Author - MondoPest

Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 Review (Tech)

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Creative Lab’s Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 is a very intriguing device. Part karaoke machine, part Sound Blaster, part NFC speaker, part battery bank, part mobile conferencing speaker, part voice recorder, part megaphone, and part MP3 player. When pieced out, this should add up to about a $1000 dollars. Creative Labs has managed to squeeze all of these features into a white monolith about the size of a large diameter candle that will retail for about $300 dollars (less with the current holiday promotion).

One must first ask why would they need a device like this. The nice thing about the Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 being as capable as it is becomes clear when looking at those features – there is at least one thing that it can do that a person might be interested in. For many people, multiple features will be appealing. In my case, I am a hardcore PC gamer that does not need to use it as a Sound Blaster, but the Bluetooth speaker and conferencing options really appeal to me. Everyone is different.

In terms of design, the Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 follows the same basic shape as its sister products in the Axx line – the biggest difference being its smaller size and white coloring. It has the attractive touch-based control pad on the top of the device as well as some switches and buttons on the back of the unit to control power, recording, and megaphone features. Functionally, the Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 is simple and straightforward to use and displays high quality in every respect. The megaphone option is overwhelmingly loud when turned all the way up and the AXX 200 allows users to insert a blank MicroSD memory card into it in order to play music or record voice notes.

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You can even plug your computer into the AXX 200 via USB cable and your PC will use it as a full-fledged sound card. The AXX 200 features Creative Labs SB-Axx1 multi-core audio processor and puts out some very good quality audio. This would make a great speaker system/sound card for your gaming laptop or even to plug the audio output of your backyard projector into for family movie nights.

Cooler still is that the AXX 200 is a Near Field Communication speaker system – so, if your mobile device supports that, you will have no problem pairing them up. If you are like me and only have Apple mobile devices, then you can still interface with the speaker system via Bluetooth. In fact, the Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 has two Bluetooth channels so that you can connect two devices to it at the same time. The idea behind this is that you can be gaming on your tablet with its audio piping through the AXX 200, then seamlessly switch over to a conference call as the AXX 200 is also connected to your phone. Why wouldn’t you just use your phone for the conference call? The AXX 200 features four microphones to pickup voices from all around the conference table. It also utilizes Creative Labs Crystal Voice technology to eliminate background noise and provide more clear voice traffic. In my testing the device, I was blown away by how nice the quality is – it was actually distractingly-good in comparison to dedicated teleconferencing units I have used.

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While the Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 has a lengthy battery life of up to 15 hours, you can also use its stored energy to charge your mobile device. Just plug it into the USB port and it will start the electrons flowing. This makes the AXX 200 a great backup battery if you are every stranded without access to a wall or car outlet. Personally, I am going to pack this in my CES bag for when I need to recharge my phone on the fly.

We were also able to check out the charging dock, which is sold separately. I highly recommend picking this up as it provides a nice base station to set your AXX 200 on when not in use that charges it up as well. The only thing that would have made the charging dock better was if it used a smooth charging pad a la the late and underrated Palm Pre. The current charging solution had two little pins that stick up from the charging dock that touch two little points on the AXX 200 which are revealed when the bottom of the device is opened up via small plate.

I can see myself taking the AXX 200 with me if I ever get to go hiking again. You could easily signal for help using the megaphone option, keep your phone charged with it for when you get in range of a cellular tower, or just play some tunes on it if you are camping. Overall, the Sound BlasterAxx Axx 200 portable sound system is a very cool sound solution that will replace a great many device types. It is available now for about $149, while is a special and limited time holiday price point. Once the special over, the price will be back at its MSRP of $299. You can find out more about the Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 over at its official product page.

