Nintendo of Europe Restricts Access to Mature Content
Unbelievably, Nintendo has insisted on making the news for yet another week through the rolling disaster that is the Wii U. Nintendo of Europe has clearly identified their Wii U console as the laughably child-oriented Fisher Price play-centre that it so resembles, by locking eshop access to any and all mature rated content, be it game, demo, or trailer. Such material is only available between the hours of 11pm and 3am, effectively meaning that the majority of content supplied by Nintendo’s biggest third-party backers is inaccessible for all but four hours of the day. Then again, the cynic may suggest that such a dick-move makes perfect sense for a profit-driven company such as Nintendo, whose wares consist exclusively of all-ages appropriate software. For twenty hours of the day there is literally no competition for New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land. Any attempt to buy Electronic Bioturd’s Mass Effect 3, download a demo for Ubisoft’s Zombi U, or stream a trailer for THQ’s Darksiders II will result in the error message: “You cannot view this content. The times during which this content can be viewed have been restricted.” The best thing about it is that the error message does not even inform would-be customers as to the hours whereat their desired content will become available for purchase.
While it may have pleased Nintendo to lie about returning their focus to core gamers, the truth is that bone-headed measures like this put paid to that notion. Mature content restrictions are just another hassle in a long line of Nintendo’s Wii U cock-ups, which unambiguously mark it as a kiddie console – not fit for serious gaming. Unambitious hardware, three hour battery life, lack of dedicated voice chat functionality, lack of [useless] achievements; the evidence of Nintendo’s deceit only seems to be gathering pace in these weeks following the launch of the Wii U. Meanwhile, Nintendo of Europe for their part have only provided the watery response: “Dear customer, we would like to let you know that Nintendo has always aimed to offer gameplay experiences suited to all age groups, observing carefully all the relevant regulations regarding content access that are present in the various European countries. We have thus decided to restrict the access to content which is unsuitable to minors (PEGI) to the 11pm – 3am time window.”
Note how Nintendo cite European regulations as the reason for restricting adults from accessing entertainment: even now in their personal missives with customers Nintendo cannot keep from telling blatant falsehoods. There is no regulation restricting the hours of the day that digital adult content is available for purchase, as evidenced by the fact that PSN and XBL face no such restrictions anywhere in the world. There is no legitimate reason for Nintendo to paternalistically control the content that is available to their adult customers, and there is no logical reason for them to do this at all, other than in an attempt to drive up the sale of Nintendo’s own first party titles – but then Nintendo titles have never had a problem with outselling the competition ten-to-one. It is utterly inconceivable to imagine that the absentee parents of Europe actually have a legitimate claim to restricting the hours of availability for content simply to compensate for their own laziness, and it is also completely bonkers to think that an 11:00pm curfew will be sufficient to block access to youngsters who have the unfettered run of their parent’s credit card. Moreover, this should be absolutely redundant, given the fact that Nintendo has been compelling Wii U owners to pay a fifty cent fee in order to prove their age bona fides. At any rate, one hopes to see a brick-and-mortar storefront analog to Nintendo’s digital policy, requiring mature titles to be kept behind the counter in nondescript paper bags, just so that adult customers can know that what they are doing is properly unclean and shameful before they slink away, shame-faced, like pornographers into the night.
Dark Souls Receives Sequel
Dark Souls, like Demon’s Souls before it, was a robust game. Complex and sprawling with catacombs and hidden byways, yet intricate in level design and gameplay systems. The world was well developed and immersive, while the gameplay itself was finely balanced, and renowned for its difficulty. It is fair to say that Dark Souls was a very ambitious title for a modest studio like From Software, which is why, when it barely sold over one million copies, the franchise was doomed to obscurity, and had to be mothballed seeing as everyone knows that AAA console games need to sell at least five million copies in order to be profitable – or rather, that is what would be said if that myopic industry sob-story were actually true.
Dark Souls is set to receive a sequel due to the reality that selling over one million copies of a well-made game is in fact a respectable and eminently sustainable figure to achieve. Electronic churn-mills like EA may wish to refute this claim, owing to the fact that their perverse mutilation of Dead Space was ostensibly done in service to the requirement of selling five million units just to break even, but this is either an admission of gross incompetence or an outright lie to cover for their obscene and ham-fisted greed.
The announcement of Dark Souls 2 has been the cause of much in the way of celebration among gamers, yet it has also occasioned some disquiet within certain quarters of the fanbase. This is because series director, Hidetaka Miyazaki, has been relegated to a supervisory role, while Tomohiro Shibuya will be filling his directorial shoes. Shibuya has previously worked on the Monster Hunter and Resident Evil Outbreak series, which has provoked fan concerns that he either will not be capable of delivering such a finely balanced hardcore experience as Miyazaki, or worse, will attempt to broaden the game’s appeal, and in so doing will flush the qualities that made the series unique down the crapper. Shibuya himself does not look to have done the project any favours when he stated: “I personally am the sort of person who likes to be more direct than subtle. [Dark Souls II] will be more straightforward and more understandable.”, but then talk of greater accessibility was had when From Software first announced Dark Souls, and that certainly did not appear to have any ill effect upon the quality of the game. Dark Souls 2 will be available on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.
Rumour: Epic To Be Bought by Microsoft?
It is beginning to look as though Epic Games is about to be purchased by Microsoft or some other large corporate entity. This story comes not by way of an inside scoop from an industry deep-throat, but rather by putting two and two together, so it must be taken with appropriate amounts of salt. This week Mike Capps has stepped down from his ten year stint as president of Epic Games. This event would not be overly remarkable if viewed in isolation, yet it comes hot on the heels of the departure of Gears of War senior gameplay designer, Lee Perry, back in July, the resignation of Gears of War producer, Rod Fergusson, back in August, and the resignation of company mascot and Gears of War lead designer, Cliffy B., back in October – representing a fairly significant purge of senior Epic personnel. Similarly, Epic owned studio, People Can Fly, has lost Bulletstorm producer and designer, Adrian Chmielarz, along with Andzej Poznanski and Michal Kosieradzki in recent months.
It is theoretically possible that all of these very important figures within the company simultaneously came to the decision to move on within months of one another. It is also entirely possible that Cliffy B. suddenly discovered humility, and thus sought to flee the spotlight. It does however seem most likely that push factors have played a large part in their decision to step aside, with the most likely push factor being the knowledge that Epic is about to be bought out by a larger entity, and will subsequently be afforded less latitude in the game projects that it is able to pursue.
The situation resembles nothing so much as the mass exodus of talent back when Microsoft purchased Rareware. Moreover, Microsoft would be the predictable suitor for Epic Games due to their historically beneficial relationship, which has resulted in Epic Games developing one of the Xbox 360’s pillar franchises in the form of Gears of War. Taking ownership of the fourth iteration of the Unreal Engine would also allow for the Nextbox to get the jump on brand Playstation, though this factor may prove to be something of a double-edged sword, as failure to kill Playstation outright would result in Epic Games losing a tremendous amount of value if their engine can no longer be used for multiplatform games. Nonetheless, Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot due to their anti-competitive overreach is entirely in keeping with their corporate character. At any rate, this could all very easily be coincidence.