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Nintendo plans reboot

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Nintendo has revealed new details about games in its line-up for 2015 and beyond, along with news about major updates to current games and all things amiibo.

Later this year Animal Crossing players will be able to put their home-design skills to the test in the newly announced Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Meanwhile, a totally new form of amiibo, “amiibo cards”, will also launch later this year, with the first set of cards featuring Animal Crossing characters. By using the first set of amiibo cards in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, players can enjoy a whole new Animal Crossing gameplay experience.

Nintendo also confirmed its commitment to provide premium content updates to players of games already released. A free update available to every Mario Kart 8 owner brings the brand new 200cc racing class to all courses. The fastest class ever in the history of Mario Kart adds a new challenge to the game, even for the most seasoned series veterans. Major add-on content and updates were also announced for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS and StreetPass Mii Plaza.

Nintendo also confirmed release dates for Splatoon and Yoshi’s Woolly World, more on Mario Maker and the next Fire Emblem game. New games announced include BOXBOY!, a charming puzzle-platform game from the creators of Kirby that is available now from Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS, and a new instalment in the chilling and supernatural Project Zero series for Wii U.

To view the announcements made during a Nintendo Direct broadcast, visit www.nintendodirect.nintendo.co.za or check out the Nintendo UK YouTube channel.

Some of the key announcements, as supplied by Nintendo, include:

amiibo

  • amiibo cards: A totally new form of amiibo is coming later this year! The first set of amiibo cards will feature Animal Crossing characters and will be compatible with the new Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer game. The NFC reader/writer accessory for Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL and Nintendo 2DS that can read amiibo figures and amiibo cards will also launch at the same time.
  • The next waves of Super Smash Bros. amiibo: In May, two new amiibo in the Super Smash Bros. Collection will launch: Greninja and Jigglypuff. June brings Palutena, Dark Pit, Zero Suit Samus and Ganondorf, and in July Olimar, Dr. Mario and Bowser Jr. will join the amiibo family.
  • Play classic Nintendo games using amiibo: amiibo Touch & Play: Nintendo Classics Highlights is coming in May as a free download from Nintendo eShop for Wii U. With this title, Wii U users can unlock a variety of three-minute gameplay highlights from select NES and Super NES games, simply by tapping an amiibo to the GamePad.
  • Yarn Yoshi amiibo: A new set of Yoshi amiibo figures, made out of a knitted material, will launch alongside Yoshi’s Woolly World. Among other uses, tapping one of these yarn amiibo to the GamePad while playing Yoshi’s Woolly World will make another Yoshi appear, allowing players to control Double Yoshi. The Yarn Yoshi amiibo will be available in three colours: green, pink and light blue.
  • Splatoon amiibo: Launching simultaneously with Splatoon on 29th May are Inkling Girl and Inkling Boy amiibo figures, as well as a special edition including the game and the Inkling Squid amiibo. By tapping one of these amiibo to the GamePad, players in Splatoon can receive special missions to unlock weapons and gear.
  • More Mario Kart 8 Mii racing suits: On 23rd April, a free downloadable update to Mario Kart 8 will add support for nine more amiibo characters: Wario, PAC-MAN, Olimar, Bowser, Sonic, Toad, Villager, Rosalina and Mega Man. Players can tap these amiibo to outfit their Mii characters in Mii racing suits themed to those amiibo characters.

