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 MULTIFORMAT FEATURE

Scoop! The 10 biggest portable gaming scandals

This stuff makes News International look trivial
Product: Top 10 charts
 
Top 10 charts Multiformat, thumbnail 1
This week, Britain has been rocked by one of the biggest newstravaganzas of the last billion years. No, not the naming of the Beckhams' new baby, Harper Seven.

We're talking scandal.

Dodgy journalists from the News of the World allegedly hacked the phone of a murdered teen, stole messages from the families of killed servicemen, grabbed voicemails from 9/11 victims, and punched a baby dolphin in the nose.

You can't turn on a news channel or peruse the trending topics on Twitter without seeing Rupert Murdoch's half-melted face or Rebekah Brooks's floppy cocker spaniel locks.

It is, by all definitions, entirely scandalous. And boy is it exciting to sit back and watch.

There have, of course, been plenty of scandals in the games industry, too. Dodgy dealings, controversial decisions, courtroom spats, and reputation-tarnishing messes. We've picked ten of our all-time favourites, and splashed them onto the internet.

You know, for justice, public interest, and all that.

Capcom's MaXplosion splodes into copyright infringement

MaxSplosion

Shameless ripoffs are common ground on the wild west of the App Store - but then there was MaXplosion.

Its name, auto-explosive hero, science lab backdrops, and detonation-based platforming were all eerily reminiscent of Twisted Pixel’s 'Splosion Man.

Worst of all, it wasn't some dodgy ripoff merchant trying it on: it was Japanese gaming titan Capcom. Twisted Pixel called the app "complete theft" and revealed that the indie dev even pitched Splosion Man to Capcom before being rejected.

Twisted Pixel got the last laugh, though. It snuck a hidden jab at Capcom into Ms. Splosion Man and has vowed to make its own iPhone game down the line.

Mobigame and Tim Langdell at the Edge of reason

Edge

French developer Mobigame got a strict lesson in trademark law when it dropped pixel-perfect cube-roller Edge onto iPhone. Tim Langdell, the villain of the piece, claimed ownership on the word "Edge" and had the game tugged from iTunes's virtual shelves.

But upon closer investigation it turned out that Langdell wasn't all he seemed. The last time he released a game there were dinosaurs knocking about, and his entire operation seemed to revolve around suing people, suing magazines, and suing the developers of games that used his precious four-letter word.

What followed was a good year or two of heated courtroom dramas, Electronic Arts getting involved, revelations that Langdell used fake documents to keep his trademarks, and the final, triumphant defeat of the trademark troll.

Edge is now back on sale, and Mobigame owns the international trademark on the word in a video game context.

Langdell, meanwhile, has released EDGEBobby2 to middling reviews.

Can you hear me now? iPhone 4's Antenna-gate

antenna

There aren't many things that could make Steve Jobs sweat. But internet outcry and endless media coverage of the iPhone 4's dodgy antenna resulted in an emergency press conference and free gifts.

Just days after the iPhone 4 came out, online busybodies noticed that holding the sexy new gadget in a specific way could cripple your internet and castrate your mobile connectivity. Videos of the debilitating squeeze, dubbed "The Death Grip", exploded online.

Jobs and co. soon invited the world's press to Cupertino for a keynote. The rarely rattled Apple proceeded to run videos of the same attenuation phenomenon on competitors' smartphones, showed off Apple's extensive antenna-testing labs, and gave free rubber slip covers to all.

For protection.

Gizmodo: "This is Apple's next iPhone"

iPhone 4

Antennagate was rough, but Apple must have been used to embarrassment when it came to the fourth iPhone.

Just weeks before the device had its public debut, tech blog Gizmodo ran a story called "This is Apple's next iPhone". The specs and photos were undoubtedly cool, but the story behind Gizmodo's scoop proved way cooler.

It soon became clear that an engineer working for the notoriously secretive Apple had accidentally misplaced a cleverly disguised prototype of the next-gen iPhone. In a bar. On the floor. Some enterprising/thieving chap found the gadget, cottoned on, and sold it to Gizmodo for a cool $5,000.

Apple was, understandably, a little bummed. So the firm sent out its goons with legal letters for the blog's heads and police teams for the blog's editors. Jason Chen, who wrote the iPhone 4 preview, had his house raided and his computers confiscated.

No charges have been made, but we're all wondering when the movie rights will be sold.

Resident Evil 3DS's horrifying save game

Resident Evil

Japanese developer Capcom is currently in hot water over Resident Evil's first 3DS game, The Mercenaries. For some reason or another, players can't delete their old save data, so starting afresh, or popping the game on eBay, is out of the question.

The popular narrative has been that Capcom hopes to squash rentals and pre-owned sales. If that was its intention, it's certainly worked - some shops are refusing to take the game as trade-in fodder and rental company LoveFilm won't lend it out.

Capcom's flimsy rebuttal was, "It's not some secret form of DRM. It's simply the way we designed the save system to work with the arcade type of gameplay." Whatever the case, the publisher has promised to ditch the system in future games.

