Acer’s boss Jason Chen says his company will not make its own VR devices and will focus on getting its gaming products to work with the existing VR platforms.
Eyebrows were raised when Acer released its new Predator series products which support virtual reality devices. The thought was that Acer might have a device of its own in the works. However Acer CEO Jason Chen said there were no plans and the goal was to get everythink working with the four current major VR platforms Oculus, HTC’s Vive, OSVR and StarVR.
He said that VR was still at a rather early stage and so far still has not yet had any killer apps or software. Although that never stopped the development of tablet which to this day has not got itself a killer app. But Chen said that its demand for high-performance hardware will be a good opportunity for Acer.
Acer is planning to add support for VR devices into all of its future Predator series products and some of its high-end PC products.
Chen told Digitimes that said Acer was investing in two robot projects, the home-care Jibo and the robot arm Kubi in the US, and the company internally has also been developing robot technologies and should achieve some results within two years. Acer’s robot products will target mainly the enterprise market.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has built a new private cloud based on Red Hat’s build of the OpenStack framework to fulfill the growing computing requirements of its space missions, such as the Mars rovers.
The move was announced to coincide with the OpenStack Summit, and means that NASA’s JPL has access to enterprise-scale computing resources that will enable researchers to tap into their own private cloud and maximise the organisation’s server and storage capacity to process flight projects and research data.
The new cloud has been built by JPL’s own engineers, but Red Hat said that its experience from long-term participation in the OpenStack Foundation and key upstream contributions to specific platform projects made it well suited as the partner for this collaboration.
The move is not NASA’s first involvement with OpenStack. In fact, the entire OpenStack project grew out of a collaboration between the space agency and hosting firm Rackspace to develop an open source cloud computing platform to help drive the administration’s next generation of projects.
Red Hat said that by using its Red Hat OpenStack Platform to build their private cloud, the JPL’s engineers managed to save significant time and resources by retooling and consolidating in-house hardware rather than procuring entirely new infrastructure.
“This is a testament to the reliability, availability and scalability offered by a fully open cloud infrastructure built on Red Hat OpenStack Platform. We are proud of the partnership with NASA JPL to meet their needs for an agile infrastructure to meet their projected growth, while helping to reduce the data centre footprint,” said Radhesh Balakrishnan, Red Hat’s general manager for OpenStack.
Red Hat recently released the latest version of its platform, Red Hat OpenStack Platform 8, as well as the Red Hat Cloud Suite which combines its OpenStack build with the OpenShift Enterprise platform-as-a-service layer for running container-based applications and services.
Virtual reality is, without a doubt, the most exciting thing that’s going to happen to videogames in 2016 – but it’s becoming increasingly clear, in the cold light of day, that it’s only going to be providing thrills to a relatively limited number of consumers. Market research firm Superdata has downgraded its forecast for the size of the VR market this year once more, taking it from a dizzying $5.1 billion projection at the start of the year to a more reasonable sounding $2.9 billion; though I’d argue that even this figure is optimistic, assuming as it does supply-constrained purchases of 7.2 million VR headsets by American consumers alone in 2016.
Yes, supply-constrained; Superdata reckons that some 13 million Americans will want a VR headset this year, but only 7.2 million will ship, of which half will be Samsung’s Gear VR – which is an interesting gadget in some regards, but I can’t help but feel that its toy-like nature and the low-powered hardware which drives it isn’t quite what most proponents of VR have in mind for their revolution. Perhaps the limited selection of content consumers can access on Gear VR will whet their appetite for the real thing; pessimistically, though, there’s also every chance that it will queer the pitch entirely, with 3.5 million low-powered VR gadgets being a pretty likely source of negative word of mouth regarding nausea or headaches, for example.
