Rep. Darrell Issa Wants Answers From FCC's Baker

May 23, 2011 -

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has decided that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a key investigative body of Congress which he chairs, will investigate FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker's jump from the FCC to Comcast-NBC Universal.

In a letter sent to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Friday, Issa said that Baker's departure has “generated questions” because of her recent vote to approve the Comcast and NBC merger.

Issa said that Baker's own statements about the process which led to the job offer leads him to believe that "it does not appear [Baker] violated any of her legal or ethical obligations in accepting a position with Comcast.”

Still, he thinks an investigation is still warranted “because only a short time has passed since the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, it is imperative that the public can trust the integrity of the process."

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Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

May 19, 2011 -

Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt on Wednesday proclaimed the company's strong opposition to new legislation that calls for shutting down access to file-sharing websites that offer allegedly copyrighted material. The new law proposes that the government blacklist these sites, take them offline, and demand that search providers such as Google delist them from their search indexes.

Schmidt argued that laws such as these set a very “disastrous precedent” for destroying free speech all over the world.

"If there is a law that requires DNSs [domain name systems] to do X, and it's passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president of the United States and we disagree with it, then we would still fight it," Schmidt told reporters at a London conference. "If it's a request, the answer is we wouldn't do it. If it's a discussion, we wouldn't do it."

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Sony Responds to Congress, Hires Security Firm, and More

May 4, 2011 -

Sony is having a busy news day today. First, a story has been circulating that the company has hired yet another security firm to help it with its investigation of the PlayStation Network security breach. According to GameIndustry.biz, Sony has retained Data Forte, a company led by a former U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service officer. Security firms Guidance Software and Protiviti consultants are also involved in the investigation.

Sony Declines Demand for Visit to Congress

May 3, 2011 -

Congress wanted Sony to come to Washington D.C. to answer questions. Yesterday several members of Congress demanded answers - in person - from someone at Sony. Today the company in the midst of a security nightmare politely told lawmakers "no thank you."

"Sony declined to testify because their internal investigation is still ongoing," an official in Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack's office told Kotaku this morning.

Congresswoman Mack and Congressman G. K. Butterfield wrote a letter to Sony Computer Entertainment of America (addressed to Kazuo Hirai) on April 29, days after Sony detailed the security breach of the company’s PlayStation Network. Both are members of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. While Sony may have declined the "offer," Sony Computer Entertainment of America spokesman Patrick Seybold said that Sony is cooperating with the committee.

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More Lawmakers Want Answers From Sony

May 2, 2011 -

Sony has one more thing to worry about: Congress's Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. The group's chairperson, Representative Mary Bono Mack (R-Ca.) sent a letter to Sony Chairman Kazuo Hirai asking the company to answer a series of questions related to the PlayStation Network security breach. The committee wants a reply to the letter by May 6.

The group of lawmakers want answers to questions about when the security breach occurred, if Sony knew who was responsible for the attack, and when the company notified law enforcement. The letter also asked Sony to explain what it knew about the type of data that was stolen and if it included any credit card information. Sony has been saying publically that it has not been proven that credit card data has been stolen, but it also said that nearly 10 million users might be at risk. A mixed message to be sure.

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Rep. Greg Walden to FCC: What's the Hold-Up on Net Neutrality Order?

April 8, 2011 -

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) raised concern this week about how long it is taking the Federal Communications Commission to get net-neutrality regulations on the books. The agency passed the new rules in December. Walden added that he is not excited to have the rules enacted but is nonetheless curious about what is taking the agency so long.

"I’m curious as to why it’s taken the FCC so long to file their network-neutrality rules in the Federal Register. It’s not that I’m eager to have their rules proceed, but it does raise some questions," said Walden, the top Republican on the Communications subcommittee.

He also questioned whether the FCC is following the proper procedures and if the delay is in some way a tactic to derail a GOP effort to repeal the rules using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Walden's repeal measure is scheduled for a full House vote on Friday.

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Report: Broadband Industry Contributes Heavily to Republicans

April 7, 2011 -

According to Public Integrity, the broadband and wireless industries contributed $81,500 to members of a key House subcommittee after the Federal Communications Commission approved new net neutrality rules in December of last year. Since 2009, large U.S. broadband and wireless companies have donated nearly $1.3 million to members of the subcommittee.

Almost two months later the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s communications and technology subcommittee passed a "resolution of disapproval" of the FCC’s pro-consumer rules. In theory, net neutrality rules block telecommunications companies from charging a higher fee to move certain data faster on the Internet or discriminating against high-bandwidth sites.