Smurfberries - buy in bulk

Smurfs Village

Congratulations to Capcom for making its third entry on our list of controversies.

The publisher's first stab at freemium gaming - the licensed Smurfs' Village - might have rocketed up the iTunes charts and landed the #1 spot on the Top Grossing list, but not without its share of negative comments, public outcry, and parental worry.

You see, Smurfs' Village is packed with in-app purchases where you can trade real-world cash for juicy smurfberry currency. When parents got their next bank statements, they were shocked to see that their darling offspring had spent hundreds on invisible fruit.

One child managed to fork out over $1,400 for buckets and bushels and barrels and wagons of berries.

The brouhaha caused Apple to rewrite the rulebook on in-app purchases. Since iOS 4.3, iPhone users now have to enter their password when buying an in-app purchase, regardless of when they last inputted their secret string of characters.

Smuggle Truck crosses the line

Smuggle Truck

Boston developer Owlchemy Labs wanted to make a statement with bouncy physics game Smuggle Truck. In the original game, you could wait 19 years for legal entrance to the United States, or hop in a truck and trundle across the desert dunes illegally.

Shock horror - not everyone enjoyed the idea. Jorge-Mario Cabrera at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights reckoned the game trivialised the matter, and said, “I think it’s distasteful. I think it’s offensive.’’

Sadly, App Store gatekeeper Apple sided with the critics and didn't want to court controversy. The company banned the game from sale.

It was a huge setback for Owlchemy Labs, but not the end of the world. The developer quickly swapped out the assets, replaced the immigrants with cuddly animals, dropped the state line in favour of a zoo entrance, and resubmitted.

Apple happily accepted the new game, now called Snuggle Truck.

The Sun discovers the 3DS

The Sun

We're bringing it full circle, and right back to the seedy underbelly of tabloid journalism. When the Nintendo 3DS orbited around The Sun, the rag grabbed the handheld and milked it like a three-dimensional cow.

The paper managed to drum up a solid week of stories about headaches, dicky tummies, and product recalls, with some spurious news gathering and some even more spurious medical experiments.

Not to worry - Pocket Gamer was on hand to conduct its own experiment.

PlayStation Network? PlayStation Notwork, more like

PSN

"Hacking" is the word of 2011, it seems. Naughty journo types hacked people's voicemails, upstart internet clan LulzSec hacked its way to infamy, and the PlayStation Network was crippled for weeks, thanks to - you guessed it - a hack.

Sony was at the heart of one of the most relentless and exhaustive hack campaigns in recent memory. The entire gaming service was down for over a month, millions of people had their private data nicked, and various other sites and branches of Sony were targeted, too.

The Japanese firm tried to make amends with free goodies and compensatory services, but whether Sony will ever shed this tarnished reputation is not yet known.

The Gizmondo Story

Gizmondo

The Gizmondo is one of the most storied consoles of all time, and not just because it had a cancelled game called "Momma Can I Mow The Lawn".

No, instead the console is notorious for its shockingly poor sales (despite a flagship store on Regent Street, fewer than 25,000 units were flogged), the bankruptcy of Tiger Telematics, and the shady backgrounds of its executives.

Most notably, Stefan Eriksson, ex-leader of The Uppsala mafia and regular jailbird for drug and weapon offences.

After the fall of Gizmondo, Eriksson managed to total a $2 million Enzo Ferrari in California and get picked up by police on suspicion of embezzlement, grand theft auto, drunken driving, cocaine possession, and weapons charges.

Eriksson is currently banged up in Sweden. If only he had a chance to play Colors, the cancelled Gizmondo crime-sim that let you escape prison if you consented to, ahem, 'relations' with a bearded man.
 

Reviewer photo
Mark Brown 13 July 2011
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Joined:
Jul 2011
Post count:
502
aros | 10:07 - 27 July 2011
Disgusting that Lima Sky get such an easy ride. They are worse than Langdell in claiming ownership of the word 'Doodle' when using it to describe an art style, a use that has been around for generations for anyone who is a bit slow.

Copyright law can be confusing, but in this case it is very simple to understand. I will never give Lima Sky another penny and will encourage everyone I know to do the same.
Joined:
Jun 2011
Post count:
4
shawn80 | 19:17 - 26 July 2011
Antenna gate is one of the most overhyped non stories. All tests shows that iPhone4 is no difference from other phones. All phones have antennas and if you hold where the antennas are, the signal goes down.

The "stupid" thing was that Apple made signal reception better by making holes for the antennas in their frame. People can clearly see where they should hold for a death grip = huge store.

The Smurf berries.
I don't understand how parents log into the app store, activate one click buying and then let their kids use the device. This is 100% the parents fault. But this stupidity have made it worse for all uses since Apple was forced to cut down the auto logout time from 15 minutes to 5 minutes.

Nothing about my favorite banned App: Babyshaker or the 999 dollar app Iamrich.
Joined:
Nov 2006
Post count:
202
Mandark | 00:20 - 15 July 2011
Good list! Gaming and controversy will always run hand in hand!
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