European court: Nintendo doesn’t have to offer refunds for digital pre-orders – Blog – 10 minute

In context: Nintendo has been on a hot streak in the legal arena lately. Just yesterday, the company managed to convince a federal court to overturn a previous ruling that would have forced it to pay out roughly $10 million as part of a prior patent dispute judgement. Now, a European court has ruled in the video game giant’s favor as well.
For roughly two years, according to Norwegian gaming site PressFire, Nintendo has been locked in a legal dispute (Google Translated version here) with Norwegian and German “consumer authorities” regarding digital game refunds.
Specifically, refunds for digital game pre-orders. Right now, Nintendo does not allow customers to cancel orders for digital games that have not been launched.
“Except as authorized by Nintendo or as required by applicable law, all payments that you make through the Shopping Services (including pre-purchases and Subscription payments) are final and non refundable, and Products may not be returned or exchanged,” Nintendo’s official “Purchase and Subscription Terms” documentation reads.

Like many business practices of Nintendo’s, this refund policy is quite different than that of many others. Even some of the most controversial figures in the gaming industry (we won’t point fingers here) offer full refunds on digital pre-orders.
At any rate, the consumer authorities mentioned before sued Nintendo in the hopes of forcing the company to change its ways. Unfortunately for them and any consumers who felt their cause was just, that suit has failed.
Not only will Nintendo be allowed to retain its current digital pre-order policies, but the plaintiffs will be required to pay the company’s legal fees (standard practice for cases of this magnitude). The plaintiffs have appealed the court’s decision, but it remains to be seen whether or not that will work out.
Image credit: Market Realist, Nintendo Life

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Federal court overturns $10 million Wii Remote patent judgement against Nintendo – Blog – 10 minute

In context: We all know court cases can take a while to resolve, but some last considerably longer than others. Indeed, gaming giant Nintendo has been fighting one legal battle that began way back in 2013. Now, almost seven years later, that fight has come to an end.
Nintendo today announced that a Dallas federal court has ruled in its favor regarding a 2013 patent dispute filed by iLife Technologies Inc. The court says the patents asserted against Nintendo’s technology, the Wii Remote in particular, are “not valid,” and thus cannot be used to sue for damages or other forms of patent infringement-related compensation.
According to Nintendo, iLife was “inpermissibly” attempting to use its early motion sensor patents to cover a broad range of devices. iLife initially seemed to have the advantage in its suit — a jury awarded the company a $10.1 million verdict, but recently, that ruling was overturned.

Frankly, we’re not sure that such a small sum would have made much of a dent in Nintendo’s bottom line. The gaming behemoth is worth billions of dollars nowadays, so $10 million probably would have been little more than a drop in the bucket. Further, it’s possible that Nintendo’s legal fees related to this case already came close to the $10 million mark — skilled corporate lawyers are expensive, and 7 years is a long time to pay for that tier of legal help.
Regardless, Nintendo is obviously pleased with this ruling. “Nintendo has a long history of developing new and unique products, and we are pleased that, after many years of litigation, the court agreed with Nintendo,” Nintendo of America Deputy General Counsel Ajay Singh said in a statement. “We will continue to vigorously defend our products against companies seeking to profit off of technology they did not invent.”
Image credit: Shutterstock (2)

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Metro Redux is coming to the Nintendo Switch next month – Blog – 10 minute

What just happened? Deep Silver and 4A Games have announced a Switch port of their popular Metro series, specifically the Redux versions of Metro 2033 and Last Light. The two-part remake is now available for pre-order and releases on Nintendo’s platform on February 28, 2020.
Fans of Artyom’s adventures in the tunnels of post-apocalyptic Russia are most likely done and dusted with the Metro trilogy, but a revisit to the first two installments might be in order for when they arrive on Nintendo’s console next month.
Metro Redux originally came out in 2014, featuring enhanced graphics and gameplay for Metro 2033 and Last Light. Both remakes were found to be visually impressive and demanding at the time, so it will be interesting to see the optimizations done by 4A Games for the Switch’s rather modest hardware.

