Battlefield 3: Lost Beta Rank

lost-beta-rank-battlefield-3For those who have not yet played Battlefield 3, it provides an amazing online experience. The game is great; unfortunately the way some things were implemented have not been so great . . .

I am a huge first person shooter fan for both console and PC (surprisingly my aim is fairly consistent across platforms), so it was a no-brainer to download the Battlefield 3 beta as soon as it came out to see what all the hype was about. Needless to say, I logged a fair number of hours achieving a relatively high rank and unlocking a bunch of awesome weapons, attachments and skills. Unfortunately, it was all for naught as EA has decided to reset all ranks from the Beta.

This is very inconvenient and not well thought-out. On the one hand I understand because they want to have a level playing field for those that were not in the Beta. On the other, should we not be rewarded for being gung-ho enough to partake in the Beta? More importantly though it is extremely demotivating to take everything away that you have earned. It can be likened to your boss suddenly taking away all the raises you have earned over the years to “make it fair” to the incoming employees. Okay, so that’s a bit of an extreme example, but you get my point.

I played the Killzone Beta and was very happy to see that my rank remained intact after the Beta was over. That is the way it should be. At the very least, EA should have given us fair warning that it would all be reset. After all, with managed expectations we would be likely to be less upset.

Who here played the Beta and was upset to lose their rank?

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The Ides of March Movie Review

the-ides-of-march-movie-review An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.

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The Ides of March finds a great balance between illustrating what goes on behind a political campaign while focusing on the emotional war between political players and campaign staff. It was particularly refreshing to see that the movie avoided the typical “Hollywood” take with a much more realistic approach to the story – avoiding focusing on the presidential race.

Despite lacking Hollywood flair, The Ides of March was still interesting and engaging with its share of intensity and a phenomenal cast (Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman) that made every scene memorable. The movie’s pace was great, which I was originally a concern of mine seeing as many heavy movies tend to drag at points. The dialogue was great, which was to be expected and in my books, dialogue-driven movies are king. If you are looking for epic action and explosions, look elsewhere.

The Ides of March is about the politics of politics.

The movie’s biggest success is in destroying what little respect we might have left for politicians. The underlying theme was trust – trusting the campaign, the message –  and how you shouldn’t always believe what you see. Overall, it was a highly satisfying movie that would review a perfect score from me were it not for a particularly disappointing ending (read below for more details).

*Warning spoilers below*

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My only complaint about the virtually flawless movie was how abrupt, unexpected and unfulfilling the ending was. Ryan Gosling (Stephen in the movie) was left preparing to address the media. He was clearly struggling with the message that he was now representing – integrity – which he now felt that he lacked. However, the ending was left completely open as the movie ended before he was able to respond. Did he decide he could no longer be a part of the campaign that was all a big lie? Did he sell his soul and give up his morals to join the heartless politicians?

Although I understand that some people may enjoy open-endings, I certainly do not. It always feels like a cop-out to me, as if they were not sure how to end the movie so they leave it to the audience to fill in the blanks. If I wanted to fill in the blanks with my own imagination, I would sit at home and close my eyes to write my own story.

What do you think? Satisfying ending? Any indications which way it was “supposed” to end? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sony and Apple – Communicate With Your Customers!

Lately there were two major PR blow-ups that could have been dampened if customers were informed of the situation. I speak of the recent PlayStation Network troubles and what I refer to as the Apple tracking location situation.

Both of these situations caused an uproar that rippled through the tech community with blogs exploding with speculation. The two situations are quite similar in that they are both tech-related, happened to two behemoth companies and both situations were left to fester.

The PlayStation Network (PSN) was hacked

For those unaware, the PSN was recently hacked by a group of individuals who then stole network user’s information – including credit card information. This is a severe situation – one that Sony will have a hard time coming back from. There may forever be a black spot on Sony for allowing such an intrusion. However, they did themselves no favours when they failed to inform their customers of exactly what was going on.

The PSN was down for days before an official response was issued, leaving customers searching for information as to why they could no longer play their games online. Little did they know that at that given moment their personal information was jeopardized. If Sony had issued a response immediately, users would not have had to take to forums to answer their questions. Long before Sony issued an official response there was a ton of speculation as to what was happening. Sony’s silence allowed those rumours to build and grow and people began to fear the worst. Except that in this case, their worst fears were realized.

It is understandable that Sony would wish to have all the facts before releasing an official statement, however they could have pre-warned users. Consumers are largely forgiving if they are not kept in the dark. Withholding information makes the situation much worse when the truth comes out.

Apple Tracking Location Information

Apple recently had a similar problem. As it turns out, Apple iPhone’s have been keeping records of user locations. Naturally, this angered users – many of whom are already a little weary of location-based technology.

Again, like Sony, instead of immediately issuing a response they decide to wait in silence before informing customers of the situation. Rumours began; people were outraged. Long before Apple issued a response the damage was done.

Apple is lucky that it has a strong brand image – this issue will be forgotten before long – but if they continue down this path of leaving customers in the dark they may slowly tarnish that shiny brand image they have worked so hard to achieve.

In summary

Communicate to your customers! Do not wait. Even if you do not know all the details at least throw them a bone. You owe them at least that.

This is a great supporting article: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/04/apple-crisis-management/