Nintendo has added a new payment option for eShop purchases on the Nintendo Switch and on its website. Starting today, you can now link your Nintendo account to your PayPal account and pay for future purchases using your PayPal balance or any payment method already linked to your PayPal account.
This update is only about the Switch. If you’re still using a Wii U or Nintendo 3DS, you’re out of luck. So the next time you purchase something on your Switch, you either can add your credit card information, use a saved credit card or add your PayPal account.
This option is particularly useful for a couple of reasons. First, the Switch is a region-free console, meaning that you can play games you bought in another country with your console.
But Nintendo didn’t stop at physical games. You can buy Japanese games on the eShop even if you bought your console in the U.S. Or you can pay in U.S. dollars even if you live in Europe. There are many reasons why it’s nice to be able to access other stores.
If you want to access another store, you need to add a new account to your Switch. You can then buy games in different stores. They’ll all appear on your home screen without any distinction.
But some banks charge some expensive foreign transaction fees. While PayPal isn’t perfect, it could be a better option if you’re trying to buy games in a foreign currency depending on your bank.
Second, PayPal is a nice option if you have kids. Instead of saving your credit card information to your kids’ console, you can create a PayPal account for them and credit some money. This way, they can buy stuff on their own and you can limit their purchases.
PayPal’s integration for the Switch is available in Japan, the U.S., Canada and 31 European countries.
Call of Duty: WWII is one of the most anticipated titles of the year; after three years of jet-packing the franchise returns to its roots of boots-on-the-ground action.
On the heels of the CWL Champs tournament (congratulations, Optic Gaming!), Activision and Sledgehammer have announced that the private beta for CoD: WWII will go live on August 25, and have concurrently released a trailer for the multiplayer beta.
The beta will be available on PS4, and will include some of the same content we saw at E3 this year, including three maps and a new game mode called War Mode.
You can check out the beta trailer below and you can check out our interview with Sledgehammer boss Michael Condrey right here.
Microsoft is about to share the last details on the Xbox One X with a press conference ahead of the Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. You can watch it live right here at 12 PM on the West Coast, 3 PM on the East Coast, 8 PM in the U.K., 9 PM in Germany.
The company already said on Twitter that we can expect to hear more details about pre-orders for the Xbox One X:
Microsoft should also share new trailers for upcoming games, such as Forza Motorsport 7, Sea of Thieves, maybe another extension for Halo Wars 2, etc.
The Xbox One X is Microsoft’s upcoming gaming console. It’s a more powerful Xbox One that should work better with demanding games. You’ll be able to buy it on November 7 for $499. Microsoft says that you can expect 4K games with an acceptable framerate.
And yet, based on specs, the console should be more or less as powerful as a gaming PC with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070. If you have a 4K TV, games should definitely look better with an Xbox One X. But the existing Xbox One S is going to remain available after the release of the Xbox One X.
Another sign that e-sports are turning into a big business: Nielsen is launching a new division focused providing research and consulting to the industry.
The measurement firm already has a unit focused on gaming — in fact, Nicole Pike, Nielsen’s vice president of gaming, said Nielsen Esports was created in response to growing interest from the firm’s gaming clients. One of the biggest opportunities, Pike said, lies in measuring the value of e-sports sponsorships.
“It’s clear that there’s a gap in the e-sports industry,” she said. “There’s a huge opportunity for there to be some solid metrics.”
To provide those metrics, Nielsen is drawing on its previous work evaluating sports sponsorships. This new team will sit at the intersection of the firm’s gaming and sports units, with Pike leading the research side and Stephen Master, managing director of Nielsen Sports North America, heading the commercial side.
The firm has already developed a sponsorship tracking service called Esport24. Apparently there’s a big range in e-sports sponsorships — the firm says that in the tournaments it’s tracked so far this year, it’s seen playoff sponsorships provide as little as $75,000 in value to the advertiser, and as much as $17 million.
Pike also said Nielsen can serve as “an impartial third party in the whole e-sports discussion.” It won’t be doing this on its own — it has also created an advisory board with representatives from ESL, ESPN, Facebook, FIFA, Major League Gaming/Activision Blizzard, NBA 2K League, The Next Level, Sony PlayStation, Turner, Twitch, Twitter, Unilever and Google/YouTube.
