A horrible story out of China details a double murder that happened after a man found out he'd been sold a counterfeit iPhone. A man in the Zhenzhou, Henan province of north-central China spent $330 on a device that he thought was an Apple iPhone. Later he realized that the phone was a fake and was furious. The man, identified in news reports only as "Feng," was out for blood. He came across a gang of men trying to sell the same fake phone to a young boy. At this point he apparently lost all sense of self control and pulled out a knife.
Despite complaints about poor working conditions and suicides, people in China looking for a job continue to flock to Foxconn. A Reuters UK article written by James Pomfret and filed after visiting Foxconn's main recruitment center (Longhua, China) claims that thousands of workers from rural regions wait on a daily basis outside the company's plant to take aptitude tests in the hope of gaining employment.
If you missed last night's episode of ABC's Nightline, it has made its way to YouTube. If you prefer to catch it at its source, ABC News, then you can simply follow this link. Why would you want to watch Nightline? Last night the late-night news program ran an 18-minute long story on Foxconn, the notorious assembly plant used by Apple and other technology companies that has been accused of treating its workers with much disregard and a lack of compassion.
Apple and China-based graphic display maker Proview squared off in a Shanghai court Wednesday, as the battle over the use of the "iPad" trademark continued to heat up in China. Apple argued before the Shanghai Pudong New Area People's Court that banning sales of the iPad would not be in the best interest of China's economy.
AppleInsider reports that Foxconn shuffled employees around when inspectors from the Fair Labor Association recently took a tour of some of their facilities. A non-governmental labor rights group said that Foxconn relocated under-age workers to different areas of the plant during the tour before the FLA inspections commenced.
ABC's popular late night news program Nightline, will offer viewers an exclusive inside look at the working conditions at one of Foxconn's notorious assembly plants on Tuesday evening. The program promises an "unprecedented" look inside Apple’s Foxconn plants in China, which have been criticized as being sweatshops and labor camps with poor working conditions that treat their employees horribly.
Xie Xianghui, the lawyer representing Shenzhen Proview Technology in China, said that the Intermediate People’s Court in Huizhou (a city in the southern China province of Guangdong) ruled on Friday that distributors should stop selling Apple's iPad devices in the region. The company is in a bitter dispute with Apple in China because it owns the rights to the "iPad" trademark there. Under Chinese law, the company has the power to stop imports and exports of the product.
Major shareholders in Chinese online game developer Shanda Interactive Entertainment have voted in favor of a proposal that lets the current CEO of the company and his family members take over the company. CEO Tianqiao Chen offered $41.35 per share, putting its value at about $2.3 billion. The deal would also remove the company from the NASDAQ stock exchange where it went public back in 2004.
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that his company is committed to working with manufacturing partners that offer its employees a "fair and safe work environment."
"Where they can earn competitive wages and they can voice their concerns freely. Apple's suppliers must live up to this to do business with Apple," he said.
Chinese company Shenzhen Proview Technology said today that it plans to enforce its "iPad" trademark in the country further by asking customs officials to ban imports and exports of Apple’s most popular device. With all of Apple's iPad devices being manufactured in the country (through Foxconn) this could prove to be a serious threat to its business, because the Proview has already found success on the local level with getting the iPad removed in one unnamed city, according to an Associated Press story.
A sad story from Sky News (by way of The Escapist) details how the dead body of a man in a New Taipei city, China cyber cafe went unnoticed for a full nine hours. The man, who was playing an undisclosed online game, died on Tuesday night according to local reports. The cyber cafe had 30 customers that night, some of which sat next to him, and didn't notice that he was no longer alive.
Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturing company that made international news for the poor working conditions in its various China-based manufacturing plants, continues to have serious problems in China with its workers. According to a GameIndustry.biz report, 300 workers at a Foxconn manufacturing plant in China have threatened mass suicides after a request for a pay increase was denied by the company.
New research released by Newzoo digs a little deeper into the lucrative Chinese and Korean online gaming markets. The research focused on the 190 million Chinese (76 percent) and 26 million Korean (60 percent) consumers ages 15 to 50 - who make up the majority of those who play games in those countries. Newzoo found that both countries were passionate about MMO games, with 100 million MMO gamers in China and 8 million in Korea. While both countries enjoy games, players in each country have different preferences when it comes to social and mobile gaming.
