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E3 will take place virtually June 12 to June 15 — for free

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Stanley Pierre-Louis is CEO of the Entertainment Software Association.

E3 lives on, in digital form at least. The Entertainment Software Association confirmed today that the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) will take place in a virtual format this year from June 12 to June 15.

The confirmed partners for E3 include Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Games, and Koch Media. Thats not a comprehensive list, but there are some notable names that aren’t there, like Electronic Arts (which has opted to be outside the show in recent years) and Activision Blizzard (which has an on-again, off-again relationship with E3).

Let’s hope they pull it together, because I miss the center of the industry. For now, maybe we can refer to this as “e3” and the eventual in-person event as E3.

Last year, the pandemic resulted in E3’s outright cancelation, so game companies spread out their announcements over the whole summer. It was a diluted mess, and resulted in GamesBeat’s Jeff Grubb taking advantage of the situation declaring his own Summer Game Mess, not to be confused with Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest, which is also taking place (but is not affiliated with) again during E3.

Above: Stanley Pierre-Louis is CEO of the Entertainment Software Association.

Image Credit: ESA

“For more than two decades, E3 has been the premier venue to showcase the best that the video game industry has to offer, while uniting the world through games,” said Stanley Pierre-Louis, CEO of the ESA, in a statement. “We are evolving this year’s E3 into a more inclusive event, but will still look to excite the fans with major reveals and insider opportunities that make this event the indispensable center stage for video games.”

The event will is free, the ESA said, in contrast to rumors that it might charge for some of the content. The theme is “Game On.”

Asked to address a rumor about the paid elements, a spokesperson for E3 said, “We can confirm that E3 2021 will be 100% free for attendees and that there will be no elements at E3 2021 that will be behind a paywall.”

E3 acknowledged that networking will be harder, but it said the digital format means that more people than ever will be able to participate in E3 from around the world. And it looks forward to an in-person event in 2022.

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Latest Edelman survey rates trust in tech at a 21-year low

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Social media is not a trusted source of information.

The technology sector plummeted from being the most trusted industry sector in 2020 to 9th place in 2021, according to the 21st annual analysis from communications firm Edelman. Lack of accountability and unwillingness to self-govern is eroding the public’s trust in technology.

Trust in technology reached all-time lows in 17 of 27 countries over the past year, Edelman said in its recent 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer: Trust In Technology report. The report is based on a survey of more than 33,000 people from 28 countries, including both general population respondents and what the firm calls “informed public respondents” for a well-rounded picture.

Trust and fear have a reciprocal relationship: The faster one rises, the faster the other drops. Traditionally, the technology sector was something of an expert at managing the two, but that is no longer the case. Edelman found that fear of technology is growing at a faster rate than trust in technology. It will take years for the technology industry to bounce back and regain the public trust.

Tech broke trust

Edelman’s survey results show respondents feel both betrayed by, and fearful of, technology. Job loss is the single greatest driver of societal fears, followed by the loss of civil liberties. There is a 6% drop in the number of people who are willing to share their personal information online. Social media, traditional media, and search engines are also at record low levels of trust.

Above: Respondents did not view many information sources favorably when asked to rate each one on how trustworthy they were for general news and information. Source: 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer: Trust in Technology.

Image Credit: Edelman

While the technology industry is full of entrepreneurs who believe in unleashing creativity and innovation and pursuing moonshot ideas, there are also those who monitor customers and invade privacy. The tendency to use technology as an authoritarian tool to monitor dissent is a concern, which explains China’s 16% drop in trust. The sheer drop is ironic, because China is also a global leader in tech R&D, innovation, and tech manufacturing.

Pandemic amplified fears

Edelman recorded one of the steepest declines in trust in the eight months between May 2020 and January 2021, when the public’s trust in technology dropped from 74% to 67%. People were increasingly concerned about AI and robots, and 53% of the respondents in Edelman’s survey worried the pandemic would accelerate the rate at which their employers would replace human workers with AI and robots. Cyberattackers capitalizing on the pandemic didn’t help matters, as 35% of respondents reported being fearful of attackers and breaches.