Featured Image: Chesnot/Getty Images
In an announcement about a set of new discovery tools, Amazon-owned video game streaming site Twitch also unveiled that it recently acquired Palo Alto-based video indexing platform ClipMine. The startup’s technology is now being put to use to translate visual information in videos – like objects, text, logos and scenes – into metadata that can help people more easily find the streams they want to watch.
Launched back in 2015, ClipMine had originally introduced a platform designed for crowdsourced tagging and annotations. The idea then was to offer a technology that could sit over top videos on the web – like those on YouTube, Vimeo or DailyMotion – that allowed users to add their own annotations. This, in turn, would help other viewers find the part of the video they wanted to watch, while also helping video publishers learn more about which sections were getting clicked on the most.
The company later pivoted to focus on the e-sports industry, with tools that could extract information from game videos like player names, game type, number of gaming sessions per stream, and more. It also shifted away from the idea of crowdsourcing to take advantage of other technologies, like computer vision and machine learning.
Twitch’s interest in the company’s deep learning-based video indexing platform was due to its ability to analyze video content – like gamer’s streams – to identify what’s taking place in those streams, who’s playing and other variables.
It has now put this technology to use with the launch of new stream discovery tools for Blizzard Entertainment’s “Overwatch” and “Hearthstone.”
In the directories for those game streams, viewers are able to filter channels by a number of factors, including by hero on “Overwatch” streams, by game mode, player rank, number of wins, and by hero class on “Hearthstone” streams.
This is not the first time Twitch has introduced metadata filtering for game streams on its site. In April, the company added a feature that allowed viewers to filter “League of Legends” streams by player rank and champions played. This proved to be a fairly popular addition, the company says.
“When we recently introduced metadata filtering options for one of our top e-sports games, we not only received positive reception from its fans, but demand from the greater community to have access to similar discovery tools for other titles,” said JT Gleason, Director, Integration Success, at Twitch, in a statement.
Bringing a similar filtering option to “Overwatch” and “Hearthstone” made sense because they were two of Twitch’s most popular competitive games, and players often watch others in order to help improve their own skills.
“Our new metadata filters now make it easy to find more granular aspects of gameplay that previously required a lot more searching,” Gleason added.
Traditionally, online video content is indexed much like the web – using metadata like titles, tags, descriptions, and captions. But Twitch’s streams are live, and don’t have as much metadata to index. That’s where a technology like ClipMine can help. Streamers don’t have to do anything differently than usual to have their videos indexed, instead, ClipMine will analyze and categorize the content in real-time.
“Video game streams have a very rich structure that has been difficult to exploit for the purpose of enabling content discovery,” said Zia Syed, an ex-Goolger and ClipMine’s founder, who’s now director of engineering at Twitch. “By employing computer vision and machine learning developed at ClipMine, we have been able to recreate that structure in a reliable, scalable and cost-effective way. This enables us to match creators and viewers in a very precise manner opening up new ways of content discovery on Twitch,” he added.
According to Syed’s LinkedIn, he joined Twitch in November of last year, so Twitch’s characterization of the ClipMine acquisition as “recent” is a slight stretch.
The new filtering feature began rolling out on Thursday. Twitch hints that more discovery tools are in the works, noting in a blog post that users should “keep your eyes peeled.”
ClipMine was backed by $2.6 million funding, says Crunchbase. Investors included Google board member Ram Shriram, former Facebook vice president Greg Badros, entrepreneur Amarjit Gill and Cadence CEO Lip-Bu Tam.
Want those snazzy neon green and pink Switch controllers you’ve been coveting? In the U.S. and Canada, you’ll have to head to Walmart to pick up the Splatoon 2 Switch console bundle – at least initially. The bundle, announced today by Nintendo, will include Neon Pink and Neon Green right and left Switch controllers, as well as Splatoon 2, the console and the dock, along with the Switch controller holder.