Experience Artyom’s Metro on your own metro commute with the Nintendo Switch
For players looking to experience Metro Redux on the Switch, the developer touts these key features:

Immerse yourself in the Moscow Metro – witness one of the most atmospheric worlds in gaming brought to life on Nintendo Switch.
Brave the horrors of the Russian apocalypse – equip your gasmask and an arsenal of hand-made weaponry as you face the threat of deadly mutants, human foes, and the terrifying environment itself.
Two campaigns, and all DLC included – Metro Redux includes two complete campaigns that combine to create one epic solo adventure, plus a further 10 hours of bonus content. Two unique Play Styles and Ranger Mode add hours more replayability!
Two unique Play Styles : ‘Spartan’ and ‘Survival’ – approach the campaign as a slow burn Survival Horror , or tackle it with the combat skills of a Spartan Ranger in these two unique modes.

The Redux collection is available for digital pre-order on Nintendo’s eShop for $60 (individual titles come in at $25 each), which seems a tad expensive for six-year-old games.
There’s also a physical edition, at participating retailers, that comes with “The Ranger Cache” for pre-ordering players and ships with both games on a single 16GB cartridge. Additional goodies include a set of pin badges, a game case sleeve, a double-sided alternate artwork inlay, four double-sided art cards, and an A2 size double-sided poster.
It will be interesting to see if 4A Games ever decides to port its latest Metro Exodus on the Switch. Given the game’s relative recency, it could eventually arrive on Nintendo’s rumored 4K-capable Switch Pro.

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Japan’s Super Nintendo World looks like the perfect theme park for gamers – Blog – 10 minute

Something to look forward to: Ever wished you could be in a real-life video game? This summer, Universal Studios Japan will be offering the closest we may ever get to that fantasy when it opens Super Nintendo World park. Now, new details about the attraction have been released, along with a promo music video from Galantis with Charlie XCX.
The park, which launches ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games, looks as if it’ll be a paradise for Nintendo fans. Along with a real-world Mario Kart experience and the ability to travel around on Yoshi’s back, Bloomberg reports that it’ll feature wearable, Nintendo-themed wrist bands called “Power Up Bands.” These work alongside a smartphone app, offering “interactive experiences” such as collecting digital coins, battling bosses, and competing with others.

Bloomberg reporter Kurumi Mori, who was at the Super Nintendo World press event, tweeted images revealing more of the mobile app. It includes an overhead map of the park that looks like something straight out of a Nintendo title, and visitors can create profiles and unlock achievements.

“A life-size, living video game” — Thierry Coup shows us the new app used to enjoy Super Nintendo World with a wrist band, touting an interactive experience #Nintendo pic.twitter.com/n468l5elnO
— Kurumi Mori (@rumireports) 14 January 2020

Thierry Coup, the chief creative officer of Universal Creative, said that Super Nintendo World would expand beyond Universal Japan to the US sites of Hollywood, California, and Orlando, Florida. No word yet on exactly when it’ll reach America, though.
It might not be as much fun as the theme park, but last year saw another, albeit unofficial, real-world Mario Kart contest take place: Mushroom Rally USA. Heats were held in Miami, Los Angeles, Denver, and Houston, and participants picked a Mario Kart character costume to wear on the day.

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Analyst says a 4K-capable Nintendo Switch Pro will arrive this year – Blog – 10 minute

Through the looking glass: The Nintendo Switch has been a resounding success for the Japanese firm since its launch in 2017, but with the next-gen consoles arriving this holiday season, the hybrid machine’s hardware limitations are becoming more glaring. That could change, however, thanks to a 4K-capable Switch Pro, which one analyst is convinced will launch this year.
In its roundup of analysts’ predictions for 2020, Gameindustry.biz spoke to Dr. Serkan Toto from Kantan Games. He says “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Nintendo will launch a “Switch Pro” in 2020, my guess is at $399.”
Toto believes that a Switch Pro will support 4K resolutions, come with bigger cartridges, and feature more powerful components. He also thinks it will launch just after the summer holidays, thereby beating the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X to market. Additionally, we’ll see a “first-party, system-seller game” arrive alongside the Pro.
Toto had predicted that both the Nintendo Switch Lite and Switch Pro would arrive in 2019, so he was half right. The analyst adds that the relationship between Microsoft and Nintendo will continue, with more of the Windows-maker’s games arriving on the latter’s consoles. He also thinks that Nintendo will release a massive hit game on the mobile platform that comes from another of the company’s franchises, such as Zelda.
No other analysts mentioned a Switch Pro, and Nintendo has been quiet about any new version of its console, so 2020 might not be the year we see a more powerful machine—though Toto seems convinced.
If you or someone you know is buying a Switch, make sure to avoid the Nanica Smitch, a terrible rip-off designed to look like Nintendo’s device.