Edelman’s Trust in Technology study presents a paradox between tech employees and their employers. Employer trust is highest among tech sector employees, with 83% saying they trust their employers, and 62% believing they have the power to make corporations change. Yet the public’s trust in those employers is plummeting. The disconnect comes from the public perception that humans are not controlling technology, but that technology is trying to control them. There is a growing perception that technology — especially social media — is more capable at manipulating people than previously believed.

One way for the industry sector to regain some trust is to re-evaluate how they handle customer data and to be transparent about what they do with the information.

Gain trust by guarding information quality

Businesses as a whole are still trusted in most of the countries surveyed, with 61% of all respondents trusting companies above nonprofit organizations, government, and media. The most effective step businesses can take to increase trust is to guard the quality of information. Additional factors include embracing sustainable practices, implementing a robust COVID-19 health and safety response, driving economic prosperity, and emphasizing long-term thinking over short-term profits.

However, just saying they will protect information isn’t enough. Businesses need to take a data-centric security approach to achieve greater resiliency and cybersecurity. Businesses should also address the concerns employees have over job loss and automation. They should be transparent and honest with their employees if robotics and automation are part of the business plan. Investing in re-skilling employees for new jobs is a great way to transform a business digitally.

In short, senior management teams should remember that lasting transformation starts with employees.

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Google makes business process tool AppSheet Automation generally available

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Google AppSheet Automation

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Last year, Google launched AppSheet Automation, an “intent-driven” experience in Google Cloud powered by AI that enabled enterprises to connect to a number of data sources to model automated business processes. After several months in early access, Google today announced that AppSheet Automation is generally available with new capabilities, including document processing, a monitoring app, and expanded eventing support.

According to Forrester, while automation has been a major force reshaping work since before the pandemic, it’s taking on a new urgency in the context of business risk and resilience. A McKinsey survey found that at least a third of activities could be automated in about 60% of occupations. And in its recent Trends in Workflow Automation report, Salesforce reported that 95% of IT leaders are prioritizing workflow automation, with 70% seeing the equivalent of more than 4 hours saved each week per employee.

AppSheet Automation, which arose from Google’s acquisition of AppSheet in July 2020, is an AI-enabled, no-code development platform designed to help automate existing business processes. The service offers an environment for building custom apps and pipelines, delivering governance capabilities and leveraging AI to understand goals and construct process artifacts.

One new feature in AppSheet Automation, Intelligent Document Processing, automatically extracts text from unstructured files like invoices and W-9s to eliminate the need for manual entry. Another, a monitoring app, allows customers to build AppSheet apps that can then monitor their automations.

Google also extended AppSheet Automation’s data source eventing, which previously supported Salesforce, to include Google Workspace Sheets and Drive in the general release. Looking ahead, the company says it’s building the ability to embed rich AppSheet views in Gmail to enable users to perform approvals on the go.

Google AppSheet Automation

“Digital transformation has been an enterprise priority for years, but recent Google Cloud research reinforces that the mandate is more pressing today than ever, with most companies increasing their technology investments over the last year,” Prithpal Bhogill, product manager on AppSheet’s business application platform, wrote in a blog post. “While there are many dependencies shaping the future of work, the challenge is to leverage technology to support shifting work cultures. Automation is the rallying point for this goal.”

The launch of AppSheet Automation follows news that Google will collaborate with robotic process automation (RPA) startup Automation Anywhere to accelerate the adoption of RPA with enterprises “on a global scale.” As a part of its agreement with Automation Anywhere, Google plans to integrate the former company’s RPA technologies, including low- and no-code development tools, AI workflow builders, and API management, with Google Cloud services like Apigee, AppSheet, and AI Platform. Automation Anywhere and Google said they’ll also jointly develop solutions geared toward industry-specific use cases, with a focus on financial services, supply chains, health care and life sciences, telecommunications, retail, and the public sector.

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1Password expands into secrets management to help enterprises secure their infrastructure

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1Password expands into secrets management to help enterprises secure their infrastructure

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Password-management platform 1Password is expanding into the “secrets management” space, helping developer teams across the enterprise safeguard private credentials, such as API tokens, keys, certificates, passwords, and anything used to protect access to companies’ internal applications and infrastructure.

