Nintendo, You’re Doing Cloud Saves Wrong

Ever since the Nintendo Switch came out in March 2017, despite having many modern and lauded features, many have been quick to point out some of its flaws. From launch until today, there has been no cloud save feature for games on the system.

Whereas Xbox and PlayStation have had cloud saves since last generation, 2017’s Nintendo Switch had no such feature. When Nintendo finally announced that the paid Nintendo Switch Online subscription service would offer cloud saves, many gamers rejoiced. No more, many thought, would a gamer who lost his Nintendo Switch have to restart his 300-hour Breath of the Wild game save, from scratch. He would no longer have to grind his way back up to the top in Splatoon 2.

But today’s news that certain games would not support cloud saves came as a surprise. Whereas a rival system like the Xbox One saves every single game to the cloud universally, it appears Nintendo is allowing each developer to “opt-in” to whether they want to use cloud saves or not.

Here is the current list of games that do not support cloud saves:

Splatoon 2

Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee & Pikachu

FIFA 19

NBA 2K19

Dark Souls Remastered

Dead Cells

It’s worth noting that all of the multiplatform games on this list support cloud saves on Xbox and PlayStation. And this list is likely to grow.

Worse yet, Nintendo’s official reasoning behind the change is maddening and confusing, to say the least.

Per Game Informer, here is Nintendo’s response to the issue:

The vast majority of Nintendo Switch games will support Save Data Cloud backup. However, in certain games this feature would make it possible to, for example, regain items that had been traded to other players, or revert to a higher online multiplayer ranking that had been lost. To ensure fair play, Save Data Cloud backup may not be enabled for such games. To ensure that Save Data Cloud backups cannot be used to unfairly affect online multiplayer rankings, the feature will not be enabled in Splatoon 2.

Breaking this down, this response indicates a very important distinction in the way Nintendo is conceptualizing its cloud saving feature. Besides not being available at a system level for each game, Nintendo’s response makes it clear that players’ cloud saves will not be automatically synced to the cloud, like Xbox One’s system enforces. Per Nintendo’s words, this looks more and more like Nintendo will be instead implementing cloud saves with the same thought process as how it implements them on the NES Classic Edition; That is, Nintendo will give gamers different cloud saving “slots,” the same way as it does with offline single player games such as Breath of the Wild. Players can then choose to load up one of, potentially many, “cloud saves” from a cloud save list, the same way players can load up any normal offline save from their offline save list.

There are many reasons having multiple save files are beneficial for offline play in single-player games. Say you got stuck in a tough boss battle with low health and few items, making it near-impossible to get through it. What do you do? Bingo: fire up a previous save and stock up on items before you face that bad boy again. Or say you were near the end of a game and your character suddenly died, the game then forcing you to restart from far back. A save file closer to where you were before is helpful in this situation, as well.

However, there is a good reason online games, such as Splatoon, Halo, and Gran Turismo, don’t give you save slots (at least in the online portions). The reason is because all of the online data is stored in the cloud.

Now, from a certain perspective, Nintendo’s logic in their response is sound. If it is indeed possible to revert saves to alter online play, then it is a good call for Nintendo to not allow cloud saves on Switch.

The issue is that this situation is only possible in the first place, because Nintendo implemented an inferior cloud save model, where it gives players the option to revert players’ local saves to previous cloud saves created at an earlier time. In this case, as unfortunate as it is, Nintendo is making the right decision to thwart cheaters.

But why isn’t this an issue on Xbox One and PlayStation, and how are these platforms able to have cloud saves on each and every game without the same concerns Nintendo has? This is because these systems do not allow for reverting a current offline or online game save to a previous, specifically Online version. The only way Nintendo’s concern makes sense is if it is allowing players to revert their game saves to previous online game saves. So, it’s rather obvious this is the kind of system Nintendo intends to implement here.

