Archive for the ‘Nintendo Wii, Wii U, Switch’ Category

Weekly News Roundup (April 23, 2017)

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Welcome to a brand new week on the WNR, where we bring you all* the latest news and happenings in the world of digital video, Blu-ray, gaming and everything else. It looks like I survived my wisdom teeth surgery after all, sorry about the lack of updates the week before (too busy barfing from postoperative nausea).

I’m writing this WNR a little bit later than I usually do on Saturday because I just picked up my new Samsung Galaxy S8+ and have been playing too much with it. It’s a really nice, I can’t say little but it definitely doesn’t feel too big, phone, with a gorgeous screen that doesn’t seem to end (gaming and watching movies, particularly those in the wider aspect ratio of 2.35:1, is a fantastic experience).

But no time to play time, it’s time for work, and there’s quite a bit to go through this week too, so let’s get started)

(* “All” is defined as the news stories I found interesting and/or had time to write up)

Copyright

2Dark

2Dark’s updated Denuvo protection cracked already

The cat and mouse game between anti-tampering system Denuvo (ie. DRM) and game crackers continues afoot with Denuvo releasing an updated version, dubbed v4, of their system. Unfortunately for Denuvo, it only took a month for the first game to be protected by v4, 2Dark, to be completely cracked – something that others had thought would take a lot longer.

While this does not mean all games with Denuvo v4 will be easily cracked from this point onwards – each game needs to be cracked individually – it does mean that crackers possibly have found an entry point into the system and it will make it easier to crack other games that are scheduled to use v4, including Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3, Dead Rising 4, Nier: Automata, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, and Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Of course, being protected for a month is still better than nothing and one could argue that a month is actually all that’s needed for a game, as that’s why most of the sales happen. However, it seems with each cracked game, crackers improve their technique and reduce the time needed to crack the next one. So if Denuvo v4 only manages to protect Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 for a couple of days, then perhaps publishers won’t be so keen to use Denuvo unless they can get some kind of money back provision in their contract.

High Definition

PowerDVD 17

PowerDVD 17 has UHD, VR and other cool stuff … but you’ll need the hardware to match

It’s been a long time coming, but there’s finally a way to play Ultra HD Blu-ray movies on your PC. And if you have one of those fancy PC based VR system, then you can watch your favourite movies in a VR environment too (or watch immersive 360 degrees movies).

I am talking about the latest and greatest version of PowerDVD, now in version 17 (I remember talking about it here on Digital Digest way back when the software was still in 0.x version). If you get the Ultra version, which is still at the $99 that it has almost always been, then you’ll have access to all these fancy new features.

Of course, you’ll still need the hardware, and that’s when the problem starts. The latest Kaby Lake CPU, the latest integrated Intel GPU or a GTX 970, and an Ultra HD Blu-ray reader drive are your *minimum* requirements, so it’s by no means accessible for everyone. And that’s just for Ultra HD Blu-ray – you’ll need more hardware for VR.

But if you’re rich and you already have all of these, than PowerDVD 17 Ultra is a must-buy. A must-buy mainly because it is the only thing you can buy that will play UHD discs.

While Disney is still saying away from UHD, unfortunately, Rogue One’s Blu-ray release was still a big one. Just not as big as The Force Awakens, which is not surprising. The 3D edition of the movie also sold really well despite it being a Best Buy and Target only exclusive. If it had been available on UHD, I think the UHD results would have been amazing. Not as amazing as Planet Earth II from the previous week, but still amazing. Come on Disney, pull it out!

Gaming

Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch outsold the PS4 and Xbox One in March

If you’re also rich, you’re probably one of the million or so people that already have Nintendo Switch. Not to say that the Switch is expensive, it’s quite good value for what you’re getting, but you’ve either already spent a load on a Wii U and games or you’re coming from the PS4/Xbox One camp, which means the Switch is another thing you have to buy, and given what has happened with the Wii U, you might be a little bit cautious.

But there doesn’t seem to be a need, since all reviews point to the Switch as an excellent, fun system that gives you something the others can’t. And it seems a lot of you agree, as it was the best selling console in March, at least in North America, easily beating the PS4 and the Xbox One.

This may not hold up for the coming months, since the Switch’s game library is still quite small (although I found the fact that more Zelda games have been sold than the total number of consoles to be quite interesting – are people buying games before they buy the Switch?).

But poor Xbox One, relegated to third place. Scorpio can’t come soon enough for Microsoft, and even then, success is not guaranteed. It might be the most powerful console in history when it’s released, but if it’s also twice as expensive as the PS4 Slim, then you can forget about it.

