Nintendo released a software update for Nintendo Switch on Monday, and while most of the changes are under-the-hood “system stability improvements,” one tweak will be noticeable to folks trying to make new user accounts or send messages.
According to Nintendo modder and tinkerer OatmealDome, Ver. 10.2.0 expands the number of banned words on the platform, including terms such as KKK, slave, nazi, and ACAB. The ban list also includes terms such as coronavirus and COVID. Sports Grind Entertainment tested these words out while making a new user on a Nintendo Switch lite and found that while they resulted in a warning message, the acronym BLM was allowed by the system. Most of these words seem to be a response to the current political moment in America.
Previously, the homebrew scene released a list of words banned on the portable Nintendo 3DS system, and it included curious terms such as “buttnuggets” and “analintruder.” This year, Nintendo made a statement that said the company stands “with the Black community and all those who recognize our shared humanity and fundamental belief in equity and justice,” reportedly even double matching employee donations to related causes.
Apple will temporarily stop taking a 30 percent cut on Facebook event fees
Earlier this year, Facebook launched a new feature that let small businesses create paid online events. The company framed it as a way of helping organizations struggling with lost revenue during the pandemic, and said that because of the exceptional circumstances, it would not collect any fees on purchases for these events until August 2021.
But the social network also stressed that any payments made on iOS would be subject to Apple’s standard 30 percent platform fees, noting this meant less money for small businesses. As Fidji Simo, head of Facebook’s main app, said at the time: “We asked Apple to reduce its 30% App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and [small businesses] will only be paid 70% of their hard-earned revenue.”
Facebook’s framing of this policy as Apple vs the little guy seems to have worked, and the social network now says Apple will let it process payments for online events using Facebook Pay. That means no 30 percent fee for Apple and more money for businesses, at least in the short term. Facebook says all businesses are eligible except Facebook Gaming creators and that the policy will also only last until the end of 2020.
Apple confirmed the news to The Sports Grind Entertainment and said that collecting a fee from apps offering services that take place outside the app itself is a long-held App Store policy. Since the pandemic hit and more businesses have started selling virtual events, the iPhone maker has had similar disagreements with other firms. Facebook is not the first company it’s waived fees for until the end of the year, and Apple says it’s also done the same with Airbnb and ClassPass. Apple said in the case of Facebook Gaming creators it would not waive fees because these individuals’ business model has been unaffected by the pandemic.
This is a sideshow compared to Apple’s larger war with Fortnite creator Epic, but it shares the same target (Apple’s platform fees) and shows how companies are increasingly able to win new ground in this old battle. In this case, Facebook’s success seems to be in part due to the fact it’s been able to frame its motivations as altruistic while painting Apple as an avaricious monolith. (Epic is trying to do the same with its #FreeFortnite campaign and satirical ads.) But, of course, Facebook also stands to benefit if Apple drops its platform fees on iOS and gives freer reign to third-party payment systems.
The tech companies know that public sentiment will play a role in deciding the outcome of these battles and seem keen to engage their users. CEOs are being increasingly vocal about Apple’s business model, with Mark Zuckerberg recently decrying the company’s “stranglehold” on users’ phones. Notably, Facebook even tried to tell users about Apple’s 30 percent on the payment screen on its app, but says Apple blocked the change, citing an App Store policy that bars developers from showing users “irrelevant” information.
At least for now Facebook’s tactics seem to have worked, but it seems the company won’t stop here. A statement from Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne made it clear that the firm thinks Apple’s concession are not enough. “Apple has agreed to provide a brief, three-month respite after which struggling businesses will have to, yet again, pay Apple the full 30% App Store tax,” said Osborne. In other words: expect to hear more about this in 2021.
Displaced No Man’s Sky fans are now using a galactic Zillow
James L. had spent hours and hours scouring the stars, landing on countless planets and sizing up the biomes. After finally finding a planet that reminded him of Earth with a mellow breeze, he settled in and spent more time building his own personal base. It was a small project, but it was his, and it would serve as his headquarters and base as he explored the galaxy.
Then, he logged into No Man’s Sky to find that the newest Origins update had changed his planet to be more like a tepid, hell-like wasteland.
“Honestly, I feel like deleting [the game],” James told Sports Grind Entertainment over Reddit DMs. “I was one of these people on the hunt to find the perfect Earth like planet, and after spending soooo many hours hunting for it, then spending so many hours building a few big builds on it… it all seems for nothing now.”
