Category Archives: Gaming

Updates

First of all

So whilst Microsoft is trying to rephrase their weak position through: ‘We are continuing to look at engagement as our key metric for success and are no longer reporting on total console sales‘, yes try to sell that whilst you have been all aggro on boasting boosted numbers for decades. Now that Xbox is about to become the number THREE system, they are running scared. The Nintendo Switch is now at 32 million, which surpasses the previous total number of Xbox One consoles sold, but they are currently allegedly at 41 million consoles sold, which means that there is only a 9 million gap until the most powerful console in the world degrades to the bronze position. Nintendo sold 14 million consoles in the last quarter alone, so that gives light that this is the last quarter with Xbox in the number two position, optionally the last month. Yet, I admit, my expectation of passing Microsoft by January 31st was not met, I was wrong. Yet the total number of consoles sold in the last quarter is still an amazing feat by Nintendo and it also shows that even as I was not correct in the end, my view was a lot better than all the market analysts.

The writing is on the wall.

I personally believe that some analysts have been setting the stage for shorting the stock of Nintendo. The question becomes what the law states. You see, when we look at the definition of shorting stock, the most generic version is: “he or she borrows shares of a company from an existing owner through his brokerage, sells those borrowed shares at the current market price, and pockets the cash“, yet in this case, the premise is not entirely that clear, with ‘he or she borrows‘ we need to consider that shorting the stock was done as a service for a third party, giving rise to the sale at tremendous profits. At present I seem to be wrong, there is no evidence of a setting to allow for a short sell. Yet the predictions that were made last year were so wrong, in so many ways that the overall findings would lead me to this path (there are others too). So is it just me? I would actually agree with this, was it not for the fact that the level of wrongness regarding Nintendo was so profound.

The state last year (Oct 2018) was given with ‘Nintendo Delivers Record Quarter, But Misses Estimates‘, so the stock tumbled a little less than 2%, in all this, whilst within a year the total lifetime sales of the Microsoft Xbox One were completely by 67% at that time, in addition, the software sales were almost globally ruling software top ten lists all over the place. We can argue that the ‘missed estimates’ were so ludicrously unrealistic that the entire matter had to be looked at, now we see the last quarter alone delivered 14 million consoles, which is almost 50% of what Microsoft achieved in sales between 2012 and 2016, four years versus three months, so how were estimations missed?

The puzzlement is supported even further with: “That’s Nintendo’s most profitable Q2 in eight years and a solid increase from the $211 million it booked last year.” It is in that light that I had an issue with the predictions in the last year. From my point of view Nintendo smashed almost every record, yet the stock is not reflecting that, giving rise to a few issues, but as a non-trader and a non-economy educated person, I cannot give the weight to that thought, yet the thought remains.

And now that we are treated to: ‘Nintendo cuts Switch sales forecast despite strong holiday season‘ the matter should be set, yet I am not convinced. Even as we see 14.5 million consoles up to now the last two months are unlikely to give them the 5.5 million consoles they need, they expect to get 2.5 million consoles and that seems achievable. I am not convinced that the 5.5 million consoles cannot be met, merely because Microsoft is on the ropes and there is no marketing, no advertising to reflect that. In this aggressive expansion universe it seems odd that Nintendo is not taking up the gauntlet to that degree.

They drastically improved visibility, especially compared to the WiiU. They have the titles that have a large appeal across the board and the people who do play the Switch love the interactions. In addition the shock news of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 and the fact is that it is exclusively to Nintendo Switch is not merely news, it is equally a shocker to Sony as well, as this was the kind of stuff that Sony needed to prevent from happening. The fans (including me) loved the first one on Xbox 360 and as we see the foundation of the original Gauntlet added to the DC and Marvel Universe, we get a game any comic book fan would love to play and nearly everyone that was one did and loved it. So to get this exclusively to Switch is a dealmaker as well as a record breaker. I doubt that this game will be out in time to get the next quarter sales up to the degree it needs to be upped, but it will soar sales of Nintendo yet again (optionally not in time to make the 20 million marker).

So did Nintendo do it wrong? I am not convinced, they made huge mistakes in the WiiU era and seemingly repaired all those flaws in the Nintendo Switch stage, no matter what estimates were not met, we now see that Nintendo Switch has gotten to 45% mark of the PlayStation 4 lifetime sales in under 2 years which is quite the feat as Microsoft got nowhere near that result, ever!