The bundle will cost $379.99 and sell beginning September 8 through Wal-Mart stores. It’s basically the price of the console and the game together, since there’s also a Splatoon-themed carrying case in the mix that accounts for that extra $20. Plus it’s the only way to get those incredibly fly controllers in this part of the world (unless you can find the Japanese versions second-hand somewhere).
It sounds like those controllers could eventually get released separately in the U.S. – Nintendo says this is the “first chance” for North Americans to get the accessories, which implies it won’t be the last. But anyone who’s held out on the Switch for this long should probably consider this option anyway.
Author note: Abel Owen is Ingrid’s nine-year-old son. These are mostly his words; Ingrid just helped type them a little faster.
I use computers and the Internet all the time and really like them. They are an important part of modern life. And it’s pretty cool to know how they work. So when my mom asked me to help her review some Kano products I was like, “Yes! Let’s do it right now!”
Kano, if you don’t know about it already, is a company that makes interactive coding devices for children (and others) to help them learn more about technology and how computers and other electronic devices work. In the past couple of weeks I have looked at two different Kano devices, the Pixel Kit and the Motion Sensor Kit.
I started off with the Pixel Kit, a hand-held LED light board that launched in July.
It was pretty exciting since I was using an actual machine, using coding to control it. I liked how the whole thing came in parts in the box, and we had to assemble it as part of getting to use it. It reminded me of something my dad and I play with called Snap Circuits.
Then when it’s put together, you link it up with your computer using the Kano app. You create an account and then your kit and computer are connected.
I also made games, following the Kano instructions. One was about a hero in search of a treasure. You have to guide the hero towards the treasure.
There was also an accelerometer that you could attach which let you create games where you could tilt the Pixel Kit (it fits in your hand) to move the lights around. Kano has the scripts set up like tasks for you to learn, which helps learn how to do it. I’m pretty sure I could create my own simple games now for the Pixel without the instructions.
A couple of weeks later, we added to our Kano collection with the Motion Sensor Kit. This is a small gesture controller that also works with the Kano app.
You don’t need the Pixel Kit to use it. Like the Pixel, you create scripts on your Kano app. With the Motion Sensor, those scripts let the app respond to your movements as you wave your hand over the motion sensor.
One of the scripts I made was to make a “strumming guitar.” When you waved your hand over the motion sensor as if you were strumming a guitar, on the apps screen you could see guitar strings that moved and made sounds with your movements.
You could also create little pictures that responded to the movements, turtles that spin and snakes that go up and down. And others like this:
As with the Pixel, you can also make games. One that I liked was “Pong,” which made my hand into a table tennis paddle and I played with the computer.
My mom wants me to say also what I didn’t like about both. I think to improve the Pixel Kit, it would be good if there were a wider range of things to do, and maybe a way to fit more than three of your own creations on to your Pixel Kit. That would make it more exciting.
It was also a little fragile, especially since it’s kids using it. One day the battery just disconnected from the ‘brain’ (we had to glue it back). And my mom broke off the power button while trying to glue the battery back, so we had to glue that, too.
(ed. note: We accept this is possibly more our fault than Kano’s. Also, it would have been good to be able to get a Kano app for an iPad or the Google Chromebook Pixel that the family uses rather than a Mac. The Kano products also work with Windows computers and the previously released Kano Computer Kit.)
The Motion Sensor was more sturdy, but it would have been better if it wasn’t tethered to my mom’s Mac.
Both can be purchased either directly through the Kano store. In the US, they will soon also be on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Toys R Us, ThinkGeek and Gamestop. In Canada, the product will be available at Indigo, Toys R Us and The Source. In the UK, it will also be on amazon.co.uk.
Kano — co-founded by Alex Klein, Yonatan Raz-Fridman, and Saul Klein — has raised $19 million in funding to date. That includes funding it raised in a Kickstarter campaign that went viral, and a later, more formal venture round for $15 million. Backers include Jim Breyer, Marc Benioff, Martin Sorrell, Index Ventures, James Higa, Troy Carter and Shana Fisher.
We hope you liked this blog.
As the lines blur between esports and traditional sports, Mobalytics wants to become your personal trainer.
