Gaming Headlines March 29th – April 4th

How are you liking the bold new look? I fancied a change, so I hope you’re enjoying the new layout. Not much to say today, so let’s jump into it.

  1. Nintendo Will Now fix Your Drifting Joycons for Free
  2. E3 is Dead
  3. Roblox Won’t Show Ads to Under 13s
  4. Asus Is Entering The Handheld Gaming Market With The ROG Ally
  5. Guerilla Explains Why Clouds Are The Reason The New Horizon: Forbidden West DLC is for PS5 Only

Nintendo Will Now fix Your Drifting Joycons for Free

The saga of the drifting Nintendo Switch Joycons has been ongoing since the console launched and it was discovered that the controllers had a nasty habit of developing the problem. Thankfully, Nintendo has finally caved to pressure because, as spotted by Nintendo Life, they’ve now adjusted their policies to provide free repairs for Joycons suffering from drift, which Nintendo refers to as “responsiveness syndrome.”

“Nintendo takes great pride in creating high-quality and durable products and is continuously making improvements to them. Therefore and until further notice, Nintendo offers to consumers who purchased the respective product in the EEA, UK and Switzerland that repairs for responsiveness syndrome relating to control sticks will be conducted at no charge by official Nintendo repair centres. This applies even if the syndrome is caused by wear and tear and even if the 24-month manufacturer’s warranty provided by Nintendo has expired”

Nintendo UK Support

Nintendo has somewhat unofficially already been doing this. Many people have noted that the UK branch of Nintendo has been fixing or replacing Joycons for free on a case-by-case basis, though representatives would state otherwise when asked. But having an actual official confirmation is excellent news.

For those that don’t know, drift occurs when a mechanism inside the controller wears down, resulting in it registering stick movements you haven’t made. In a mild case, this might mean the in-game camera moving slowly, and in extreme cases, it can stop you from playing entirely. I actually encountered drift in my very first Dualsense controller and it became so bad that I couldn’t play Hitman 3 at the time because the camera would randomly stare up at the ceiling.

Wear and tear of the analogue sticks is expected over time, which is why Hall Effect joysticks are gaining popularity.

Extra reading: The Best Nintendo Switch Games to Play Right Now

E3 is Dead

The final nail may have been hammered into E3’s coffin this week as the once great show has been officially cancelled this year following multiple companies pulling out. This was to be the first in-person E3 since 2019, as it was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid. A digital version was held in 2021, and then the 2022 show was also cancelled in order to focus on what the ESA called a, “revitalized showcase”

This years event was supposed to run on June 16th to June 19th but big names like Ubisoft, Xbox, Nintendo and Playstation announced they wouldn’t be attending. Without these big names, the organisers had to pull the plug, issuing the following statement:

“This was a difficult decision because of all the effort we and our partners put toward making this event happen, but we had to do what’s right for the industry and what’s right for E3. We appreciate and understand that interested companies wouldn’t have playable demos ready and that resourcing challenges made being at E3 this summer an obstacle they couldn’t overcome. For those who did commit to E3 2023, we’re sorry we can’t put on the showcase you deserve and that you’ve come to expect from ReedPop’s event experiences.”

Notably, while the ESA did mention continuing to work with ReedPop, they did not address the future of E3.

I can’t say this comes as a massive shock. For years E3 has struggled to find its identity, eventually settling on an odd hybrid of trade show and public spectacle with neither being entirely happy with the setup. Covid obviously took a huge toll on E3, as has the fact that many companies prefer to host their own streamed events which helps to keep costs down.

But while it might not be a shock, I am saddened. E3 was an often overwhelming barrage of exciting announcements, cool trailers and awesome moments, and getting to share that with everyone else was heaps of fun. I had hoped to attend in person one day, even though I know in my heart of hearts the masses of people and huge queues would probably make me go crazy, but to soak up the atmosphere and just get to be part of it all would be worth it.

All eyes now turn to Geoff Keighley’s Summer Games Fest for some big announcements. As for the future of E3, it’s not looking promising. There’s a year to try to get the companies back onboard, but it seems the likes of Sony and Microsoft don’t think it’s worth the effort.


Roblox Won’t Show Ads to Under 13s

Roblox will now stop anyone under the age of thirteen from seeing adverts, according to their new policy changes.

These changes may be related to an event that happened last year when advertisement watchdog Truth in Advertising contacted the Federal Trade Commission with concerns about Roblox. The complaint contains over 40-pages of information detailing various issues including deceptive marketing tricks, influencing children and much more.

“We write to the Federal Trade Commission concerning Roblox Corporation, a
multibillion-dollar public company that operates a closed platform metaverse, where advertising is surreptitiously pushed in front of millions of consumers, including more than 25 million children and adolescents, by a multitude of companies and their avatar influencers. Such digital deception is possible because Roblox has failed to establish any meaningful guardrails to ensure compliance with truth in advertising laws, effectively allowing marketers, including but not limited to Alo Yoga, DC Entertainment, Forever 21, Hasbro, Inc., Hyundai Motor America, Inc., Mattel, Inc., Netflix, NFL Enterprises LLC, Nike, Inc., Paramount Global, and VF Corp., to manipulate millions of consumers in one of the largest and most captivating virtual platforms on the internet today.