Wii U

  • Mario Maker: Mario Maker launches exclusively for Wii U in September and enables users to easily create their own Mario courses and share them online with people all over the world! Various activities related to the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. are also planned throughout the year.
  • Splatoon: In addition to previously detailed single-player and online “Turf War” modes, action shooter Splatoon will feature a competitive “Ranked Battle” mode, which ranks and matches players based on their wins in 4-on-4 multiplayer games. The game will also feature a “Battle Dojo”. In this mode, players can enjoy local 1-on-1 battles with friends. One player uses the GamePad, while the other plays on the TV screen, competing to see who can pop the most balloons. Splatoon will launch exclusively for Wii U on 29th May.
  • Yoshi’s Woolly World: The lovingly crafted new Wii U game launches on 26th June and overflows with challenges and hidden secrets. In addition to the challenging Classic Mode, Yoshi’s Woolly World adds Mellow Mode, which lets players of all skill levels play as Winged Yoshi. From launch, a bundle comprising a copy of the game and a Green Yarn Yoshi amiibo will also be available.
  • 200cc in Mario Kart 8: For the first time in the Mario Kart series, a 200cc racing class is coming to Mario Kart 8. Even faster than 150cc, the new high-speed class will be applied to all tracks in the game and makes braking an important consideration during a race! The new 200cc class will be offered as a free downloadable update to all Mario Kart 8 players on 23rd April. On this same day, the purchasable Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 2 – themed after Animal Crossing – featuring three new characters, four new vehicles and eight new tracks will also be released.
  • Nintendo 64 and Nintendo DS games hit Wii U Virtual Console: Releasing at 01:00am today (2nd April), classic Nintendo 64 and Nintendo DS games are coming to Virtual Console on Wii U. Today brings Mario Kart DS and WarioWare Touched! for Nintendo DS and Super Mario 64 and Donkey Kong 64 for Nintendo 64. While playing Nintendo DS games, the TV and GamePad combination will provide various options for dual-screen layouts, while all Nintendo 64 games that supported the Rumble Pak will continue rumbling away on the Wii U GamePad. As a special offer, purchase any three of these games before 16th April and receive the fourth one for free on the same Wii U. Games scheduled for future release include Paper Mario for Nintendo 64 and Yoshi’s Island DS for Nintendo DS in May.
  • More downloadable Wii games on Wii U: Adding to the growing list of Wii games available to download from Nintendo eShop on Wii U, critically acclaimed titles Pandora’s Tower and Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Skies will arrive on 16th April and 30th April respectively. Both games will also be 25% off for one week after their launch.
  • Shin Megami Tensei & Fire Emblem Crossover Project: The role-playing masters at ATLUS are developing a truly modern RPG, where everyday life exists alongside a secret world of fantasy, including characters from the Fire Emblem series.
  • New Project Zero game coming to Europe: Fans who have been clamouring for a chance to play the latest game in the unnerving Project Zero series will have their chance when it launches later this year for Wii U. Players will play as one of three different characters, each with their own storyline as they explore the cursed tourist destination, Mount Hikami. The Wii U GamePad is used as a camera to investigate the environments and soak in the supernatural atmosphere, as well as a means to fend off hostile spirits during quick bursts of chilling action.
  • Affordable Space Adventures: The Wii U GamePad transforms into the cockpit display of a stealth spacecraft in this Wii U exclusive. On a hostile planet, players need to carefully manage all of the ship’s systems to avoid danger and slip by monsters unnoticed. Players can fly solo or work together in local multiplayer as a crew of two or three players, each with their own specific responsibilities. Affordable Space Adventures is available from Nintendo eShop for Wii U from 9th April.
  • Swords & Soldiers 2: Coming exclusively to Nintendo eShop for Wii U on 21st May, this side-scrolling strategy and action game is the sequel to the award-winning WiiWare title. Build structures and create an army to overpower the enemy on a 2D battleground. With touch screen controls it only takes a quick tap to heal your units, cast lightning bolts and unleash meteor strikes!

