Kotaku

This is How The Video Game Industry's Lobbyists Spent $1,000,000 Pushing for SOPA and Other Issues Last FallRemember last month when many people were mad about the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act? Remember the war between politicians who said these bills would repel online piracy and opponents who said it might break the internet and/or kill free speech online?


Gamers' biggest target for their ire about those bills was the Entertainment Software Association, the lobbying group funded by the biggest video game publishers in the world. The ESA—which also hosts the massive trade show E3 each year—was for those bills and, like any lobbying group, spent money trying to get their position turned into law.


Lobbyists are required to file reports about their activities every three months. That's why we were able to report that the ESA spent as much as $190,000 paying people to lobby for PIPA, the Senate's now-shelved anti-online-piracy bill, through the spring and summer.


As the anger over SOPA and PIPA reached a boil last month, we were still in the dark about how much money the ESA was spending to try to support those bills this fall (they declined to tell us). But on the same day, Jan 20, that they finally disavowed the bills, they filed their required fourth-quarter lobbying report.


Here it is:



The document lists lobbying about SOPA and PIPA among the group's causes that they spent $1,082,167.00 on between October 1 and December 31. (That's basically what they spend every three months.) They also lobbied about tax policy, immigration and other issues tied to the business of making video games.


In that period, the group did spend $50,000 for the Smith-Free Group to lobby for PIPA and a handful of other issues and $50,000 for the Monument Policy Group to push for SOPA and lobby on several other issues.


The filings don't consistently state the ESA's positions on the bills, but the group had expressed clear support for the anti-piracy issues until the 20th, a day after both bills were essentially abandoned in the Senate and House.


Kotaku

The Video Game Industry's Lobbyists Spent $1,000,000 Pushing for SOPA and Other Issues Last FallRemember last month when many people were mad about the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act? Remember the war between politicians who said these bills would repel online piracy and opponents who said it might break the internet and/or kill free speech online?


Gamers' biggest target for their ire about those bills was the Entertainment Software Association, the lobbying group funded by the biggest video game publishers in the world. The ESA—which also hosts the massive trade show E3 each year—was for those bills and, like any lobbying group, spent money trying to get their position turned into law.


Lobbyists are required to file reports about their activities every three months. That's why we were able to report that the ESA spent as much as $190,000 paying people to lobby for PIPA, the Senate's now-shelved anti-online-piracy bill, through the spring and summer.


As the anger over SOPA and PIPA reached a boil last month, we were still in the dark about how much money the ESA was spending to try to support those bills this fall (they declined to tell us). But on the same day, Jan 20, that they finally disavowed the bills, they filed their required fourth-quarter lobbying report.


Here it is:



The document lists lobbying about SOPA and PIPA among the group's causes that they spent $1,082,167.00 on between October 1 and December 31. (That's basically what they spend every three months.) They also lobbied about tax policy, immigration and other issues tied to the business of making video games.


In that period, the group did spend $50,000 for the Smith-Free Group to lobby for PIPA and a handful of other issues and $50,000 for the Monument Policy Group to push for SOPA and lobby on several other issues.


The filings don't consistently state the ESA's positions on the bills, but the group had expressed clear support for the anti-piracy issues until the 20th, a day after both bills were essentially abandoned in the Senate and House.


(Top photo: Shutterstock)
Kotaku

The Nintendo Download is Itching for a Sword FightOnly three actual games made it into the Nintendo Download this week, but when one of them is Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword of the 3DS you don't really need much else.


A sword fighting game that's all about timing and strategy, Sakura Samurai tells the tale of a young boy on a quest to master the sword and rescue the lovely Princess Cherry Blossom from her vile captors. Only by mastering drawing his weapon and using his momentum to strike can he hope to reach his noble goals.


He might take a break to slice fruit now and again.


Available today for the 3DS, Sakura Samurai is a game that Nintendo really thinks fans will dig. You can tell by the fact that it's got its own sub-website off on Nintendo.com rather than a generic entry in the site's game catalog.


Check out the list below to see what else makes it to the downloadable table this week, and be sure to click on the game titles to visit Nintendo's official game pages.


