Take 5: JDR's Gaming Conclusions - 16/08/19
A regular look at gaming-related stories from the past week or so whereby conclusions are drawn from anything and everything. These may be incredibly well reasoned based on events from the week. Alternatively, they may be highly speculative, drawn from very little evidence. More likely, they will be somewhere in between.
Conclusion One: Time for an Epic Battle Royale Over Data
Oops! Earlier this year, Check Point Research uncovered a worrying flaw in Fortnite’s security systems. If an attacker sent a link to a player, and the player clicked on that link, the attacker was then able to capture the player’s login details for the game. With this, control of the account was with the attacker, and they could then do one of a variety of things.
This is where Franklin D. Azar & Associates comes in: a US law firm which is filing a class action lawsuit against Epic related to this security breach. They’re asking for anybody who could have been impacted to contact them, so they can be added to the filing. They say that although Epic fixed the flaw once discovered, it took them two months to do so. During this time, and before, attackers could control gamers’ Fortnite accounts and sell them on, or buy upgraded versions of the game which meant the account used would then get a code for the standard game, according to Kotaku.com.
What this boils down to is a lawsuit relating to unauthorised use of people’s bank cards linked to their hacked accounts, given Epic knew about the issue for a period of time and had not fixed it. The end result is yet to be seen, but as Fortnite is so fundamental to Epic’s success, it’s worth keeping an eye on to see what happens here and what it costs Epic, if anything.
Conclusion Two: Mobile Gamers Have Been Eating Their Apples
There’s an expression which says that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and it would seem that many mobile gamers have been eating an apple a day. How else would you explain the performance of Dr. Mario World in its first month since release?
Sensor Tower has provided the numbers and analysis which tells us in the month since release the game has been downloaded 7.5 million times and recouped $1.4 million in revenue. We played the game here and liked it whilst we wondered here if the financial model was part of an experiment. The model in place this time around is that the game is free to play, with microtransactions should you wish to play more each day than you’d otherwise be able to.
Super Mario Run made $30.5 million and Fire Emblem Heroes a stunning $67.6 million. In one month. I think — and the effect of the game has to be taken into account into any analysis by the Kyoto giant — that this financial model is perhaps not a great one. If it was an experiment I think it’s successful given what’s been learnt, but that means a different approach will be utilised in the future. Sure, there’s a need to look at what happens over time to see if the pattern remains, and Nintendo will do its due diligence I’m sure. Nevertheless, it’s a quite significant result, isn’t it?
Conclusion Three: The Switch is going Super
Nintendo loves doing retro things. Some of us at JDR enjoy this, whilst others don’t quite so much. However, whichever side of the argument you take, anything which comes from the company relating to its past, or future for that matter, is big news.
What does this mean? Well, we don’t know for sure but it means there’s a reason to make and sell wireless SNES controllers. So adding two and two together gets us to a place where we have SNES games on the Switch, and wireless controllers so that people can use those in their homes or out and about for single player and multiplayer fun. Imagine Super Mario Kart action on the split screen, or Street Fighter two with arguably the best controller for it? This could be awesome.
It’s a pretty good bet this is happening, probably as part of the online subscription. Today it’s NES games we get and Nintendo did release a wireless NES controller for the Switch to play NES games authentically. I’m quite giddy with excitement.
Now, will we see the N64 Mini before we see wireless N64 controllers and N64 games on the Switch? I’d bet on it.
Conclusion Four: You cannot patent teaching
Despite Ubisoft’s best efforts, the publisher was smacked down this week after a lawsuit it filed in August 2018 was dismissed with prejudice. The subject of the suit? Teaching people how to play guitar.
Gamesindustry.biz reported that the French giant was a little miffed with Yousician, a PC and mobile education app which it believed copied directly from its own gamified teaching software Rocksmith and violated its patent which “provides feedback and statistics to help users learn how to play the guitar.”
Yet Judge Flanagan overseeing the lawsuit ruled that the claim “failed to contain an inventive concept” which rendered it “patent-ineligible”. She noted that “teaching a user how to play an instrument by evaluating a user's performance and generating appropriate exercises to improve that performance is an abstract idea that cannot be patented by adding the presence of a computer.”
And rightly so. Gamification is huge, and anything that helps make learning more enjoyable should not be restricted to a single entity or piece of software. While Yousician offers a guitar-based learning program which may have similar themes to Rocksmith, that in itself wasn’t enough to give Ubisoft a win in court. The fact that the case has been dismissed with prejudice means that the publisher cannot file any more claims on this issue in the future either. Chalk up a win for students everywhere!
Conclusion Five: Meet the new dog. Same as the old dog.
It’s not been a great week for Epic, who have ended up in the dog house in more ways than one. Lawsuits aside, the Fortnite developer also came in for some serious stick this week when they released a new dog companion named Gunner to accompany the latest season. The price? 1000 V-bucks, or £7.99.
Not a problem; lots of people love burning cash on store items like this. What is a problem is that the “new” dog wasn’t exactly new. In the Season 6 Battle Pass, a doggo named Bonesy was released. See if you can spot the difference between the two:
Other players were equally bemused.
Aside from what looks like a case of doggie jaundice, Epic basically reskinned a previous asset and slapped a premium price tag on it. It wasn’t long before they decided that this approach wasn’t going to fly, and issued an apology including an offer to refund with an extra 200 V-bucks on top to anyone who bought Gunner.
It seems that while you might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, you can paint the old dog a slightly different colour and see if anyone will hand over their cash. Who’s a bad boy?