This approach to cloud saves makes sense for single-player games such as Super Mario Odyssey or Breath of the Wild. However, it should not be a one-size-fits-all approach, because games that dare to have online components like Splatoon 2 and FIFA 19 become a victim to that decision, Nintendo putting online gaming fairness en masse over individual save data security.

It is also puzzling to me why, if Nintendo does want to stick with its cloud save data reversion feature, Nintendo can’t achieve the technical issue of allowing single-player save data in a game like Splatoon 2 to be reverted without affecting a player’s online rankings. This suggests that a player’s online data is tied to the offline game save data, when it should have been saved in the cloud all along. Now that we know this is the case, it’s another reason Nintendo has done things wrong here and is having to make this decision.

This situation also makes me wonder why Nintendo can’t just make sure that once a console is connected to the internet, it adopts a system like Xbox One’s, where instead of giving the player the option to revert to a previous online save, the system automatically synchronizes the player’s latest game save, whether offline or online, and overwrites the older one.

Nintendo could simply choose to implement this auto-synchronization function for online games and preserve the cloud save function, and if it wants, it can use revertable cloud saves for games such as Breath of the Wild. There’s no reason why the Switch cannot use two different cloud save systems for two very different kind of games, when that framework can allow the benefit of cloud saves to games such as Splatoon 2. Implementing this approach would work, and gamers would benefit.

Not implementing this approach signals to me that Nintendo’s current game save system is out of date, and thus incompatible with this set-up, or Nintendo wants to keep everything simple for gamers and would rather have the same exact cloud save functions across every game. However, the victims of this decision, then, are online multiplayer games.

Nintendo has dug themselves into a pretty large hole here. But they can solve this.

If they simply adopt a universal auto-synchronization system like Xbox One’s, or even do this for only games with online multiplayer, then precious save data for games like Splatoon 2 would be able to be safely backed up to the cloud, and gamers could finally rejoice at the feeling that their save data will be safe, no matter what happens to their Switch.

As it stands now, though, it looks like cloud saves will be a neat feature to have for offline Nintendo Switch games, but a gamer who happens to lose or damage his Nintendo Switch will still have to start from scratch for a game like Splatoon 2.

Nintendo still has time to fix this. If not when the service launches, then any time after. But as of now, fans of online games on Nintendo’s system will still have to be subject to uncertainty regarding their save data. And in 2018, that is not acceptable.

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Mega Man 30th Anniversary Panel at Comic Con 2018 – Exclusive

The producers of the Mega Man series hosted a panel on all things Mega Man at San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend. Get an exclusive look at concept art, new gameplay, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 & 2, as well as Mega Man 11.

 

For more on Mega Man, Comic-Con, and everything gaming, be sure to follow Gamer Splash.

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

Resident Evil 2 Panel Recording – Comic Con 2018 Exclusive

Gamer Splash was on hand to record a large portion of the Resident Evil 2 panel at this past weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con. Check out a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Resident Evil 2 remake, including never-before-seen concept art.

Check out the full clip below:

Follow Gamer Splash for more exclusives from Comic-Con and future gaming events.

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

Spyro Reignited Trilogy – Exclusive New Details, Footage, and Concept Art

This past weekend at Comic-Con 2018, the developers of the original Spyro game, Insomniac Games, Toys For Bob, the developers of the Reignited Trilogy, Tom Kenny, the voice of Spyro, and Stewart Copeland, Spyro’s original composer, held a panel to discuss the development of the original Spyro and how it was redesigned for modern audiences.

Several interesting details, photos, and video clips were shared showing a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the original games and the changes made for the Reignited Trilogy.