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Nintendo shows off exercise-powered RPG for Switch, Ring Fit Adventure – gpgmail


Nintendo has been at the crossroads of video games and fitness since the famous Power Pad for the NES, and the Switch is the latest to receive a game powered by physical activity: Ring Fit Adventure. And it actually looks fun!

In the game, you’ll jog in place to advance your character, and perform various movements and exercises to avoid obstacles and defeat enemies. Your quest is to defeat an “evil body-building dragon” who has disrupted the peaceful, apparently very fit world of the protagonist. Sure.

The game comes with a pair of accessories: a ring and leg strap, each of which you slot a Joy-Con into. The two controllers work together to get a picture of your whole body movement, meaning it can be sure you’re keeping your arms out in front of you when you do a squat, and not phoning it in during leg raises.

The ring itself is flexible and can tell how hard you’re squeezing or pulling it— but don’t worry, it can be calibrated for your strength level.

Interestingly, the top button of the controller appears to be able to be used as a heart-rate monitor. That kind of came out of left field, but I like it. Just one more way Nintendo is making its hardware do interesting new things.

ringfit2

There look to be a ton of different movements you’ll be required to do, focusing on different areas of the body: upper, lower, core and some sort of whole-body ones inspired by yoga positions. Ingeniously, some enemies are weak to one or another, and you’ll need to use different ones for other scenarios, so you’re getting a varied workout whether you like it or not.

Meanwhile, your character levels up and unlocks new, more advanced moves — think a lunge instead of a squat, or adding an arm movement to a leg one — and you can get closer to the goal.

ringfit3

There are also minigames and straight-up workouts you can select, which you can do at any time if you don’t feel like playing the actual game, and contribute to your character’s level anyway.

The idea of gamifying fitness has been around for quite a while, and some titles, like Wii Fit, actually got pretty popular. But this one seems like the most in-depth actual game to use fitness as its main mechanic, and critically it is simple and easy enough that even the most slothful among us can get in a session now and then at our own pace.

Ring Fit Adventure will be available October 18 — no pricing yet, but you can probably expect it to be a little above an ordinary Switch game.

You can watch the full-length walkthrough of the game below, but beware — the acting is a little off-putting.


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Nintendo Files Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit Against Another Large ROM Site


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Nintendo owns some of the most iconic intellectual property in games, and it’s taking a stand against ROM sites. After securing a win against two major ROM distributors, Nintendo has set its sights on another website called RomUniverse. Nintendo has filed a lawsuit against the owner of RomUniverse seeking millions of dollars in damages and demanding that the site shut down. 

According to the legal filing, RomUniverse is one of the largest unauthorized distributors of Nintendo games. It also seems to be a particularly brazen enterprise, featuring a Nintendo-themed background and paid memberships (a one-time $30 fee) that allow users to download as much content as they want. Without the membership, you can only download three items per week. RomUniverse also hosts movies and ebooks, and these are direct downloads. At least torrent sites have the advantage of not storing infringing files on their servers. 

Nintendo points to numerous examples of infringing content including ROMs for the current-gen Switch consoleSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce and older systems like the 3DS, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, and NES. Simply having ROM files isn’t illegal, but it’s something of a gray area. You’re probably in the clear if you make backups of games you already own. However, making those ROMs available for download is just asking for trouble, and Nintendo is famously strict about the use of its IP. 

The company’s lawsuit seeks $2 million in damages for trademark infringement across the site plus $150,000 per infringing file. That’s where the damages would really stack up. There are thousands of Nintendo ROMs on the site. Just the selection of Switch titles would push the damages into the tens of millions. In addition to damages, Nintendo demands that the website operator shut down the site and transfer ownership to Nintendo. 

