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SYFY WIRE gaming

Gaming: Mario, Zelda join Nintendo VR; Big game companies investigated; more

By Josh Weiss
Super Mario Odyssey

In today's gaming roundup, Nintendo VR is getting two major titles, several big video game companies have come under investigation in Europe, and India grapples with the unfortunate societal affects of a certain battle royale game.

Later this month, two major Nintendo titles are coming to the company's Labo VR Goggles, Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, according to a tweet from the company posted yesterday.

The accompanying video promises that the Labo version of Odyssey includes "bite-sized" bonus content that you don't get in the regular Switch game, such as "three new mini-missions." Labo Zelda, it seems, doesn't have any extra goodies, but we imagine seeing the open world kingdom of Hyrule through VR goggles is quite stunning.

You can play both games on the Labo starting Thursday, April 25. All you have to do is download a free software update—no purchase is required.

Britain's Competition and Markets Authority announced in a press release today that it would be opening up an investigation on Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft over the fairness of the companies' "auto-renewal terms."

"The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is concerned about whether some of these companies’ business practices are legal, such as their use of auto-renewals for online gaming contracts, their cancellation and refund policies, and their terms and conditions," reads the release.

The CMA said that it is most concerned with gaming done on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation, reaching out to each company and asking more information on their "online gaming contracts."

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"Roll-over contracts are becoming more and more commonplace, and it's essential that they work well for customers," added CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli. "Our investigation will look into whether the biggest online gaming companies are being fair with their customers when they automatically renew their contracts, and whether people can easily cancel or get a refund. Should we find that the firms aren’t treating people fairly under consumer protection law, we are fully prepared to take action."

The CMA itself is a non-ministerial government department that concerns itself with looking into mergers, consumer law, and unregulated markets.

But that's not the only investigative news today. Per Reuters, the European Union has charged six video game companies over "unfair geo-blocking" and "preventing EU consumers from shopping around within the European Union to find the best deal for the games they offer."

Among those charged were Valve, the company that owns Steam. Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media, and ZeniMax made up the rest of the list.


“In a true digital single market, European consumers should have the right to buy and play video games of their choice regardless of where they live in the EU,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told Reuters.

All six companies received formal complaints and will be allowed to present their cases to the commission. If they're found guilty, though, they could be fined up to 10% of their annual global revenues.

Gaming is becoming a serious political issue in India after a 16-year-old boy committed suicide when his mother chastised him for playing PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds instead of studying for an English exam, AP reports.

The boy's father is now calling for a ban on the online battle royale game, which is developed by the PUBG Corporation and similar to Epic Games' Fortnite.

This unfortunate suicide is just the latest video-game-related death over the last month. In March, two men were apparently killed by a train when they were playing the game on their phones and not paying attention to the tracks.

“Children are addicted and it is causing psychological disturbances. Horrible images infiltrate their minds and cause adverse effects. Only a national ban will have a positive result,” Achyuta Rao, president of a children’s advocacy group in Hyderabad, told AP.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Some cities in the state of Gujarat have already outlawed the title, although some have allegedly revoked the order. Since that was enacted, around 24 young people have been arrested for continuing to play the game. If you're found violating the ban, the punishment isn't just a slap on the wrist, but up to six months in jail. This, however, seems an unlikely outcome, according to police commissioner Manoj Agrawal.

A movement is fast growing across the entire country, sparking a debate over whether or not the game should be banned everywhere. However, the Internet Freedom Foundation in New Delhi feels that such a proposition is unconstitutional and that those who have been arrested should be freed, with all charges dropped.

“If you curb someone’s freedom, you have to have logical reasoning and a legal basis. You need to support your claim that the game leads to violence and hatred with reasoning instead of this kind of arbitrary ban which deprives people of their freedom,” Karnika Seth, a lawyer based in New Delhi, said to AP.