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Congresswoman Lofgren: Domain Seizures Trample on Due Process

March 14, 2011 -

Silicon Valley Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA.) says that seizing web sites and web domains tramples on due process. Speaking at length with Ars Technica, Lofgren takes aim at the administration's efforts to take down web sites that allegedly engage in illegal activity like file-sharing, copyright infringement and counterfeit goods.

Lofgren starts by saying that ICE doesn't have the authority to do what they are doing, that they are trampling on due process because the seizures are almost instant, and that - in some cases - they have violated the first amendment rights of some domain owners. Here is more on that from Lofgren:

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House Republicans Move Against Net Neutrality Rules

March 10, 2011 -

House Republicans today took the first small step towards overturning the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules. On Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology voted 15-8 to pass a resolution that kills the FCC rules. The resolution will now go before the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where Republicans will have enough votes to get it passed. The resolution will make it to the House floor in the next couple of weeks.

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Republican Net Neutrality Fight an Uphill Battle

March 4, 2011 -

House lawmakers will examine the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules again next week, but as the Washington Post points out, the Republican-led effort to overturn the rules or pull funding from the agency will be an uphill battle. Experts say that the chances of Congress killing Internet access rules that prohibit blocking and slowing of Web traffic are pretty slim.

On March 9, the House subcommittee for communications and technology will examine the FCC's net neutrality rules a second time. The focus of this hearing will be to overturn the FCC's rules.

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Daryl Issa's War on Silly Names

February 23, 2011 -

When taxpayers hear the term "pork barrel spending" they think of ridiculous projects getting an earmark from appropriations secured by their elected representative in the congress. Yes, if you read only the briefest descriptions of these earmarks you might think it's all a big waste of your tax dollars. After all, do we really need to be spending money on researching yoga and condoms when every state in the country is running deficits and the federal government's level debt is out of control?

If we go by the brief summary descriptions of many of these projects then the answer would probably be "yes." The problem is that many of these "silly-sounding" projects are actually important studies that lead to medical breakthroughs. This in turns leads to advanced medical techniques and technologies, or just a better understanding of how certain diseases and medical conditions can affect human beings.  

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House Passes Amendment to Defund FCC Net Neutrality Rules

February 18, 2011 -

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed an amendment that essentially halts the use of any funding by the Federal Communications Commission to implement the Net Neutrality rules order it approved in December of 2010.

The amendment was approved by a 244-181 vote. The amendment was sponsored by Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore), and tacked on to legislation to fund government agencies for the rest of fiscal year 2011.

"If left unchallenged, this claim of authority would allow the FCC to regulate any matter it discussed in the national broadband plan," Walden said.

If this amendment fails, Republicans in the House and the Senate will push a "resolution of disapproval" under the Congressional Review Act. This gives lawmakers a limited amount of time to try to block the FCC's net-neutrality rules.

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How Softball and Wii Sports Helped The E-Tech Caucus

February 17, 2011 -

Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Kevin Brady (R-Texas) may be polar opposites in the political arena, but when it comes to video games both are on the same page. But what initially brought the two together to join the Congressional Caucus on Competitiveness in Entertainment Technology (E-Tech Caucus) was another activity: softball. Wasserman Schultz loves softball and organizes a Congressional Women’s Softball Game every June to raise money for breast cancer research, along with co-coach Brady and California Democratic Rep. Joe Baca.

The other reason this congressional odd couple got together for the E-Tech Caucus is because both have kids, and by extension, a familiarity with video games.

"I was looking for someone with young kids," she said, "because [my co-chairman] had to be someone who was 'living' video games."

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Congressional Caucus Formed to Support Video Game Industry

February 16, 2011 -

Members of Congress and representatives from the video game industry launched a new caucus this morning at an event on Capitol Hill, reports Gamasutra. The "Caucus for Competitiveness in Entertainment Technology" (E-Tech Caucus) wants to champion issues that help foster growth in the interactive entertainment sector.

This first caucus meeting is attended by Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), co-chair and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Cooney Center executive director Michael H. Levine, Ph.D., Entertainment Software Association CEO Michael Gallagher, and other members of the caucus.

Rep. Greg Walden Sets Feb. 16 Hearing With FCC

February 11, 2011 -

Addressing the Ripon Society earlier this week, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) outlined his priorities as the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology this year. One of the biggest priorities for Walden is to take the FCC to task for its recent net neutrality rules. Many republicans see the new rules as an over-reach on the part of the FCC. Democrats think the rules are too weak.

