Category: Gaming News

Nintendo’s rocky relationship with Twitch got a new sound bite this week when Nintendo of America’s President Reggie Fils-Aime told Polygon that “We don’t think streaming 30 minutes of gameplay by itself is a lot of fun.” The remark addressed why Nintendo has not included Twitch streaming on its console the Wii U. Nintendo’s decision not to embrace Twitch on the Wii U has raised eyebrows among gamers as both Microsoft and Sony include native Twitch streaming on their consoles.

Nintendo seems just as confused as its fan base and has been sending conflicting messages about its position on Let’s Play videos and Twitch streaming lately. It was only last month Nintendo vocalized its plans to create an affiliate program to regulate user-made videos, split revenue, and address copyright infringement issues. Then this week at E3, Nintendo seemed to indulge streaming video by touting its Mario Kart TV feature in Mario Kart 8 and allowing Twitch to stream its Super Smash Brothers tournament.

Should Nintendo fall in line with its competitors and embrace the Twitch fad, or should it follow the Nintendo bible and attempt to launch its own proprietary platform?

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Last month, Nintendo discontinued the online functionality of games on its Wii and DS platforms. Gamers mourned the loss of online gameplay and leaderboards for popular titles such as Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Brothers Brawl. It has been rumored that this change was predicated by new ownership of GameSpy, the company which hosted Nintendo’s game servers. It is also possible that Nintendo ended online service on the Wii and DS to incentivize gamers to adopt its Wii U platform. Whatever the reason for Nintendo pulling the plug, gamers are not taking the news lying down. Many have begun taking matters into their own hands by hosting private servers for their favorite Wii and DS games.

Until last month’s shutdown, Nintendo and Gamespy maintained the servers which supported the Wii and DS online game libraries. Now, by utilizing console mods and updated firmware, gamers can patch in to an unsanctioned private server and continue playing their favorite games with one another. This is, of course, certain to be in violation of Nintendo’s end user license agreements and terms of service for both its game hardware and software. At the time of this writing, it seems the servers are free to use and no one has tried to monetize a private server for personal financial gain. Nintendo declined to comment on its course of action when contacted by Loading Law.

The greatest threat of private servers is a loss of control over intellectual property rights and unfair market competition. To combat that threat, networks for online console gaming have traditionally been highly regulated. Such regulation is possible since hardware and software are so uniformly streamlined and licensed in the console market. Online gaming in the PC sector, on the other hand, is much more difficult to regulate due to a myriad of hardware platforms and software titles. Understandably, PC gaming has a much longer history of private severs springing up after a game enters planned obsolescence. It also has been the source of most of the legal precedent relevant to private servers.

The seminal case on private servers is Davidson & Associates v. Jung. In that case, Blizzard and its parent company Vivendi brought suit against a group of programmers who were hosting private servers for the popular Diablo and StarCraft game franchises. The trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Blizzard/Vivendi was affirmed by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. It was determined that federal copyright law did not preempt the games’ end user license agreement and terms of service. The Court also held that the defendants violated the DMCA’s anti-circumvention and anti-trafficking provisions.

What this means for Nintendo is that the law is in its corner if it decides to go after the operators of private Wii and DS servers. It is unclear how Nintendo will react, however. The Wii became a favorite of the modding and hacking community early in its lifespan so these kinds of infractions are not unusual. Nintendo responded to these infractions with new hardware and firmware updates, but little in the way of litigation. Instigating litigation against your fan base is not good for sales, and Nintendo has been in the red for several quarters now.

But what do you do when your fans want to keep playing your games online after you’ve pulled the plug? Microsoft met a similar issue when it discontinued its original Xbox Live service and Halo 2 fans refused to quit playing. Microsoft’s solution was to migrate its gamers over to its new Live service on the Xbox 360 and re-release Halo titles on that platform. This strategy has been met with substantial success. Unfortunately Nintendo has not been so lucky with the Wii U, but with Mario Kart 8 being released last week to great success and a new Super Smash Brothers game expected to debut at E3 this summer, maybe this issue will work itself out soon. Nothing lasts forever, and it may be time to move on and look to the future.

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The Tricky Business of NDAs

May 23, 2014 | Suzanne Jackiw

OculusRift1ZeniMax recently challenged Oculus VR over unspecified technology used in the Oculus Rift.

ZeniMax claims that Oculus breached its duty to hold technical information confidential by integrating it into their own product. This would have occurred when John Carmack left id Software, a subsidiary of ZeniMax, to join Oculus. At that time, Oculus would have had access to ZeniMax technology in the early stages of Oculus development, as well as the veritable library of know-how Carmack developed during his time at id.

