U.S. Joins Lance Armstrong Fraud Suit

The U.S. Justice Department joined a lawsuit Friday against disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong over his use of performance-enhancing drugs during the Tour de France. They say that that by doing so, he defrauded his longtime sponsor, the U.S. Postal Service.

“Lance Armstrong and his cycling team took more than $30 million from the U.S. Postal Service based on their contractual promise to play fair and abide by the rules — including the rules against doping,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, whose office is handling the case. “The Postal Service has now seen its sponsorship unfairly associated with what has been described as ‘the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.'”

While Armstrong has sought to settle his differences with the Justice Department, they are reportedly millions of dollars apart. In announcing it is joining the case, the Justice Department emphasized Armstrong’s concealment of his activities and said the cover-up went back to at least 1998.

“The U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team was run as a fraudulent enterprise and individuals both inside and outside of sport aided and abetted this scheme and profited greatly,” said Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. “USADA applauds today’s action by the U.S. Department of Justice which holds promise for returning the many millions of federal dollars in ill-gotten gains generated by this fraud.”

“We disagree about whether the postal service was damaged,” said Armstrong lawyer Robert Luskin. “The postal service’s own studies show that the service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship — benefits totaling more than $100 million.”

Source: ABCnews.com

Make It Harder For Hackers

In another attack {link no longer available} directed at social media sites, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr have been affected by a security breach at their customer service software provider Zendesk.  Zendesk said the attackers went directly after these three clients to access information such as email addresses and subject lines of messages sent by users, but reported no passwords stolen.

Zendesk, along with Twitter and Tumblr, have sent out warning emails to potentially affected users, but no further information on the severity of the hacking has yet surfaced. The sudden surfeit of security breaches has prompted Google and Twitter to speak up and remind users about safe practices.

Twitter gave everyone what it called a “friendly reminder,” its first advice being, “Use a strong password.” It also urged users not to stick to the same password across their social media accounts.

Google spelled it out in their blog: “While we do our best to keep spammers at bay, you can help protect your account by making sure you’re using a strong, unique password for your Google Account, upgrading your account to use 2-step verification, and updating the recovery options on your account such as your secondary email address and your phone number. Following these three steps can help prevent your account from being hijacked – this means less spam for your friends and contacts, and improved security and privacy for you.”

Google has also released an update to its “war against hijacking” report. The report tries to give insight into how hackers work and what internet users can do to protect themselves.

Do you have a hacking story, whether it was you getting hacked or doing the hacking?  Share in the comments below! Keep in mind it’s coming from your Facebook account.

Source: Venture Beat and Google

Exclusive: Joe Paulding Of E! Entertainment

As much of the gaming world is now aware, G4TV is making its slow transition to a network branded under Esquire magazine. The transformation began with G4 axing two of its longest-running shows, Attack of the Show and X-Play.  Now comes the curious part, whether the new network plans to try and keep any of the audience G4 built.

At last year’s [a]list summit Seattle, we spoke to Joe Paulding, director of audience development at E! Entertainment. Before joining E!, Paulding spent many years at G4 in the same capacity, overseeing audience acquisition and community development on social media. Then he jumped a crevice in audience terms, from gaming to celebrity news.

In the interview, Paulding looks at how game and entertainment audiences are similar in some ways, very different in others. He also touches on how games could help TV with the growing fragmentation of both audiences and their attention as second screens infiltrate the living room.


iOS/Android Game Sales Eclipsed Portable Game Consoles In Q4 2012

App Annie and International Data Corporation (IDC) announced a new report that showed that spending on iOS App Store and Google Play games eclipsed that of dedicated handheld games in Q4. Titled the App Annie & IDC Portable Gaming Report, it also says that handheld game consoles were much more seasonal, with 60 percent of Q4 consumer spending on the PS Vita and 3DS happening in December, much higher than from the iOS App Store or Google Play.

“The App Annie and IDC partnership and resulting Portable Gaming Report provides a broad picture of the gaming industry in order to inform business and investment strategies across gaming devices, platforms and regions,” said Bertrand Schmitt, CEO, App Annie. “The marriage of App Annie’s leading app store market data with IDC’s worldwide video game and entertainment physical shipment data allows for industry insights not currently available to the various portable gaming stakeholders.”

“While the most popular games and their business models are quite distinct, Nintendo and Apple were surprisingly close in terms of aggregate consumer spend on game software in the fourth quarter of 2012,” said Lewis Ward, IDC’s gaming research manager. “Seasonality is more pronounced in the dedicated handheld space and we hope this report series will help clarify the evolution of portable gaming dynamics in 2013 and beyond.”

Source: Blog.AppAnnie.com

Conan O’Brien Hosting 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner

It’s been confirmed that Conan O’Brien will host the 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner. Last year’s event was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, who like O’Brien, has his own talk show.

The annual White House Correspondents Dinner, which typically raises money for scholarships, is usually attended by the President and First Lady, as well as other government officials, reporters and celebrities. Check out the embedded video of when O’Brien last spoke at the event in 1995, back when he was hosting Late Night.

Source: SeattlePI.com {link no longer available}

SOE Opens Applications To 2013 G.I.R.L. Game Design Competition

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) announced that it is now accepting applications and submissions for its 2013 Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.) Game Design Competition. SOE will award one winner of the 2013 G.I.R.L. Game Design Competition with a $10,000 academic scholarship along with an opportunity for a paid internship of up to 10 weeks at SOE’s headquarters in San Diego for hands-on experience working on games at SOE.

“At SOE, we believe that diversity is one of our keys to success and it is truly woven into the fabric of who we are as a company,” said Laura Naviaux, Senior Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing, SOE. “We want to help make the games industry even that much more approachable and our goal with the G.I.R.L. Scholarship is to provide an easy way to usher even more women into the industry.”

Submissions for the 2013 G.I.R.L. Game Design Competition will close on March 29, 2013. To apply, applicants must register with Scholarship America, SOE’s scholarship administrator, and submit their application for evaluation at scholarshipamerica.org/gamersinreallife.

Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida Talks Retail’s Continued Importance

Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida spoke during a roundtable, saying that “digital is the fastest growing business for us and for industry as well.” He noted that digital sales are higher on Vita than PS3 because all the content is available digitally on PS Vita, something he thinks will be reflected on PS4 as more business is done digitally on the system.

All that said, he was quick to acknowledge that there is still a segment of consumers who enjoys buying the physical disc, while retail stores help spread awareness and educate consumers on products as well. “We believe retail will still play a key role to get games in front of people,” Yoshida commented.

Yoshida added that retailers like GameStop are starting to put digital sales out front more often. Yoshida thinks that retail will conform to meet consumer demands.

Source: GamesIndustry.biz