This is a problem VR needs to tackle; for a great many consumers, without proactive moves from the industry, word of mouth is all they’re going to get regarding VR. It’s a transformative technology, when the experience is good – as it generally is on PSVR, Rift and Vive – but it’s not one you can explain easily in a video, or on a billboard, because the whole point is that it’s a new way of seeing 3D worlds that isn’t possible on existing screens. Worse, when you see someone else using a VR headset in a video or in real life, it just looks weird and a bit silly. The technology only starts to shine for most consumers when they either experience it, or speak to a friend evangelising it on the basis of their own experience; either way, it all comes down to experience.
That’s why it was interesting to hear GameStop talk up its role as a place where consumers can come and try out PlayStation VR headsets this year. That’s precisely what the technology needs; where at the moment, there are a handful of places you can go to try out VR, but it’s utterly insufficient. VR’s objective for 2016 isn’t just to get into the hands of a few million consumers – it’s to become desired, deeply desired, by tens of millions more. The only way that will happen is to create that army of evangelists by creating a large number of easily accessible opportunities to experience VR – and GameStop is right to position itself as the industry’s best chance of doing so in the USA. Pop-up VR booths in trendy spots might excite bloggers, but what this new sector needs in the latter half of 2016 is much more down to earth – it needs as many of America’s malls as possible to be places where shoppers can drop in and try out VR for themselves.
In a sense, what’s happening here is deeply ironic; after years of digital distribution and online shopping making retail all but irrelevant, to the point where it’s practically disappeared in some countries, the industry suddenly needs retail stores again – not to sell games, because those are, in truth, better sold online, but to sell hardware, to sell an experience. How exactly you structure a long-term business model around that – the games retailer as showroom – is something I’m honestly not sure about, but it’s something GameStop and its industry partners need to figure out, because what VR makes clear is that games do sometimes need a way to reach consumers physically, in the real world, and right now only games retail chains are positioned to do that.
This isn’t a one-time thing, either – we know that, because this has happened before, in the not-so-distant past. Nintendo’s Wii enjoyed an extraordinary sales trajectory from its first Christmas post-launch into its first full year on the market, not least because the company did a good job of putting demo units (mostly running Wii Sports, of course) into not only every games store in the world, but also into countless other popular shopping areas. It was nigh-on impossible, in the early months of the Wii, to go out shopping without encountering the brand, seeing people playing the games and having the opportunity to do so yourself – an enormously important thing for a device which, like VR, really needed to be experienced in person for its worth to become apparent. VR, if anything, magnifies that problem; at least with Wii Sports, observers could see people having fun with it. Observing someone using VR, as mentioned above, just looks daft and a bit uncomfortable.
GameStop has weathered the storm rather better than some of its peers in other countries. The United Kingdom has seen its games retail devastated; it’s all but impossible to actually walk into a specialist store and buy a game in many UK city centres, including London. Would a modern-day version of the Wii be able to thrive in an environment lacking these ready-made showrooms for its capabilities on every high street and in every shopping mall? Perhaps, but it would take enormous effort and investment; something that VR firms, especially Sony, are going to have to take very seriously as they plan how to get the broader public interested in their device, and how to break out beyond the early adopter market.
Much of the VR industry’s performance in 2016 is going to be measured in raw sales figures, which is a bit of a shame; Vive and Rift are enormously supply constrained and having fulfillment difficulties, and the numbers we’ve seen floating around for Sony’s intentions suggest that PSVR will also be supply constrained through Christmas. The VR industry – ignoring the slightly worrying, premature offshoot that is mobile VR – is going to sell every headset it can manufacture in 2016. If it doesn’t, then there’s a very serious problem, but every indication says that this year’s key limiter will be supply, not demand.
The real measurement of how VR has performed in 2016, then, should be something else – the purchasing intent and interest level of the rest of the population. If by the time the world is mumbling through the second line of Auld Lang Syne and welcoming in 2017, consumer awareness of VR is low and purchasing intent isn’t skyrocketing – or worse, if the media’s dominant narratives about the technology are all about vomiting and migraines – then the industry will have done itself a grievous disservice. This is the year of VR, but not for the vast majority of consumers – which means that the real task of VR firms in 2016 is to convince the world that a VR headset is something it simply must own in 2017.