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You can also forget about me getting a lot of work done in the next few days, as I’ll be playing with my S8+ and the Gear VR. Actually, I will most likely be doing the vacuuming and house work, but that doesn’t sound very cool does it?

Weekly News Roundup (March 26, 2017)

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Welcome to another edition of the WNR. Sorry for the little break last week, but things are back to normal now, and we actually have a bit of news to go through too.

They say that no news is good news, but sometimes having news is good news too.

Copyright

And sometimes piracy is a good things too, at least according to music superstar Ed Sheeran. In an interview with CBS, Sheeran opened up about his rise to success, and he wasn’t embarrassed to admit that piracy played a big role in his early successes.

Spotify Mobile

Legal streaming options means file sharing no longer exists, says Ed Sheeran

Sheeran says that is was university students in England, sharing his music on file sharing networks, that helped him get noticed. “I know that’s a bad thing to say, because I’m part of a music industry that doesn’t like illegal file sharing,” said Sheeran.

However, Sheeran says that musicians today may no longer need file sharing to get noticed and that fans no longer need to download illegally, all thanks to the availability of legal streaming platforms.

In other words, piracy has always been used as a discovery platform, and that’s its main redeeming feature. With legal streaming via YouTube and Spotify is taking on piracy in a big way, these platforms also now act as discovery platforms, both for musicians to get noticed and for music fans to find new artists to listen to.

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A little update on a story from a month ago when Google’s Chrome removed the ability to disable the controversial Widevine DRM. Thanks to “user feedback” (also known as angry and vocal complaints), Google has re-added the ability to disable Widevine, as well as other plug-ins that were made mandatory with the version 57 update. Who says complaining doesn’t work?

Gaming

With the PS4 back on top after a couple of months of Xbox One victory (thanks to the Xbox One S) in the hugely important U.S. market, the global picture still sees Sony on top, rather comfortably.

PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro

The PS4 is still comfortably beating the Xbox One

The PS4 is still enjoying almost a 2-to-1 sales margin over the Xbox One according to the latest IHS Markit report, with 53 million PS4s already sold compared to only 27.6 million Xbox Ones.

March’s NPD report will be extremely interesting, due to the introduction of the Switch. Nintendo seems to be onto a real hit with the hugely popular (and instantly out of stock) Switch, and it will give the Sony, Microsoft duopoly a real run for its money.

Will you switch to the Switch? Or keep on playing with the PS4, or keep on spending one on one time with your Xbox One?

Sorry for the lame play on words, it’s been a long week.

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What hasn’t been that long is the length of this WNR. But why waste words when you don’t need to. Especially when you’re not being paid by the word. See you next week!

Weekly News Roundup (January 15, 2017)

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

Another pretty slow week, which wasn’t what I was expecting after CES, but I guess most of the stuff happened last week, not this week. So it’s pretty much a gaming only edition of the WNR this week, thanks largely to our first and main story …

Gaming

Which is all the stuff we learned about the Nintendo Switch from the special press event that was kind of the official launch event for Nintendo’s new console.

We learned that the Switch’s retail price will be $299.99, which took some by surprise as being on the high side. Add to that the high cost of accessories (thankfully, most of them being completely optional to the full enjoyment of the Switch), for example $79.99 for a spare Joy-Con controller (some games will need 2 more of these in addition to the 2 included with the console for multiplayer), it left others wondering if the Switch can compete with the PS4 and Xbox One, both of which have the same entry price point.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch may be $299.99, but it does come with a lot of innovation

But then others argued that with what you’re getting – a console that’s also a tablet, that can do local multiplayer without any other additional purchases, plus a dock for the TV – it’s actually not bad value. The high price of the simple looking Joy-Con controller (which plugs into the side of the console/tablet to become the Switch’s main controllers in single player mode) is also due to the fact that it includes a object sensing camera, as well as the oblig motion sensing capabilities, that enables some innovative game play with the announced ‘1-2 Switch’ and ‘Arms’ games.

Other things we learned include the expected battery life of 2.5 to 6.5 hours depending on the game, and how the console charges via USB-C (and can be played when charging).

Controversially, Nintendo is going down the paid route with regards to online services. The Switch will be launching with a free online service, but it will become a paid one later in 2017.

As for games, Super Mario Odyssey will launch later in 2017 and is set to feature levels based on the real world for the first time. Over 80 other games are in development by Nintendo and third party studios, the company announced.

Overall, the response to the Switch was both positive and negative. In regards to the console itself and all the innovation that comes with it, it was received very positively. The pricing and the announcement of a paid for online service didn’t go down to well, but only time will tell if gamers, and not critics, feel the same way about the Switch.

PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro

The PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro helped Sony win December’s US NPD results, but the Xbox One won the second half of 2016

Before the Switch comes on on March 3, we still have a couple of months where the Xbox One and PS4 have a free go in the marketplace. For the important month of December, it was the PS4 that beat the Xbox One in sales (in the US) according to the a statement from Sony. Microsoft still managed to find positives by announcing that the Xbox One had its best ever month in December 2016, and that it was the only console that managed to grow year-on-year, meaning the PS4 did less well in December 2016 than in December 2015.

Xbox One sales in the US managed to beat PS4 sales for the second half of 2016, which suggests that the launch of the Xbox One S really did help Microsoft, well not quite turn things around, but at least made it more competitive to the PS4.

The full NPD report comes out next week.

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That’s that for this slow week. Hope you enjoyed reading. See you next week!

Weekly News Roundup (November 20, 2016)

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Welcome to another week here on the Weekly News Roundup. Hope everything’s been well? Having Trump-tastically good week or a Trump-sasterously bad one? Having a nice Trump-eekend, on a nice Trump-day (every day is a Trump-day)? Sorry, but we’ve been forced to make some changes here at WNR HQ by President-Elect Trump, so this is how things are now.

It was a good week in terms of news though, in that there were some interesting ones and ones that are away from the usual copyright related bore-fest that fills the WNR all far too often.

Copyright

HDMI Connector

Sony’s buggy firmware, or did HDMI’s nasty DRM HDCP strike again?

I know it’s kind of weird to continue on from the last sentence by bringing you a copyright related story, but this one actually has a little bit of everything in relation to what we usually cover here in the WNR. The new super duper 4K PS4 Pro (gaming – check!) has hit a snatch thanks to a potentially buggy firmware update, that, possibly due to annoying DRM (copyright – check!), causes the console to output nothing but a blank screen (digital video – check!).

Those with selected TVs (especially the older, but 4K variety) and who intend to upgrade to 4.05 may need to hold off (4.06 is out, but it doesn’t fix this issue), or follow the workaround I linked to in the news story, as a potential bug in the HDMI copy protection scheme HDCP may be causing a blank display for some. The workaround involves going into the PS4’s Safe Mode and changing the output to HDMI 1.4, or turning off HDCP entirely.

A proper fix in the form of another firmware update is expected to hit the PS4 eventually, so it’s a good thing that the PS4 allows you to turn off HDCP (primarily used to capture gaming footage), even though this means you’ll not be able to play most videos (Blu-ray, Netflix, etc…) due to the fact that Hollywood is extremely paranoid.

High Definition

You still won’t be able to play Ultra HD Blu-ray movies on the PS4 Pro though, because Sony missed a really big opportunity to market the PS4 Pro as the ultimate 4K machine, not just for gaming, but also for video (that is, until the Xbox One Scorpio arrives). I can understand if Sony wanted to remain more profitable (or less lossy) by not including a new UHD drive in the PS4 Slim, but it just doesn’t make much sense to skip it for the PS4 Pro, especially considering Sony the studio is actually quite active in releasing movies on Ultra HD Blu-ray, and that Sony the consumer electronics firm is bit lacking in the Ultra HD Blu-ray standalone department.

Ultra HD Blu-ray Logo

Ultra HD Blu-ray is a hit with consumers …

And it’s a shame, because UHD Blu-ray actually appears to be doing quite well, better than Blu-ray was at the same time in its release cycle. Over 1 million UHD discs have already been sold in the U.S., and that’s before the format has had its first Holiday sales season even.

For those that follows my weekly Blu-ray/DVD sales analysis, it’s easy to see that studios have (for the most part – Disney, I’m looking at you!) embraced Ultra HD Blu-ray – most new releases, even some you might consider as minor ones, are getting the UHD treatment, many also getting HDR too. Prices are higher, but not astronomical for a new format. Consumer electronics firms have also contributed by ensuring the premium for 4K TVs is mainly due to the increased screen size (and decreased depth) – smaller 4KTVs are actually quite affordable given how new the format is. So with plenty of new content, and affordable hardware, it’s easy to see why the format is doing well.

Gaming

PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro

… so why didn’t the two new PS4s include playback when the Xbox One S did?