ZeniMax may be right. Employers generally own work produced by their employees within certain restrictions. These ownership rights are usually further bolstered within employment contracts by explicit assignments. In many cases, if you work on something while employed at a particular company, the company owns that work product. id Software claims that Carmack’s contract contained just such a clause. Under that type of contract, if he was working on a project anything he made belongs to id Software, unless an explicit exception was made. Continue reading…

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Varietytwitch-tv-21-700x393 and The Wall Street Journal have reported that Google’s YouTube may be wrapping up a deal to acquire Twitch, the popular video game streaming service. Nothing is official yet, but the rumor mill is reporting that the price of the sale could be as high as one billion dollars.

Loading Law will be updating the story as more concrete details become available.

UPDATE!!! Google has reportedly followed through on the Twitch sale.  Details are still scanty. Check out what information is available now here.

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Last week Loading Law ran an article about the excavation of the now-again famous Atari Landfill in New Mexico. This week, Loading Law is following up on that story with its first ever interview, featuring none other than internet personality and diehard gamer James Rolfe.

James is probably best known to gamers for his hilarious video game reviews as the Angry Video Game Nerd, which can be found on his website Cinemassacre and on YouTube. James is currently in post-production of a film based on the Angry Video Game Nerd series, simply titled: Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie. The film, which is slated to be released in the next year, just so happens to feature the Atari landfill, and James was generous enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to discuss the landfill with Loading Law.

 

LL: When did you first hear about the Atari landfill?

JR: The first time I heard about it, personally, was in late 2006. That year, we saw the rise of YouTube, and the Nerd got a growing fanbase. Requests for game reviews began pouring in. The biggest one was E.T. the “worst game of all time”. So I looked into it, and Mike Matei who has always been a big Atari fan, told me the history of the game, and that there’s a legend that the game was so bad, that millions of unsold copies were dumped in a landfill. At that time, there existed a lot more information about it on the internet, which has disappeared, only adding to the mystery. I use the word “mystery” lightly, because judging from all the old newspaper articles I read, it seemed like a fact that Atari dumped a bunch of games there, but generic games, like Pac-Man, Centipede, you name it, and of course some E.T.’s included because that game is as common as dirt. The location of the burial was confirmed. The only thing that wasn’t known is if the “millions” of E.T. carts were there. Or somewhere else.

LL: Why do you think people care about the landfill and why do you think it captured gamers’ imaginations?

JR: It’s like a treasure hunt. But the comedic aspect is that there’s no reason to find them. Everybody calls it the worst game. So why would you want to find it? That’s the funny part. It’s one of the most common games on the Atari 2600, you could find it anywhere. I wonder how many landfills actually have that game in them. So the fact that it’s a quest to find something awful, I think is the whole charm of the story. That’s why we care.

LL: What was it about the landfill and the E.T. game that made you want it as a part of your upcoming film?

JR: It’s the “worst” game, but the greatest game story ever told. If I were to do it as a regular game review, it wouldn’t be that interesting. Especially, because I don’t find the game to be that bad. Believe it or not, I think it’s one of the more sophisticated games on the Atari 2600 because it’s not just about getting a high score, you actually have to beat it. The whole story of the landfill deserved to be made into a feature film. So I invented my own fictional, adventure / science fiction take on it.

LL: What do you think the future has in store for the landfill? Will it be a gamer tourist attraction or will it be quickly forgotten?

JR: From what I’ve heard, the sentiment seems to be that they didn’t find “millions” of E.T. carts in there. What they found, only confirmed the mass Atari dumping with all kinds of games, E.T. being included. The millions of cartridges seems to be a separate incident, and one that’s not confirmed. Those carts could be anywhere. So that’s the “myth” part. So I think some people will still be searching. The story has definitely gotten a lot bigger over the years.

LL: You used to work under the name “Angry Nintendo Nerd” and have said previously you changed the name to avoid a possible trademark issue with Nintendo. Was there ever an actual legal dispute with Nintendo?

JR: There never was an actual legal dispute with Nintendo, no. The Nerd was just branching out into other video game consoles, so we made the name more generic, and not to use an established brand name.

LL:You write, produce, direct, act, and you do so much of the work for your projects yourself. What advice would you give to young filmmakers, gamemakers, artists, writers, and entrepreneurs in getting their own projects off the ground? What things do they need to know and do right off the bat?

JR: A tough question to answer. Could be in a book form. But the biggest advice I can think of, off the top of my head, is to just know that it’s hard work. Speaking mostly from the film side, but to all artists, is to be careful not to start a project that is too big too manage. Pick your own battles. You have to balance rational reason, with your passion. It’s easy to dream big, but the execution is always more difficult than you expect. Pursue the projects that are most important to you.

Check out more of what James had to say about the Atari Landfill here and follow his updates on the status of Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, here.

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