Sirin Labs AG said on Monday it had raised $72 million in private funds to launch the device, which would be aimed at executives. It plans to open its first store, in London’s Mayfair, in May.
“(Our) smartphone …brings the most advanced technology available – even if it is not commercially available – and combining it with almost military-grade security,” said Sirin co-founder and president Moshe Hogeg.
The phone will be based on the Android operating system and run otherwise unspecified technology two to three years in advance of the mass market, he said.
Hogeg told Reuters the phone would sell for less than $20,000.
He believes thousands of executives in the United States and Europe will pay that sort of price, since the cost of being hacked could be more expensive in terms of information lost.
Hogeg put the value of the global luxury phone market at about $1.1 billion, a fraction of total mobile phone sales. Most top end phones sold are more for status – regular phones with gold and diamonds.
Britain’s Vertu sells phones in that category from $10,000 to $300,000, while Apple’s iPhone 5 Black Diamond sold for $15.3 million.
Sirin’s financing came from Israeli venture capital fund Singulariteam – which Hogeg co-founded and included backing from Kazakh investor Kenges Rakishev – and Chinese social networking company Renren.
The idea for the start-up came about after Rakishev’s phone was hacked in 2013. He asked Hogeg why he couldn’t find a mobile phone that would ensure privacy and why new technology seen in tech shows and publications was not available in consumer devices.
“There were no good solutions that combined high-end technologies with maximum security,” Hogeg said.
Security researchers have uncovered a new memory-scraping malware program that steals payment card data from point-of-sale (PoS) terminals and forwards to attackers using the Domain Name System (DNS).
Dubbed Multigrain, the threat is part of a family of malware programs known as NewPosThings, with which it shares some code. However, this variant was designed to target specific environments.
That’s because unlike other PoS malware programs that look for card data in the memory of many processes, Multigrain targets a single process called multi.exe that’s associated with a popular back-end card authorization and PoS server. If this process is not running on the compromised machine, the infection routine exists and the malware deletes itself.
“This shows that while developing or building their malware, the attackers had a very specific knowledge of the target environment and knew this process would be running,” security researchers from FireEye said in a blog post.
FireEye did not name the PoS software that Multigrain targeted. However, threats like this show the need for companies to monitor the DNS traffic that originates from their own networks for suspicious behavior.
Multigrain was designed with stealth in mind. It is digitally signed, it installs itself as a service called Windows Module Extension and more importantly, it sends data back to attackers via DNS queries.
Stolen payment card data is first encrypted with a 1024-bit RSA key and then it’s passed through a Base32 encoding process. The resulting encoded data is used in a DNS query for log.[encoded_data].evildomain.com, where “evildomain” is a domain name controlled by the attackers. This query will appear in the authoritative DNS server for the domain, which is also controlled by the attackers.
This technique, while not specific to Multigrain, allows attackers to pass data out of restricted environments where other Internet communication protocols are blocked.
While IBM’s new cloud and mobile business are doing quite well, they are not making enough to off-set the losses from the older traditional arms of the company.
Big Blue reported its worst quarterly revenue in 14 years. Revenue of the world’s largest technology services company fell 4.6 percent to $18.68 billion in the first quarter. They beat analysts’ average estimate of $18.29 billion which was like a ray of gold in the darkness. Otherwise the story was of IBM having its 16th straight quarter of revenue decline.
Under Chief Executive Ginni Rometty, IBM has been moving toward areas such as cloud-based services, security software and data analytics, while trimming its traditional hardware business by exiting low-margin businesses. It also teamed up with the fruty cargo cult Apple to push its tablets and mobile gear into business. Dispite being hailed by the Tame Apple Press as a way of IBM making billions from businesses, that went about as well as we thought it would.
What IBM is experiencing is a huge falloff in its traditional businesses was dwarfing the company’s ability to capture new revenue.
