October 2010


Mmmyeah, if you could not come in ever again? That'd be super.

Rumors and signs are running rampant that the yearly tradition of mass layoffs at EA are about to hit again.

  • Earnings call scheduled for 11/2 — traditionally this is when bloodlettings are announced to make shareholders happy.
  • The EALouse blog from a Mythic employee who was already notified his/her head was on the axe gave the figure of 25%… very few actually believe this, as it would be a level of bloodletting that would literally start to prevent EA from being able to make games. Still, it’s not totally outside the realm of possibility (shattering as it would be to EA and the industry as a whole) given EA’s 1,200+ layoffs last year. 25% of EA at current levels would be around 2,000 people… again, very unlikely, but in the current environment anything’s possible, no matter how self-destructive.
  • Any cuts most likely won’t be across the board, but centered on studios that EA sees as unprofitable. Any layoffs at Bioware Austin, for example, would be a truly dire portent given the level of investment and expectation EA has place in Old Republic‘s future. Most likely we’ll see some studios gutted and possibly shut down entirely, while others emerge relatively unscathed. Office politics would, of course, have nothing to do with this whatsoever.

The most conclusive sign of incoming layoffs, of course, are that they are already starting to happen. EA is such a large company (well, at least this week) that the ship takes a while to begin to turn. And, of course, the ritual of the betrayed has already begun. Cue Jeff Brown, EA mouthpiece:

As you know, seasonal roll-offs that follow game launches are common and vital to maintaining a healthy business. Because so many of our games ship in the holiday quarter, the team size adjustments tend to follow in the same timeframe. However, EA is growing and several of our studios are looking to hire talented people.

‘So, you know, we need to hire good people, which is why we fired the bad people. Come work for us! We have cookies.’

4.0B: By Playing Farmville, You Consent To Having The Privacy Of Everyone You Know Torn To Shreds

Entirely appropriate illustration from Toothpaste For Dinner

Farmville and other games by Zynga, LOLapps, and other big names in social gaming collect your personal information – and the personal information of everyone on your friends list – and then turn around and sells it to data enrichment firms.

Yeah, this can’t be bad at all!

The most expansive use of Facebook user information uncovered by the Journal involved RapLeaf. The San Francisco company compiles and sells profiles of individuals based in part on their online activities.

The Journal found that some LOLapps applications, as well as the Family Tree application, were transmitting users’ Facebook ID numbers to RapLeaf. RapLeaf then linked those ID numbers to dossiers it had previously assembled on those individuals, according to RapLeaf. RapLeaf then embedded that information in an Internet-tracking file known as a “cookie.”

RapLeaf says it strips out the user’s name when it embeds the information in the cookie and shares that information for ad targeting. However, The Wall Street Journal found that RapLeaf transmitted Facebook user IDs to a dozen other advertising and data firms, including Google Inc.’s Invite Media.

RapLeaf also transmitted the Facebook IDs it obtained to a dozen other firms, the Journal found.

RapLeaf said that transmission was unintentional. “We didn’t do it on purpose,” said Joel Jewitt, vice president of business development for RapLeaf.

Well, as long as they didn’t mean it!

Is it just me who yearns for those halcyon, innocent days of three years ago or so when the worst moral challenges we faced in the online sphere were gold farmers sending you badly spelled IMs?

Because now it appears the sleaze is making more money than the games they leech from.

(Hat tip: Popehat)

The Dramas, They Burn

Apparently 4Chan weighed in on the EALouse website, briefly deleting it and then replacing it with some dadaist commentary about blouses.

It was quickly replaced, of course. Silly kids, to *really* take down a website you use lawyers.

A Short Programming Note

To cut off the flood of emails, texts, IMs, and queries in the hall:

* Yes, I saw it.

* I have even less comment then Sanya does.

* Suffice to say that is a time in my life that has passed and I, and everyone else, have learned a great deal about game development in the interim.

* Everybody loves dirty laundry. I originally thought of just leaving this post up comment-locked, but then people would just comment in the next post down. So be aware that I really *do* have no comment, I’m not going to say which part was true, which part wasn’t, which parts make me angry with a white hot flame and which parts make me chuckle. So go nuts. I’ve moved on, and I hope Mr/Ms Louse does as well.

* Because the one lesson I *did* take away from my time at Mythic is that when it’s time to leave a job, you shouldn’t fester away in bitterness, you should leave.

OK, It’s Time To Destroy The Internet

The proper thing to type in the dialog is, in fact, "DIE DIE DIE I HATE YOU DIE DIE DIE"

So evil you’ll wonder why someone hasn’t already invented it:

CAPTCHAs that force you to type in ad slogans.

“Advertisers are looking for message comprehension,” Mr. Jacoby said. “And you know what they say, ‘If you write something down, you remember it.'”

Yes – this is, in fact, why we can’t have nice things.