"Look, whether you’re for it or against it," Walden said. "I don’t believe the FCC had the authority to do it."

Walden thinks that the FCC frequently oversteps its boundaries and needs some reform. That reform will come from congressional oversight. Walden said that Republicans plan to offer a "resolution of disapproval" and promised to hold hearings on "this issue and others" related to the FCC.

Other commissions will be considered, Walden added.

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White House to Propose New Copyright Laws to Congress

February 10, 2011 -

According to a C|Net report, the Obama administration has drafted a new set of proposals to deal with intellectual property infringement online that it plans to send to the U.S. Congress very soon. The administration is also applauding  the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which it says will "aid right-holders and the U.S. government to combat infringement" once it enters into effect.

As the C|Net report notes, the 92-page report penned by intellectual property enforcement coordinator Victoria Espinel reads as if it was ghost-written by lobbyists groups. There is some interesting data in there like the fact that the number of FBI and Homeland Security infringement investigations jumped 40 percent from 2009 to 2010, praise for ACTA, and details on various law enforcement operations.

Congressman Markey Wants FTC to Probe App Transactions

February 9, 2011 -

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Ma.) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at the marketing practices of applications on Apple's App store and Google's Android Marketplace. Markey's concerns relate to programs geared towards children that may not adequately inform users of potential charges - particularly micro-transactions.

On Tuesday Markey sent a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Liebowtiz (and copied to Google and Apple), pointing to a story in The Washington Post about how in-app purchases on iPad, iPod and iPhone games such as Smurfs' Village and Tap Zoo have caught some parents off guard. The Children apparently used parents' passwords to buy in-game items instantly.

"I am concerned about how these applications are being promoted and delivered to consumers, particularly with respect to children, who are unlikely to understand the ramifications of in-app purchases," Markey wrote in the letter.

ECA Call to Action: Tell Congress No More Labels For Games

January 27, 2011 -

The Entertainment Consumer Association issued a call to action today asking members to tell congress that we do not need additional "warning labels" on video games.

Earlier this week Rep. Joe Baca (D CA-43), along with Rep. Frank Wolf introduced a bill that would put warning labels on video games similar to the kinds of warning labels found on cigarettes. Here's the entirety of the alert (which can be found on the ECA web site):

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Dems Push For Stronger Net Neutrality Rules

January 27, 2011 -

While conservatives complain that the FCC and the Obama administration have gone too far with net neutrality (with some, like Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), going so far as to sponsor a bill to strip the FCC of any authority to regulate Internet access), Democrats have veered off into another direction. Democrats like Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) think that the FCC has not gone far enough.

This week the Senators introduced a billed called the "Internet Freedom, Broadband Promotion, and Consumer Protection Act of 2011." The bill would extend net neutrality rules to wireless networks. In light of consumer complaints and Verizon and MetroPCS already filing lawsuits, politicians believe that more is needed to combat practices that negatively impact consumers' rights.

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Congresswoman Maxine Waters on Comcast-NBC Merger

January 26, 2011 -

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) issued a statement this week concerning the FCC and the DOJ approving the Comcast NBC Universal merger. While Waters comes out swinging in the first several paragraphs of her statement, in the latter part she heaps praise on the FCC and DOJ for their efforts on the merger and throws a fireball or two at Republican lawmakers for their objections to putting conditions on the deal and for adding language related to net neutrality rules.

The statement is confusing because first she says the provisions crafted by the FCC are impudent and have no real value, adding that they expire in 3 -7 years anyway. Then she praises both agencies for doing their best. You can read the entire statement below and make up your own minds (from Slate):

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Congressman Joe Baca Pushes For Warning Labels on Games

January 25, 2011 -

Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto, CA.) introduced a bill that mandates that "all video games with an Electronics Software Ratings Board rating of Teen or higher" must be sold with a health warning label. The bill is called "The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2011" and would create a new rule within the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The label would read:

"WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior."

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Rep. Blackburn Seeks Stronger IP Laws

January 19, 2011 -

This week Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said that one of her top priorities this year is to ramp up intellectual property rights and "rogue websites" legislation this year. She called on fellow conservatives to join her in this fight.

This is the same representative that introduced a bill earlier this year to gut the FCC's net neutrality rules. The two positions seem at odds with each other if you consider that the conservative mantra is smaller government, less regulation. Apparently, less regulation is only good when it serves the interest of corporations and lobbyist groups you support.