Revenue from “strategic imperatives,” which includes cloud and mobile computing, data analytics, social and security software, rose about 14 percent in the first quarter. But revenue from the services fell 4.3 percent and hardware dropped by 21.8 percent,.
Excluding items, IBM earned $2.35 per share, beating the average analyst estimate of $2.09.
The company received a $1 billion refund in the quarter that lowered its effective tax rate to a negative 95.1 percent compared with 19.5 percent last year.
The company maintained its full-year adjusted earnings guidance of at least $13.50 per share. Wall Street was on average were expecting $13.55.
Enterprise technology users endure poor protection against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and 85 percent would like to see swift changes, according to a new report from Corero Network Security.
Worrying stuff, really. DDoS attacks are growing rapidly and are involved in malware attacks and other nefarious shenanigans. They are even being described as mega, and not in a cool way.
Corero, which offers some kind of DDoS protection-as-a-service and often issues warnings about such threats, polled over 100 ISPs and 175 enterprise customers and found that some ISPs are absolute jokers when it comes to putting up DDoS barriers.
A significant 46 percent still use the outdated, expensive and slow technique of putting traffic through a scrubbing centre, which typically takes at least an hour to go from detection to mitigation.
Other options, such as the ‘black hole’ in which all traffic is sucked away from the target destination, “essentially does a hacker’s job for them”, according to Corero.
“Using yesterday’s tools to mitigate today’s attacks may save ISPs costs in the short term, but it also puts their customers at greater risk of suffering a DDoS attack,” said Dave Larson, chief operating officer at Corero.
“DDoS attacks cost large enterprises an average of $444,000 in lost revenues and IT spending. To any organisation relying on the internet to conduct business, the [financial] fallout from a DDoS attack can be exponential.
“This also represents an important capacity issue for ISPs. Rather than using up spare bandwidth by re-routing malicious traffic to a scrubbing centre, ISPs need to learn to ‘sweat their assets’ by making their existing pipes work more effectively.”
Larson is concerned that ISPs are not spending enough money on DDoS prevention as they are worried about increasing costs to customers.
“Telecoms providers are missing a trick here by selling on cost not quality. They have a golden opportunity to create valuable new revenue streams by providing a cleaner, more reliable pipe for their customers by adopting an always-on, in-line DDoS mitigation system,” said Larson.
“Computers running QuickTime for Windows will continue to work after support ends,” US-CERT wrote in an advisory published Thursday. “However, using unsupported software may increase the risks from viruses and other security threats. Potential negative consequences include loss of confidentiality, integrity, or availability of data, as well as damage to system resources or business assets. The only mitigation available is to uninstall QuickTime for Windows.”
US-CERT (U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team) based its alert on news Thursday from Trend Micro’s TippingPoint group, which said it had been told by Apple that QuickTime on Windows had been deprecated, or dropped from support, meaning no future security updates will be issued and development has been halted.
The last wasn’t new: Apple hasn’t significantly upgraded QuickTime for Windows since 2009, when it launched QuickTime X for OS X but didn’t port the new player to Windows. The most recent security update for QuickTime on Windows was issued three months ago.
Apple let TippingPoint in on the deprecation because the latter’s researchers had forwarded details about two vulnerabilities submitted to its Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) bug bounty program. After TippingPoint asked Apple for a status update on the bugs’ patches — it had handed Apple information about the vulnerabilities in November — representatives from the Cupertino, Calif. company got on the phone and told the researchers that QuickTime for Windows was a dead product.
On the same day that Apple and TippingPoint talked, Apple published instructions for uninstalling QuickTime from Windows PCs.
Apple has not changed its support policies for QuickTime on OS X, which will continue to receive security updates.
Few Windows users will miss QuickTime: Although the media player was once an integral part of its iTunes, Apple stopped bundling QuickTime with iTunes on Windows in 2011.
Troubled camera brand GoPro is going for broke and getting into the emerging VR market.
The outfit has GoPro has announced a new channel dedicated to 360-degree or VR content, which it calls GoPro VR. It has also unveiled a new version of its HeroCast wireless streaming tool, LiveVR, that’s dedicated to VR content. It seems to think that this effort will bail it out of its financial woes.
