All posts by Kyle Orland

Fears of limited SNES Classic supply lead to 150% online resale markup

The SNES Classic Edition may officially sell for $80, but that's much less than some are willing to pay to secure a pre-order. (credit: eBay)

It has been less than 24 hours since the Super NES Classic Edition was announced, and we're still more than three months away from the plug-and-play system shipping to retailers. But that hasn't stopped resellers from profiting off "guaranteed" pre-orders for the system at significant markups over retail price.

A quick search on eBay already shows 23 "sold" listings for the Super NES Classic Edition (including its international counterparts) at a median price of $199, or a 150-percent markup from the $80 MSRP Nintendo is asking for. On Ebay UK, you can find 22 more units than have sold for a median of £180 (about $230), up significantly above the £70 to £80 retail price. One seller managed to get $389.99 for his pre-order, earning more than $300 in profit for being able to click quickly on the "buy" button.

Major US retailers seemingly haven't opened up official pre-orders for the Super NES Classic Edition yet, though some have set up landing pages to sign up for future stock alerts). Online pre-orders at British retailers including Amazon, Game, Smyths, and ShopTo sold out incredibly quickly after going up yesterday. Nintendo's official UK store also sold out within minutes after offering the system online today.

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Plug-and-play SNES Classic coming Sept. 29 for $80 with two controllers

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Following on the recently discontinued NES Classic Edition, Nintendo has officially announced a long-rumored SNES Classic Edition follow-up will be available on September 29 in a $80 package that includes two wired controllers. The plug-and-play HDMI system will include the following games:

  • Contra III: The Alien Wars
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • EarthBound
  • Final Fantasy III
  • F-ZERO
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Kirby’s Dream Course
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Mega Man X
  • Secret of Mana
  • Star Fox
  • Star Fox 2 (previously unreleased!)
  • Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  • Super Castlevania IV
  • Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Yoshi’s Island

This story is developing and we will continue to update this post with more news and analysis as information becomes available. 

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Single-player modding returns to GTA V after publisher takedown

Enlarge / This image represents Take-Two saying "Well, I guess, there's nothing illegal here after all. Never mind that legal threat." (credit: Take-Two Interactive)

When popular Grand Theft Auto V modding tool OpenIV was taken down by a cease-and-desist request from publisher Take-Two earlier this month, the fan reaction was fast and blistering. Players bombarded Grand Theft Auto V with thousands of negative reviews on Steam, and over 77,000 people signed an online petition demanding the tool be restored.

Apparently, those gamers' cries have been heard loud and clear. As of yesterday evening, OpenIV is once again being updated and distributed by its creators.

While publisher Take-Two has been going after cheating tools in GTA Online of late, developer Rockstar long ago said it wouldn't go after Grand Theft Auto V players for using single-player mods. That's why Take-Two's sudden legal threat against the single-player-focused OpenIV earlier this month was a bit surprising, to say the least.

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Destiny 2’s guns won’t recoil on PC as they do on consoles

Captured footage of the PC version of Destiny 2 shows what looks like extremely limited recoil on a number of powerful weapons.

When Destiny 2 brings the first-person shooter from the console to the PC later this year, the developers at Bungie want the gameplay to feel the same across platforms. But there is at least one important change being made to make the PC edition of the game play differently for keyboard and mouse players.

"For instance, there’s no recoil on guns on PC because recoil on the controller feels really good," Destiny 2 project lead Mark Noseworthy said in an interview with Australian website Finder. "'I’m firing, I’m firing, I’m firing, oh, I’m losing control of my gun a little bit.' That feels great, especially with magnetism and all the magic in the controller that makes you feel it. With a mouse and keyboard, you don’t want the mouse moving without you moving it, so recoil doesn’t feel good, so there is no recoil on PC... The basic idea is that some things don’t work that don’t feel good, and those places there are going to be little forks in the road."

Noseworthy later tweeted a clarification from Destiny 2's PC lead David Shaw, who said that recoil won't be completely eliminated on PCs but just "heavily modified from console." You can watch E3 footage captured on the PC version of the game which shows very little drift as a semi-automatic weapon empties numerous bursts of fire into enemies. Compare that to how the original Destiny works on consoles, where many weapons see their aim drift upward or to the side over multiple shots.

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Valve tries to one-up Oculus Touch with five-finger “Knuckles” VR controller

Valve / SteamVR

We first heard about Valve's plans for a new SteamVR controller back in October when a few pictures and basic impressions started leaking out of the press-free Steam Dev Days conference. Now we're getting more details about the upcoming VR hardware—code-named Knuckles—thanks to documents posted on SteamVR's Knuckles Dev Kit group page.

The most important confirmation in the new documents is that the Knuckles controllers allow for full, independent tracking of all five fingers. Embedded, capacitive sensors in the handle of the unit track the position of the middle, ring, and pinky fingers, while similar sensors in the trigger and face buttons track the index finger and thumb. A ring of sensors around the thumbpad and the back of the hand helps track the unit in space through the standard Lighthouse system.

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Nintendo: Switch shortages are “definitely not intentional”

Enlarge (credit: Mark Walton)

Since the days of the NES, people have accused Nintendo of intentionally underproducing hardware in order to drive an artificial feeding frenzy of demand in the marketplace. With the Nintendo Switch remaining nearly impossible to find at retailers nationwide, those same accusations of "false scarcity" have been bubbling up in certain corners.

