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April 2019
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As Expected, EU Nations Rubber Stamp EU Copyright Directive

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As was widely expected, the EU Council (made up of representatives of the EU member states) has officially rubber stamped the EU Copyright Directive that the EU Parliament passed a few weeks back. There had been some talk of various countries, such as Sweden, Germany and the UK possibly changing their vote. Sweden, in the end, actually did do so, but to stop the Directive, it was necessary for the UK or Germany to do so as well, and they did not.There is some irony in the UK (still a part of the EU for the moment) voting to approve this. After the EU Parliament passed the Directive, the UK's Boris Johnson (who is somewhat famously buffoonish) tweeted about how this was yet another reason for the UK to leave the EU.

If you can't read that, it says:
The EU's new copyright law is terrible for the internet. It's a classic EU law to help the rich and powerful, and we should not apply it. It is a good example of how we can take back control.
The only problem with this is that Boris' own Tory government has been strongly supporting the law all along and, of course, voted happily for it today. Boris Johnson being full of shit is perhaps not newsworthy, but it's at least worth pointing out just how silly the whole thing has become.A few countries besides Sweden also voted against the law: Italy, Finland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Belgium, Estonia and Slovenia abstained from voting. So, basically most of the larger countries voted for it.And, now, the big question is how will the various countries implement the law. Technically, they have two years to do so, and this should be watched closely. France's culture minister has already said he's hopeful that France will implement the law by the summertime, so that country may be the first. That would be interesting, considering that France has also been the most committed to the absolute worst ideas around the law. France may then "set the standard" for how to implement Articles 11 and 13 in a manner that some smaller countries may mimic. Of course, if France actually follows through on the dumbest of all implementations (a decent possibility), it will also make for an interesting test case to see if companies simply decide to block services in France.Either way, once the laws are implemented, we expect there will be legal challenges to them, and then we'll have years of court battles to fight, while the EU continues to wonder why successful internet companies don't seem to ever come from the EU...

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posted at: 12:00am on 16-Apr-2019
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Game Exclusivity Wars Are Upon Us And Valve's Anti-Review-Bombing Process Is Without A Rip-Cord

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Earlier this year, we wrote about the rather sudden emergence of Epic Games' entry into the game distribution business. In a move to directly compete with Valve's Steam, the Epic's store has been attempting to gobble up AAA titles into a program of limited exclusivity, typically six months. The lure for all this is a split for Epic and the game publisher that is more generous for the latter. Valve, meanwhile, responded to one of the larger stories about a game going Epic exclusive, Metro Exodus, by complaining that it was bad for gamers generally and Steam users specifically. That quite predictably served as a rallying cry for Steam users to go to the store pages for other Deep Silver Metro games and bomb those pages with negative reviews that had nothing to do with those games and everything to do with the exclusivity deal.All of which is at odds with Steam's policies and the platform's stated goals of preventing review-bombing of this type. But as the exclusivity wars appear to be upon us, with more games jumping on with Epic, it's becoming clearer that this is probably a purposeful strategy on Valve's end. The latest example of this is the announcement that the next game in the Borderlands series has signed on with Epic to be exclusive for six months. The backlash on Steam was almost immediate.

Over the course of yesterday and today, Borderlands 2 has received nearly 1,600 new negative Steam reviews, while Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has been hit with 420 and Borderlands: Game Of The Year Edition has picked up 320. These games are receiving renewed attention not just because of the Borderlands 3 announcement, but also because Gearbox recently updated the Borderlands Handsome Collection with new HD textures and put the series on sale. Still, you need only look at Borderlands 2's top reviews to see what much of the negativity is about.“Love the game, but I can’t recommend it because the sequel will be exclusive somewhere else,” reads one highly upvoted review.“Scummy company that insults every single person that purchased the game on this site,” says another. “Skip it.”
It's quite obvious that these are not legitimate reviews. They are, however, quite useful as a barometer for how gamers generally see these kinds of exclusivity deals. Much like the market fragmentation that has become the streaming entertainment industry, these types of deals can only serve to frustrate the gaming public. Suddenly, due strictly to business interests, gamers aren't certain where to find the games they want, or if their platform of choice will even have them, or when. That's not a great concept for maximizing the growth of an industry that has exploded mostly without this type of fragmentation. While the console market has always had some of this, expanding it to the PC market makes little sense, since there's no hardware-specific tie in. It's just going to piss people off, and that's already starting.On the other hand, Steam and Valve sure seem to be taking the most cynical route possible, given that it recently committed to ending this kind of review bombing.
Last month, Valve revealed a solution to Steam’s increasingly ubiquitous review bomb problem: a new system where a human team digs through reeking piles of fishy reviews surfaced by an automated program, and—if they find those reviews to be sufficiently suspicious—they’ll “mark the time period it encompasses and notify the developer.” Then they’ll remove those reviews from the game’s overall score and stop other reviews posted in the same period from counting.Currently, it’s impossible to say whether or not Valve has reached out to Gearbox, but the company has yet to make any marks or remove these clearly trolling reviews from Borderlands games’ scores.
That sure makes it look like Valve is just letting this all happen to punish a company that chose to do business with another platform. If that isn't what this is, then Valve should come out forcefully and say so. If it is what Valve is doing, then it's hard to conclude anything other than the company is undermining its own user review system, which is one of the most useful aspects of Steam.Regardless, it appears the exclusivity wars have come to PC gaming. And that sucks no matter the specifics around Borderlands reviews.

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posted at: 12:00am on 16-Apr-2019
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Brands that succeed fulfill a consumer's search for meaning

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Emmanuel Probst, VP of Media & Content at Kantar This year again the advertising industry is expected to grow by almost 4% to $563 billion, according to GroupM's forecast. Consumers are exposed to as many as 5,000 advertisements per day, yet can hardly remember one of them. To make things worse, brand loyalty is on […]The post Brands that succeed fulfill a consumer's search for meaning appeared first on Adotas.

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