Long ago, a new games platform launched, the Humble Bundle. Founded by Wolfire Games, this new service sold bundles of indie games on a pay what you want scale with proceeds split between developers and charity. Purchasers of the bundles could choose to give all the sale price to the charities, or split the cost between the charities and developers, or anything in between. this novel sales approach lead to a huge success of the Humble Bundle and helped raise millions for charity.
Category: Game Controversies
On June 26th, the Ouya servers were finally shut down. After that day, there is no more store, no more updates, and no more games that rely on DRM in order to play. Razer in its announcement said it was up to the developers to decide how the games were going to be treated after the shutdown, and they had until that day to push out an update to fix any DRM issues.
But like any DRM that relies on a server check, some games on the Ouya store are no longer playable. I hopped on my Ouya yesterday to see what the state of the machine was. I wanted to see if any of the games I had were still playable. What I found was a huge mixed bag.
Yesterday, Niantic, the developers of Pokemon Go, announced a new product aimed at giving parents better control over how their kids use Pokemon Go, and potentially other Niantic games. Niantic Kids is a login system developed in partnership with SuperAwesome. It is billed as a away for parents to manage what their kids can do.
Parents can register with Niantic Kids to manage their child’s privacy via the parent portal. Niantic Kids helps you review and approve your child’s permissions before they can play and provides options to control the personal information shared in Pokémon GO.
They don’t mention any specifics here, but the consensus among parent of kids who play Pokemon Go is that this could mean that Niantic is finally going to let parents decide if their under 13 kids can use the friend feature.
Among the many classic blunders in this world, the most famous of which is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia’ and only slightly less well-known ‘Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line’, is the killing off one of your most popular products at the height of its life. Sadly, it seems that Nintendo has fallen victim to the latter blunder (of course Nintendo being a Japanese company may have been involved at one time or another in the first one). In a statement sent to IGN, Nintendo of America has ended production of the NES Classic Edition and after April you will never see them on shelves again, that is if you ever saw them there to begin with. (UPDATE: Japan’s version of the NES Classic Edition, a mini Famicom with a slightly different lineup of games, has ended production as well.)
The NES Classic Edition is the hit holiday product from Nintendo that bundled 30 classic NES games into a cute console with the old NES look. It even came with controllers that resembled the original NES controllers. People loved this thing so much that any units that stores got were quickly snatched up and immediately listed to ebay at double to triple markup. Few people who actually wanted one to play the darn thing got one. In a statement made in January of this year, Nintendo announced that they had sold a cool 1.5million NES Classics. That means that somewhere in the ballpark of 250k people have one to actually play right now, while 1.25million units are sitting languishing on ebay and Craigslist postings.
But what really gets my goat with this latest news is Nintendo’s completely tone deaf reasons for dropping the system.
For all of us in the United States, January 1st is just New Year’s day. The day the calendar ticks another year. But for people who live outside the US in Canada, Europe and elsewhere, January 1st means something else entirely. It means today is the day that new works enter the Public Domain. This is the day that more of our culture becomes free to distribute, free to build upon , and free to do whatever we want with. Yet, because of terrible copyright laws in the US, we miss out on all this.
Prior to 1978, copyrights lasted only 28 years, with the option to renew them a single time for an additional 28 years. Then in 1978, Congress, under the guidance of companies such as Disney, extended copyrights to last the life of the author plus 50 years. That is what the rest of the world has today. But in 1998, Congress once again, at the bidding of companies like Disney, extend copyrights to last life plus 70 years for human authors and 95 years for corporate owned copyrights. This pushed the US out of line with much of the world and works in the US won’t start entering the Public Domain until 2019.
While Andrew was unable to join me on the Molehill Mountain Podcast this past Saturday, he still had something to say about our signature topic…
I am not a big fan of shopping. I tend to go somewhere, get what I need and leave. Occasionally, when I want to waste some time, I will browse for about 20-30 minutes. But I can’t go to the mall or store and “shop” for hours. This is all during normal business hours.
I used to work in retail. I worked at a game store, EB Games, for a few months, but thankfully not during the holiday season. I also worked at Kohl’s as a sales associate and Target as an overnight stocker both during the Holiday season. And let me tell you, it sucked. At Kohl’s I spent my time dealing with unruly customers and short stock on promotional items. It was a terrible combination. At Target, I avoided the customers, but I had to deal with their messes. Customers would just toss stuff around. They wouldn’t put things back on the shelves when they decided they didn’t want the item they pulled off. Shoes were the worst. Even on normal business hours, shoes are the worst to clean up, but during the holiday season that department looked like a warzone.
Everyone has seen a 555 number in a movie or TV show. The FCC has declared a subset of those numbers for purely fictional uses. They did this so that real people wouldn’t be harassed by people dialing numbers they see in movies. Of course it isn’t perfect. Some producers don’t realize that only the 0100-0199 block of those 555 numbers are dedicated to fiction. Sometimes a tv show or movie, especially one from a smaller producer, will just toss 555 in front of a random 4 digit number and expect they are safe.
While the fictional phone number is an industry standard, there isn’t a similar standard for other communication mediums. Phones aren’t the only means of communication these days. People use email, Twitter, Facebook and other social media to communicate with one another. While a lot of shows will just make up a social media service to use in their fiction, a lot of them are near indistinguishable from their real life counterpart.
Valve really hates me. At least they hate the way I use Steam. They also hate others like me. It’s sad really, but that is the impression I have received from Valve’s recent changes to Steam.
So let’s explore who I am and why that means that Valve hates me. I am a gamer. I love to play games. I have spent many hundreds of dollars on games and who knows how much on consoles. I bought a $1,000 gaming computer four years ago that is still going strong. I have bought a few hundred dollars worth of PC games and play them quite often. The PC is probably my most played gaming system. I have 206 games in my Steam library.
Despite all the above, Valve hates me.
It has been a month since Metroid’s 30th anniversary. People have been clamoring for something from Nintendo to acknowledge this paramount game. Instead, Nintendo sent a DMCA to a remake of Metroid 2. So people were hoping that maybe Nintendo had something else up their sleeves.
Today, Nintendo held another of its Nintendo Direct press events. In this they announced a special anniversary product for a very special franchise. And you will never guess what that franchise is.