Meanwhile it has been talking up its VR camera rig. This is a six-camera Omni VR which will cost $5,000 for a complete bundle which can create extreme 360-degree content. It is even offering a $1,500 discount for those who already have a stack of GoPro cameras.
Pre-orders for the Omni VR camera will be opening up today, which is when the GoPro VR platform will also be launching. Today will also see the launch of GoPro VR apps for iOS and Android. Much of GloPro’s VR work is based around Kolor Eyes which was a 360-degree software specialist GoPro acquired around this time last year.
We expect to see the rest of the VR product line-up at the NAB show that starts in Las Vegas later today.
That’s according to Cisco’s Talos threat-intelligence organization, which recently announced that roughly 3.2 million machines worldwide are at risk.
Many of those already infected run Follett’s Destiny library-management software, which is used by K-12 schools worldwide.
“Follett identified the issue and immediately took actions to address and close the vulnerability,” the company told Cisco.
Follett provides patches for systems running version 9.0 to 13.5 of its software and says it will help remove any backdoors. Its technical support staff will reach out to customers found to have suspicious files on their systems.
Governments and aviation companies are also among the organizations affected, Cisco said.
Compromised JBoss servers typically contain more than one Web shell, Talos advised, so it’s important to review the contents of a server’s jobs status page. “This implies that many of these systems have been compromised several times by different actors,” the company said.
Web shells are scripts that indicate an attacker has already compromised a server and can remotely control it. The list of those associated with this exploit are listed in Talos’s blog post.
Companies that find a Web shell installed should begin by removing external access to the server, Talos said.
“Ideally, you would also re-image the system and install updated versions of the software,” it said. “If for some reason you are unable to rebuild completely, the next best option would be to restore from a backup prior to the compromise and then upgrade the server to a non-vulnerable version before returning it to production.”
The security attack dogs at IBM have uncovered two normally solo malware threats working together to rob banks in the US and Canada.
IBM’s X-Force division has dubbed the combined malware Stealma and Louise GozNym by merging the names of the individual, but now friendly, Gozi ISFB and Nymaim.
“It appears that the operators of Nymaim have recompiled its source code with part of the Gozi ISFB source code, creating a combination that is being actively used in attacks against more than 24 US and Canadian banks, stealing millions of dollars so far,” said IBM in a blog post.
“The new GozNym hybrid takes the best of the Nymaim and Gozi ISFB malware to create a powerful trojan. From the Nymaim malware, it leverages the dropper’s stealth and persistence; the Gozi ISFB parts add the banking trojan’s capabilities to facilitate fraud via infected browsers. The end result is a new banking trojan in the wild.”
In short, it’s bad. GozNym has made off with $4m in just a matter of days, and led to a chorus of concerned commentary.
“Cyber criminals have specialties just like their white hat counterparts. By taking bits of code from different pieces of malware, they are able to create their malicious payload quicker than writing everything from scratch. This will reduce the time to exploit and increase potential profits from criminal activity,” said Travis Smith, senior security research engineer at Tripwire.
“Data is the currency of the 21st century, but criminals are still interested in real currency as well. Banks and e-commerce sites face attacks from criminals seeking both sets of currency.
“Organisations should monitor critical systems for suspicious changes as well as limit network connectivity to prevent data leakage in the event of a breach.”
Mark James, security specialist at ESET, explained that combined threats are particularly dangerous, and that the money involved so far should be enough to get some stuff done.
“These days malware is getting much more complicated and intelligent, and it is a continual race between writers and detectors to do their respective tasks,” he said.
“There are so many different forms of malware around today and combining different versions to create hybrid pieces is an effective way of developing malware that is stealthy and successful, which is exactly what we have here.
“In addition to this, by creating a modified piece of malware you would in theory create something that is not being currently detected. Generally the motivation behind this is monetary gain, so there’s no better target than the banks themselves. An estimated cache so far of $4m proves that this particular venture is working.”