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Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 Features

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Darkout Gets Launch Trailer

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Leamington Spa, United Kingdom – 27 November, 2013 – Independent micro studio Allgraf today announced that its sandbox science-fiction action-release Darkout will launch on PC digital download channel Steam on December 4th. Set on a remote, undiscovered planet, Darkout features a sandbox environment, where players progress through randomly generated 2D levels as they research, build, and defend themselves against alien beings that roam the darkness. Darkout will be available on Steam from December 4th for $14 .99, £9.99, €11.99.

“Commencing with a stunning new intro, and offering a new cast of enemies with a deeper storyline, we are excited to announce the release of the first Darkout stage on Steam”, said Adrian Banninga, CEO of Allgraf, “We know players will savour this heart pounding survival experience and look forward to expanding the universe in future iterations.”

Darkout Stage 1 launches with a revitalised focus and polish that moves the genre to a new level. A new and intuitive storyline, including the introducing of a new male character, complete with voice overs creates an immersive play experience. The launch of a new item database, allows players to control every aspect of their game experience to ensure the best chance of survival, by improving performance with crafting, storage and containers. Stage 1 also includes the introduction of revamped AI and new lighting enhances mining and exploration on the surface and in the city.

As the sole survivor of an escape pod crash, Darkout presents the ultimate challenge – to survive a brutal life threatening post apocalyptic environment, deserted by mankind after disaster struck. The game’s sandbox technology presents randomly generated levels with austere settings where the fight to stay alive is just one objective. Players must research, build and defend themselves against alien, light-sensitive beings that become more hostile as night falls. Periods of twilight allow players limited security to explore, rebuild, craft weapons and gather resources, whilst developing personalised strategies to survive in a hostile terrain. Finding and interacting with items whilst assimilating intuitively presented stats screens must be strategically balanced for your ongoing welfare. Every decision has a consequence so you must keep one step ahead.

Multiplayer is currently in development to offer players more dimensions of gameplay and a competitive twist. Future stages in development will present an enigmatic and evolving storyline together with Underwater Biome, Sky Base, Feral Jungle, Penguin Drones, more Bosses, Unique Treasures, and much more as the Darkout universe expands to a captivating finale.

For information on Darkout please visit the official site: www.darkoutgame.com/

Follow Darkout on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DarkoutGame

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World of Tanks Named an Official WCG 2013 Discipline

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November 27, 2013 — Wargaming, the award-winning videogame developer and publisher, today announced that World of Tanks has been selected as an official discipline at the World Cyber Games 2013, taking place November 28th through December 1st in Kunshan, China.

“Watching World of Tanks take the world of eSports by storm has been truly amazing,” said Global eSports Director at Wargaming Jonghyuk Baak. “Being selected as an official discipline of this year’s World Cyber Games is truly a testament not only to the popularity of World of Tanks around the world, but also to a clear sign of its continued success in competitive gaming.”

The best tankers in the world will converge on the international championship to compete for a prize pool that includes $35,000, $21,000 and $7,000 for the top three finishing teams, respectively. In total, 16 national teams will compete in the Grand Finals, with all of the intense team-based action being live streamed online.

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5.11 Tactical Maverick Assaulter’s Belt Review (Airsoft)

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The 5.11 Tactical’s Maverick Assaulter Belt has made some waves in the airsoft community, where a good TAC belt is hard to come by. Many low-end equipment-makers prey upon unsuspecting airsoft players with low prices and high promises. The airsoft player will use the gear a few times and find it already has tearing and wear marks. The Assaulter’s Belt from 5.11 Tactical, however, is the real deal – literally, as 5.11 Tactical makes actual duty gear. What this means for the airsoft player is that, while their prices are high, the quality is very good and able to take some serious punishment.

The 5.11 Tactical Maverick Assaulter’s Belt comes in two color flavors: Black and Sandstone, and in multiple sizes. One of the more unique features of this belt is its overall shape. If looked at from the side, the belt actually has a slight chamfer to it. This is to mold itself more naturally to the shape of the human hip. The end result is a very contoured and exact fit which sits on the user’s hips.