In second place

This is given to us by the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/31/italy-slips-into-recession-for-third-time-in-a-decade-economy) it is in the setting of the same wall with more writing. It was to be expected as Italy has a whole range of economic anchors and downfalls. Yet I had hoped that Italy would have been able to stagnate their economy; alas they do not get to be that lucky and recession is the result. The problem is that this could also adversely affect France at present. It is (according to the Business Insider) yet at present the recession there is most likely, yet not a certainty. No matter how it wields, the French President will have to make a few committing jumps on several levels and as the stage between the US and the EU is polarising France will be on the side of the French needs, which by the way is not on par with American needs, so the Europeans have that to look forward to in the next 5 weeks. It is also the Italian part where we see failings, the Guardian gives us: “The deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio, the head of the Five Star Movement, said the recession was proof that Europe’s budget rules should be relaxed to allow Italy to stimulate its economy back to growth“, which is the larger mistake. That approach did not work for the ECB and now the EU nations have a 3 trillion Euro anchor around their necks, adding debt will not have any true influence on the economy. the entire spending spree is now to be the anchor that drowns the 27 EU nations sooner rather than later and that is the overbearing part why Brexit was essential, the moment the UK is cut form that, the entire mess evolves too fast for anyone to correct for. The entire mess on four economies, where the one (UK) leaves and two (France and Italy) have merely a recession to offer, which means no options at all leaving it all to Germany who has enough for the ace of spades to be handed to them again and again. Germany avoided recession as it grew by 0.1%, which means that they only defeated the recession on the academic principle. It still means that the German economy is stagnating and that is not a good feeling when you are a German. So whilst we now see a whole parade of blaming the UK on making matters worse through a chaotic Brexit, I merely state that these idiots only have themselves to thank. If they had done something about the lack of transparency at the ECB as well as muzzle Mario Draghi from spending 3 trillion euro’s, money they never had, the situation would not be this dire (as I personally see it). The fact that the Business Insider also reported: (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/europe-economic-gdp-growth-data-heading-to-recession-2019-1) “Junk bonds went through the roof. Total issuance of junk bonds from non-financial companies (rated BBB) went parabolic, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, as more highly rated bonds declined“, it is directly linked to the problem, that market went up by €100,000,000,000 in the last year alone, so this time if there is another meltdown (like 2008) and it happens, Europe will not see the fallout as it happened in Wall Street. No, this time around Europe will be the cause of it all to a much larger extent, so the impact on Europe will be beyond disastrous. Whatever quality of life there is, the Europeans can kiss it goodbye for decades. They could quite likely desire the time of harsh austerity, how is that on forecasting quality of life?

In combination

The EU is in a bad place and it has been reflecting all over the place. You see, last November we were treated to: ‘CPPIB is shorting $750 million worth of EU stock, making it one of the most active short-sellers in Europe, data show‘, more important, it gets an added “Unusual in that Canada’s biggest pension plan also tends to hold ‘rather long-term’ positions“. It seems a perfectly valid place to be in, especially when we see that so far that pattern seems valid. We see the additional “the CPPIB has nearly doubled the number of its disclosed short positions since last year, to 23 from 14. That places CPPIB 14th on the list of the most active short sellers in Europe“, as stated before, I can see the presence, and in this case I cannot explain it (merely because I am not knowledgeable enough to do so). Now, as we see the recession hitting Italy, followed by France soon enough, we might see the reflection on how the gains for the CPPIB could be one of the most profitable ones they have ever had. Even as there is still a little doubt, the firm holding ‘$356.3 billion in assets’, might soon be growing to a half a trillion wealth management colossal. With the positions becoming winners as Talend SA, Wirecard and PostNL falling like a brick in free flight, we see that the CPPIB is lunging forwards through growth (for now).

When we see the impact markets where the fun of wealth comes through the investing towards the gloom of failure, there we see profits soar, profits for those selling short that is. This is not the end or the beginning of the end. As France is setting the stage to move directly into a recession we will see more and more short selling profiteers and as France stumbles, the eyes of all will focus on Greece. Even as we are given ‘Greece moves towards ending austerity with rise in minimum wage‘, it is hard to predict the outcome. It makes perfect sense to do this and when you realise it is significantly less than half of what an Australian would get over that same period. It makes us wonder how the Greeks had been able to keep themselves alive. I personally hope that the view of Alexis Tsipras works out the way he thinks it will, the case is viable, and will it work? Only time will tell at present. Yet it is also a dangerous place. That is seen with: “A glimmer of light emerged on Monday as borrowing costs on 10-year bonds dropped to a four–month low and Tsipras announced that the government would imminently be issuing a five-year bond“, we get the logic of essentially needing to borrow, but Greece is in a much too dangerous place and those bonds could backfire in a terrible way, I believe that the bond issuing was done too early, in a time when there is still too much to lose. In that I actually hope that I am wrong, yet my track record towards predicting these events have been too often on the nose and that worries me to no end.