Check out the details below:

Here is a look behind the scenes at how the levels and art were designed for the original game and re-designed for the Reignited Trilogy:

Check out some of the concept art behind the original game and Spyro’s design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A short clip of Spyro’s animation:

Tom Kenny re-enacting some lines from the game:

A cutscene from the original Spyro game showing Tom Kenny’s performance as Spyro:

An exclusive look at a new cutscene from the game:

Last is a full discussion of the original music behind Spyro and how it was brought to life for the Reignited Trilogy, with original composer Stewart Copeland and music remixer Stephan Vankov:

Some photos of Stewart and Stephan meeting in Stewart’s studio:

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Members of the audience were also treated to a special poster:

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For a recap of more highlights and details from the panel, including changes in gameplay and menu design, check out VTNVIVI’s recap video:

Follow Gamer Splash for more exclusives from Comic-Con and future gaming events.

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

Why I’m Over Physical Games

Over the years, as technology has progressed, physical media for software has become less and less prevalent. Gone are the days where we need to insert a DVD into our PC’s DVD drive to install software. CDs and Blurays are declining in popularity, due to the popularity of digital downloads and streaming. Even PC gaming has already gone mostly digital, with services like Steam dominating physical copies. Smartphone apps have always been 100% digital. Yet, for many console gamers, physical discs or cartridges for their games still reign superior.

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As you can see from the above infographic, most gamers have made the switch to digital now, but there are still many holdouts for physical games.

Let’s delve into why many still prefer physical games, their reasoning, and why I believe digital is still superior.

Reasons Gamers Prefer Physical:

  1. You get to “own” your games. You won’t lose them if the servers go down in 20 years.
  2. Resellability. You get to resell your games once you’re done playing them, thus softening the blow from new game puchases.
  3. The physical cover art is nice. It may fit well into a bookshelf and you like to show off your games.

Now let’s try to address each of these concerns.

Point #1

To address the first point, there is no debate: owning your games is sure nice. The reasoning goes, when you download a game digitally, if the developer/publisher decides to pull the game from the digital storefront, then the game is lost forever. Thus, you don’t truly “own” your games, like you do when you have a physical copy.

However, there are some problems with this philosophy. First of all, you don’t own the game any more than with a digital copy. No individuals who buy a copy of a game own the game: they simply purchase a copy of the software and a license to play it. While it is concerning that a game could be pulled down in 10 or 20 years, what are the chances you will actually care about playing that game again that many years later? Games come out all the time, and I personally am not going to want to go back to a 20-year-old game, when I’ve already played it, and there are so many other great games to play. Also, with games increasingly traveling to new systems through backward compatibility and games no longer being so tightly locked to system generations, it’s likely that games will be available for years after launch. Gamers don’t havbe a problem with how Steam, the all-digital PC game platform, works, so why have a double standard with console games?

Also, physical games aren’t impervious either. After 20 years, a physical game is likely to begin deteriorating, whereas a digital game would not. And if you truly desire a physical copy in case a game goes down, you can actually make multiple “physical” copies of every game you have by just loading them all onto multiple hard drives or SD cards! If you were to buy two copies of a physical game, you would be spending double the money. Going digital and copying the game files to another SD card or hard drive, you can now own more copies for less money.

Point #2

Resellability is also nice. I sold many of my Wii U physical games to save up for the Nintendo Switch, and that saved me some good money on it. However, the way I currently play games now, I don’t like getting rid of them. I’ve regretted selling games many times, because it was a good way to make extra money at the time, but I ended up wanting to play them again later, thus ending up rebuying them. That made me spend more money in the long run. Going digital now, I prefer to just have a library of games now, and just buy ones I know I’ll want to keep for a long time.

Point #3

Don’t get me wrong: mI like cover art too. One of my friends has a really nice physical media collection of games and movies that is really cool to look at in his book case. However, I don’t think it’s necessary. For me, the reason you buy a game is to enjoy it. If you were to count the amount of time playing a game versus looking at it on your shelf, it would probably be a 9:1 ratio. Additionally, I think the quality of the game is what’s important, right? Also, when you buy a lot of games, they add up, and they end up using a lot of space. I prefer to keep my room as minimal as possible now, and having all of my games digitally means I don’t have to worry about where to put game cases now. For me, since I spend most of my time playing the game, I’m happy to go without the burden of the physical copy.