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Its made from very strong nylon and features a hearty AustriAlpine “Cobra” buckle system. This buckle system is very reliable, and can only be unbuckled by pressing the two tabs. I got the chance to use the Maverick Assaulter’s Belt through several games over the course of two days of play in very rugged terrain. The belt’s Cobra buckle held tight and, thanks to the “fit and forget” strap system, never lost its sizing – unlike less expensive, BDU style belts that I have used and have to adjust throught the day as I move about. The biggest drawback I found in this belt was that it did not fit through some of the belt pads I have due to the shape and size of its buckle as well as loop. I had to force it through the 5.11 Tactical VTAC Brokos belt, MOLLE segment by MOLLE segment. Eventually, however, it did get through to the other end.

The nice thing about pairing the Maverick Assaulter’s Belt with the 5.11 Tactical VTAC Brokos belt is that they both have that 5.11 Tactical belt chamfer I mentioned earlier. This means that they wont bunch up strangely as their form follows each other’s basic shape. Additionally, I am excited to try this Assaulter’s Belt with the new HSGI Sure-grip Padded Belt that we have coming our way to review. My hypothesis is that the two products would compliment each other very well.

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Overall, I have found the 5.11 Tactical Maverick Assaulter’s Belt to be more than up to the task of getting me through long-engagement airsoft games in rugged terrain. The belt retails for about $90 dollars and is available now over at Evike’s website and other retailers. While more expensive than traditional BDU and pad belts, its durability and reliability makes up for the cost in spades.

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A4tech Bloody V7 Gaming Mouse Review (Peripherals)

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While at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, I got approached by a rep from A4Tech to review one of their “Bloody” PC gaming mice. With an eye-catching, bloody hand print logo on the side of their booth, I had to agree and check one out. After having the chance to use the mouse for a few weeks, my report is, for the most part, a positive one. Retailing for roughly $40 dollars at sites like Amazon.com, the A4tech Bloody V7 gaming mouse packs quite a few novel features into its design.

The first of its unique features is that of its three “Core” buttons, located underneath its middle mouse button. The first setting/button is called “Core 1” and, in this mode, the mouse functions as a normal gaming mouse. Activating the second Core button enables the mouse to burst-mode where pressing the middle Core button fire two shots instead of one, and the third Core button fires a three-round burst. Obviously, this mouse is geared for shooter games. These burst mode operations actually work rather well, and reminds me of the “Turbo Buttons” from the NES Max game controller for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. The third Core operation is where the controversy surrounding this mouse comes into play. In this mode, you are able to manipulate the recoil effect of firing your virtual weapon on the mouse cross-hairs – both stationary and when strafing around. Some gamers will argue that this presents an unfair advantage to users of this mouse as “Scout Mode” did for users of certain Creative Labs sound cards. Are they right? Well, that’s for another article. The important thing in talking about this feature with the A4tech Bloody V7 is that it actually works. It takes a lot of tweaking to get it just right but, once you do, you WILL notice that recoil will not trouble you like before.

The most annoying features of this gaming mouse comes from its pay-for-more Core 3 software functionality. You do get the Core 3 functionality as a free trial at first, good for 1,000 clicks. But, when that’s over with, you have to pay an additional $20 dollars to keep using it. This is NOT the way to market a gaming mouse to Western Audiences. I would much rather have seen A4tech add a few dollars onto the price of the entire mouse, which retails for only $40 dollars, and give you the full functionality.

There is another feature that brings a lot of value to this mouse, and that’s the dust cover which protects its 3,200 DPI sensor from getting obstructed. It doesn’t seem like this would be all that amazing of a feature, but it’s something that many gaming mouse-makers do not have on their models, so it is worth mentioning. Additionally, the mouse features a no-fray, braided cable which is always nice to have.

Overall, the A4tech Bloody V7 gaming mouse is very good at performing its “Core” functions and providing an edge to the user – once you configure it properly. However, the pay-to-play business model that the company has included in this mouse is a real turn-off for gamers – especially when it is not advertised very well that you will need to pay extra on its box. I am awarding this a 4 out of 5 ONLY if you purchase the added functionality. Without that, I would have to rate it as a 3 out of 5.