In this Bloomberg view supports mine (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-07/all-the-risks-besieging-europe-bonds-are-spilling-over-into-2019), the headline ‘All the Risks Besieging Europe Bonds Are Spilling Over Into 2019‘ gives that. Even as the view does not include Greece, the overall risk will be hitting all EU nations (as well as the UK). There are two parts to this, the first opposing me is the view “The risk of spillover from Italy is in our view overestimated,” by Arne Lohmann Rasmussen, head of fixed-income research at Danske Bank A/S. Both that as well as the positivity that he thinks that Spain brings is set on realism, the man is a professional, let’s not forget that. Yet on my side we see: “What happens in Italy is still likely to be felt in its Mediterranean peer, albeit not to the extent of the euro-area debt crisis earlier this decade” this is the Goldman view and I believe t is more accurate, more important the doubt and worrying nature of these investors will make them sketchy and shift happy on a few levels, so when Italy is hit, France will get a beating as will Greece and it will affect Spain too, depending on their economy optionally a lot less and there we get back to the academic non recession of Germany, that 0.1% in the plus, when that gets hit negatively it will escalate the Mediterranean issues by a lot more hitting Spain for certain and hitting the others harder. It is merely my view, yet I believe it to be the correct one. For how much is unknown, I have no idea and I am not willing to guess. We will see a lot more by the end of March. It is at that point where we see what the actual impact will be, at the point the people will decide to either enjoy a little sunshine or make sure that they can avoid the winter of their bank accounts, in Europe these options have become mutually exclusive, an impact that will hit tourism in Greece and Spain in more ways than one. At least the Greek prediction that their tourism will level off in 2019 is decently realistic, which opposes the view: ““2019 will be Greece’s year,” according to DER Touristik, the largest travel company in German-speaking countries” one that is wishful thinking at best.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, Media, Politics

Parental stupidity

We can argue all we like, we can blame everyone but ourselves, but at some point we need to concede that stupidity is a valid reason and these people get to pay the bill themselves.

It sickens me to see a place like Kotaku  going with: ‘The Heartbreaking Story of How One Man Spent £12,000 on Final Fantasy and Nearly Lost His Family‘. You see, from my point of view when you spend 2140% of the price of a game on extra’s there is something wrong with you. You are from my point of view too stupid to be allowed near a credit card ever. The same goes for the idiot spending a similar amount EA Sports loot boxes. Some people are too stupid to get a credit card, and from my point of view, stupidity is no valid defence in any shape or form.

To give a small comparison, I am nuts about Hockey, so I have NHL 19. I have my Ultimate team and I got it by spending £0.00. You get a free package every 8 hours, during the month; you get the chance to get a bronze, silver, gold and the gold plus package as well as a legendary player all for the price of £0.00. I admit that this is not a fast way to get it, but there is a free way and that is awesome. There are other parts, you get more rewards and more card packages as well as legendary players as you unlock milestones and abilities. So at present I have all 31 arenas. Almost every goalie mask for all the NHL Teams as well as their Home and Away Jerseys. In addition I have most of the Canadian and Swedish outfits complete (for the fun of it) and it has costed me Nada. You see, every free package gets you a player, coins and two support cards. The coins vary from 100 to 1750 (the highest I ever got) and it enabled me to buy in auctions. So the BS of this guy spending thousands on his ultimate teams (not the same guy as mentioned earlier in this article). This is the path of someone too stupid to be allowed to have a credit card and all the media supported tearjerkers are just unacceptable to me.

Is that it?                                          

No, this is just the warming up. You see the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/25/revealed-facebook-let-kids-run-up-huge-bills-maximise-revenue) gave us on Friday ‘Facebook let children run up huge bills, court papers show‘. The article then gives us some conspiracy approach to “Staff discussed what to do with high-spending children before deciding to refuse refunds“.

So when we get: “Those games allowed users to buy in-game advantages with real money. But the link was frequently unclear to parents and children. Younger children just did not understand the concept, while older children and teens were unaware that their parents’ credit cards were linked to the accounts until they had run up bills in the thousands of dollars” my acceptance level of hypocrisy had met its final stage. Let’s be clear that Facebook is not innocent in any of this, but the stage is not the children, it is the parents. How the bloody hells were they stupid enough to let their credit card details get out of their hands?

In this as I stated Facebook is not innocent either. This is seen with: “In an effort to tackle the problem, a team of Facebook staff put together a policy that would require children to re-enter some card details before they could buy the in-game items, to prove they had their parents’ permission. But the feature was never implemented“. From my point of view there should not be any allowance of charging children (aka non adults) for games in any way, shape or form, but that little distinction didn’t make it to the front did it? Now, I am willing to accept that games are not always free, that is fine, but then there is one charge for a child to play the game, just like normal games or Android (or IOS) games. You get a free level or a few and for $5 the game is unlocked. Simple solutions that would have solved it all, but Facebook has lost so much value that any harassment policy is ignored on a few levels (my personal speculation), and the entire exploitation of users is something that should now be debated on a much higher level.