Alongside the launch, 1Password has also announced its first acquisition with the purchase of SecretHub, a Dutch startup founded in 2018 that claims to protect “nearly 5 million enterprise secrets” each month. Following the acquisition, SecretHub will be shuttered entirely, with its whole team — including CEO Marc Mackenbach — joining 1Password.

Secret sauce

Recent data from GitGuardian, a cybersecurity platform that helps companies find sensitive data hidden in public codebases, revealed a 20% rise in secrets inadvertently making their way into GitHub repositories. If this data falls into the wrong hands, it can be used to gain access to private internal systems. By way of example, Uber revealed a major breach back in 2017 that exposed millions of users’ personal data. The root cause was an AWS access key hackers discovered in a personal GitHub repository belonging to an Uber developer.

There has been a flurry of activity across the secrets management space of late. Israeli startup Spectral recently exited stealth with $6.2 million in funding to serve developer operations (DevOps) teams with an automated scanner that finds potentially costly security mistakes buried in code. San Francisco-based Doppler, meanwhile, last month raised $6.5 million in a round of funding led by Alphabet’s venture capital arm GV and launched a bunch of new enterprise-focused features.

1Password has built a solid reputation over its 16-year history, thanks to a platform that can store passwords securely and simplify log-in. It allows consumers and businesses to log into all their online services with a single click (rather than having to manually input passwords) and can also be used to store other private digital data, such as credit cards and software licenses. The Toronto-based company raised its first (and only) round of funding back in 2019, securing $200 million to help it push further beyond the consumer sphere and cement itself as an integral security tool for the enterprise.

Machine secrets

Today, 1Password claims some 80,000 business customers, including enterprise heavyweights such as IBM, Slack, Dropbox, PagerDuty, and GitLab. With its latest “secrets automation” product, the company is striving to make its platform stickier for existing and potential clients searching for an all-in-one platform that protects all their credentials — from employees’ email passwords to core backend business systems.

Above: 1Password: Secrets automation

While 1Password’s existing password-management toolset helps people securely access accounts without having to remember dozens of passwords, the “automation” facet of its new product name refers to machine-based system workflows that, for example, enable an application to securely “talk” to a database. “This means being able to roll secrets into your infrastructure directly from within 1Password,” chief product officer Akshay Bhargava told VentureBeat. “We are the first company encompassing human and machine secrets.”

Typically, infrastructure secrets can be splayed across countless cloud providers and services, but according to 1Password, it’s not uncommon for companies to cut corners or use a dubious combination of hacks and homegrown tools to manage the security around this issue.

According to Bhargava, 1Password was working on a secrets management solution before it acquired SecretHub. In fact, many of 1Password’s customers were already storing their infrastructure secrets in its vaults.

“Our customers have raised this workflow as something they’d like 1Password to solve,” Bhargava said. “It’s fair to say our first version is homegrown, and we’ve been focused on solving this problem for a while.”

Secrets automation allows admins to define which people and services have access to secrets, as well as what level of access is granted. At launch, it integrates with HashiCorp Vault, Terraform, Kubernetes, and Ansible, with “more on the way.” However, 1Password is also announcing a deeper partnership with GitHub, which will see the duo collaborate to “solve problems for our shared customers and users,” according to Bhargava. “We plan to build a workflow to support customers in delivering secrets and configuration into their CI/CD pipelines on GitHub,” he said.

As for costs, all companies will receive three credits for free. The cost then rises to $29 per month for 25 credits, $99 for 100 credits, and $299 for 500 credits. “We prorate based on usage,” Bhargava added. “We will work with companies needing more than 500 credits a month on an individual basis.”

In terms of how credit is consumed, companies configure the 1Password vaults they want secrets automation to access and then stipulate the permissions for a development environment with tokens. “If an API client needs read and write access to data stored in a 1Password vault, that access is defined using a token,” Bhargava explained. “One token, accessing one vault, is what defines a credit. If that same API client needs to access two vaults, that then becomes two credits. And similarly, if a single token is created for read access to vault A and another for write access to vault B, that becomes two credits.”

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