LinkedIn Has Games Now

LinkedIn, the social network that is ostensibly about work, now has a space just for playing games. The company launched LinkedIn Games this week after testing the gaming waters earlier this year. The new puzzle and logic games are free, straightforward, and only a little bit of a ripoff of The New York Times’ very popular game offerings.

In a blog post attributed to LinkedIn VP Daniel Roth, the company said the goal of the games is to give users a short mental break while on the platform. (And, of course, the unspoken part: Games keep people on the platform longer and drive engagement.)

Currently, there are three games available. Pinpoint feels like playing a single row of the The New York Times’ Connections games. Crossclimb is a Wordle-esque matching game where you answer clues to solve a larger riddle. Queens is a mashup of chess and Sudoku that annoyed me just enough to ensure that I felt spitefully compelled to finish it no matter what. (I filed this story to my editor late because of it. It’s pretty good.)

Like The New York Times’ games, LinkedIn’s games can be played just once per day. Users can share their scores directly on the platform, in case anyone needs to make posting on LinkedIn even more competitive.

Here’s some other consumer tech news from this week.

Face Plant

Surprise surprise, Razer’s not-so-futuristic light-up face mask is bad, actually. Razer is known for its use of colorful RGB lightning in just about all of its products, even though the flashy display scheme proved somewhat underwhelming on its Zephyr face mask. Even worse, the company claimed the mask had the equivalent filtration qualities of an N95 mask, which can filter out harmful particles as well as viruses.

Turns out, that capability was never formally tested. Now, the Federal Trade Commission has ordered the company to pay for making these claims about the mask’s capabilities, forcing the company to refund the money of every customer who bought one—to the tune of over a million dollars. ($1,071,254.33 to be exact.)

The company first sold its $99 device in October 2021, deep in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Zephyr capitalized on a fear of infection that was still very much top of mind for many people. Razer claimed the mask could filter out particles, including Covid-carrying particles, just as well as any standard N95 mask. But, as the FTC says, the company never submitted it for certification with NIOSH, the US safety agency that certifies all N95 standards. Now the company has to pay for that error.

Peloton Problems

Peloton, the connected-exercise-equipment company that became a huge hit with wealthy people confined in their homes during the pandemic, has had some trouble in recent years. Peloton first rolled into financial issues in 2021, when demand for its products waned and its stock price plummeted. Now the company has hit an even slipperier slope.

In the space of a couple of days, Peloton announced the departure of its CEO, Barry McCarthy, and that it would be laying off 15 percent of its workforce—nearly 400 employees. It’s not a great look for a company that once seemed set to revolutionize the home-exercise-equipment industry.

Hybrid Theory

Used to be that when someone said “hybrid” you’d think of the Toyota Prius, for better or worse. Hybrids were always the pudgy, weird little vehicle that maybe didn’t fit the typical idea of a “cool car.” At least that’s how the category was defined before a new wave of hybrid vehicles started to swell into the market. Now, hybrids are becoming cool; there’s even a souped-up Lamborghini plug-in hybrid. These gas-electric machines are also more popular than ever in the US, thanks to some government mandates that urge automakers to move toward a zero-emission future.

This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED staff writer Aarian Marshall joins the show to talk about how hybrids are taking over the American vehicle market.

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