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Nintendo eShop sale — save on ‘Resident Evil 4,’ various ‘Final Fantasy’ games, and more

Nintendo eShop sale — save on 'Resident Evil 4,' various 'Final Fantasy' games, and more

Here’s the thing about social distancing: It’s boring. It’s really, really, really boring. Like, stare at the wall to pass the time kind of boring. Like, count random things in your home kind of boring. We could go on, but the fact of the matter is that you need something to do; something that isn’t reorganizing your furniture twice in one day just because you have to fill the time somehow. 

Nintendo Switch owners, here’s something for you to do — take part in the Nintendo eShop that’s going on right now. Sales in the eShop are a rarity, so when they come around, it’s important to take advantage. Right now, there are a bunch of games on sale; some of them in the single digits. (Sorry, Animal Crossing: New Horizons isn’t on sale just yet, but you can get it here. And you should.) Read more…

More about Nintendo, Resident Evil, Nintendo Switch, Mashable Shopping, and Eshop

Sneezes take on a whole new context in ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’

Sneezes take on a whole new context in 'Animal Crossing: New Horizons'

While self-isolating in the comfort of your home, maybe you’ve been playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons to relax and distract yourself from the coronavirus outbreak.

Maybe you’re catching some fish or bugs, walking around the idyllic little island you call home. Maybe you run into a neighbor and chat them. Maybe one sees you and calls out your name, runs toward you, and then sneezes right in your face.

It seems we can’t escape illness even in Animal Crossing.

So why is this happening? During the game, various villagers will randomly go up to players to teach them about new expressions. Sometimes they’ll do a laugh, a shocked face, or sometimes they’ll sneeze right on you. After they show it to you, you can then do it yourself whenever you want. Read more…

More about Nintendo, Animal Crossing, Animal Crossing New Horizons, Coronavirus, and Entertainment

Game downloads will be throttled to manage internet congestion

For the billions stuck at home during the global effort to flatten the curve, gaming is a welcome escape. But it’s also a bandwidth-heavy one, and Microsoft, Sony and others are working to make sure that millions of people downloading enormous games don’t suck up all the bandwidth. Don’t worry, though, it won’t affect your ping.

A blog post by content delivery network Akamai explained a few things it is doing to help mitigate the tidal wave of traffic that the internet’s infrastructure is experiencing. Although streaming video is of course a major contributor, games are a huge, if more intermittent, burden on the network.

Akamai is “working with leading distributors of software, particularly for the gaming industry, including Microsoft and Sony, to help manage congestion during peak usage periods. This is very important for gaming software downloads which account for large amounts of internet traffic when an update is released,” the post reads.

Take the new Call of Duty: Warzone battle royale game, released last week for free and seeing major engagement. If you didn’t already own the latest CoD title, Warzone was a more than 80 gigabyte download, equivalent to dozens of movies on Netflix . And what’s more, that 80 gigs was likely downloaded at the maximum bandwidth home connections provided; Streaming video is limited to a handful of megabits over the duration of the media, nowhere close to saturating your connection.

And Warzone isn’t alone — there are tons of high-profile games being released at a time when many people have nothing to do but sit at home and play games — PC game platform Steam posted a record 20 million concurrent players the other day, and one analysis saw a 400 percent increase in gaming traffic. So gaming is bigger than ever, while games are bigger than ever themselves.

As a result, gaming downloads will be throttled for the foreseeable future, at least in some markets. “Players may experience somewhat slower or delayed game downloads,” wrote Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan in a brief blog post. I’ve asked Microsoft, Nintendo and Valve for comment on their approach as well.

It’s important to note that this should not apply to the rest of the gaming experience. Unlike downloading games, playing games is a remarkably low-bandwidth task — it’s important for packets to be traded quickly so players are in sync, but there aren’t a lot of them compared with even a low-resolution streaming video.

The best thing to do is to set your games to be downloaded overnight, since local infrastructure will be less taxed while everyone in your region is asleep. If you have downloads or updates coming during the day, don’t be surprised if they take longer than usual or are queued elsewhere.