Nintendo 3DS

  • Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer: This new spin-off title in the Animal Crossing series focuses on the decorating and home-designing aspects of the Animal Crossing games. Animals will ask players to design houses for them, and it’s up to designers-in-the-making to meet the animals’ requests by furnishing and decorating their homes. By scanning a new Animal Crossing series amiibo card to a New Nintendo 3DS system or NFC reader/writer accessory, players can design a room for that specific character on the card and scan additional character cards to invite those characters to visit. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer will launch this autumn.
  • Fire Emblem (working title): For the first time in the series, the main playable character is not only a customisable avatar, but also the main hero or heroine of the game. Players must choose to take one of two major paths, resulting in two different experiences: the “Hoshido” side for a more traditional experience, or the “Nohr” side, which makes the story more complex and the difficulty level more challenging. The new Fire Emblem title will launch for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems in 2016.
  • Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition: This two-games-in-one package releases on 8th May. Puzzle & Dragons Z combines the key elements of a deep and strategic puzzle game, a dungeon-crawling RPG and a monster-collecting adventure. Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition offers the same deep puzzle gameplay, presented in the Super Mario Bros. universe. For players who can’t wait until launch day to play, a free demo for Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition will be coming soon to Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS.
  • Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.: Launching on 15th May, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is a turn-based strategy shooter featuring extensive single-player and multiplayer content. Multiplayer supports both local and online play across various modes such as Death Match – where each turn only lasts 60 seconds, Medal Battle – where teams battle to collect the most medals with limited turns in a limited time, and “A.B.E. Battle” – where players fight using a giant robot inspired by Abraham Lincoln himself. Players will be able to enter tournaments against players from all over the world and even host their own private tournaments.
  • New StreetPass Games: On 16th April, two new StreetPass Mii Plaza games will be available to purchase. In StreetPass Fishing, players visit islands to try to catch more than 150 types of fish and legendary monsters with bait received from Mii characters via StreetPass. In StreetPass Zombies, players receive items based on the hobbies of their Mii Plaza StreetPass characters to defeat a horde of zombies. Fans will also get the option to purchase StreetPass Mii Plaza Premium, which adds features like StreetPass Birthdays and the new VIP Room.
  • BOXBOY!: From the celebrated developer HAL Laboratory, Inc., creators of the Kirby series, comes BOXBOY!. This monochrome platform-puzzle game tasks players with creating, casting and hooking blocks to navigate more than 150 challenging stages. BOXBOY! is available from midnight tonight, releasing exclusively on Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS.
  • Pokémon Rumble World: The latest game in the Pokémon Rumble series is free-to-start (with paid content) and features over 700 Pokémon, all the way from the original Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue to the recent Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. Pokémon Rumble World will launch on Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS on 8th April.
  • Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains: Based on the popular anime, Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains features four-player local and online co-op gameplay and leaderboards as players work together to defend the outer walls from the giant Titans. Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains will launch on Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS in May. For some early inspiration, the first two episodes of the Attack on Titan anime series are available for free on Nintendo eShop from 01:00am today, 2nd April, until 1st July.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt & Mighty Gunvolt: Experience thrilling fast-paced action in these two separate but related titles from acclaimed developer Keiji Inafune. Play as a powerful hero who can control lightning. Blast through stages, conquer intimidating bosses and challenge yourself to set new high scores. Both titles are available from 2nd April on Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS and until 1st July, purchasers of Azure Striker Gunvolt will receive Mighty Gunvolt for free.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS

  • New (AOC) challengers approaching!: The previously announced Mewtwo will join the roster of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS as a downloadable character on 28th April. Players who have purchased and registered both versions of the game by 31st  March will receive free download codes for Mewtwo on 15th April. In addition, fan-favourite character Lucas from MOTHER3, the sequel to EarthBound released only in Japan, is planned to join the all-star Super Smash Bros. cast in June as purchasable DLC. After a software update on 15th April, Super Smash Bros. players can also purchase more costumes for their Mii fighters, including outfits inspired by major game series, such as The Legend of Zelda, Xenoblade Chronicles and Capcom’s Mega Man series.
  • Vote for your own Super Smash Bros. fighter: Starting today, Super Smash Bros. fans can visit http://www.smashbros.com to participate in a “Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot.” Fans can use this ballot to vote for which character they would like to see added to Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U as a playable character.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

Arts and Entertainment

VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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