Microsoft got a whole lot of people to play Halo and Forza

Over 20 million people have played Halo Infinite. Microsoft seems to have had a lot of success getting people to try out its games. During the company’s earnings call on Tuesday, CEO Satya Nadella said that 20 million people had played Halo Infinite and 18 million people had played Forza Horizon 5. While it’s worth noting that those numbers will include people who played for a few minutes and didn’t stick around, it speaks to the pull of the just-download-it-and-give-it-a-whirl model.
Both games can be played without any direct cost; Horizon 5 is available on the Xbox Game Pass subscription service, which has around 25 million subscribers according to Microsoft, and Halo Infinite’s multiplayer uses a free-to-play model (though non-Game Pass subscribers will have to buy the campaign…
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Plaid, the service used by Venmo, Acorns, Robinhood, and more, may owe you some money

Venmo is just one of the many apps that uses Plaid to link your bank account. | Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images If you’ve connected your bank account to financial apps like Robinhood, Acorns, Venmo, American Express, Coinbase, and Credit Karma, you may be entitled to some cash, according to a report by Fast Company.
Plaid, the financial service these apps (and 5,500 others) use to link your bank account, has settled a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of collecting more financial data from users than necessary. The suit also alleges Plaid obtained users’ bank login information “through its user interface, known as ‘Plaid Link,’ which had the look and feel of the user’s own bank account login screen.” In reality, users were inputting their information “directly to Plaid.” Plaid denies these claims and says it was transparent with its…
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Dark Souls 3 exploit could let hackers take control of your entire computer

A dangerous remote code execution (RCE) exploit found in Dark Souls 3 could let a bad actor take control of your computer, according to a report from Dexerto. The vulnerability only puts PC gamers who play online at risk and may potentially affect Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, and the upcoming Elden Ring.
The exploit was seen in action during The__Grim__Sleeper’s Twitch stream of Dark Souls 3 online. At the end of the stream (1:20:22), The__Grim__Sleeper’s game crashes, and the robotic voice belonging to Microsoft’s text-to-speech generator suddenly starts criticizing his gameplay. The__Grim__Sleeper then reports that Microsoft PowerShell opened by itself, a sign that a hacker used the program to run a script that triggered the…
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Blizzard boss details what the studio is doing to ‘rebuild your trust’

Blizzard chief Mike Ybarra posted a blog about the changes on Thursday. | Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Blizzard Entertainment, the developer of huge franchises like Diablo and Overwatch, has been under intense scrutiny since California sued parent company Activision Blizzard last summer over allegedly fostering a culture of harassment and discrimination. In an attempt to assure employees and fans that the company is making positive changes, Blizzard boss Mike Ybarra published a blog post detailing what it is doing to “rebuild your trust.”
At the top of the list is that executive and management teams will be measured “directly against culture improvement,” which means that their compensation will “depend on our overall success in creating a safe, inclusive, and creative work environment at Blizzard,” Ybarra says.
He also outlined new…
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Roku outage leads to frozen TVs and unresponsive devices

Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge Roku experienced a significant service disruption on Wednesday evening, which resulted in some of the company’s streaming devices and even Roku TVs getting stuck on the loading screen or going through a reboot loop and becoming effectively useless. Roku TV sets from TCL, Hisense, and other manufacturers were affected.
Users took to social media and Roku’s subreddit to report problems with their Roku hardware, and Down Detector showed a spike for Roku’s services. The company’s support account acknowledged the ongoing issues at around 8:30PM ET.
“Roku is aware of an issue reported by users who are unable to access some Roku services,” the company said. “If you are trying to activate your device, please try again later. Our priority is to…
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Looks like FedEx won’t be adding lasers to its airplanes

Photo by BENOIT DOPPAGNE/BELGA/AFP via Getty Images It looks like the FAA may have made a whoopsie. Remember when the US aviation authority suggested that FedEx might possibly potentially maybe be able to stick a laser onto its cargo planes to knock missiles out of the sky? Yeah, no: “further internal study is necessary,” the FAA wrote on Thursday (via Reuters), adding that the proposal “is not moving forward at this time.”
Before you say that of course the FAA wasn’t going to let a private company mount a frickin’ laser beam (sorry, old reference) to their airplanes, you should know that we’re not exactly talking about the kind of high-energy solid state lasers that can literally blast things till they catch fire and/or explode — though the US military has certainly tested those sorts…
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Samsung announces first smartphone chip with AMD ray tracing GPU

Samsung has announced the Exynos 2200, its new in-house mobile processor for smartphones. It’s the first mobile system-on-a-chip to include a GPU with AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics architecture, enabling features like hardware-accelerated ray tracing.
The collaboration with AMD has been long in the making. The two companies first announced a licensing deal in 2019, then AMD confirmed last year that Samsung’s “next flagship mobile SoC” would use RDNA 2. Samsung recently teased an announcement event for the Exynos 2200 that was supposed to take place on January 11th, but it was mysteriously delayed.
The Exynos 2200 is manufactured on Samsung’s 4nm EUV process. Samsung is branding this GPU as “Xclipse,” and AMD’s SVP of Radeon GPU tech David Wang…
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Walmart is getting serious about the metaverse

Walmart’s recent trademark applications suggest that it wants to break into the metaverse. | Photo by Yichuan Cao / NurPhoto via Getty Images Walmart appears to be getting ready for a leap into the metaverse. Recent trademark applications indicate the company is looking to establish its own NFTs and cryptocurrency, according to a report from CNBC.
The retail giant filed for several trademarks on December 30th, suggesting plans to start selling virtual goods, including electronics, toys, appliances, sporting equipment, apparel, home decor, and more, as noted by CNBC. There’s mention of offering customers a digital currency, as well as the opportunity to buy and sell NFTs. Meanwhile, another application details possible “physical fitness training services” and “classes in the field of health and nutrition” that could take place in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality…
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Google might’ve accidentally approved an ad for a Target gift card scam

Photo by Michael Loccisano / Getty Images Most of us check our gift card balances online (because who actually keeps those receipts that tell us how much money we have left on them?), making an apparent oversight by Google all the worse. It appears that Google inadvertently approved a prominent ad for a phony Target gift card balance checker that’s meant to steal your funds.
A Reddit user on r/assholedesign discovered the slip-up when searching Google for “Target gift card balance” on mobile, and found that the very first result is an ad, titled “Check Gift Card Balance – Target.” Only, the site isn’t Target — it’s actually a site called “bristolhirevan.” The ad’s description says it will let you check your gift card balance “immediately,” and that it also offers “all van sizes…
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The best noise-canceling headphone deals

Sennheiser’s Momentum Wireless 3 headphones are just $241 instead of $399.99 at Adorama. With many people working from home than they used to, owning a good pair of noise-canceling headphones has become more appealing than ever. However, they can be expensive and difficult to shop for due to the range of available models, many of which cater to different lifestyles and priorities. Some are better suited for long-haul flights, while others are ideal for multitasking and marathon listening sessions.
That’s why we’ve curated this list of the best deals on noise-canceling headphones. Here, you’ll find sales on all kinds of on-ear and over-ear headphones, all of which are designed to eliminate outside noise but come with their own strengths and weaknesses. And if you want to do even more research before making a buying decision,…
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