#162: Nintendo’s Legal Battle, Stormdivers ‘on hold’

TODAY: Paradox trials subscription service to make DLC more manageable — Ninja Theory is making insanity its trademark — Housemarque celebrates 25 years in business with its biggest title yet

Top Story

German court rules in Nintendo’s favour over eShop pre-order refunds

Nintendo has been involved in a two-year legal tussle with Norway and Germany over the inability to request refunds for pre-orders made through the Nintendo eShop.

Norwegian and German consumer protection authorities argue that Nintendo should offer refunds, but Nintendo has managed to convince a German court that once a purchase has been pre-loaded the ‘contract has been fulfilled’ and refunds no longer applicable.

Nintendo is more family than consumer friendly

The current verdict says Nintendo is not doing anything illegal by refusing to offer refunds, but neither the German Consumer Protection Authority or the Norwegian Consumer Council are thrilled about this. They have launched an appeal to overturn the decision, so the legal skirmish goes on – and is likely to continue for another year.

A game pre-ordered from the Nintendo eShop can not be refunded even if the game has not actually been released yet – which is the very definition of a pre-order – as long as any data whatsoever has been pre-loaded.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Ninja Theory debuted in 2007 with which PlayStation 3 exclusive?

  • inFamous
  • Resistance: Fall of Man
  • Heavenly Sword
  • Starhawk

The answer will be revealed at the bottom of today’s issue. Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss what the answer could be.

News Bits

Paradox Interactive tests subscription model for Europa Universalis IV DLC

If you play any of the grand strategy games from Paradox, then you know there’s a ton of DLC for most of them. Years worth of DLC can prove a bit of a barrier to entry for new players, so Paradox is trialing a subscription model “to see how popular such a service would be.”

The community response was initially mixed, but Paradox insist the two models will co-exist peacefully and that their customers can choose how to pay for their games.

Super Lucky’s Tale creator downsizing

Sad news coming out of Playful Studios: Founders Paul Bettner and Katy Drake Bettner have announced that they’re restructuring the company, which means laying off a lot of staff.

“We are truly heartbroken to be parting ways with many of our friends and colleagues,” they said in a joint statement. Super Lucky’s Tale launched for PC and Xbox One in 2017, and for Switch last year.

Daily Fact

Rare got too cheeky for Microsoft

This isn’t the first time we talk about Rare’s vulgar masterpiece Conker, but there are simply too many good stories about the game. You may recall that Nintendo weren’t happy about all of Rare’s ideas, and neither was Microsoft.

Rare wanted to replace a giant talking crate named Burt with a gate named Bill. Yes, as in Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft. Rare wanted Bill the Gate to complain about how all the windows in his barn were broken and that his barn kept crashing.

Achievement Unlocked: Bite the hand that feeds you

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Microsoft weren’t amused by jokes at their expense and thus Rare found themselves censored once again.

Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss today’s fact.

Daily News

Ninja Theory explores mental terror

Ninja Theory has turned the mind into its most powerful weapon, and their freshly announced Project Mara will explore ‘real mental terror’. They call it an “experimental title” and the goal is to blaze new trails in videogame storytelling.

This isn’t the first time Ninja Theory deals with insanity: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice from 2017 explored the damaged mind of a young Pict warrior struggling to separate fantasy from reality.

Ninja Theory used to be called Just Add Monsters

“Based on real lived experience accounts and in-depth research, our aim is to recreate the horrors of the mind as accurately and realistically as possible. Project: Mara will be an experimental title and a showcase of what could become a new storytelling medium,” says the announcement.

Xbox Game Studios launched Ninja Theory’s multiplayer brawler Bleeding Edge last summer, and the team is currently hard at work on Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II for PC and Xbox Series X. Ninja Theory is also involved in the The Insight Project, which attempts to promote mental health.

Housemarque celebrates 25th anniversary, puts Stormdivers on hold

Housemarque put itself on the map in 1996 with Super Stardust and Alien Incident, and now they are about to celebrate 25 years in business.

“Back in those days the only realistic option to get your game out there was to make a deal with a publisher,” reminisched CEO Ilari Kuittinen, and that meant pressing discs and physically shipping them to brick-and-mortar retail outlets. There wasn’t much of a digital marketplace back then.

Matterfall and Nex Machina launched in 2017

“Our journey has taken us to a fantastic place where we are pinching ourselves to make sure this is not all just a dream,” Kuittinen added. Housemarque has grown to 80 employees and is working hard on their “biggest and most ambitious title yet” with their yet-to-be-revealed partner.

Stormdivers and all their other projects have been put on hold while they focus all resources on their next big thing, “which will define the next evolution of Housemarque.” When will it be announced? The next major games industry event is PAX East 2020, which starts on February 27th and lasts until March 1st, so maybe we’ll hear more then.

VR Bits

Valve is confident Half-Life: Alyx will be launched in March as planned

A lot of eagerly anticipated titles have been delayed in the last few weeks, and there have been worries Half-Life: Alyx might slip too since it failed to show at The Game Awards in December. Fortunately, Valve seems confident they will launch on schedule.

According to a recent AMA session on Reddit there isn’t much that can go wrong: “With the exception of some tweaks to the absolute final scene, the game is done. Lots of us at Valve, as well as playtesters, have played through the entire game multiple times.”

“Right now we’re primarily polishing and fixing bugs, which is where we’d hope to be at this point in the development cycle. We’re confident we’ll hit our intended release.” The whole AMA is worth reading, since the developers go into a lot of detail.

Budget Cuts 2 update introduces mutators and smooth locomotion

Budget Cuts 2 was updated earlier this week, adding two big features: Smooth locomotion and mutators. Smooth locomotion allows movement control using an analog stick or the grip buttons on the Vive wands, while the mutators enables you to change the game’s physics and AI on the fly.

Using mutators prevents you from unlocking achievements, but on the other hand you’ll be having too much fun to think about them. The full patch notes can be found here.

Bigscreen ‘Lighting Update’ this week

Bigscreen also had a big update this week which focused on improving the real-time lighting in the cinema experience, and the developers launched a video showing off the new features: improved soft shadows, toned-down ‘god ray’ effects and less overexposed highlights.

While the video gives a good indicator of what to expect, note that the brightness is bumped up a lot and the VR experience is considerably darker. There are also four new cinema environments to supplement the existing three. Check out the patch notes to find out more.

News Bits

Dawn of Fear haunts PlayStation Store

Dawn of Fear is a third-person survival horror title inspired by old-school Resident Evil and Silent Hill games. Step into the shoes of a young man named Alex who returns to his family home, only to enter a “world of madness and cruelty.” Prepare for puzzles, ornate locks and awkward camera angles on February 3rd.

First part of Ark: Genesis delayed

Turns out Ark fans had reason to worry about Studio Wildcard’s radio silence: They just confirmed that the first part of the Ark: Genesis expansion has been delayed until February 25th. The team is sorry about it, but you can’t rush polish and game balance. On the plus side: They’re planning a special Valentine event, and we’re hoping for a romantic dino date.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Ninja Theory debuted in 2007 with which PlayStation 3 exclusive?

Answer: Heavenly Sword!

Microsoft might own them now, but Ninja Theory started out developing flagship PlayStation 3 title Heavenly Sword. It was hyped for its art, facial animation and ambitious storytelling – and certainly laid a foundation for Ninja Theory’s next decade of worth.

DailyBits Feedback

Help us Improve DailyBits!

We always love to hear from our readers, so if you have any suggestions on how we can improve or just want to say hi to the team, you can do so by emailing team@dailybits.news or clicking here.