This is a continuing SPOnG retrospective of the year?s events.
It?s always difficult to prepare for April. Largely because if you?re being pranked on the 1st, you won?t know whether it?s going to be harsh or not. And if you?re the one setting up a prank, you won?t know how the victim?s going to react. I guess it?s all about the level of acceptance, isn?t it? Harmless stuff like putting salt in the tea, that?s okay. Stamping on your mate?s cat isn?t quite nice, if only for the fact that it?s not even a prank. That?s just wanton violence.
Luckily for GameStation, some 7,500 customers saw the funny side in a nationwide joke that saw them sell their souls to the retailer. The company changed the terms and conditions of sale on its online store on the 1st, adding an ?Immortal Soul Clause? that said it legally owned your soul if you purchased an item from them.
If they had only read the T&C and opted out, they?d have won a free £5 GameStation gift voucher (7,500 Customers Sold Their Soul To GameStation,
16th April). The company sent all the customers affected a notice of nullification.
Sony also moved to update PlayStation 3s on April Fool?s Day, but the new firmware was certainly no joke - v3.21?s change log included the removal of ?OtherOS,? the feature that allows older-model PS3s to partition their hard drive and install Linux on their console (PlayStation 3 Firmware Update Now Live
, 1st April).
In response to this, iPhone hacker George Hotz (remember him? He was claiming a hack back in January) announced a custom firmware patch that restored the functionality (Hotz Creates PS3 Custom Firmware, Keeps OtherOS
, 8th April). You can probably tell where this was going and what it means - whatever weakness Sony had in its PS3 was likely found in its ability to run Linux.
So begins a back-and-forth that would continue until George Hotz quietly removed himself from the internet without warning in July. At this moment in time, Sony?s console remains (largely) impregnable.
But lo, customers were pissed about not being able to run Linux anymore. Or if they wanted to, they?d have to live without PlayStation Network for the rest of the console?s life. That wasn?t acceptable to some savvy gamers, who managed to return their PS3s to Amazon for a 20 per cent refund (Amazon Issues Refund on PS3 ?Other OS? Removal
, 9th April). Sony wasn?t having any of it though, distancing itself from Amazon and stating that it was down to retailer discretion.
Hacks were the order of the month, with both Microsoft and Tecmo experiencing some rather interesting and saucy modifications. The Xbox 360 saw an official update that would allow the use of USB memory devices as a form of backup. A day after this was released hackers had exploited it, able to modify game saves and other things. It was all down to the encrypted files being hidden in a folder, obviously titled ?XBOX360? (Xbox 360 USB Support Hacked Already?
, 7th April).
The Tecmo hack was a bit more? shall we say? perverse. Naturally it focused on PSP ogle-sim, Dead or Alive Paradise
- some players had taken advantage of an exploit that left Kasumi and her friends completely naked. Of course, the discovery came from a German website (Dead or Alive Paradise?s Naked Girls Hack
, 7th April). All one had to do was pirate the game, modify some of the source code and recompile it on a Memory Stick. Bam, bazookas!
No love seemed lost between Activision and former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella this month, as the pair ended up going right next door to rival Electronic Arts (West and Zampella Team Up With EA, Form Respawn Entertainment
, 12th April). Their new studio, Respawn, would focus on original IPs that both West and Zampella could claim complete ownership of.
Meanwhile, Activision had problems with Infinity Ward as legal tussles blocked development of Modern Warfare 3
(Activision: Legal Case Delaying Modern Warfare 3
, 12th April) and many employees were either jumping ship or moving over to Respawn (Four More Infinity Ward Staff Leave
, 29th April).