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LEGO builds on Avengers

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Warner Bros, TT Games, LEGO and Marvel have launched LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, a new super hero adventure that allows players to relive moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe through six Marvel Studios films.

Interactive Entertainment, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is now available for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 computer entertainment systems, PlayStation Vita handheld entertainment system, Xbox One, Xbox 360, the Wii U system from Nintendo, the Nintendo 3DS family of systems and PC.

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is the first video game to feature storylines from the critically-acclaimed film Marvel’s The Avengers and its hit sequel Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, as well as playable content based on additional Marvel Studios blockbusters, including Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel’s Iron Man 3, Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World and Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

“LEGO Marvel’s Avengers celebrates the thrilling world of Avengers as only a LEGO game can,” said Tom Stone, Managing Director, TT Games. “Players of all ages will be able to experience their favourite Marvel moments in a brand new way, through six different blockbuster films across the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while also exploring an incredible amount of classic Avengers characters and content from famed Marvel Comics, all with our unique LEGO style and humour. It’s an epic combination for fans and newcomers alike.”

“Both the LEGO and Marvel brands appeal to fans of all ages through a multitude of retail, media and interactive channels,” said Peter Phillips, EVP/GM, Interactive & Digital Distribution, Marvel Entertainment. “With the incredible success of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, focusing on Marvel Cinematic Universe characters and stories in LEGO Marvel’s Avengers was a natural fit for fans and the business.”

In LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, gamers can play and unlock more than 200 characters, with over 100 new characters that have not appeared in a LEGO videogame before. For the first time, players can execute incredible Avengers Team-Up Moves resulting in incredible combos when using core Avengers, including Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Hulk, Thor and Iron Man.

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers also features a unique take on open world gameplay, with eight different environments to explore within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including the expansive streets of Marvel’s New York, as well as Asgard, Barton’s Farm, Malibu, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Base Exterior, Sokovia, South Africa and Washington, D.C. Players can freely roam around these open world locations using brand new gameplay mechanics, allowing Hulk to super jump off skyscrapers, Quicksilver to speed run over water or even play as giant characters, like the menacing Fing Fang Foom, who can grow to the size of tall buildings. Open World Manhattan will also be available on handheld consoles for the first time so fans can enjoy the sprawling concrete jungle on the go, anytime, anywhere.

The Season Pass, which is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC, can be purchased separately and features content packs based on Marvel properties, including Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Masters of Evil.

Fans can also enjoy DLC packs based on the upcoming Marvel Studios films Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War and the recently released Marvel’s Ant-Man, available as a FREE download exclusively for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 players for a limited time. Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War DLC pack is available starting today and Marvel’s Ant-Man DLC pack will launch later this spring.

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is rated 13V and is now available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One at a suggested retail price of R699, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 at a suggested retail price of R599, PlayStation Vita at a suggested retail price of R499 and Nintendo 3DS and PC at a suggested retail price of R399.

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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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