So when we are treated at the very end with: “We have now released additional documents as instructed by the court. Facebook works with parents and experts to offer tools for families navigating Facebook and the web. As part of that work, we routinely examine our own practices, and in 2016 agreed to update our terms and provide dedicated resources for refund requests related to purchases made by minors on Facebook“, I see two failures. The first is that a non-adult should not be allowed to have credit card details on their account or any reason, the second is that games explicitly targeting younger players should not be allowed to have in app purchases.

Yet it goes beyond Facebook, the parents, or perhaps more accurately stated the Credit Card holders should also be held to account. There are scores of credit card scams in the world and giving out the details to a minor is a true act of irresponsible stupidity. I do not care what excuse comes back at me. It is stupid plain and simple. If there is a reason for someone to need funds, or perhaps to fuel the use of funds (like an expansion) get a debit card, a pay pal account which could be managed more easily by allowing a mere £10 a month to be added to it, it limits the damage and still allows for someone to get some non-free gaming done.

It becomes more and more apparent that something needs to be done about parental stupidity. In this there is every consideration that parents need to be held to account and an actual consideration whether they are even fit to be a parent. Yet Facebook also requires scrutiny. When we saw “Facebook’s explicit policy, as communicated to developers in an internal memo, was to tackle such complaints by handing out free virtual items, not by refunding the charges – because “virtual goods bear no cost”” gives us the ammunition we need. If it is true that ‘virtual goods bear no cost‘, why charge people in the first place? There is the valid response to the setting of why there was a complaint in the first place and that is where we can hold the parents to account, which seems not to be done, or is expected to be done at any given time soon.

Yet the logic of some parts seems to evade the simple minds of those overspending. You see those who have been spending a fortune on their EA Sports loot boxes seem to forget that whatever they buy now becomes useless when they get FIFA20, NHL20, and NFL20. At that point they have to start from scratch all over again. So how is that for logic? I believe that by getting there and spending £0.00 I did the right thing and anyone doing exactly the same is on the same track. Now, I will be honest that when I hear that someone bought a gold plus pack that has 20 cards and includes 4 rare cards (if I remember correctly), I get that, if you buy one or perhaps two packs at the very beginning to have something to start with, we get that. Beyond that, no, that makes no longer sense, not when you get loads of free packs over time, in addition, the currency won allows you to buy cards in auctions and there you need to realise that you need to shop carefully and look for the options. It is the mere application of common sense, an element not in any parents giving out their credit card to their child, no matter how well off they are.

So when Kotaku treats us to: “It was my birthday. The Brave Frontier banner was back. The Scythe wielding Queen Elza was back. It was my birthday and I wanted Elza. This was the first double 5* banner I ever tried to pull on. This was the first banner I pulled on after the guaranteed 5* base for Rainbows was announced. It was my birthday and I had to have Elza. I have to get what I want on my birthday. I charged $1500 that day to get her.” I wonder about the age of the person, because at this point we get to the one time in history when wasting $1,500 on cocaine and hookers might have been a better choice to make. When someone is this stupid and wastes $16,000 on virtual elements we get to see just how stupid people tend to get and even as I personally do not see Loot boxes as gambling (thanks to Mass Effect 3), we need to consider the impact of any game that allows actual money to be used for in game items. When we revisit Kotaku and reflect on: “Japan had big problems with gacha-style models, and acted to regulate them. They’re still a part of many mobile games released in the west and, to be fair, for many players they’re not a big issue. But a significant proportion find themselves suckered in by these things, and it’s through no fault of their own – the games are designed to play on well-known mental feedback loops. In certain cases, such as this, they can make otherwise-rational people act in irrational ways“. We acknowledge that there is an issue, but on that can be negated, what if we add one item, one that all actual CCG fans know about? It is called the Factory set. It might not be cheap (like $399), but that gives the player EVERY item and every FUTURE item. So, no long hauls of exploitation, a mere setting of the stage where you can get all the items (at a price) and now we have avoided the entire thousands of dollars mess.