Which brings me back to my earlier point about the PS4 Pro’s lack of UHD Blu-ray support being such a missed opportunity. Sony’s wrong turn could benefit Microsoft, as the Xbox One had just beat the PS4 for the fourth straight month in the U.S. largely on the backs of the UHD Blu-ray capable Xbox One S. This is despite Sony releasing the PS4 Slim, which many analysts see as a totally unnecessary addition to the PS4 line-up. I can see why Sony needs a cheaper PS4 Slim to sit alongside the “premium” PS4 Pro, but while the Slim and just like its fatter older sibling is a better console than the original Xbox One, it looks decidedly average in value compared to the S. Even without looking at the lack of UHD Blu-ray playback, the Slim is not as powerful as the S, it’s not capable of 4K (at the moment) for things like Netflix, and the S can also do 4K upscaling for games. Microsoft is on to a winner with the Xbox One S – the PS4 Slim just simply isn’t

With that said, PlayStation VR may tip the battle in favour of Sony again though. But the game may change again when the Xbox One ‘Scorpio’ is unleashed.

Whatever happens, gamers will be the ultimate winner as competition between Sony, Microsoft, and come next year, Nintendo heats up.

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And that’s all we have for you this week. See you next week, but until then (and as we’re now legally obligated to end all articles this way), May the Trump be with You!

Weekly News Roundup (November 6, 2016)

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

A new week brings more new stories, and usually something interesting to write in the intro. I’m really struggling today, so I’m going to cheat and skip trying to think of something to say here and get straight to the news.

Copyright

Facebook may be the place you get your funny cat pictures from, but it’s also the place where some get their illegally downloaded music from. And where there’s piracy, there’s an anti-piracy agency sniffing around to see if it can get in on the action. And that’s exactly what prolific Dutch anti-piracy agency BREIN did last week when it targeted nine Facebook groups that have been accused of sharing copyrighted music. Facebook obliged without much resistance and closed down those groups immediately.

Copyright groups and their masters are notoriously slow when it comes to keeping up with the latest trends, and with most of their focus having been on websites, forums and torrent trackers, pirates have been quietly moving into social media for some time now. Now that copyright groups such as BREIN have finally caught up, it may signal the next round of copyright whack-a-mole, now involving social sites.

If the whack-a-mole game becomes too tedious, also expect copyright groups to try and hold sites like Facebook and Twitter responsible for all their woes, anything to actually not have to innovate and cater to their audience’s needs.

So while some copyright groups are busy trying take down half the Internet in order to protect their outdated business model, others are trying hard to strengthen laws in order to protect their outdated business model. Thus the DMCA was born in the late 90’s, when the Internet thing just started to scare the bejesus out of the movie studios and record labels. Since then, it’s various flaws have been exposed and none more so than the controversial anti-circumvention provision.

Botnet

The DMCA has hindered security research and allowed malicious actors to hack devices unhindered

Companies have been abusing the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision to stifle innovation, reduce competition and even cover up negative coverage about the security flaws in their own products. It’s gotten so bad that security researchers, whose job is to find flaws before those with malicious intent find and utilize them for their own nefarious means, have been unable to do their job for fear of being prosecuted under the DMCA. Of course, black hat hackers don’t care about the law, and so they’ve been able to do their “job” unhindered in many cases. As I write in the news story, “this chilling effect may have contributed to an epidemic of hacking and malware attacks on devices ranging from smart light bulbs to security cameras, especially now with more and more devices now having public facing Internet connectability”.

The good news is that the government has finally wised up to the problem, and the FTC among others have lobbied the US Copyright Office to grant a new exemption to allow researchers to finally do their job, without the fear of being sued.

And it only took 20 years for this sensible change to occur!

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Remember Iceland’s Pirate Party and how they had become a political force to be reckoned with in the country, well Iceland held their election last week and while the Pirate Party did extremely well with 15% of the vote (compared to 29% received by the country’s largest political party), it wasn’t enough for them to form government, which would have truly been an extraordinary turn of events had it occurred.

Still, it was a very good effort and perhaps something to build on while in opposition.

Gaming

Wii U

This is the first picture we’ve ever uploaded for the Wii U, which ended productions this past week

Sad news for Wii U fans as reports suggests Nintendo has officially ended production for the console. There’s been a lot of talk about how the Switch is what the Wii U should have been, and there has just been as many people defending the Wii U for what it is – a console that was never going to be as popular as the Wii, but was a stepping stone in Nintendo’s eventual vision for the Switch.

But the bottom line is clear – the Wii U was not a commercial success for Nintendo, having only sold a bit more than 13.4 million units, and it’s been retired fairly early in relation to the typical console lifecycle (it’s only a year older than the PS4 and Xbox One, both of which have easily outsold the Wii U in the 3 years they’ve been on the market).

So it’s bye-bye to the Wii U (and the Wii brand, in fact), and hello to the Switch. Can’t wait!

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And it’s a bye-bye to all of you as we come to the end of another WNR. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading, see you next week!