Friday, November 1, 2013

Swapnote is Effectively Dead

Swapnote, also known as one of the few genuinely interesting things about the 3DS has more or less been cut off at the legs and left to crawl for the immediate and indefinite future.  While Swapnote is not going away completely, the main component of it, the SpotPass sending feature has been indefinitely suspended, meaning the only way you can get notes from anyone, including official notes from Nintendo and through StreetPass sending.  Also known as that fucking thing that never happens ever.  The difference between SpotPass and StreetPass is that SpotPass uses the internet and StreetPass uses the little range of Nintendo wireless that goes out from the device, and is usually just picked up by other 3DS systems while you're out and about except it never really works that way because I guess not enough people are carrying around 3DS systems with this feature enabled.

So, the long and short of it becomes - sending Swapnotes through the internet to your friends is feasible, whereas sending Swapnotes to people around you is not...because you both have to Friend Code one another and if you're close enough to one another that you can send Swapnotes with StreetPass, you can do fucking everything else.  Granted there are some uses, I suppose, mostly the types that make you go "D'aww", like setting a Note with a sweet message to your significant other to send during their work day, but otherwise the uses are limited and made even moreso by redundancy. All of this is rather hilarious when you discover the reason, however.

The following message was sent out through official Nintendo bulletins, the official Nintendo website and has basically been copy-pasted at every news site covering this story, so it's fairly easy to find.  Still:

Thank you for your support.

Nintendo has learned that some consumers, including minors, have been exchanging their friend codes on Internet bulletin boards and then using Swapnote (known as Nintendo Letter Box in other regions) to exchange offensive material. Nintendo has been investigating ways of preventing this and determined it is best to stop the SpotPass feature of Swapnote because it allows direct exchange of photos and was actively misused.

Nintendo always wants to provide a positive experience for all consumers and limit the risk of any inappropriate activity or misuse of a service. We feel it is important on this occasion to take this action.

We are very sorry for any inconvenience to the many consumers who have been using this service responsibly; however this decision was made considering the point that many minors also use this feature of Swapnote. Thank you for your understanding.

Nintendo will continue to work to ensure more consumers are aware of our Parental Control features, which allow parents to manage their children’s experience on our systems. For more information, please click here.

  • Service stop date: Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, 7 p.m. PT
  • Service being stopped: Nintendo 3DS software Swapnote – Sending and receiving notes using SpotPass
  • Affected regions: All regions where the service was offered

Special Notes services are also stopped
So, in all reality, it's another case of Nintendo bending over backwards to ensure that they're being over-the-top cloyingly kid-friendly which is exactly what makes the masses at large scoff at them.  However, you can't really be mad at Nintendo for trying to protect the children - we shouldn't be trying to -not- protect them, after all - but there are varying levels of response, and Nintendo's Madagascarian approach is...less than understandable.  Especially since it was blatantly obvious from Day One that Swapnote was going to be 'misused' in the way they're suggesting.  Not only are you able to draw and write anything because there's a complete lack of filters, given that they are 'private' messages (no pun intended) meaning no peer review, but you can eventually unlock the ability to attach pictures taken with your 3DS cameras or the odd game that supports screenshots (like Animal Crossing: New Leaf).  A 3D camera, that is, on a device that supports 3D images.  Who didn't see the inevitability of lewd pictures being sent around to take advantage of that feature?

Apparently Nintendo.  What makes a further mockery of the situation is Nintendo's own basic admission that the Friend Code system that we've had to suffer with for -years- for the safety of the children has utterly failed.  The Friend Code system was basically built as its own fail-safe - kids aren't smart enough to figure out ways to exchange codes with anyone but those they 'should' be exchanging with, and thus effectively shuts them out from the folks nobody wants kids associating with.  This assumes, however, that kids are incapable of using the internet at an even rudimentary level and that they are also not allowed to do so without impunity.  Such assumptions are incorrect to make, and we have been saying this for -years- in argument against the Friend Code system since it does not actually protect people so much as it inconveniences them.

Regardless, it's strange that Nintendo pulled the plug on everything SpotPass-related to Swapnote, including the special notes that developers could send out to get you hyped in the latest game, as well as Nikki's notes that informed you of certain things regarding Nintendo News or what have you.  At that point it becomes less "We're saving the children!" and more "We're cutting costs, fuck you", or at least that's where my mind went first.  Still, Nintendo gonna Nintendo, I suppose and while it would have just made more sense to kill the photo-sharing aspect of Swapnote (besides Developer access for screenshots), I imagine the cost aspect -does- come into play a bit, which is why the entire thing was killed in every way that makes it worthwhile.  And I don't see it coming back either, which is unfortunate, since it was fun drawing off little notes and sending them off, even if I didn't make much use of it.  So, goodbye Swapnote, you were fun while it lasted.

I'm a little annoyed that I spent play coins on stationary now, though

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