Samsung Electronics changing its approach to its memory chip business and focus on market share over profit margins and the industry will suffer, according to one analyst.
Bernstein Research’s senior analyst Mark C. Newman said that the competitive dynamic in the memory chip industry is not as good as we thought due to Samsung’s aggressive and opportunistic behavior. This is analyst speak for Samsung is engaging in a supply and price war with the other big names in the memory chip marking business – SK hynix and Micron.
“Rather than sit back and enjoy elevated profit margins with a 40 percent market share in DRAMs, Samsung is intent on stretching their share to closer to 50 percent,” he said.
Newman said the company is gaining significant market share in the NAND sector.
“Although Samsung cares about profits, their actions have been opportunistic and more aggressive than we predicted at the expense of laggards particularly Micron Technology in DRAMs and SK hynix in NANDs,” he said.
SK hynix is expected to suffer. “In NAND, we see Samsung continuing to stretch their lead in 3D NAND, which will put continued pressure on the rest of the field. SK hynix is one of the two obvious losers.”
Newman said that Samsung’s antics have destroyed the “level of trust” among competitors, perhaps “permanently,” as demand has dropped drastically with PC sales growth down to high single digits in 2015 with this year shaping up to be the same.
“Sales of smartphones, the main savior to memory demand growth have also weakened considerably to single digit growth this year and servers with datacenters are not strong enough to absorb the excess, particularly in DRAM,” Newman said.
He is worried that Samsung could create an oversupply in the industry.
“The oversupply issue is if anything only getting worse, with higher than normal inventories now an even bigger worry. Although we were right about the shrink slowing, thus reducing supply growth, the flip side of this trend is that capital spending and R&D costs are soaring thus putting a dent in memory cost declines,” he said.
China’s potential entry into the market and new technologies will provide further worries “over the longer term.”
“Today’s oversupply situation would become infinitely worse if and when China’s XMC ramps up big amounts of capacity. New memory technologies such as 3D X-point, ReRAM and MRAM stand on the sidelines and threaten to cannibalize part of the mainstream memory market,” he said.
Software giant Microsoft has moved to deny a daft internet rumor that it was responsible for the ongoing Oculus Rift supply issues.
Oculus Rift customers were kept in the dark about the delays following the 28 March release date. Oculus confirmed that a component shortage was to blame for the long delays in supplying its VR headset to those who had pre-ordered. Then a rumour started that the mysterious “missing component” was actually the Xbox One control pad.
The rumour got a fair bit of traffic among the IT press which did not check the facts and liked making Microsoft the villian for all its woes. A moment engaging brain would have knocked the rumor stone dead. The source of the rumor came from a Reddit post from a bloke who claimed to have an inside source who told him. In journalism this is called a “man you met down the pub” source. You get around it by naming the source or using the information to stand the story up.
Someone finally did the right thing and asked Redmond, they were promptly told that the rumor was totally false and if anyone had any question about Rift delays they should ask Oculus VR.
This morning Reddit marked the post as a “confirmed fake.” An Oculus customer support worker, whose identity was verified, also dismissed the claim.
“Totally fake, but super-entertaining,” he said. “Thanks for this! Keep the fanatic coming!”
Clearly who ever fabricated the leak did not know what a supply issue really is. It is when there is not enough bits ordered to make up the final machine. Sometimes it is caused by a batch of faulty components, but normally it is because someone did not order enough.
Oculus has assured customers that it is working to overcome its supply issues. “We’ve taken steps to address the component shortage, and we’ll continue shipping in higher volumes each week,” reads its statement.
“We’ve also increased our manufacturing capacity to allow us to deliver in higher quantities, faster. Many Rifts will ship less than four weeks from original estimates, and we hope to beat the new estimates we’ve provided.”
Sweden’s Fingerprint Cards (FPC) sees biometric smart cards — those using fingerprint identification — becoming its fastest growing market as early as 2018, having already become the market leader in a crowded sector for supplying such sensors for smartphones.
