In the news this week – Mario has a mind of his own while Nintendo Club prepares to close its doors. Alex Roberts gives us the top 5 stories from the past week.
1. Pinterest to open more user data to advertisers
The social networking site Pinterest has stated it will open up more of its users’ data for advertisers to use in targeted ads. The new plan will see users’ interests or activities (for example sports or other hobbies) recorded on Pinterest, given to advertisers who will then market to these users based on the data acquired. Company directors insist that their users’ personal information will not be given away and claim that the new plan is beneficial for their users who are interested in using Pinterest to purchase better products. Analysts believe the new plan is being carried out as a way of increasing revenue for the company, which is currently valued at $3.8 billion.
2. The Elder Scrolls Online ends monthly subscriptions
Bethesda Studios have officially announced that, come March 17th, The Elder Scrolls Online will no longer require monthly subscriptions from its players. Instead, it will be free after the purchase of the base game. The news comes shortly after Australian retailers pulled the game from their shelves, announcing that they had been told it was now an essentially free product; the rest of the world were caught up by Bethesda shortly afterwards.
The game, which takes place in the fictional Elder Scrolls universe made famous by games like Skyrim and Oblivion, will essentially be free after purchase; although users will still be able to pay for optional downloadable content. Bethesda also announced that the game would soon be released on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One
3. Nintendo’s customer loyalty program to be shut down
Club Nintendo, Nintendo’s loyalty program that has been running since 2007, is to be officially shut down. Nintendo announced on January 20th that the program would be winding down and will officially end on the 30th of June. Until that time members of the Club can still purchase products such as downloadable games and items, but no new products will be released for the Club, and as of the 31st of March no new members will be able to sign up. Nintendo has announced that a new program will be set up to replace Club Nintendo, but has had made no official announcements as to what this new program will be; only stating that previous memberships to Club Nintendo will not be carried over to the new program.
4. Attempts to revive an internet “snoopers charter” universally condemned
Numerous high profile individuals and groups, including Nick Clegg and the ISP association, have condemned the attempt by a group of politicians to revive a ‘snoopers charter’ bill, by amending it to current anti-terror legislation being put before the House of Lords. The amendment, which was put forward by a group of politicians from across the leading parties, is to be tacked onto the Counter Terrorism Bill being discussed by the House of Lords. Essentially it is a revival of legislation from a Communications Bill that was wholly rejected by a joint Lords and Commons committee in 2012. A spokesperson for the group supporting the amendment claims that the most controversial sections of the bill had been removed, but critics have called the attempts to revive the bill “ill-judged” and “regrettable.”
5. Mario lives! Character provided with advanced Artificial Intelligence by University team
The Cognitive Modelling group of the University of Tüblingen has programmed the iconic Nintendo character Mario with artificial intelligence, enabling him to complete voice given tasks and explore and learn about his environment. The new program, which was submitted to a competition by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, can allow players to give Mario simple commands such as “kill enemy”, as well as question him about what he has learnt about his enemies and his environment.
On top of this, however, the program has been designed to allow Mario to carry out activities on his own initiative; the AI has been given traits such as hunger that directs Mario to collect coins when he feels “hungry”, and curiosity that drives Mario to explore the game world. The developers have been delighted by the progress, and hope to develop it further in the future.
Games and Tech Columnist
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