Saturday, December 10, 2016

Stupid Mario Run: Nintendo's Patent-Pending Anti-Piracy Measure

With Super Mario Run coming out this Thursday, Nintendo is ready to line its wallets with another round of mobile in-app purchases. To unlock the full version of Super Mario Run, a $9.99 price tag is hidden in the in-app purchases section. But that's not why I'm writing this post.

Nintendo has made the facepalming decision to require Super Mario Run to connect to the internet continuously... to prevent piracy [Source: Mashable]. Piracy... on iOS? I would think the whole point of making a big deal of announcing your first Mario game on mobile at an Apple event would be to utilize the technologies Apple gives to you. A huge plus for developers on the Apple App Store is that they don't have to worry about piracy. Most iOS users don't know how to pirate. Meanwhile on the Play Store, piracy is completely rampant. Androids simply need an APK file of the app to get a free copy. Even games with advertisements will work without internet, which disables the ads. So, why would Nintendo want to burden iOS users with an anti-piracy feature? I'm not sure, but it's certainly making that $9.99 price tag look less appealing. And you're certainly not going to be able to use this app on a subway as advertised. School WiFi networks already blocked Miitomo, Nintendo's other game, so this will likely use up data.

The execution seems to be another problem. Having a continuous connection wastes data and battery life. Once every 24 hours maybe? Even the Xbox One had better anti-piracy tactics than this. I mean, get real. Am I going to have a valid copy of the game at the beginning of the day and by noon, it will be pirated? Are there enough pirates out there to justify having this continuous connection? While they're less common, iPod Touches will have no means of running this app since they don't have cellular data. Younger kids won't be able to play as their favorite Italian plumber because of an anti-piracy measure. I see the trending hashtag now: #MarioGate.

Am I over exaggerating? Maybe a little. How much data can this take up? Will this have an impact on my battery? I shouldn't judge this until we have some hard evidence to make an argument. But at the same time, is piracy a big enough of an issue to justify bricking Super Mario Run when you have no signal? For all we know, all this data checking if your app is pirated may mess up Nintendo's servers, just like Pokémon Go. In the words of George Santayana, "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it."

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