Point #4

While it is true that physical games can be cheaper, as digital games become more popular, many more sales are starting to happen for digital games. Plus, you get all the benefits of going digital.

Benefits of Digital Over Physical:

While there are a few benefits to going physical, I believe there are more for going digital.

  1. You don’t need to rebuy a game if you lose it. With a digital copy of a game, the game is tied to your account, so if you ever delete a game, or even buy a new system, the game can be redownloaded an unlimited number of times without any cost. With physical copies, if you lose yours, you are out the money – twice.
  2. Digital gaming is much more convenient. If you have 50 Nintendo Switch games, you have to take every game you might want to play on a trip. Yes, you can plan this out, but then you have to plan it out. Having every game digitally means you can have them all on one SD card, and never need to think again about which games to take. You won’t lose digital games on the go, either.
  3. You can get to your games faster. Imagine if on your smartphone, every time you wanted to switch between an app, you would have to take out an SD card and put a new one in. That would be horrible, wouldn’t it? But that’s how physical consle games still are today. If you go digital, you don’t have to worry about swapping discs or cartyrirdges every time you want to switch to a different game. It’s all there at once, waiting for you to tap it once and start playing.
  4. You can start playing faster. You don’t need to wait for a physical game tyo ship to you, or go to a store to buy one. You can buy the game directly from your console, and start downloading it instantly.
  5. You don’t even save on storage space. On Xbox and Playstation, you have to install your games anyway. On these systems, even if you buy a physical copy of a game, you must still install it tyo your hard drive, just like if you downloaded it. Spinning discs don’t actually have enough data throghput to run the latest games smoothly. The fact is, hard drives are the only way modern games can run now, so buying a physical copy doesn’t even save you storage space, and just adds the extra hassle of needing to insert the disc for each game.
  6. More rewards. With Nintendo’s systems, when you buy a game digitally, you get reward points that can be used towards discounts on new games. While you can obtain some points with physical versions, it is a fraction of the amount you get for the digital version. Going digital saves money in this regard too.
  7. It’s better for the environment. Companies have to print, ship, and use paper and ink to get a physical game to your doorstep. Buying a game digitally means you are going green, and is better for the environment. Buy a game digital, save a tree.

Final Thoughts:

In today’s current online age, I find it odd that the very same people who are satisfied with digital apps and services like Google Drive, MS Office, and Creative Cloud, still cling onto physical console games. I realize that phyiscal games have been around since the verey first home games consoles, and there is a sense of nostalgia tied to them and fear of moving beyond the physical. However, I hope this article has helped dispel the misconceptions about going digital, and provided help in your decision process going forward.

While some will hold onto physical media until it goes extinct, I believe the future of gaming is digital, and for the better. It’s still debated, but personally, it’s a future that I’m okay with.

thatgamecompany Panel at WonderCon 2018

I was excited to be able to attend a panel featuring one of the great developers that continues to inspires me and countless others with their beautiful games. This company brought games like Journey to life, which touched many people across the world. I knew this panel would be special, so I decided to record it.

You know them from Flow, Flower, and Journey. You saw their upcoming game, Sky, at Apple’s iPhone press conference 2017.

Now go behind the curtain and learn the inside stories on how thatgamecompany came to be and crafted some of your favorite indie games of the generation!

I also got to chat with the developers after, and learned that Sky may come to more platforms after iOS. They were also willing to give me career advice and share some of their own story, which was very helpful for me.

Watch their presentation below!

All in all, it was a great experience, and just a slice of my WonderCon experience. Stay tuned to the blog for more content coming soon!

EMX Brings Music and Gaming Together Under One Roof

Hey everyone!

This past Saturday, I got the opportunity to go to a very cool event called Food Fight. The event was organized by a group called eSports Music X (EMX), Dim Mak, and Foodbeast.  The event was hosted at the eSports Arena in Santa Ana, California. The event ran from 6pm all the way until 12am and it was free!