WiiWare (Wii)

The Nintendo Download is Itching for a Sword FightCarmen Sandiego Adventures in Math: The Great Gateway Grab
Publisher: The Learning Company
Price: 600 Wii Points


Breaking news from Mumbai, India: The Gateway of India was stolen a few hours ago. It looks like an open and shut case of V.I.L.E villainy. The Chief wants ACME's best agent on this, and that means you, detective. Get to Mumbai fast and find the arch-criminal who carried out this monumental malfeasance. Carmen Sandiego is back and only you can foil her V.I.L.E plans. Travel the globe, solve brain-twisting math puzzles, and catch the villain behind the Great Gateway Grab. Crack the case of the Great Gateway Grab in single-player Story Mode. Perfect your math skills in single-player Practice Mode. Challenge your friends and family to solve math puzzles against the clock in Multiplayer Mode. In Carmen Sandiego Adventures in Math, you practice your math skills and use them to fight crime. Ideal for grades 4–5, math topics include arithmetic, logic puzzles, fractions and much more!


Features
• Travel the world, solve math puzzles and fight crime!
• Challenge friends to math duels against the clock
• Aligned to grade 4 and 5 Math Common Core Standards
• Math topics include geometry, fractions, and many more!



DSiWare (DSi / 3DS)

The Nintendo Download is Itching for a Sword FightGO Series: Undead Storm
Publisher: Gamebridge
Price: $1.99 / 200 DSi Points


The explosive action is non-stop as you take the fight to the zombie hordes. Six months after a mysterious meteorite strike, the undead have awoken and are taking over the city. You'll face wave after wave of killer zombies with only some serious firepower to protect you. Play solo, or team up with your friends via a local wireless connection, and take the fight to the shuffling hordes. Solo zombie slayers can find other survivors to join them as allies. In Multi Play Mode, you can cooperate with up to three friends via a local wireless connection. They'll have your back in the firefight against the undead, and can revive you if your health flatlines. Choose from four player characters and face down the zombie threat in a horrific hospital, a hazardous chemical plant and the decimated downtown area. What lies behind this zombie epidemic? Only you can discover the truth...


Features
• Explosive, non-stop, zombie slaying action
• Hordes of zombies and giant bosses to take down
• Protect yourself with shotguns, flame throwers, grenades
• Intense 2-4 player action via DS Wireless Communications



eShop (3DS)

Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword
Publisher: Nintendo
Price: $6.99


Travel a world rife with beauty and danger to rescue the legendary Princess Cherry Blossom. Her kidnapper has placed dozens of blade-wielding henchmen in your path.


Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword is a swordfighting action game that is simple to play. Just use the A Button to attack, and the B Button combined with the Circle Pad to dodge. The secret of Iai is not reckless swinging, but rather one well-timed, swift attack. Aim for openings in your enemy's guard–in the instant after you've dodged an attack, or just before he swings.


Kotaku

Ghost Trick Comes to iOS, First Two Chapters Are FreeThe critically acclaimed adventure game Ghost Trick has arrived in the Apple app store, where iPhone and iPad gamers can play it… for free? Well, the first two levels are free, anyway. After that, it'll cost you. Chapters 3-7, 8-13, and 14-end will cost $4.99 apiece, or you can download the whole shebang for $9.99.


I'm playing it right now, so I'll have more on how the iOS transition works in a bit. But after playing through the first chapter on iPad, I can report that the game looks great on the big screen, and the touch-screen controls work really well. Which makes sense, since the original DS game was also touch-based. And man... the music is really good.


Ghost Trick [App Store, Free]


Kotaku

Check out this trailer for French studio Cyanide's Game of Thrones RPG. The video reveals the town of Riverspring, a once thriving hub of commerce now suffering recession and the death of its lord.


Not much is known of Riverspring—it does not appear in George R.R. Martin's books, and the game's official website still bars entry into a web page that would detail the town's backstory. Barred until enough people "Like" the game's website. Devious trickery, me thinks, fit for a Lannister.


Kotaku

PlayStation 3 Call of Duty Elite members get their first taste of the nine-month Modern Warfare 3 content season come February 28, when Activision launches the Liberation and Piazza maps for Sony's console.


Kotaku

This Magic Box Transforms Your Electrical Outlets into Internet ConnectionsOver the course of several years I've painstakingly migrated all of my gaming and electronics equipment into a single area, an impassable tangle of wires and blinking lights, all in the name of making sure I had a stable, wired connection at all times. Once I got everything just right, Diamond Multimedia sent me the Powerline Internet AV Kit, a pair of devices that turn any power outlet into a wired network connection.


If I had had a set of these two years ago I might still know what the back of my entertainment center looked like.



I'd heard of devices similar to the Powerline Internet AV Kit, but I never paid them much heed. Their function was exactly why I invested in all of this fancy-shmancy wireless technology after all. Why spend the extra cash when my wireless connection is as reliable as any wired gadget?


Why, because that last statement is a complete lie.