Her call for better intellectual property rights legislation includes the introduction of - you guessed it - more regulations and rules. Speaking this week at the "State of the Net" conference in Washington, DC this week, Blackburn laid out three propositions to deal with intellectual property rights issues (from Ars Technica):

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Report: Jared Loughner Called a 'Big Video Gamer' By Former Classmates

January 11, 2011 -

Jared Loughner is obviously mentally ill, but the media will not let that fact get in the way of a juicy story. In the hours after the tragedy in Tucson, Arizona when he gunned down twenty people at a Safeway supermarket on Saturday, seriously injuring Arizona congressional representative Gabrielle Giffords, and killing several people including a sitting federal judge and a nine-year-old girl, the media jumped to conclusions about Loughner's motivations and inspirations.

Daley's AT&T Ties Worry Net Neutrality Supporters

January 11, 2011 -

Incoming White House Chief of Staff William Daley's history in the telecom industry has some supporters of the FCC’s net neutrality rules concerned, according to a report in The Hill. Dailey served as president of SBC Communications before it acquired AT&T and took the “smaller” company's name. Saying that AT&T was a smaller company tells you just how big SBC really was.

One of those supporters is Free Press:

"With Daley at his side, how long will it be before Obama caves?" Tim Karr, Free Press campaign director, wrote in the Huffington Post on Saturday.

Opponents of net neutrality, including Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), think that Dailey’s influence in the White House on this particular issue is a good thing:

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Republican Lawmakers Target FCC in First Hours of New Congress

January 7, 2011 -

The new Republican controlled House or Representatives wasted no time this week getting to its agenda which included amending the clean air act, cuts in discretionary spending, plans for hearing on the powers of the president's "czars," and a bill that would limit the power of the FCC to enforce net neutrality.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced H.R. 96, a bill "to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from further regulating the Internet."

Blackburn's new bill has 59 co-sponsors, and should have no problem passing in the House. In the Senate it has less of a chance of surviving.

Republicans in the House and Senate have vowed to find ways to curtail the powers of the FCC and other agencies. The FCC is one of many targets that lawmakers will attempt to take to task in 2011.

Source: Ars Technica

9 comments

Hutchison: Repealing Net Neutrality a Tough Fight

December 31, 2010 -

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) admits that overturning or repealing the new net neutrality rules put in place earlier this month by the Federal Communications Commission will be difficult because the Democrats still control the Senate and the White House.

Hutchinson has been one of the most vocal opponents of the new regulations on broadband and wireless service providers. Though she has pledged to put forth a resolution to "disapprove the legislation" she admits that she faces an uphill battle in both houses and an inevitable veto from the president should it make it that far.

"As long as the Democrats are in control of the Senate and the president believes this is the way to govern, we will have a hard time shutting it down," Hutchison told host David Asman during a Fox Business Channel interview. "But I hope enough Democrats will come alongside us in the Senate and Republicans in the House and say this is wrong."

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Democrats Push for More Teeth in Net Neutrality Plan

December 17, 2010 -

It seems like no one besides Internet and wireless service providers like Net Neutrality as it is currently drafted. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and other Democratic House members have provided the FCC with a wish list of items they want to see in the proposal to be voted on December 21.

In a letter sent to the FCC on Friday, Markey and other House members asked for four key items:

 

  1. Nondiscrimination (a ban on paid prioritization)
  2. application of rules to both wired and wireless broadband
  3. Narrow exceptions for managed services
  4. A broad definition of Internet access services

 

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Republican Upton to FCC: No Conditions on NBC-Comcast Merger

December 14, 2010 -

The next House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Fred Upton (R-Mich.), has urged the Federal Communications Commission to remove any planned conditions on the approval of a merger between NBC Universal and Comcast. Upton sent out a letter on Friday asking the FCC not to impose net-neutrality conditions on Comcast as part of the proposed acquisition of NBC Universal. Other Democratic lawmakers have urged the opposite, but Upton chairs the committee that oversees the telecommunications industry.

"I will be troubled if it appears that the Commission is using this transaction to accomplish broader, partisan objectives that it does not have the policy support to impose industry-wide, that it might not have the authority to pursue were it not presented with a license transaction, and that the parties cannot object to without risking their propose endeavor," Upton wrote.