It has been just over a year since Nintendo filed a lawsuit against LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co, both of which were owned Jacob Mathias. By late 2018, Mathias had agreed to a $12 million settlement with Nintendo. The sites temporarily went offline shortly after Nintendo filed suit, and later became apology pages. They are now completely offline. The fact that RomUniverse is still online and serving pirated games suggests the owner won’t be so quick to surrender. We could be looking at a more drawn-out case.

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Nintendo Switch Online gets SNES games September 5, plus new SNES controllers – gpgmail


Nintendo Switch Online, the subscription-based online services component of Nintendo’s Switch console, will get SNES games starting on September 5 – yes, that’s right, the first game are available to play tomorrow. There are 20 games available initially, with more planned in future.

Alongside the new software, there’s also the new SNES system wireless controller for Switch, which charges via USB-C and retails for $29.99 directly from Nintendo.

The launch lineup for the SNES portion of Nintendo Switch Online looks pretty promising, and includes highlight favourites like Star Fox, Breah of Fire, F-Zero, Super Mario World and Super Metroid (you can see full list below).

We got a strong indication that this was happening earlier this month, thanks to an FCC fiing that detailed the SNES controller hardware. Nintendo likewise released an NES controller alongside its launch of the Nintendo Online Service when it debuted last year.

The best part about this surprise drop is that it’s available basically right now – check your Nintendo Online app on your Switch tomorrow to begin playing these nostalgic gaming classics.


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Apple makes a rare apology, Nintendo tries to reinvent its invention – gpgmail


Hey. This is Week-in-Review, where I give a heavy amount of analysis and/or rambling thoughts on one story while scouring the rest of the hundreds of stories that emerged on gpgmail this week to surface my favorites for your reading pleasure.

Last week, I talked about Google’s Android naming switch-up.


The big story

Like clockwork, sources have been revealing to publications that Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant and Facebook M aren’t just digital assistants, they are portals into the AI workflows of Silicon Valley. Oh, and “AI workflows” means lots of contractors putting in quite a bit of manual work to understand what we want when we ask them questions.

This week, Apple announced that it’s completely changing how it handles reviewing audio from user Siri requests to ensure that users know exactly what they’re getting into privacy-wise.

The big change is that third-party contractors won’t have access to any of the clips for a process called “grading” and there is an explicit opt-in process for users. The company also gave a pretty explicit apology, which is pretty rare for an entity that seems to think its MacBook keyboards are still completely fine.

This whole situation is important for a couple reasons. One, Apple really sets the tone for consumer privacy among the tech giants so making notable changes here is positive and might push others to make similar updates. Two, Apple has the worst consumer-facing digital assistant. Like, Siri is just unquestionably worse than Alexa and Google Assistant so they arguably have the most to lose here and this is a decision that means less data for the company to hone its tech on.

Together, all of these gaffes really weren’t egregious, they were dealing with data that wasn’t nominally connected to users, but audio files should definitely be treated with a little more respect than anonymous crash reports. The journalism from publications like The Guardian pushing on “common” industry practices seemed to surface some positive change here.

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on Twitter @lucasmtny or email
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On to the rest of the week’s news.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Trends of the week

Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context:

  • Nintendo’s portable gets more portable
    The Nintendo Switch has been a huge success for the company, but in a new hardware update, the giant is doubling down on portability and simplicity in what might be a bid to capture some of the market it’s left behind from the DS line. Read more about it here.
  • Former Google engineer gets indicted
    Autonomous tech guru Anthony Levandowski who was as the center of the contentious Waymo-Uber lawsuit is back in the spotlight after he was handed a federal indictment with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets. Read more here.
  • Apple’s next hardware event is on its way
    The company just sent out invites to reporters for its iPhone event this month. Read more here.
  • Jack gets hacked
    Twitter like to dream about its impact and influence in ways that feel less realistic to the average user scrolling through spam and insults, but CEO Jack Dorsey got a taste of the seedy underbelly of the site when his Twitter account was hacked Friday and bomb threats and racial slurs were sent out. Read more here.

youtube

GAFA Gaffes

How did the top tech companies screw up this week? This clearly needs its own section, in order of badness:

  1. YouTube’s conspiracy theory devolution:
    [YouTube to reduce conspiracy theory recommendations]
  2. Facebook brings in some long overdue political advertising oversight:
    [Facebook will require political advertisers provide further credentials or have their ads paused]
An Amazon logo seen outside a building in Toronto

Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Extra Crunch

Our premium subscription service had another week of interesting deep dives. We published a roadmap for entrepreneurs looking to leverage Amazon and other ad platforms to create a direct-to-consumer startup.