It might also give us a leg up whilst we find ways to properly tax the companies using loot boxes, because that is still an option to place on those using loot boxes. When they are all privy to 25% flat tax (taxed at the sellers point), we might see a first light into a change of the matter. The revenue is still too appealing for places like EA Sports, yet this might give them a much larger incentive to up the game in letting players win these boxes on a much larger scale negating optionally their need to spend money on them. Again, Mass Effect 3 was awesome in that matter, in many cases within an hour you could win up to 3 gold loot boxes without ever spending a dime, merely through playing and that will also beef up the amount of people playing, which is also good for the game. It optionally reduces the amount of parental stupidity we face but I am not holding my breath on that one, there are way too many options for parents to get stupid when it comes to the area of applied technology and applied entertainment for the loudly complaining child, which is merely the nature of the demanding beast.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, Media, Politics, Science

A Congressional Country Club Neighbour

There is a problem when you are the neighbour of the Congressional Country Club. It is not on the CCC mind you, they did nothing wrong. No, it is all about their neighbour Bethesda. Yes, you guessed it; the slamming of software developer Bethesda is just escalating and escalating. The latest one (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ-kIlMPoYY) gives a rise too blunders on many levels, all made by Bethesda. The tweets are off the wall; Bethesda is in actual problems at this point.

I believe that in part the mockery is deserved, apart from the fact that Fallout 76 was an error, or published way too early, the clarity of failure on how the entire mess was dealt with, the lack of communication, shallow party lines and bad response to an even worse situation is what is strangling Bethesda, and to some degree, deserved or not. It is unfair.

Until Fallout 76 the bulk worshipped Bethesda, consider that a game like Skyrim, released on 11.11.11 is still played today, that requires true vision. Many (like me) became fans of Bethesda as ES: Oblivion was released. There is another view (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kRRYgf54oM) that takes itr into another direction. I believe that he is wrong, but I get the point of view. You see, what we call puzzles are basically locking systems in the game. That locking system was staged in those days and these places were filled with soldiers in those days, so the ‘puzzles’ were actually merely locks for those without keys. It is not a hard core puzzle and should not be seen as such. Yet the same person also makes a point with the Fallout 4 references in RPG, the gutting of the Special perks part. He has a point, there was regression, making it too much like an action game with RPG elements. Was it a mistake? It never bothered me whilst playing Fallout 4 over and over again, but that is just me, the story itself did not suffer to the larger degree, if that was the case, my reaction might have been different.

He makes a good point, New Vegas is actually superior in a few ways and that is a shame, even as we loved the ability to make our place more specific, we lost in other ways and that was a shame. When I decided to design ESVI: Restoration, I added from Oblivion, added to Skyrim and made two additional sidesteps, that is progress; that is game evolution.

So there was additional challenge, new options and additional lines to complete. More important, I realised that not everything is in your hands, so I added a side quest where you can influence, but not control it all, that is a part of life. That question will move like a red line through the entire game and in some cases that project will not be completed by the end of the game, time had become a factor as well, an element often ignored in RPG. In my view, you can influence time in the project, yet the end is almost predetermined as you find the elements.

So how is that better?

The fact that there are several choices and you can only commit to one, is the part that matters, it makes for replayability. Also, the end result will influence the economy in play and more important, ass certain choices were obtained/found the place will also open up another set of NPC’s in the game giving another feel and optionally other quests and optionally another achievement. That is merely one place.

I set the stage for 23 side quests that are not the same, require a choice to be made (to some extent) and in addition, would optionally change the favour you get in return, that is something that had not been done before. Although based on previous games, the entire main storyline is set in the past, in the past you played before (to some degree) making the entire line of ES games a historical part of what had happened, optionally what you had played before, that is a side we have not seen before (as far as I know).

What else could there be?

Well, that was my initial thought when I started Restoration and what if we get to choose? What if it is not as shallow as the legion versus the storm cloaks? What if the choice is a fundamental one? What if we select progress of now versus the return to the old age? That is an RPG, it is your choice, it is something given to us in the very beginning of Oblivion.
This is exactly why I considered what I did and I believe that it has the merit of giving the gamers optionally over a hundred hours of gameplay, more than that, they can replay and get a partially different game out of it all, something a lot more than merely manic versus mania; more than Elf versus Imperial. What if we take this to a new level and realise that the light cannot exist without the dark. When we accept that there are no clean solutions and that we have to live with choices and see the impact around us, that is when vanilla RPG transforms into something we seemingly have not seen before (implied as I never played all the games that there are).