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Tactical Universal Clip Review (Airsoft)

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The TUC base plate attached to a Flyye Industries LT6094 plate carrier

I was recently browsing through the “Sling” section of an online airsoft retailer and came across a product called the Tactical Universal Clip. I was intrigued, as it looked nothing like the other slings listed on the website and, after reading up on the product, discovered that it was a new type of rifle holster. The system consists of two parts: A base plate made from high-strength Nylon 6-6, and a stock tube and pin assembly made from two different kinds of alloys (one of which is the same alloy used to cast the historic Pioneer Plaque).

Getting the Tactical Universal Clip ready to use is very simple. The install process of the base plate should be familiar enough to anyone who has threaded MOLLE weave before – easier, actually, as the base plate itself has no MOLLE webbing on it. You simply thread the two included velcro straps through your MOLLE/PALS rows and then sit the base plat over them. Cinch up the two velcro straps and the plate is ready for usage. Getting the stock tube clamp installed is also very easy.

The clamp screws down around the buffer tube of your favorite M4 style airsoft gun, or variant. The instructions do mention the usage of a thread adhesive to make sure none of the screws loosen with heavy usage, and I definitely recommend this as well. I used my airsoft rifle with the Tactical Universal Clip for the entirety of a day over at SC Viper and, every so often, I found myself having to hand-tighten the pin screw a bit. I got home, put some adhesive on the pin and let it set overnight. The next day, I went on back out to the airsoft field and the pin gave me no further trouble.

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The TUC buffer tube clamp attached to a Umarex/VFC 416 CQB

Using the Tactical Universal Clip for several hours, it definitely saved me a lot of the fatigue that sets in after holding one’s rifle at low ready for long periods of time. Because of this, my arms felt fresh when I had to draw it and take aim during matches. Also, I noted that drawing a rifle from the Tactical Universal Clip seemed much smoother when compared to bringing up a rifle attached to a one point sling. With a sling, I usually have to keep an eye out on it to make sure it doesn’t snag on any of my gear. The Tactical Universal Clip does not suffer from this issue. Also, changing hands mid-game was very easy – again, thanks to not having to worry about a sling getting tangled up in my gear.

Transitioning from my rifle to a sidearm while using the Tactical Universal Clip, having to re-seat the rifle into the clip, was definitely slower than just dropping my rifle to the side when it is attached with a sling. However, by the end of the first day, I felt a lot more comfortable with this movement and saw a lot of improvement to my reaction time in doing so. I believe that with additional practice, my time would get comparable to using a rifle with a sling.

We got the chance to ask Nelson Ascano, creator of the Tactical Universal Clip, some questions regarding its design, usage, and more:

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Q) Tell us a bit about the creation of the Tactical Universal Clip – what was the design process like? How did you come up with the idea?

A) The design process took approximately six to seven months. The first step was to have an engineer draft the prototype of both the chest plate and the rifle clip. This was saved into an STL file. I contacted a company that does 3D printing and I had them made me a sample of both the chest plate and the rifle clip using an ABS plastic. I had the ABS sample made first because of the cost and also the time. The ABS model was done within two days. This was to make sure that it would fit the AR15 buffer tube and the chest plate was the right size before we produced them with the actual material. I tested the ABS model and found a few glitches. Some changes were made from that initial model and the engineer revised it. This process took about two to three months.

A manufacturer in Orange County made the first prototype. The prototype went through research and development. Different SWAT team members and patrol officers from local police departments, Federal Agents, and military from both active and retired members tested the first produced prototype. Some suggested changes to the design and we did. I went back to the engineer and he revised the model again. Seven months later, we had the final product. The manufacturer for the Tactical Universal Clip is actually based out of Santa Fe Springs, California.