While some companies might be upset that its games being pirated on a major scale in one region of the world (or their brand being copied blatantly for merchandising), Rovio is not one of those companies. Responding to evidence that its Angry Birds brand was being stolen in various ways, Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka took the stage at the recent Disrupt conference in Beijing, gleefully showing off illegal Angry Birds balloons that he purchased on the street.
A Shanghai activist is accusing Apple's Beijing store of passing old iPhones as brand new. According to a story in the Shanghai Daily, activist Wang Hai - who is representing two citizens - filed a lawsuit against Apple in a Chinese court accusing the firm of selling refurbished iPhones. Both purchases were made at the company's store in Beijing, China.
Even China can't escape the allure of the Angry Birds franchise. Rovio Entertainment announced the opening of corporate and marketing operations in China. The goal of this move is to bring a tailored Angry Birds game to China. China is currently the second largest market for Angry Birds and represents what Rovio calls an "immense potential for continued growth." Rovio Entertainment expects 100 million Angry Birds downloads in China by the end of 2011.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said earlier this week that piracy costs his company 95 percent of potential revenue in China. Ballmer made the comments in a speech at the opening of the new Asia-Pacific R&D Group headquarters in Beijing. Ballmer rejected the notion that software piracy is rampant in China because PC Software costs too much. He claimed that if someone can afford to purchase a PC in China, they could afford to buy the software to run on it. Most people in China can't afford to own a computer, let alone Windows 7..
Ballmer went on to say that Microsoft earned six times more per PC sold in countries such as India compared to China, and that if Chinese IP protection were as strong as India's then the market would be worth "billions of dollars."
According to a report in UK-based paper The Guardian, China has been using its prison population as slave labor.. in MMORPG's. According to the report, prisoners were put to work breaking rocks and digging trenches in in the coalmines of Northern China. By night prisoners would be forced to play MMORPG's to earn virtual currency, which guards would trade for real-world money.
One prisoner, who served three years at the Jixi labor camp for pointing out corruption in his hometown, described the conditions at the camp in startling detail. Liu Dali told the paper that prisoners were forced to play online games to enrich the guards of the prison. The 54-year-old was a former prison guard who made the mistake of "illegally petitioning" the central government about corruption in his hometown in 2004. Dali says that the online slave labor is probably more lucrative than the physical labor that prisoners are forced to do.
A recent fire at a Foxconn factory in Chengdu City, China has slowed down production of the iPad, which may lead to shortages of the device in the not- too-distant future. You may recall that Foxconn is the same global manufacturing company that saw a raft of suicides last year because of poor working and living conditions and complaints that the company was paying its workers what equated to slave wages.
The latest tragedy to hit the company is a fire at its Chengdu City plant where 15 were injured and three employees died. Foxconn's Chengdu site shipped around 25 - 30 percent of the total iPad 2 devices shipped in April, while its Shenzhen site made up the rest, according to unnamed sources speaking to Digitimes.
The United States Army isn't the only military outfit that has a video game; the Chinese People's Liberation Army has apparently helped develop a similar first-person shooter alongside Chinese game development studio Wuxi Giant Interactive Group.
In development for nearly two years, the military simulation follows the daily grind of a typical CPLA soldier. The scenario takes players through the paces, learning various military tactics and culminates in a large-scale military battle. The game is called Mission of Honor and offers several modes including basic training, solo missions and team-based combat.
We assume the goal of Mission of Honor is similar to that of America's Army: as a recruitment and early training tool for young males in their late teens.
The game will be released soon, though how it will be distributed is still a mystery.
On late Friday, China-based Tencent Holdings announced that it had acquired a majority stake in Riot Games, makers of League of Legends - a DOTA-style online multiplayer game. Riot Games CEO Brandon Beck talked to Gamasutra about the deal extensively, revealing what his company expects to happen under the auspices of the Chinese company known for its diversified operations including instant messaging services, social networking, and online games. According to some reports, in 2010 Tencent held a 20 percent market share in the online games space.
China, like Korea and other regions in the world, is trying to find ways to combat game addiction and what better way to do it then by letting parents take some control of the situation? Starting next month a new program called "parental watch project" will launch in China. It will require online gaming companies to provide parents access to a special call center and web site that lets parents monitor their children's activities online.