Origins, which released in late September, is a massive patch that adds flora, fauna, mountain ranges, deep ocean caves, fish school behavior, storms, tornadoes, sandworms, and more to the sandbox space exploration game. So far, the reaction has been largely positive as players discover a new galaxy. But some players are more distraught, and the community is already organizing to lend them a hand. When there’s a need, there’s room for a resource, and long-time community members have organized a new system to find beautiful homeworlds for a fresh start.
D. Macneill is one of these players, and he’s organized a group for others to easily find beautiful homeworlds with no storms or hostile Sentinels. Macneill runs a group called No Man Sky’s Habitable Planets. The group was originally intended for nomads who were okay with uprooting for a new home, but Origins made their mission much more urgent for many players.
“Looking for a new planet to call home? This group is dedicating [sic] to exploring the vast universe for the most perfect and habitable planets,” the Reddit page reads. “NO STORMS NO SENTINELS!!”
“The goal was to have enough planets in our page so that someone could ideally just search what they want ‘green grass, blue skies’ and a planet with their desired features would come up.” Macneill told Sports Grind Entertainment over Reddit.
Emily R., another player who is looking for a new home after aggressive fauna swarmed her base with the Origins update, now has a home in a world that looks abandoned. Fortunately, she can now just go on the Habitable Planets project and scroll through a selection of planets.
“It’s a little like Tinder,” Emily laughs. “I’m like, brown water? Ew, no. Mountain ranges? I don’t want to deal with that. Purple planet? Yeah, that’s cute, swipe right!”
Within a few hours, Origins doubled the size of the Habitable Planet’s player base to 700 members and 2000 visitors, with fans flocking to the group in order to find their new home. The project continues to grow.
Origins made Macneill’s project even easier to execute, as well as swelling with the demand. Portals are a teleportation system in the game that instantly take you from a station to a planet, or from one base to another. Origins ironed out how said portals work, and you can now build on a planet you access via portal, whereas before you had to manually find the planet and could only arrive on it after seeing it via a portal.
“We used to require [people posting planets to the page] to be available to give [players interested in the planet they posted] rides to their desired destinations; if you travel by portal, you wouldn’t be able to put a base down, due to portal interference,” Macneill explains. The new update allows players to put a glyph down, teleporting their friends to the planet and allowing them to get to work instantly.
There are also practical considerations for players. One player, Shakey_Shaman, spoke about how he had built a mineral farm over 25-30 hours, slowly building up piles of metal plating and teleporting them to and fro, then carefully placing them. Then, he logged in to find all of that work 200 feet in the air, with his production cut down to a mere quarter of its efficiency.
But there are upsides to the update for many players who have logged into find homeworlds changed. One player, Teiju, had his planet change into something straight out of Doom, which he described as “beautiful”, and a welcome change over the plain scorched planet he had been on before.
Shaky_Shaman agrees, planning to set back off and create more bases — and new carefully crafted farms — across the planets. “After hundreds and hundreds of hours in this game, the fact that I now again have probably more and more hours of new exploration content now, is one of the driving factors that, despite the hardships we have gone through, keep drawing us back to the game.”
Facebook critics have formed their own oversight board
“This is an emergency response,” Guardian journalist and founder of The Citizens Carole Cadwalladr told NBC News. “We know there are going to be a series of incidents leading up to the election and beyond in which Facebook is crucial. This is a real-time response from an authoritative group of experts to counter the spin Facebook is putting out.”
We’ve had 17 years of Zuckerberg’s apologies.
— The Real Facebook Oversight Board (@FBoversight) September 25, 2020
The Real Facebook Oversight Board comprises 25 or so experts from the fields of academia, civil rights, politics and journalism. Among them are the company’s former head of election integrity operations for political ads Yael Eisenstat and early investor Roger McNamee. Other members include UK Member of Parliament Damian Collins, NAACP president Derrick Johnson and Marietje Schaake, a politician and the international policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center.
The group will discuss Facebook platform issues in weekly public Zoom meetings and broadcast those on Facebook Live. Topics will include political ads, militias organizing themselves through Facebook events and the spread of QAnon conspiracy theories. The first meeting is set to take place on October 1st, with a focus on election issues such as voter suppression and misinformation.
Facebook announced plans to form its own Oversight Board in 2018 and revealed the first batch of members in May. Some experts have suggested the board’s mandate is far too limited, as a large part of its work will center on content moderation appeals.
Facebook will abide by that panel’s decisions but the company can ignore the Real Facebook Oversight Board’s suggestions entirely. It voiced concerns over that group to the investment firm Omidyar Network, which has provided funding to The Citizens. Facebook spokesman Jeffrey Gelman told NBC News the company tried to convince investors that “we are ultimately working toward the same goal.”
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