Companies and influencers have jumped into the Roblox metaverse with reckless
abandon – exploiting children’s inability to distinguish organic content from marketing, and manipulating them and other Roblox users with undisclosed promotions that are nearly identical to organic virtual items and experiences on the platform. This deception is augmented by marketers’ covert use of digital avatar influencers and AI-controlled promotional bots aimed at increasing the popularity and desirability of their brands. And as these brands exploit unsuspecting consumers, tricking them into taking part in immersive advertising experiences and unwittingly interacting with walking, talking endorsers that are indistinguishable from other avatars on the platform, the companies, including Roblox, are taking users’ time, attention, and money while extracting their personal data.”

The updated policies also contain a bunch of new additions regarding what is or is not allowed to be advertised in the game, including insects or pieces of insects.

Roblox has stirred up a lot of controversy over the years, becoming its own self-contained metaverse of sorts.

Asus Is Entering The Handheld Gaming Market With The ROG Ally

April 1st is a tricky time to be on the Internet. There’s no end to companies announcing goofy products, and Asus decided to join in the fun by announcing the ROG Ally, a handheld gaming computer. They put out a fancy trailer with an incredibly dramatic voiceover, and then seemingly confirmed the whole thing was an April Fool’s joke when ROG’s Head of Product Management, Shawn Yen, put out a link to the video while saying, “Happy April Fools. ROG Ally (a-lie)”

And with that clever little pun, the joke was over.

Except it wasn’t. Asus continued to mention the Ally after April Fools and it turns out the ROG Ally is actually real. You can register interest in it, and some big tech Youtubers like LinusTechTips have actually used it.

So the joke was….that it wasn’t a joke?

Here’s the basic idea of what the Ally is: ASUS is promising twice the power of Valve’s Steam Deck, packed into a neat little handheld body that boasts an 7″, 1080p screen capable of 120hz. Hidden inside the sleek shell is a  Zen 4 CPU and an RDNA 3 GPU, though ASUS is keeping quiet on exactly what the performance numbers are.

What we do know, according to those who have gone hands-on with it, is that the Ally is both surprisingly quiet and very powerful. Gameplay is reportedly extremely smooth.

The device can also be hooked up to an external GPU, letting you essentially dock the Ally and boost its graphical power significantly.

All of this runs on Windows 11 which could prove cumbersome on a handheld. However, the upside is that Ally will run anything Windows is capable of using, unlike the Steam Deck which can’t run certain titles like Destiny.

The bad news? We don’t know how much this thing is going to cost. Asus hasn’t even hinted at a price, an obvious hint that they don’t intend to match the Steam Deck’s $400 asking price. Given the hardware the Ally has under its hood, we can assume it’s going to be aimed as a more bespoke option for people with money to burn

Personally, I’m happy to see this handheld renaissance, even if it’s not a new Sony handheld. But I don’t think I’ll be getting one as I can’t justify a lot of money for a handheld. As much as I love my Switch, I don’t use it in handheld mode that often because I’m either at home and want to play on a big screen, or I’m out and about and don’t feel a need to bust out a game console.

The bigger question is whether expensive handhelds have a future. The Steam Deck has done very well for itself so far, and a big part of its success is likely down to its price being in line with current-gen consoles. If Asus blast past that point, which they presumably will, then the Ally will become a product for only the most hardcore.

Guerilla Explains Why Clouds Are The Reason The New Horizon: Forbidden West DLC is for PS5 Only

Horizon: Forbidden West’s DLC, Burning Shores, is due to release this month, around a year after the game first launched on both Playstation 4 and Playstation 5. But despite being a cross-generational title, the new DLC was announced to only be coming to Playstation 5, leaving everyone who enjoyed Aloy’s journey on PS4 unable to join in the fun.

So why is that? Well, it all comes down to clouds, according to Guerilla.

Sony has published a new blog post in which Guerilla attempts to explain why Burning Shores will only be playable on PS5. The general gist is that the team wanted to expand on the flying mounts introduced in Forbidden West, letting players soar through the clouds. But that meant upgrading the technology.

“The cloud systems that we developed for Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West were fast because they didn’t store clouds as 3D objects, but rather instructions on creating 3D clouds from limited 2D information. The PlayStation 5 can handle larger datasets. So, after Forbidden West wrapped, we set to work writing a voxel cloud renderer prototype that could live up to our standards for quality, and actually allow the player to fly through highly detailed cloud formations.” 

The process of how they developed the new systems is certainly interesting, and well worth reading, but the TLDR of it is that the PS4 simply can’t handle it anymore.

I am a supporter of moving on from the last generation of consoles so that developers can start to flex their muscles more and really see what they can do with the current consoles. However, this DLC ordeal leaves a sour taste in my mouth: Forbidden West was a cross-gen game and most of its sales were likely on PS4, so to cut out all of those people is truly a shame. Perhaps if Guerilla wanted to build on the technology they created they should have waited for the PS5 exclusive.

It also seems like an odd business decision. Burning Shores will require players to have finished the game, and as we know, the vast majority of people don’t actually see the credits roll on their games. For example, only around 30% of players got the Gold Trophy for completing the final mission. How many of those players have a PS5? And of that small percentage, how many are going to come back for DLC a year later? Maybe I’m missing something, but the math seems to point a very small target audience.

You can read my review of Horizon: Forbidden West here.


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