“…This article focuses on customer acquisition, particularly Amazon and online advertising, for the direct-to-consumer (D2C) CPG venture. Selling on Amazon, specifically third-party (3P), has become an increasingly important component of the D2C playbook. About 46% of product searches start on Amazon, which makes it a compelling source of sales even for early-stage ventures….” (Extra Crunch membership required.)

Here are some of our other top reads this week for premium subscribers. This week, we published some analysis on the latest VMware deal and also looked at how startups should integrate customer success solutions early-on.

Sign up for more newsletters in your inbox (including this one) here.




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The New Nintendo Switch Delivers Vastly Improved Battery Life


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The new, barely changed Nintendo Switch has finally hit the market. It hasn’t been clear what benefits end-users could expect from this new revision of the console — data pointed to better battery life, but not much more than that as far as overall improvements were concerned. Now we’ve got an idea what improvements the new console delivers. Sometimes manufacturers sneak in improvements that aren’t widely played up beforehand, but that’s (mostly) not the case here.

Digital Foundry took the new Switch for a spin and finds that Nintendo lived up to their promises as far as battery life is concerned. Overall system longevity is vastly improved and power consumption has been cut nearly in half, from 13.3W to 7W while playing Breath of the Wild.

Digital-Foundry-Switch-Tests

Image and data by Eurogamer

Battery life at half brightness is now 1.64x better, while full-brightness battery life is 1.78x better. Switching from full brightness to 50 percent brightness improves Switch battery life by 1.17x, for those wondering what the impact of the screen setting is. Overall temperatures are not much reduced — the heat off the internal SoC is 50C instead of 54C. However, DF notes that the Switch is also physically quieter than before, implying that Nintendo may have reduced the fan RPM, choosing to limit noise as opposed to keeping equal cooling and therefore further reducing temperature.

One known reason for the improved battery life may be changes to the display. There are reports that Sharp provided an IGZO panel for the Switch Lite, but it isn’t clear if this covers the new Switch modelSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce as well. However, the display is definitely different, with a magenta tint and an off-white background color compared with the OG Switch.

Image by Eurogamer

As for performance, the two devices are almost equivalent. I say almost because, while average frame rates wind up in pretty much exactly the same places on both consoles, there are some specific spots where performance is improved. Digital Foundry has more details on this. Outside of some corner cases, however, overall performance is the same.

Customers who want to try and pick up the newer model with better battery life should look for a console labeled HAC-001(-01) as opposed to HAC-001. Nintendo’s guidance is slightly different, however, indicating that the new Switch will start with a “HAD” label rather than “HAC.” That’s official guidance from the company, so it’s possible that the old HAC-001(-01) / HAC-001 split was for the Asia-Pacific market, and Western consoles will have a different label.

It has not been formally confirmed whether the new Switch is using a Tegra X1 chip built on a more advanced process node, but we suspect it is. The new Switch uses the same size battery as the old Switch. While screens are major drivers of power consumption, the Switch uses a comparatively low-resolution display to start with. While changing the displayed resolution of a panel does nothing to change how much power it consumes, the absolute number of pixels in the display does impact overall power consumption. Android Authority did a comparison of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL earlier this year and calculated out the impact of 1440p versus 1080p on power consumption after taking the XL’s larger battery into account. Using a 1080p panel instead of a 1440p panel increased battery life by 1.1x at the same battery capacity.

Since the Switch uses a lower-resolution panel to start with, we wouldn’t expect the panel technology alone to account for a gain this large, but details will have to wait for a formal device teardown. There’s no sign of a fix for JoyCon drift — this problem continues to hit Switch owners, though Nintendo now offers a free repair program for affected customers. There’s also no secondary improvements, like the better Wi-Fi, improved 3D effects, NFC support, or other improvements that Nintendo introduced with the New 3DS relative to the 3DS, but Nintendo also isn’t trying to position this like a major console update. The entire idea is that customers with the newer variant get better battery life, but nobody should feel left behind if they don’t have the latest edition.

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