This event is interesting, because it is a fusion event, combining not just one, but three things people love: food and drink, music, and gaming.

I figure, if both mediums offer entertainment, especially with music being in games, and even gaming music being popular, there must be a big market crossover for people to come to an event like this. And I was right.

First off, the eSports Arena is a pretty chill venue. The venue regularly offers local competitions for gaming, and even held a large 250-person Super Smash Bros. tournament, drawing public and drawing some of the biggest competitive names to the scene.

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There was a pretty cool food truck outside offering tricked out burgers and tacos, but only one.

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Stepping into the event, we were greeted by an employee. You walk in, and the first thing you notice is a dark and clubby vibe. Right as you walk in, you feel the energy, with electronic music pounding, and people all around.

The first thing in front of you when you walk in is a bar. For some, catching a drink is the first thing they’d want to do to start enjoying the rest of what is on offer.

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The event was also being livestreamed on Twitch, so you could see fancy recording equipment stationed everywhere. I was told that the venue also had a fancy production studio on-site, where the livestream broadcast production and editing was being handled by the team involved.

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As you delve in further, you find videogame stations, designed for playing with two people at each station. There is an arcade machine setup on an Xbox One up front, where players can use real arcade sticks and buttons to play the hot new fighting game, Dragonball FighterZ. On the right, there was another gaming station for people to play Xbox games with normal controllers. This also suited two people and came pre-loaded with many games, such as Dragonball FighterZ and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. There was a also a Wii U station for people to play two-player matches in Smash Bros.

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Though the event was not full, it was decently populated. It was interesting seeing the younger demographic come in with their friends, watching them enjoy the bar and music, but then also going to have fun with some rounds of DragonBall with their friends.

Going around a curve, you come to the main stage of the venue. There is a DJ playing electronic music, and groups of people crowding in front to party and enjoy the music. The DJ’s were provided by Dim Mak, which is Steve Aoki’s record label. Pretty good music back there.

There was also an upstairs area, which you could view the party from above from. This area also hosted several small standing tables where people could play cards or board games at.

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There was also a lounge area with a large couch and a large screen TV, and Wii U, pre-loaded with a copy of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, for a group to play.

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Having arrived at around 9pm and attempting to go back up the stairs for more photos, I found the security had closed off the second floor. Must have not gotten too much traffic up there.

Overall, the event was fun, and it goes to show how just like with fusion food, fusion parties with gaming and music can be just as exciting. And just like music can be at events, gaming can be social as well. I believe combining two of entertainment’s most accessible and energetic mediums at an event like this is something truly unique. For me, as both an avid gamer and musician, it brings two of my biggest entertainment and creative passions into one event.

Some things that I would choose to improve about the event, are as follows:

First off, I believe the marketing for the event could be better. Even though I keep up with the latest news in gaming and music, I would not have known about this event if not for my friend telling me. More advertising and local marketing can definitely be done for future events.

Also, another thing to improve is to offer more gaming stations, more food options, and more activities to do around the area. I’d also recommend having a photo booth at the event for partygoers and their friends to come. Personally, I came around 9pm and was ready to leave at 11. I suppose staying for the DJ’s music is fine if you’re at a club, but for one-off events like this, most people aren’t enticed enough to stay the full six hours. After a while, people will get tired of playing games with pounding electronic music in the background, or they’ll likely be tired of listening to the DJ for six hours. However, for a short burst of a couple hours, this event is definitely something cool.

I’m looking forward to more events from EMX, and seeing their events continue to grow and get better. It’s definitely something unique, and for being in its first few rounds, it’s off to a great start. What they’re doing is cool, and I fully recommend everyone who’s interested in gaming or electronic music to check out one of their events.

For updates, check out EMX’s social media:

https://www.facebook.com/emxmusic/?fref=pb&hc_location=profile_browser

https://twitter.com/EMX_Music?s=09

Till next time,

Noah Sanchez