And what happens when this is translated to an entire new level of Fallout later on? My ideas are new and partially unique, but the evolution I have in mind is not something that is unheard of. the question becomes is Bethesda (or any other serious RPG developer) willing to take the gamer into a different direction, adding to the need of a lot more graphics and a lot more changes, but that will in the end entice people to replay a game like that again and again. Skyrim opened many eyes, I am merely offering the part where a place like that becomes your universe and you can actually tinker it through gameplay into something more, it has been seen before, but it is really really rare as it requires the software maker to be truly committed to a product for the long term and those in charge now are all about the full time hit, as fast as possible and make it the next profit treasure. Ubisoft showed us that in Assassins Creed, the Division (version 2 more so), Far Cry and Watchdogs. I need to start with the clarity that this is never about the graphics; the graphics from Ubisoft are close to sublime on all these games they really worked it out. The long term part is missed (especially in the Division) as this is about non-stop action. Now, that part seems natural, but it is not. When you have been in a warzone you will get it. You see, it is about stamina. Not fictive but actual stamina. We might think that this does not apply, but it does. It is so much clearer in Division 2, as we see the game to be a much better game, we see the failure on how a person does what they do with 30 Kg of backpack and weapons and do the stuff they do. Stamina should have intervened to some degree; in addition it was ignored as a reward. When you play more, your character will have a better level of stamina, have you ever run for your life holding onto a 7.62mm FN MAG? I have and trust me it is intense, when stamina leaves you for the moment. Things become a little blurry, motor skills diminish a little and you really need 5 seconds to get a hold of yourself. Now, this is a game and I get that, but it is the ignored element, which is a shame. We see Stamina in Skyrim and there it makes sense, yet Skyrim missed a little as well, not intentionally and perhaps not even noticeable and it does not matter to the degree it might, but the internal blocks have not been addressed in any RPG game as far as I can tell, which is a shame. It does not make the Division (1 and 2) a bad game, not at all. I am not a great fan of online gaming and plenty are, yet there is a side of me that looks at the game and whilst there is nothing to say about the first division (we all have to start somewhere) we see that the second one needs to be a step forward and that is clearly the case. It is a large leap forward, anyone telling you different is merely insincere on it all (not lying, merely not seeing it all correctly) Now, there I might be wrong, even as i am not much of an online player, others are and they hold a much larger candle towards the quality of such a game. They will look at other elements. I merely noticed that Stamina is a missed opportunity in the Division both one and two), but in the end it is merely one element of plenty of elements that might be improved on. Stamina is the most visible one as it equally impacts Assassins Creed, Far Cry and Watchdogs. Consider, when was the last time when you had to climb up a tower with gear, let alone the pyramids?

We see to leap forwards in many areas except debilitation (like Stamina). So what happens when you do need to get from place to place and also rest at spots to regain stamina? We played Fallout 4 and Skyrim, yet how many took time to sleep and eat? What if that becomes the foundation in the game for the character? What if we see that the Khajiit needs sugar and meat at least once a day? What if the High Elf needs little food, but will require fresh clean water every day? What more can we get out of the game when we focus beyond the story and make sure that our time in the elements are properly addressed? I believe that plenty of games will end up with an added level of game play and satisfaction when the elements become actual elements to take heed of. Fallout New Vegas had so much of the added elements in its game that the consideration that Fallout 4 was a step back is not that big a leap and that is such a shame.

It is a shame because future games will be measured in different ways, the growing demand for survival games is showing us that path and RPG’s need to catch up fast, or better stated Bethesda needs to up their game in several ways. They do not have the luxury they had in January 2012 (after the first Skyrim wave). They now need not merely a good game, they need a landslide rating to get the people aboard and enthusiastic again, they dropped the ball that often in the last year alone. If they do not, we will see the RPG community moving to other shores and perhaps that is what Obsidian Entertainment will deliver with the Outer Limits. Time will tell, and the gamer has time to go from game to game, Bethesda no longer has that benefit, they squandered too much of it internally, and externally towards their fans, the gamers and their marketing will need to learn that merchandising is not a solution, it is not a stop gap. Every piece of merchandising is another piece of evidence to hold Bethesda as a company up to scrutiny, did they not realise that?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, IT, Science

The impact of insanity

This is not going to be a nice article, it will not be positive and it will not be one you might like to read. It is not on how Nintendo is growing evermore, how people can remain happy playing Mario Kart. We heard all the negativity in the past, and now (4 days ago) we get: ‘Nintendo’s Bold Switch Sales Target Could Be Achievable After All‘, the news that I predicted over a year ago, which did not become a reality, I predicted that the Microsoft Xbox One life time sales would be surpassed by Nintendo by an expected end of January 2019 was not met. It seems that I am off by 8 weeks. So, under two years the total lifetime’s sales mark, the mark that took Microsoft with their most powerful console in the world got slammed, crushed and obliterated by Nintendo in two years. Some say it is insane, I merely see it as the opposition of the need for actual fun that will trump looking cool every single time. It goes further when we realise that 15 of the 20 highest selling games in Japan are all Nintendo Switch games. The game is changing and even Sony is worried for the first time ever. Now, we know that for the life cycle of Sony, the PS4 will remain to be in first place, but the fact that Sony is worried is unheard of. It matters because after the PS4, there will be a PS5 and Sony needs to up the game by a decent amount. Not essentially in hardware, they need to get their game up in software. An issue they never had before, not since the very first PlayStation. It is all set to the stage of IP and Sony knows that this will be a hard time for all things Sony. If that was not enough, the fact that Smash Bros surpassed 5 million copies in global sales in one week is also a milestone that Nintendo loves, yet never expected to this degree, fun is everything, it is a life marker for all of us and it is out in the open.

