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The overall Sony brand has reportedly taken a major hit in terms of consumer perception in the wake of the hacks against Sony Pictures and the ensuing fallout. The controversy has pushed media and technology giant to its worst levels in six years, according to new research service YouGov, discovered by Variety. YouGov's BrandIndex is calculated by asking people:"If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?" This is then calculated into a score that can range from 100 to -100, with a zero being a neutral position. Sony's score this year began at 13, dropping to 11 on November 24 when the Sony hack was first made public. It only fell further from there as the hackers posted troves of internal Sony documents, including executive salaries, personal emails, and even movie scripts. Things got even worse for Sony following week's cancellation of The Interview, the controversial James Franco/Seth Rogen movie apparently at the heart of the cyberattack, which the FBI says came from North Korea. As of Friday, December 19, Sony's score was 3, a six-year low. YouGov points out that this could fall further, as The Interview's cancellation has drawn much displeasure from some, while United States president Barack Obama has even said Sony "made a mistake" in scuttling the movie's release. This isn't the first time Sony's brand image has taken a hit in recent years. The company's BrandIndex score dropped off in April 2011 when the PlayStation Network was breached. Millions of accounts were compromised, and the service itself didn't return to full functionality for weeks. For more on the fallout from the Sony Pictures hack, be sure to read GameSpot sister sites CNET and CBS News. The YouGov BrandIndex is measured by interviews with 4,300 people every weekday from a representative US population sample.
Fame and Fortune, Supernatural, and other expansion pack ideas. Electronic Arts sent a survey to The Sims 4 players to gauge their interests in a number of potential expansion packs. Screenshots of the survey sent to Sims VIP reveal the expansions pack ideas in surprising detail. The survey first asked for fans' level of interest in an expansion pack's basic concept. For example, a description for a Supernatural expansion pack says that players will be able to "explore the mysterious world of the Supernatural where you'll be able to create vampires, elementals, or even supernatural friends to help you around the house." It then offers more specific features that each expansion might include. In the Fame and Fortune Expansion Pack, for example, players will be able to become a celebrity, manage their image and online persona, sign autographs, and hide from paparazzi. They'll also be able to choose from an acting, singing, and film directing career. Another interesting potential expansion pack was titled Active Careers, which would include "fully interactive" careers that let you "directly control your Sims' every action while they're on the job and watch as they create new inventions as a Scientist, help cure other Sims as a Doctor or solve crimes as a Detective amongst other career options." Of course, this is just a survey, so it's likely that most if not all of these idea will never be released as actual expansions. The Sims 4 was released on September 2. GameSpot gave it a 6/10 in its review for its colorful visuals and accessible building and buying tools. Be sure to read the full review and check out GameSpot's previous coverage. Which of these expansions are you most interested in? Let us know in the comments below. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
A new survey looks at what makes hackers tick -- and for most, it's not money or glory. When most hackers are infiltrating computer systems, the last thing on their mind is getting caught, according to new data. In fact, despite many highly publicized arrests, 86 percent of hackers believe they will never face repercussions. Password protection software firm Thycotic published the results of a survey on Thursday that looks at what makes hackers tick. The firm interviewed 127 self-identified hackers during Black Hat 2014 earlier this month and came up with some surprising details. For one, hackers' impulses don't appear to be financially motivated. More than half of those surveyed said their actions were driven by fun or thrill seeking, while only 18 percent were after money and 1 percent wanted notoriety. Twenty-nine percent of the hackers interviewed identified themselves as hacktivists that were interested in exposing the truth. Just yesterday, a group of these types of hackers breached the St. Louis County Police computers to publish dispatch tapes detailing the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. With 86 percent of hackers thinking they won't get caught and 80 percent of hackers either launching attacks for the thrill of it or a desire to unveil the truth, Thycotic founder and CEO Jonathan Cogley believes many of these hackers don't believe what they're doing is wrong. So, what types of tactics are these hackers using? According to Thycotic, they're continuing with tried and true methods, such as phishing and spoofing. In the survey, 99 percent of respondents said these tactics are still effective."They're probably thinking, 'I didn't do any damage and I didn't profit from it,'" Cogley told CNET. And, even if they do get caught they'd say, "'my intent was curiosity.'" "It comes back to the basics, they're not looking for the next crazy zero-day attack," Cogley said. "So many of them are happy using attacks that were used 10 years ago." Another conclusion from Thycotic's survey is that hackers appear to fear their own kind. According to the survey, 88 percent of respondents believe their own data is vulnerable to breaches or online theft from other hackers. As the world has moved increasingly online over the past couple of decades, there has also been an uptick in hacks and breaches. Not only have hacktivists flooded the web with sensitive information from governments and corporations, but also major websites and retailers -- like Target and Neiman Marcus-- have been the victims of data breaches. http://www.cnet.com/news/vast-majority-of-hackers-believe-theyre-above-the-law/
A survey from CIRP finds almost all Prime members will renew their subscriptions despite the recent bump to $99 a year. Most Amazon Prime subscribers aren't sweating the recent $20 price increase, at least among those questioned in a recent poll. Surveying 500 shoppers who recently made a purchase at the site, research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners found that 44 percent subscribed Amazon's $99 Prime shipping and content services. Extrapolating that percentage led CIRP to come up with a figure of 27 million Prime members in total. Among the Prime subscribers polled, a full 95 percent said they would "definitely" or "probably" renew their membership. Amazon Prime is a mixed but appealing bag of features that the Seattle-based company often tries to enhance. The service offers free two-day shipping on most products, an online selection of more than 40,000 streaming videos, and a Kindle e-book lending library. Amazon also recently added access to streaming songs via Prime Music. The program is a central part of Amazon's strategy, which asserts that customers will spend more with unfettered access to products and content. In March, Amazon upped the annual price of its Prime subscription from $79 to $99. Trying to justify the increase, the company said at the time that it had never raised prices on the service despite higher fuel and transportation costs to ship its goods to members. Prime is a key financial driver for the online retailer as it locks in customers with the yearly fee. In light of their membership and free shipping, Amazon contends that Prime subscribers are more than likely to turn to the site first and foremost for their online purchases. Increasing the annual cost of the service could've proved a risky game for Amazon to play. But if the results of CIRP's poll are on the money, then most subscribers will grin and bear the price jump. "Amazon Prime enjoys solid loyalty," CIRP partner and co-founder Josh Lowitz said in a statement. "While renewal intent is not the same as actual renewal, our data on length of membership and lapsed membership generally confirms that Amazon Prime members do renew their membership at rates that resemble the intended renewal." Among the current Prime members polled by CIRP, 85 percent were aware of the price increase. Among the 15 percent who were in the dark, the percentage that said they would "definitely" or "probably" renew their membership dropped to 71 percent. Upon hearing of a price increase, a customer's initial reaction is often to threaten not to renew. But based on CIRP's data, renewal rates tend to recover after that customer considers the benefits of the service. "It's a testament to how well Amazon rolled out the price increase, as well as the relative costs and benefits of Amazon Prime" Lowitz added. "More than 8 out of 10 Amazon Prime members are aware of the increase, and even in light of that increase, over 90 percent intend to renew. Amazon undoubtedly helped by improving the benefits of Prime membership, including adding HBO programs to the Prime Instant Video library and the launch of Prime Music streaming audio service." http://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-prime-members-will-almost-all-renew-despite-price-increase/