Besides the ability to monitor what their children are doing, parents will have a kill switch, allowing them to limit or ban their kids from online activities.
Child psychologists in the United States suggest that children should not have more than two hours of screen-time per day. The Ministry of Public Security says that children should only have about two hours of screen-time a week or spend more than $1.50 USD on online gaming services.
According to security firm Lookout, a Trojan called "Gemini" has been found in multiple games purchased via "third-party Chinese app stores." Apps such as Monkey Jump 2, Sex Positions, President vs. Aliens, City Defense and Baseball Superstars 2010 are affected, though only if purchased from a "third-party Chinese App Store." The original versions of the games from the Google Android Market are clean, according to the security firm.
"Though the intent of this Trojan isn't entirely clear, the possibilities range from setting up a malicious mobile ad network to creating an Android botnet," the company said.
While infected apps have yet to show up in other regions, Lookout warns that anything is possible:
"..possible infected apps could be posted to app stores targeting US users in the future," Lookout CTO Kevin Mahaffey noted.
Organizers of the China Game Developers Conference 2011 (July 28 – 30) alongside with the ChinaJoy Expo) have put out a "global call" for papers today. Developers, publishers and other industry professionals that would like to speak or present panels can submit proposals beginning today at 2011en.chinagdc.com.cn. Guidelines for submissions can be found in this PDF.
Topics should cover programming, art, game design, operation, management, security, testing, game audio and future game technologies. The speakers will receive VIP passes by the CGDC organizing committee, which will allow them entry into all of the sessions including the welcome reception. The deadline of submission is April 10, 2011.
According to a new study by Arizona-based research firm ABI Research, the worldwide online gaming market will be worth slightly more than $20 billion in 2012. These revenues will be driven by demand in North American, European and Asia Pacific markets, and by new devices and technologies, the firm said.
The Asia-Pac region - most notably China - will be the "engine behind much of this growth."
"According to industry analyst Michael Inouye, "World of Warcraft, for instance, generates significant revenue for Activision in Europe and North America on a subscription basis. But in China, despite a large ‘subscriber’ base, the revenues are far smaller: it's more of a pay-as-you-go model (prepaid game cards). This also creates a greater reliance on ‘cloud’ or server-based games."
On Monday, two prominent U.S. Senators released a new government report (US International Trade Commission study) showing that "widespread counterfeiting and piracy in China" has had an impact on U.S. economic interests. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Senator Charles Grassley, who requested the report, are highlighting its findings because high-level US China trade talks are taking place this week in Washington.
"China continually fails to protect and enforce American intellectual property rights and discriminates against American businesses," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said in a statement that accompanied the report.
"Small steps and empty promises won't cut it when American jobs are on the line. This week's US China trade talks are the perfect opportunity for China to make serious commitments to address these issues. It is time for action," Baucus added.
One document leaked by Wikileaks (from the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai) shows that at least some in the U.S. State Department might have a dim view of gamers. Buried in a leaked cable entitled "SHANGHAI SCHOLARS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER DELAY IN SIX-PARTY" (September 2008 ) is an interesting evaluation of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Il's three sons and a mention of video games.
Amidst the details on six-party talks, Kim Jong-Il's health, the benefits of removing North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terror list, and "future leaders" of the country, is a mention of KJI's youngest son and his fascination with video games:
While Blizzard was launching its biggest product of the year, behind the scenes it was having some serious problems with a data leak in China, according to a report on VentureBeat. According to that report, citing several news stories from MMOGameSite, Blizzard's release schedule and subscriber numbers were leaked from its China offices, and the general manager of the studio, Ye Weilun, was subsequently fired for it - allegedly.
GDC China organizer UBM has finally won a lawsuit it filed in 2009 against the Publishers Association of China Game Publication Committee (CGPA) related to the annual Chinese game developers event.
CGPA and partner Beijing Howell International Trade Fair Co. Ltd, were accused in the lawsuit of unfair competition, false promotion, and commercial slander. The entities first worked together on GDC China 2007, but after a falling out CGPA and Howell decided to create a rival event with a similar name the following year called China Game Developers Conference. The companies also claimed to be the true organizer of the 2007 event, which did not sit well with UBM.
UBM further alleged that this rival event had attempted to block its members from participating in GDC China, and engaged in what it called "misleading promotion."