In opposition we need to look where fun is not found, where fun does not make it. It is the stage of Yemen, when in Jordan the talks are breaking down regarding the Yemeni conflict. With the quote: “Negotiations between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebel representatives broke down in Jordan’s capital, Amman, with the Yemeni government accusing the Houthis of providing a fake list of prisoners“, it might be true, it might not. It is dependent on the right data, the right intelligence. So with: ‘Yemen’s warring sides fail to reach agreement on prisoner swap‘ (at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/yemens-war-agreement-reached-prisoner-swap-deal-jordan-190119164117438.html) we see the escalation returning. The matter becomes increasingly worse when we consider the SF Chronicle (at https://www.sfchronicle.com/world/article/Fuel-from-Iran-used-to-finance-rebels-in-Yemen-13547149.php). Here we see nothing new. The headline: ‘Fuel from Iran used to finance rebels in Yemen, UN panel finds‘. We knew for the longest time that Iran had been financing and supporting the mess in Yemen, many European papers stayed out of it all as there is an important issue revolving the Iranian Nuclear deal, a joke on paper and not worth the paper it was printed on, which was my personal opinion. So I gave my support to the side of Saudi Arabia in all this for several reasons, the fact that Iran was guilty of too many transgressions and no one was willing to openly step up to the mark. Today I am changing that game by adding my own insanity. Even as the UN recognises certain steps, the inaction of too many is appalling and I am making a massive dangerous alteration, because I can no longer sit on the sides. As we were introduced to: “The latest report said a small number of companies inside and outside Yemen operated as front companies using false documentation. The panel said it found that the fuel was loaded from Iranian ports and “the revenue from the sale of this fuel was used to finance the Houthi war effort.”” It is now my turn to wake up the others.

I made a second mention in ‘The Elephant Room‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/10/23/the-elephant-room/) where I devised a method to take the Iranian navy out of the equation and it might optionally work on the USS Zumwalt as well (that ship to too ugly and expensive to be allowed to exist). The idea came from a famous Dutch bank robber named Aage M (70’s). He robbed banks in the most novel way with a thermionic lance. He went straight through the concrete (next to the door) and looted the place. I altered the device concept (see image). Now it should work on vessels too. One ring of Magnesium, the flotation device is pure oxygen, pushing the Magnesium ring against the hull, when ignite, the heat will keep the flame going on under water (at 2200C mind you), the flotation device will push against the bottom of the boat melting the hull in that location, making a rather large hole, when the end is reached the C4 ring explodes and totally screws the inner hull six degrees from Sunday. The nice part is that the device would require no more than an estimated $100K-$150K. At that point the hole will totally change the floating principle of that much steel (with less displaced water).

If my idea was correct, the Iranians could lose their Sahand, Moje and Alvand class frigates. In addition, when properly timed, it could in addition take Dryabany base Mahshahr out of the equation. It would not defeat Iran, I have no delusions in that regard, but when Iran suddenly has such a bitter pill to swallow, the idea that one civilian achieved that, if successful it would force them to become a lot more civil. Their funding of Hezbollah and the funding of the Houthi would hopefully end forever, especially when their own turf is no longer safe. The idea is not perfect, I have a few parts in the deployment device (stealth based) that are not adding up, but the waters there work in my advantage, which is nice but not good enough. You see, until you are willing to commit, it is merely a thought, a flight full and fantasy founded one, yet not realistic.

If a snow globe gave me the idea for the meltdown of a (Iranian) nuclear reactor (as well as both the Wasp and Piranha valves), what could the mind perceive at the sight of a dough mixer?

IP is not merely about applied innovation, it is a path to create something new and that was exactly what I did, even as my mind feels more comfortable designing stories and games, a sidestep to hardware is never far away, I was able to prove that a few times over. So as the US Navy is given: “American taxpayers have bought a fleet of three warships—at a cost of $8 billion each!—that are still looking for a mission. Not only that: the ships are missing their key weapon, and Congress—which rarely rebukes the Navy—recently ordered the service to strike the two that have been delivered to the fleet from its roster of combat-ready ships“, I had the opposing idea at no more than $150K. How is that for warfare extremes?