The idea came about when my department had its AR15 training. During the rifle training, I had a hard time engaging the threat because the sling was in the way and it was getting caught on my gear. The sling kept my movement restricted and I wasn’t able to have the range of motion that I wanted. I hard a hard time transitioning from my right hand to the left. My neck and shoulder bothered me because the sling would constantly rub on my neck and put pressure on my shoulder. I was constantly fiddling with the sling. I thought to myself that there should be a better way of carrying a rifle.

Then I thought about the whole concept of the rifle. The rifle should be free from any sling or any type of tender when being used. Just like your sidearm. I should be able to point that rifle anywhere I wish quickly and without any interference from a sling or any type of tender. If you think about it, the sling can actually cost you your life if your rifle happened to get caught on your gear or person and you are not able to engage a threat in time.

If you are in a combat situation and live rounds are coming at you, the last thing you want is the rifle slung on your body restricting you and not being able to have the full range of motion.

With all this in mind, I thought about a contraption that can carry your rifle without a sling. The Tactical Universal Clip was born.

Q) Can you tell us the number of or any specific agencies/organizations which have adopted or approved the TUC for use in the field?

A) A military unit is currently using the TUC right now. I am not able to disclose who they are due to their request and liability reason. All I can tell you is they are an elite unit. Federal Agents from various Federal agencies and police departments are currently equipped with the TUC system also. Again I am not able to disclose who they are due to their request.

Q) What are the benefits of using Velcro as a MOLLE/PALS strap as opposed to a fabric like Cordura, etc?

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A) The Velcro that we used is more versatile and can be adjusted as desired. It is strong and durable. I am not familiar with Cordura.

Q) Is there any difference in reaction time going from rifle to pistol using the TUC as opposed to a 1-point sling?

A) There are different variables when you transition from rifle to pistol. You have to take into consideration of the type of your environment you are in. But what it all comes down to is practice. The more you practice the more you become proficient with your equipment. With the TUC system you can transition as fast as a one point sling as long as you practice. You can have a one point sling and if you don’t practice with it then you don’t become proficient.

One thing I can say is that the TUC system is faster when engaging a threat and that is one of the advantages of using this system. Easy access to your rifle without worrying about getting caught on your gear or person.

Q) What’s next for the Tactical Universal Clip? Are there any weapon platforms that you guys would like to or are currently planning to make clips for?

A) Yes we do have the Universal Attachment for rifles with flat buttstock. You can check out the website under TAC system and see it on a Remington 870 shotgun and Ruger 10/22 rifle.

Q) What are some of the hurdles you foresee in the TUC becoming more widely used?

A) I see complaints as far as the retail cost of the product. The chest plate is from a block of Nylon 6 6 and it is CNC’d, or basically carved, to shape. The chest plate is done individually and takes many hours to make. The Velcro is not your typical Velcro as it is made from a high quality material. The rifle clip is made from 6061 T6 2024 aircraft grade alloy. The rifle clip is also CNC’d to its shape. All the materials that are used to produce the TUC are made in USA. The manufacturer is also in the USA. It comes with a lifetime warranty. If anything breaks just bring it back and we will replace it no questions ask. I believe in the saying “you get what you paid for”. Personally, I don’t want an equipment that will fail on me because I don’t want to spend that extra dollars.

I put my life on the line at work and I depend on my equipment to perform. I carry a Glock 22 because, number one, I like this weapon and I’m very proficient with it. Number two, I know that this weapon fires every time I pull the trigger. What I’m trying to point out is that I am willing to pay more for something that’s a good piece of quality equipment rather than trying to save money.

Q) Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers about the TUC?

A) The TUC system is a new, innovative rifle holster. I know that when a new idea comes out, people are skeptical about it. I understand from their standpoint. I sold a lot of them already and have gotten a lot of positive reviews and feedback from them. You have to definitely have to try it for yourself in order to appreciate the TUC system. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives. Of course, it is not going to be for everyone, but all I am saying is for people to give it a try and then make an honest opinion.

