be the deals themselves, but that through the process of negotiating with them we’d learn what developers would actually pay (which might be different from what they’d say if we just asked them about the value), and then we’d be better informed on our path to set a public rate,” Zuckerberg wrote in a message.
In the end, Facebook decided against selling data directly and instead opted to share it with app developers who were considered “friends” of Zuckerberg, or who invested heavily on Facebook and shared their own valuable data in return.
According to NBC, Zuckerberg “noted that though Facebook could charge developers to access user data, the company stood to benefit more from requiring developers to compensate Facebook in kind — with their own data — and by pushing those developers to pay for advertising on Facebook’s platform.”
The companies ultimate goal was to ensure that Facebook held onto its dominant position in the market.
Facebook Calls Documents Cherry-Picked
Facebook has denied giving any developers or partners preferential treatment because of their spending or personal relationships with executives. Instead, the company told NBC News that its focus on “full reciprocity” was to enable users to share their experiences within outside apps with their Facebook friends.
The company also did not question the authenticity of the documents, which stem from a California court case between Facebook and Six4Three.
Six4Three developed an app called Pikinis, which let people pay to find pictures of users in swimsuits. Six4Three’s app was shut down in 2015 after Facebook changed its policies around the sharing of user data with third-party app developers.
Facebook said the documents are “cherry-picked” and misleading.
“As we’ve said many times, Six4Three — creators of the Pikinis app — cherry picked these documents from years ago as part of a lawsuit to force Facebook to share information on friends of the app’s users,” Paul Grewal, vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, said in a statement released by the company.
“The set of documents, by design, tells only one side of the story and omits important context. We still stand by the platform changes we made in 2014/2015 to prevent people from sharing their friends’ information with developers like the creators of Pikinis. The documents were selectively leaked as part of what the court found was evidence of a crime or fraud to publish some, but not all, of the internal discussions at Facebook at the time of our platform changes. But the facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data.”
See what others are saying (NBC News) (CNBC) (The Street)
Sites Crackdown on Scalpers Selling Nipsey Hussle Memorial Tickets
- Craigslist and eBay are pulling listings for resale tickets to the free memorial service of the late rapper Nipsey Hussle.
- Scalpers have been attempting to sell the tickets for upwards of $400.
- AXS, which handled the original ticket distribution, is clamping down on scalpers by distributing the tickets through their mobile app and by making them non-transferrable.
Nipsey Hussle’s Celebration of Life
Free tickets for Nipsey Hussle’s public memorial service sold out quickly Tuesday morning, but scalpers are already trying to resell them for upwards of $400 dollars.
The memorial for the slain rapper will be held this Thursday at the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles, where fans, friends, and family members will come together and celebrate the life of the artist who was gunned down in South Los Angeles on March 31.
Tickets for the memorial were available only to California residents at 10 a.m. Tuesday on axs.com, with a four-ticket limit per person.
Resellers already had listings for the tickets posted on online marketplaces just about an hour after all the seats were claimed.
Tickets Are Non-Transferable
The company responsible for the authentic ticket distribution, AXS, told TMZ that they are cracking down on scalpers and counterfeit tickets. AXS said its tickets are being distributed exclusively via the company’s mobile app and are non-transferable.
Because the tickets can not actually be sold, Craigslist has been flagging and removing posts offering them up. Screenshots from Tuesday show that tickets on Craigslists were being offered for as much as $1000.
Meanwhile, according to the Los Angeles Times, other tickets were being offered on eBay for around $400. In the item description, the sellers even claimed that the buyers would receive their tickets by Wednesday.
In a statement to the LA Times, eBay confirmed that these listings violated a policy the company has against the sale of free tickets. It also violates what eBay calls its “human tragedy policy,” which prohibits sellers from profiting from tragedy or suffering.
“This listing is prohibited under eBay’s policies and did not end up as a successful transaction,” eBay said. “We’ve reached out to the seller to educate them regarding our policy.”
Honoring Nipsey Hussle
Although the exact number of tickets distributed has not been confirmed, the Staples Center houses 21,000 seats. In an effort to allow more fans and community members to pay their respects, Hussle’s family has organized one final “Victory Lap” for the star. Thursday’s memorial will be followed by a 25.5-mile funeral procession that will take place through Inglewood, South Los Angeles, and Watts.
In another effort to honor the slain rapper, Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson announced Tuesday that the Crenshaw Boulevard and West Slauson Avenue intersection will be renamed “Ermias ‘Nipsey Hussle’ Asghedom Square.”