If You Update Our Firmware, Tell Us Why

There's a new 3DS update in the wild. And it does, well... something. What exactly that is, Nintendo isn't saying, because when Nintendo updates the 3DS, it doesn't tell you what it's updated.

Aren't we entitled to know that?

Sony does the same thing on the PlayStation 3, firmware updates often accompanied by vague statements about "stability and security". But what are you fixing? When a company reaches over the internet and messes with the insides of my stuff, I want to know exactly what they're doing.

Call me curious, call me paranoid, call me a long-time PC gamer with a fetish for mile-long changelogs, but there's something concerning about the secrecy with which companies treat these updates. I understand that, when it comes to security measures, discretion is key. But not everything that's updated in a new piece of firmware has to do with security.

Nintendo's latest update, for example, has added (via Tiny Cartridge) some colours to 3DS Sounds' StreetPass data. Minor, maybe, but why did it take users poking around to find that out? Surely Nintendo can spare the time to tell us what they're doing in there. Or at least post the information in full (and not in brief, as it does now) somewhere on its website.

Then again, this is Nintendo and the internet we're talking about. We should assume they'll f**k something up along the way. It's Sony doing the exact same thing that's more disappointing. Every time the PlayStation 3's firmware is updated (which, mercifully, is less often these days), users are sent scrambling to forums and comments sections looking for clues on what's been changed in their system.

They shouldn't have to do that. PC games serve as an example of how to do things the right way. Steam users will know that a full and complete log of game updates is kept for all your titles, meaning you can see exactly what's been done, no matter how trivial or impenetrable to the average consumer. MMO gamers enjoy the same level of transparency.

It's only fair. The relationship between a consumer and platform holder is a two-way street. We pay money, we get their system. But if we have to sign their terms of use agreement to use online services - and that's an important word, agreement - then we deserve a little reciprocity, a little information on how that service is affecting us. It doesn't have to detail specifics of security measures, but anything and everything else, we'd like to know!

If your experience is being changed, even slightly, you deserve to know exactly why and how. After all, it's your stuff!


Comments

    I couldn't agree more, I spent a damn long time reading the most recent Civ 5 changelog.

    If anyone wants to change the software on damn hardware, I for sure want to know what they're changing and why

    Call of Duty Black Ops on Steam had a few updates which were strangely undocumented. Not that I really care anymore.
    Indeed, it's good to know when something has been changed, whether it is the game itself, or on a console, it's firmware.

    Clearly, you're all optimists...
    /sarcasm

    seriously though, they don't need to reciprocate jack, because these are THEIR terms that you choose to agree with. You don't really get to make demands. You agree to the terms or you go elsewhere. Nobody needs to indulge your neurotic tendencies.

    But just like the Welcome Back Program that they didn't need to give you, I think somehow you will probably have it your way anyhow.

    It'd be nice to know what's in these updates, sure, but I guess I just don't feel like searching google for answers is that perilous journey of a task to complete.

    And while we're on the subject, wouldn't that actually be better? To search for the changelog online? Because sometimes people report that firmware updates crash their consoles, so now you've just averted your console from potential death because you took an extra couple of steps to take a gander on that PC you love MMO-ing on so much.

      I think the point the article makes is that the changelog isn't always available *at all*: on the console, in-game, on any official websites. Nowhere. It comes down to users exloring every aspect of their system and being not only perceptive enough to see the tiniest changes but generous enough to make a list and post it online for others to find.

      I agree with the article: changelogs are important and expected. Plus it's not like it's a lot of effort to take an internal document, summarise the important bits and stick it online.

    I personally love having hardware updates (dont ask why i dont know either :P ) but i find it a pain in the ass that 9 times out 10 they dont mention what exactally has been updated, and even a google search doesn't provide many answers.

    over the weekend i updated the firmare on my nokia e72, which included an improved web browser and emoticons (finally) but it never mentioned smaller aesthetic changes to menu or removal of some things such as company search (no problem for me but would be for others)

    I agree. We should know.

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