Entertainium Extra: 2DS announced, Wii U getting a price cut, and suspicious Ouya game Kickstarters

Hello, and welcome to Entertainium Extra! Our  weekly news round-up feature highlighting some of the bigger, interesting, or just plain weird stories from the past week.

This week saw Nintendo make a couple of announcements in regard to the 3DS and Wii U – one getting a new hardware revision, the other a price cut – as well as some strange Kickstarter business going down with the Ouya. Gonna be a long one today, so let’s get started.

Nintendo announces the 2DS, an entry level 3DS launching October 12
On Wednesday, Nintendo announced a new hardware revision for the 3DS: the 2DS. Described as an entry-level system, the 2DS drops the clamshell design of its brethren in favor a tablet-esque look (were said tablet designed by Fisher Price) along with the 3D functionality, hence the name. Because it only displays 2D images. The system launches on October 12 and will retail for $130, making it the cheapest version of the hand-held around as of now.

Though it’s nice to see a cheaper model hit store shelves, I question the need for the 2DS. It solves a problem that never existed in the first place – namely, the 3D and its potential to harm the development of children’s eyesight. You could just turn off the 3D on the regular 3DSes. Removing it seems like an unnecessary step. I can understand the comfort in knowing your kids can’t secretly play with the 3D enabled, but… I don’t know. The whole thing seems superfluous.

But hey – we’re not the target audience with this, so whatever. If this gets more 3DSes out in the wild, Nintendo wins, regardless of the unappealing aesthetics.

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Wii U gets a price cut, finally; also, Wind Waker HD bundle in late September
In other Nintendo news, they’ve finally taken the plunge and cut the price of the system. Sort of.

Starting on September 20, the Wii U Deluxe model will be dropped from $350 to $300, phasing out the basic model in the process (or almost, anyway). A smart, overdue move given the console’s abysmal performance so far, and at the right time, too. With games finally arriving on the platform this fall and two other new consoles to compete with, this price drop is necessary for Nintendo to stay competitive. Especially so with the new bundle coming out.

The same day the price cut goes into effect, Nintendo will also be releasing a system bundled with a download voucher for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. (The digital version comes out that same day, you see, so that’s why they elected to include a download code rather than a physical copy.) Zelda’s got a lot of sway, so that’s sure to start pushing units out the door.

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Suspicious Kickstarters for Ouya games are cropping up; Ouya seemingly unconcerned about it
A while back, Ouya created a promo for Kickstarters called “Free The Games,” in which Ouya would contribute $250,000 to any successful game-based Kickstarter. The catch is that the game has to remain exclusive to the system for at least six months. A bit dubious given the system’s unproven nature, but their heart’s in the right place.

The first games to take advantage of this offer arrived, recently, though not without rousing suspicion.

One in particular – Gridiron Thunder, from MogoTXT – has been the subject of much incredulity. The game, as of this writing, has raised $78,000 from its 143 backers, just barely exceeding its goal. Seems fine and dandy so far, yeah? Yeah. As Polygon points out, however, the math seems awfully strange.

As first noted on NeoGAF, Gridiron Thunder reached $78,466 as of press time, with only 142 backers, resulting in an average $553 per backer. While the game received under $100 every day during its first week starting Aug. 9, on Aug. 13 and 14 this spiked with backer offerings the ended in $10,187 and $10,216, respectively. On Aug. 19, the game received a total of $25,020 from backers, then later on Aug. 24 it received a total of $25,196 before experiencing another slump.

Suspicious, for sure. But then, MogoTXT has been quick to explain that they have connections in Silicon Valley, the CEO having worked there as a lawyer in the past. In addition, the team is made up of ex EA, Kixeye, and Glu employees, thus it’s possible that the game was funded by friends of the company. That would certainly explain the strange economics behind the Kickstarter’s success.

ec9bd831631fb4b35d6eff6d2f9f5842_largeAlso under scrutiny is Elementary, My Dear Holmes, a point-and-click adventure game from Victory Square Games, which met its goal with $52,000 raised so far. In Elementary’s case, an unusual amount of first-time backers came to fund the game; backers who’s accounts were made not long before the Kickstarter went live. If that weren’t enough, most of them used pictures of celebrities – at least one using the name and picture of a missing person.

To his credit, Victory Square Games head Sam Chandola noticed the oddity and sought to investigate. Having contacted both Amazon Payments and Kickstarter, he didn’t get much help, unfortunately. Amazon directed him to Kickstarter, which provided a boilerplate response to his concerns.

Regardless of whether the developers are involved in this (I hope they aren’t; would be real shitty if they were), something is most definitely up. Two Ouya games getting funded under strange circumstances at roughly the same time doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the platform or the projects, even if the studios are completely innocent. These events now loom over them and the Ouya, coloring people’s views on the young, struggling system.

I would hope an investigation is done to confirm whether there’s any nefarious intent here, but so far, the Ouya folks have seemed disinterested, merely happy to see games coming to their system. Will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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