Others within the industry are not convinced the smart card business will take off so quickly, prompting questions about whether FPC can maintain its runaway rise in valuation.
FPC’s share price surged around 1,600 percent last year as demand for fingerprint sensors in phones soared after Apple, which uses its own in-house supplier, helped to popularize the technology. FPC now has a market value of around $4.1 billion.
Advocates say the technology offers greater security and simplicity when compared to techniques such as using pin codes to confirm identification.
The fingerprint sensor business has a handful of companies supplying significant volumes today, with an equal number planning to enter the market. Three are based in the Nordic region where technology companies have thrived.
Needing to maintain its momentum, FPC says it is in initial talks with potential big customers for smart cards. It declines to name names at this stage.
“Our ambition for smart cards, and all other segments, is that we shall continue to be number one,” FPC’s Chief Executive Jorgen Lantto told Reuters.
Silicon Valley firm Synaptics, the closest rival to FPC in sensors for smartphones, is more cautious on new markets.
“It’s hard for me to project market share in a segment of the market (when) we’re not sure when it’s going to happen,” said Anthony Gioeli, vice president of marketing in the biometrics division of Synaptics.
Sascha Behlendorf, a card systems product manager at Germany’s Giesecke & Devrient, one of the top three smart card makers, expects widespread adoption of biometrics in smart cards could take some five to 10 years.
Former Rockstar North studio head Leslie Benzies is suing the company for $150 million alleging “numerous deceptions” from Take-Two, Rockstar, and Sam and Dan Houser. Christopher Bakes, a partner with the Locke Lord law firm representing Benzies, issued a statement regarding the suit today, saying Rockstar’s official story of how he left the Grand Theft Auto studio was a lie.
In September of 2014, Benzies went on sabbatical from Rockstar North. This January, the studio released a statement saying he decided not to return to work.
“In fact, when attempting to resume his duties upon conclusion of his sabbatical on April 1, 2015, Mr. Benzies found himself unable to enter the Rockstar North office because his facilities access device had been deactivated,” Bakes said. “After being let inside by building security, Mr. Benzies was then ordered to leave by the Rockstar North office manager without reason.”
The lawsuit also accuses the Houser brothers of trying to force Benzies from the company and unjustly terminating $150 million in royalty payments “based upon arbitrary actions by the company’s royalty Allocation Committee, a committee that may or may not have actually ever met.” Benzies’ complaints also were personal in nature, accusing Sam Houser specifically of “mounting resentment” that Benzies received the same compensation from Take-Two as the Houser brothers.
The company was apparently in mediation with Benzies over the unpaid royalties at the time Rockstar claimed he decided not to return. Bakes is claiming that “out-of-bounds and inaccurate press statement” represents a breach of its mediation obligations.
“Mr. Benzies has spent the bulk of his life in the video game industry, and looks forward to reaching a fair settlement so he can continue creating great entertainment software in a respectful environment that truly values the work of game developers.”
As of this writing, a Take-Two representative had not returned a request for comment.
[UPDATE 2]: A counter-suit from Take-Two and Rockstar is now available to peruse here. In the 10-page document, Take-Two and Rockstar claim that they “have sought unsuccessfully to resolve this issue through mediation and now seek judicial clarification that would resolve this controversy.” They also deny that Benzies had any good reason to leave Rockstar North.
“The Royalty Plan provides that since Benzies resigned without Good Reason, he is not entitled to any post-termination royalties. The Royalty Plan further provides that had Benzies been terminated without Cause, or had he voluntarily terminated his own employment for Good Reason, he remained eligible to receive post-termination royalties for three years, but in an amount determined solely by Sam Houser, the President of Rockstar Games,” the counter-suit reads.
In addition to a judicial clarification Take-Two and Rockstar are seeking “compensatory damages against Benzies in an amount to be determined at trial,” and they expect to be awarded “their costs, expenses, disbursements, and reasonable counsel fees in an amount to be determined at trial.”