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We would like to thank Nelson Ascano for taking the time out of his schedule to answer our questions.

While the Tactical Universal Clip definitely offers a lot of benefit to the real-world law enforcement officer, soldier, or operator – the device also adds a lot of benefit to the airsoft player. However, there are a couple of aspects that an airsoft player needs to consider that a soldier or law enforcement officer doesn’t necessarily. First is that the base plate unit takes up about a 3×3 section of MOLLE/PALS space which could instead be utilized by a small admin panel or other various pouch – so, there is a trade-off when it comes to MOLLE real estate. Thankfully, you could attach whatever pouch you lost with the base plate to a combat belt, etc. Secondly, the  retail price of the Tactical Universal Clip system is about $80 dollars at online retailers like Evike and AirsoftExtreme – a price that might be a bit too expensive for the weekend airsoft player. With that in mind, this device definitely needs to be considered an investment that will last you throughout your career as an airsoft player. When you consider that a good single point sling can cost up to $50 or $60 dollars, an $80 dollar purchase that wont get caught up in your gear is a godsend.

After using this product for a couple hardcore days of playing airsoft, I have officially been converted from using my standard sling. It is with this in mind that we are awarding the Tactical Universal Clip 5 out of 5 stars and granting it our Seal of Excellence. It is a revolution in rifle sling/holster solutions and it is easy to see why real world military and police organisations are taking notice. You can find the Tactical Universal Clip over at airsoft stores like Evike as well as on its own official website.

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AirSplat Fan Appreciation Day 2013 Overview

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Today marked AirSplat’s 2013 Fan Appreciation Day, which took place at the indoor airsoft arena, TacCity, in Fullerton, CA. The event began early this morning and went until 5:00pm. There were raffles, hammer tosses, product demos, vendor booths, a food truck, and all-day airsoft inside the venue. At 2:00pm, AirSplat hosted an airsoft game with customers facing off against employees and sponsors (including the poor sap from GamingShogun.com). So, the battle would be against the 20 or so of us vs about 50 customers. 300 much?!? Being an indoor arena, I had to make use of my lower-FPS airsoft gun, a KWA M226 PTP. Having only four magazines, I was severely out-gunned by throngs of folks armed with sub-machine guns and lower-FPS M4 airsoft guns. How did I do? Well, in the two games I played (leaving because I was all out of BBs), I managed to hit four people. Victory! Well, not really, as our team lost both games against the massive OPFOR. However, for a first-time pistol-only player, I hung in there longer than I expected.

What did this teach me? Well, first, it showed me first-hand just how versatile a pistol can be in allowing a player to move quickly around the airsoft arena. Also, I learned that thanks to the pistol’s small frame, it does not stick out as much as a larger gun – meaning I was less of a target. Knowing that I was going to be out-gunned for the event, I had loaded up my magazines with .25g BBs, the max for the venue. This would decrease my FPS slightly, but make each shot a lot more accurate. I apologize for the younger person who I shot in the left shoulder and left a mean welt (even though you were on the other team). My advice: Wear some sort of a vest next time instead of a white t-shirt and please don’t show your Mom or Dad that welt. It looked terrible (Note from legal: GamingShogun.com does not endorse or condone keeping things from your parents or guardians)!

In any event, the AirSplat Fan Appreciation Day was a lot of fun and we met some great people whom we hope to see again on the airsoft field in the future.

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John Riccitiello Leaving Electronic Arts

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The Associate Press is reporting that Electronic Arts CEO, John Riccitiello, is stepping down on March 30th. The report claims the CEO, who has led EA since 2007, broke the news to the company in an official letter to its employees.

“My decision to leave EA is really all about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year,” Riccitiello wrote in a message to EA employees. “It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable.”

Also according to the report, upon news of Riccitiello’s leaving, the company stock rose 67 cents a share.