Weekly News Roundup (October 23, 2016)
Welcome to this almost all gaming edition of the WNR. I didn’t plan for it to happen, but sometimes that’s just what happens. Just like how moments after I had uploaded the Star Wars Rogue One trailer last week, the second trailer dropped, which I have since uploaded too (H.264 and HEVC versions as per usual).
Anyway, here are all the (gaming related) news stories for this week, two with a copyright flavour, and one kinda big one from a gaming point of view.
Denuvo, the gaming DRM that isn’t a DRM (it’s an anti-tampering solution, you see, to stop pirates from tampering with the game’s existing copy protection – kind of like a DRM for DRM), has been tough to break, even the most ardent pirate has to admit. But cracks (if you’ll pardon the pun) have started to appear in Denuvo’s reputation as being unbreakable, with some recent high profile cracks for games like ‘Inside’, ‘Doom’ and ‘Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’.
But according to Denuvo, the recent setbacks will only make the anti-tampering solution stronger in the future. While acknowledging the recent cracks, Denuvo says their crack team (pun again unintended) of engineers are standing by to analyse how the crack occurred, and to patch and improve the protection solution. The company admits it will be a game of cat and mouse, but they’re confident they’ll win out in the end.
For game publishers, as long as Denuvo remain uncracked for the first months or so, then that’s usually long enough for most of the pirates to give up and buy the game, or to move on to another pirated game. For gamers though, DRM is DRM, even if you call it an anti-tampering solution, and it has all the usual problems that come with it (mandatory Internet connection even for single player games with no online content, beholden to the status of Denuvo’s DRM servers to ensure game can be played, performance issues due to extra resources used by Denuvo, etc…).
Not all game publishers feel that what Denuvo has to offer is in their own best interest and in the best interest of their customers though. Take game studio Flying Wild Hog, makers of ‘Shadow Warrior 2’. The game, which has received a “very positive” rating on Steam, has been released without any other DRM included (Steam kind of counts as a DRM). A user on Steam specifically asked why Denuvo wasn’t used, and the answer was pretty straight forward: DRM simply doesn’t work. Other developers from the studio chimed in as well, and all of them agreed that there’s just no point making a game worse by adding DRM. For them, it’s makes much more sense to not waste resources on DRM, and instead, focus on making the game better.
I know some of this is just a bit of good PR, but really, with so many good games on offer these days, it pays (literally) to befriend gamers, and many gamers simply don’t want DRM.
Bad PR is what Samsung tried to do this week, which was to remove a parody video about its exploding Samsung Note7 phones. The videos shows a GTA V mod that turns the Note7 into a deadly weapon within the game, where the player can use it in lieu of grenades. Samsung tried to use a YouTube copyright take-down to get the video removed for some reason. The video is now back up after YouTube intervened in the matter. If it was a genuine mistake, and these happen all the time with copyright take-downs, then that’s fine. If it was Samsung PR’s attempt at damage control, then as expected, it backfired in the typical Streisand effect.
Moral of the story is, don’t use copyright take-downs to take down content that has nothing to do with copyright infringement.
Now onto this week’s big news: the Nintendo Switch. Previously known as the Nintendo NX, Nintendo finally provided the first bits of official information about their new console (including finally giving it a name), and things look very interesting. You’ll want to watch the video that I’ve included with my write-up on the new console, but suffice to say, it’s a pretty neat concept. It’s hard to describe in words (which is why you should watch the video), but basically, it’s a tablet first and foremost. There is also a modular controller called the Joy-Con, and that be disassembled into two separate pieces – these two pieces go on either side of the tablet to make it into a proper gaming table, or can be used by two different players for multiplayer on the go.
And I guess that last part is how Nintendo wants the Switch to stand apart from the other consoles, and to be fair, it may be something they have to get right in order to have any success. If they were just going to come out with another PS4/Xbox One look-a-like (but perhaps with slightly better graphics), it’s not going to win them any market share, not when the other two are already so dominant. But if they can get the novelty/fun/freshness factor right, and judging by the responses so far to the Switch, things are looking good, then the Switch may very well carve out its own market share (as a device that sits somewhere between your iPad and the PS4/XB1).
But it’s not just portable gaming that the Nintendo Switch will be offering – there’s dock like device that you can plug the tablet into, and the dock connects to your TV. With both Joy-Con controllers connected to the Joy-Con grip, it will act as the main controller for when you play on your TV. There’s also a separate available Pro controller that looks a lot more ergonomic than the Joy-Con-Grip thingy. No real information on how powerful the Switch will be, and whether the dock will give the Switch some extra graphical power to make the graphics prettier on your big screen TV (a Nintendo rep has already suggested the dock may be just a dock, providing power and TV output and nothing else), but Nintendo has never been about having the best graphics (well, not since the SNES vs Genesis days, and even that is debatable, even to this day).
There’s still a lot of information that Nintendo has chosen not to release about the Switch (including the very basic “does it have a touchscreen”), so keep a lookout for more information as we get closer to the March 2017 launch.
That’s all we have for this week. Have a pleasant week ahead, and see you back here next Sunday!