I live in a relatively tiny apartment (in Japan they call it a palace), so wireless should work perfectly throughout the entire floor plan. Should is the operative term here, however. Between walls filled with humming electric wires, ancient Roman plumbing, and a wide spectrum of signals constantly being emitted by equipment specifically designed to raise my power bill higher every month are constantly doing battle with my wireless.


For example, the Blu-ray player in the bedroom sometimes plays Netflix. I can connect my Nintendo 3DS to the eShop while sitting on the toilet only when I hold it out towards the general direction of the bathroom door. Hell, my PlayStation 3, seated exactly 10 inches away from the wireless router, often forgets that said router exists. I think they're having some sort of lover's tiff.


So yes, the Powerline Internet AV Kit is one hell of a useful device. The only real problems I had with it were fighting my way through the cable jungle to find a free power outlet and finding the will to move a gaming console into the bedroom to test the signal strength.


The first device I attempted to use the Powerline kit with was a complete failure, but only because I still haven't acquainted myself with my recently-purchased Macbook Air to where the fact that it has no ethernet port instantly registers in my head.


That ethernet port is important.


The second attempt went much smoother. I plugged one of the units behind my cable model, an ethernet cable connecting the two. The other unit went in my bedroom on the other side of the apartment, connected via ethernet to that pesky Blu-ray player.


Voila, instant wired connection. It was just that easy.


It transforms your home's power grid magically into a network connection.

Not only could I watch Netflix on a regular basis in a normally network-impaired room, I was watching it in high definition, something I'd never been able to do before in that room.


Subsequent tests with a PC-based laptop and finally my Xbox 360 (I found extra wires in a drawer so I didn't have to disturb the delicate ecosystem behind the TV) yielded similarly positive results. The device is capable of transferring 200Mbps, and as far as I could tell that made for a signal much faster than my wireless but not quite as speedy as a direct connection to the router. The stability completely makes up for the lower speed, however, unless you plug one of the devices into a power outlet that works on a light switch your significant other enjoys flicking randomly for no reason.


The only real problem I had with the Powerline Internet AV Kit was the sheer size of the wall units. Jutting two inches from the wall and not leaving much room for another plug to share the socket, making sure you've got the extra room before dropping $80 on a set.


Also it doesn't taste particularly good.


The Powerline Internet AV Kit combines the convenience of wireless networking with the stability of a wired connection. Better yet, it does so without requiring any complicated setup or indeed any real networking know-how. It just transforms your home's power grid magically into a network connection. How? Do I sound like an electrician? It could be powered by fairy dust for all I care, as long as it performs as advertised, and it certainly does. Good for Diamond Multimedia.


The Diamond Multimedia Powerline Internet AV Kit is available now for $79.99.


Kotaku

In Skyrim Brynjolf is one of the most elite members of the Thieves Guild. Farkas and Vilkas are mighty twin brothers belonging to The Companions. Manly, beefy men the lot of them. However, that doesn't stop them from wanting to show off their fashion sense (or their hips, for that matter). Watch them take a turn down the runway in this in-game fashion show.


Stick around for the very end for a tantalizing look at a side of Vilkas you've never seen before.


Kotaku

The most important thing I've learned from watching this premiere single-player gameplay trailer for Ubisoft's Ghost Recon Future Soldier is this: Be sure to turn down your dubstep before attempting a stealth kill.


Sure, dubstep and other heavy electronic beat delivery systems are invaluable to military operations of the past, present, and future, but there comes a time when you've gotta drop the whomp-whomp crutch and let instinct take over. As my great grandfather used to tell me when I was a kid, "There are times when dubstep can get you killed."


Those are words to snipe four guys at once by if I've ever heard them.


For a much more in-depth look at Ghost Recon Future Soldier, check out Dr. Kirk "Not a Doctor" Hamilton's impressions of the game from last month. For more dubstep, turn your television to any channel and wait.


Kotaku

Hey, look! It's Link—who starred in the GameCube version of SoulCalibur II—making a triumphant return to the Stage of History along with that girl he's always having to rescue. The folks at NowGamercrafted Nintendo's iconic maiden-and-warrior pair with the character creator in Namco's just-released fighting game, and then have Princess Zelda and her eternal savior Link go toe-to-toe. Zelda's based off of new character Viola and Link is patterned after the game's cover boy Patroklos. The fight's even for a while but Zelda handily kicks Link's ass. There's only one thing to say about that: "Well, excuuuuse me, Princess!"


Zelda Versus Link In Soul Calibur 5 [YouTube]


...