Today, the LA-based startup, which took home the TechCrunch Disrupt SF Startup Battlefield cup last year, is launching an open beta of its gamer performance tool.
The analytics/coaching startup is centered around what it calls the “GPI,” or Gamer Performance Index, which presents a quick snapshot of where a gamer is in terms of skill level on a number of shifting metrics. Additionally, while using Mobalytics, gamers get access to pre-game tips and post-game breakdowns to hear what they should be trying and what they messed up.
The company raised $2.6 million in seed funding last November from Founders Fund, General Catalyst, Almaz Capital and GGV Capital.
At the end of the day, Mobalytics is trying to be a coach for gamers looking to improve their skills and they’ve learned that different people respond to criticism in different ways, so they’ve had to add some heavy customization so they can stay conversational while not being too harsh on players who have some serious work to do.
Out of the gate, the startup has focused its efforts on the 100 million gamers playing League of Legends online, though they have plans to expand to CS:GO and Overwatch in the near future. Each gaming title requires a pretty intense level of customization for Mobalytics, as each game maker allows different data to be exported via its APIs.
Right now the startup has 26 employees working out of Russia, Ukraine and LA building up the engine and promoting stability as it has been preparing for a big influx of users as the beta goes wide. Mobalytics is exiting its closed beta with 120,000 registered users and is expecting to reach one million users by year’s end.
Last year Blizzard made what I felt was a huge mistake in scrapping the Battle.net brand, which gamers have associated with properties like StarCraft and Diablo for decades. The company has now reversed that decision, in what can only be a humble acknowledgment of my wisdom in these matters.
“The technology was never going away, but after giving the branding change further consideration and also hearing your feedback, we’re in agreement that the name should stay as well,” the company wrote today in a blog post.
The reasoning in 2016 was that there was “occasional confusion and inefficiencies” from Blizzard, the game development company, and Battle.net, the game launcher and matchmaking service, having different names.
I’m pretty sure that wasn’t actually a problem then, and I don’t think there’s one now. But probably to throw a bone to the marketing manager who suggested this ill-advised course of action in the first place, the service will now be known as “Blizzard Battle.net.”
Zug zug, but we’ll all still just call it Battle.net. Hopefully forever.
If you’re looking for a little more arcade feel for your Nintendo Switch, look no further than 8Bitdo’s NES30 Arcade Stick. The Bluetooth controller accessory is compatible with a range of platforms besides the Switch, and it’s a well-made gadget with careful attention paid to how buttons and the joysticks feel, giving an authentic arcade cabinet experience. It’s also very big, which is not necessarily a bad thing – just something to be aware of.
The NES30 Arcade Stick is a little larger than two Switch consoles stacked on top of one another, and thicker, too. It’s big and solid, which makes it optimal for staying planted when you’re getting fast and furious with fighting game combo action. The Joystick on the left is replaceable if you feel like you want a custom option from Sanwa, and the buttons are standard 30mm arcade models which can also be swapped out if you’re not entirely happy with the feel.
In my relatively amateur opinion, however, 8bitdo did a good job with the stock joystick and buttons included with the controller. They feel like a genuine arcade experience, with satisfying, audible clickiness for the buttons and just enough resistance when you’re rotating that stick. It’s a much better experience overall for pulling off special moves vs. using the existing Switch controllers, and really amps up the fun factor for Ultra Street Fighter II, as well as the many re-released classic SNK fighters available for the console.
The console also features a dedicated turbo button, and a switch for changing between X-input and D-input modes, as well as wired USB support for PC and Raspberry Pi devices, via the included 3-meter USB cable (which is also used for charging the internal battery). It gets 18 hours of playtime on just an hour or two of charging, which is plenty for a single charge, and works with Windows, Android, Mac, Switch and Steam wirelessly via Bluetooth, too.
Functionality aside, the best thing about the NES30 Arcade Stick might be its charm. The use of NES (or Famicom, depending on your model) inspired colors and graphics really makes for an attractive package. Depending on your interior decor tastes, it could even be a central conversation piece adorning a coffee table or curio cabinet when not in use.
The NES30 Arcade Stick is available to pre-order from Amazon for $79.99, and will ship starting on August 20.