Upton also urged the FCC not to let third parties or groups influence the process:

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Prominent Democrats Want Conditions on NBC Universal-Comcast Merger

December 8, 2010 -

Two House Democrats are asking the Federal Communications Commission to impose conditions on the proposed merger between Comcast and NBC Universal that would preserve affordable broadband service and fair access to online content.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the current (and soon to be former) chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski this week urging him to impose net neutrality-style rules barring the new entity from giving its own online video content special treatment over competitors.

"The combination of Comcast and NBCU will give the nation's largest cable TV company and broadband provider control of a massive catalogue of content, channels and household Internet connections," Waxman said. "Video programming and Internet distribution will be inextricably intertwined to an unprecedented degree."

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Democrats Give Up on Net Neutrality Bill

September 30, 2010 -

Net Neutrality is stalled until further notice in the House of Representatives. A bill sponsored by House Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Ca.) was shelved late last night after Democrats realized that the bill would not have enough bipartisan support to pass. With this bill now off the table, and not likely to be brought up in the lame duck session following mid-term elections, the onus to implement net neutrality rules falls back on the FCC.

But time may not be on the side of proponents of net neutrality - especially if power shifts back to Republicans in the House and Senate. It is possible that Republicans would propose a bill that implicitly forbids the FCC from reclassifying broadband service providers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

Oddly enough, Waxman put the responsibility back on the FCC - even after Congress told them to back off a few months ago.

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Will the New Nintendo 3DS be region free?:

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prh99I would be shocked if Nintendo said it was region free, or even made it optional like XBox 360 for that matter.09/02/2014 - 7:22pm
Matthew WilsonI should say the recent past.09/02/2014 - 6:58pm
Matthew Wilsongiven their past, I do not blame people for thinking they will not change. I think they will keep region locking too.09/02/2014 - 6:48pm
E. Zachary KnightMan. People have no confidence in Nintendo regarding region locking the New 3DS.09/02/2014 - 6:20pm
Andrew EisenThat doesn't mean there has to be a movie though. Having said that, I've no doubt that we will eventually get a Black Panther movie. But Stan Lee will probably learn about it around the same time you and I do.09/02/2014 - 2:34pm
MaskedPixelanteWell they have to get to him eventually. Captain America's shield didn't grow on a tree, the minerals to make it had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is Wakanda.09/02/2014 - 2:31pm
E. Zachary KnightYes, but it has never been confirmed as in development, or even pre-production.09/02/2014 - 2:21pm
MaskedPixelanteBlack Panther's been on the short list for a while.09/02/2014 - 2:18pm
E. Zachary KnightIt is possible that Stan Lee mispoke. I don't think he knows everything Marvel movies. But it is a sweet idea if true.09/02/2014 - 2:04pm
Andrew EisenSo says Stan Lee who almost certainly wouldn't know.09/02/2014 - 2:04pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.cinemablend.com/new/Marvel-Black-Panther-Movie-Confirmed-By-Stan-Lee-66993.html Black Panther is apparently getting a movie. And maybe one for Black Widow, even though I think it's too late for her.09/02/2014 - 1:53pm
Cheater87Look what FINALLY came to Australia uncut! http://www.gamespot.com/articles/left-4-dead-2-gets-reclassified-in-australia/1100-6422038/09/02/2014 - 6:49am
Andrew EisenHence the "Uh, yeah. Obviously."09/02/2014 - 12:53am
SleakerI think Nintendo has proven over the last 2 years that it doesn't.09/02/2014 - 12:31am
Andrew EisenSleaker - Uh, yeah. Obviously.09/01/2014 - 8:20pm
Sleaker@AE - exclusives do not a console business make.09/01/2014 - 8:03pm
Papa MidnightI find it disappointing that, despite the presence of a snopes article and multiple articles countering it, people are still spreading a fake news story about a "SWATter" being sentenced to X (because the number seems to keep changing) years in prison.09/01/2014 - 5:08pm
Papa MidnightAnd resulting in PC gaming continuing to be held back by developer habits09/01/2014 - 5:07pm
Papa MidnightI find it disappointing that the current gen of consoles is representative of 2009-2010 in PC gaming, and will be the bar by which games are released over the next 8 years - resulting in more years of poor PC ports (if they're ever ported)09/01/2014 - 5:06pm
Andrew EisenMeanwhile, 6 of Wii U's top 12 are exclusive: Mario 3D World, Nintendo Land, Pikmin 3, Mario Kart 8, Wonderful 101, and ZombiU. (Wind Waker HD is on the list too but I didn't count it.)09/01/2014 - 4:36pm
 

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