Nintendo Senior Director of Corporate Communications Charlie Scibetta wants to push back on those accusations. "It's definitely not intentional in terms of shorting the market," he told Ars in a recent interview. "We're making it as fast as we can. We want to get as many units out as we can to support all the software that's coming out right now... our job really is to get it out as quick as we can, especially for this holiday because we want to have units on shelves to support Super Mario Odyssey."

Far from intentional, Scibetta says the shortages are simply a result of Nintendo underestimating the interest in the system. "We anticipated there was going to be demand for it, but the demand has been even higher than we thought," he said. "We had a good quantity for launch, we sold 2.7 million worldwide in that first month, said we're going to have 10 million [more] by the end of the fiscal year... Unfortunately, we're in a situation right now where as quick as it's going into retail outlets it's being snapped up. It's a good problem to have, but we're working very hard to try and meet demand."

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Niantic to punish Pokémon Go cheaters with mark of shame

Enlarge / Good grief. (credit: PopUpTee.com)

It has been just a month since Pokémon Go players began noticing that Niantic had started "shadowbanning" accounts that use third-party trackers and bot software, limiting them so they only see common Pokémon. Now, the company is going further to ensure ill-gotten beasts are publicly identified as such and don't negatively impact the multiplayer experience.

In a post from its verified Reddit account, Niantic Support gave an update regarding "Pokémon caught using third-party services that circumvent normal gameplay":

With the announcement of Raid Battles and the new battle features, we are staying true on our commitment to ensuring that Pokémon Go continues to be a fun and fair experience for all Trainers. Starting today, Pokémon caught using third-party services that circumvent normal gameplay will appear marked with a slash in the inventory and may not behave as expected. We are humbled by the excitement for all the new features we announced yesterday. This is one small part of our continued commitment to maintaining the integrity of our community and delivering an amazing Pokémon Go experience.

What Niantic means by Pokémon "not behav[ing] as expected" is unclear, but the wording suggests these beasts may not be effective in the game's recently announced raid battle and expanded gym features. That coming overhaul will allow six unique Pokémon to be assigned to each individual gym, and it will let players team up for cooperative raids against ultra-powerful Pokémon. We're guessing Pokémon marked with a slash won't be able to fight for those coveted gym slots, at the very least.

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ZeniMax to judge: Block Oculus sales or give us 20%

Enlarge / An Oculus Rift photo montage from Oculus Connect (credit: Kyle Orland)

Earlier this year, ZeniMax won a $500 million judgment against Facebook-owned Oculus and many of its executives for illegal use of ZeniMax's VR technology and copyrights. That wasn't the end of Oculus' legal trouble, though. The company is now fighting off a proposed injunction that is seeking to bar the sale of any hardware or software "derived" from ZeniMax's technology or to enforce a 10-year, 20-percent royalty to ZeniMax on that hardware.

US District Judge Ed Kinkeade of the Southern District of Texas heard arguments in that injunction case Tuesday, and he also addressed a ZeniMax request for an additional $500 million in false designation damages and lawyer's fees. In court filings, ZeniMax argues that "the jury verdict clearly establishes that Oculus wrongly obtained ZeniMax VR technology under the NDA and used it... to establish a business that would not have existed without ZeniMax."

While Oculus' sale to Facebook "[made] tycoons out of the individual Defendants," ZeniMax writes, the company "never received a penny for its investment in this revolutionary technology—even though it was ZeniMax that had proven its value to the world long before Defendants ever came along." The company also points to specific language in the Oculus/ZeniMax NDA that establishes an injunction would be called for if that agreement was broken.

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Video game trade group sees pros and cons in new Trump administration

The US video game industry's largest trade and lobbying group, the Entertainment Software Association, sees the new Trump administration as a bit of a mixed bag as far as government policy is concerned. That's the takeaway from ESA President and CEO Mike Gallagher's chat with a small group of reporters just before last week's E3 trade show.

"We have a new administration in Washington that's brought some challenges," Gallagher said. "Gamers are feeling both ways. Remember, when you have almost everyone in this country as a gamer, and 80 percent of gamers voted in the last election, that means there are plenty of gamers that are highly disappointed or really excited about the outcome of the election. We sit in the middle of that conversation."

When it comes to the ESA's job of "extending and protecting the frontiers of this industry," Gallagher said he sees some positives to the Trump administration's policy positions. Republican plans for tax cuts and repatriation, for instance, "can be fantastic for bringing capital in, more investment in the industry, more dynamic creativity, and more jobs right here at home," he said.

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The top ten games to watch for after E3 2017

The E3 experience this year was so overwhelming that we needed to take the weekend to decompress and filter out the wheat from the chaff in our heads. Now that we've had some time to think about it, we've settled on the below list of ten games that stood out among the crowded halls and packed booths of E3 2017. Here they are in alphabetical order. Enjoy!

A Way Out

Developer: Hazelight
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: 2018

EA's E3 press conference happened three full days before E3 actually started, and it had two huge pieces of sci-fi bombast. While we couldn't go hands-on with the stunning-looking Anthem, and while major sequel Star Wars Battlefront II looks like an improvement all-around, one tucked-in-a-corner narrative game proved more captivating than both.

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