When we are shown “The vessels represent a case study of a program run without adult leadership. Its contractors and admirals were blinded by ambition that had little to do with providing the fleet with enough hulls to patrol the world’s oceans, but everything to do with maritime hubris that didn’t pan out. “They just started putting all sorts of requirements on the ship without really understanding the cost implications,”“, a military apparatus that has no concept of reality and the US taxpayer is down 24 billion with nothing to show for it, my idea would have costed them $6 million, and now I will add it to the world of public Domain for null cost. I still have a few 5G implementation ideas to go through, so I am not shy if idea’s. Those ideas include a new keyboard. Even as we see all those fancy new keyboards, they are all surrounding the same tiring idea, they call them novel but they are anything from novel. I got the idea when I remembered the time when we were not devoted to our remote control. I suddenly thought back to my old 1988 colour TV and it gave me an idea of a very different keyboard, a keyboard where it is about the key itself and that gave me a new implementation of what could be truly a new keyboard, one that might look odd and many might not like it but at least it is in a direction that we have not been in ever, when did you last see a device that did that?

The line between genius and insanity is a lot thinner and a lot more blurry than most people are comfortable with considering. This does include the novel idea that I am not a genius, I am merely a closet case insane person, yet my willingness to measure myself against other settings slightly removes that option form the table. I could also put the entire Trump administration against myself as I see that they are willing to push hundreds of thousands of people into hunger and destitute merely to get a wall build, one that has no hope of actually being a success mind you, but there you have it.

In addition, in my view I am not stating that the Saudi involvement here is all innocence; the alleged airstrike a mere hour ago would be ample proof of that. From my point of view, the delaying tactics from the Houthi forces have now met with the end of patience and the Saudi’s have had enough. Can we judge? I have to say, not at present but a lot will depend on how the entire mess is presented soon enough and will the media give us an honest non biased brief? I truly do not know, I hope we will know tomorrow. Yet, that is not the end of it all.

You see, we have not seen the levels in America regarding polarisation since before the McCarthy Administration and it is having a global impact (and that is before the Chinese elements are added to the equation). I personally see it as a larger political failure in America. The entire ‘Russian interference’ part has been dragged out for the longest time, yet what is there?

When we accept Wired (a reliable source) we get: “The Mueller indictment permanently demolishes the idea that the scale of the Russian campaign was not significant enough to have any impact on the American public. We are no longer talking about approximately $100,000 (paid in rubles, no less) of advertising grudgingly disclosed by Facebook, but tens of millions of dollars spent over several years to build a broad, sophisticated system that can influence American opinion“, I do not doubt this, branding, marketing and awareness programs all work in a similar matter. Most do not invest that much, but the larger players (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Huawei, Apple and Google) have all used similar methods to give rise to what they offer and sell. So why would that be different for an election? A place of position is just that, a place of position and that place also gives rise to other profits when properly used. We see that in Europe as talks prolong with Iran and Turkey to get a standing, they are at that point in a place of power and removing them from such a place is what would enable progress. So that is where we see the tactics evolve, but in America there seems to be no evolving tactics at all, it is all emotions and media, hoping to get a resolution. So when we see (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/model-apologizes-in-claim-of-russia-election-interference/2019/01/19/f919f22c-1c08-11e9-b8e6-567190c2fd08_story.html), the stage of ‘Model in Russian court apologizes for US election claim‘, where we see: “A Belarusian model and self-styled sex instructor who last year claimed to have evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election said Saturday that she apologizes to a Russian tycoon for the claim and won’t say more about the matter“.

This leads us to: ‘A Russian Sex Instructor makes the headlines in the Washington Post? Are you fucking kidding me?‘ In this we get the stage where Anastasia Vashukevich (aka Lady Sex Education) and Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska (Mr Billionaire) and also CEO of Basic Element, he is worth well over 4 billion dollars and they are both getting way more visibility. Now, with Oleg we get that someone this rich and successful would be taking the headlines in all this, yet the American way of just pasting any claim without proper vetting of facts is now a much larger issue, especially as the vetting of facts and the exposure of certain players (like Iran, Turkey and Hezbollah) was been faltering in many ways. So even as we find a little giggle value in the accusation and there might be a case where Oleg has at least the funds and means to influence an election, yet with the US in such an economic state, it might be just a lot more beneficial to invest a mere 2% and grow his businesses in Europe and over the Middle East, that is the common sense thing to do.

You see, that is where we need to look, especially as the perceived escalations all over the Middle East continues. We can laugh and state that Americans are all taking ‘crazy pills’ but that is not the whole truth, that path only works with massive levels of facilitation and that is where the mystery starts. One source gives us an uncomfortable re-enactment. WE are given: “Yesterday’s Pre-WW II Germany is Today’s U.S.A. I remember as a child sitting in history class and watching the videos of the horrors of Nazi Germany. All of the kids asked the same question “how could the people let this happen?” We had both a school system and parents who were adamant about ensuring that we were aware of what occurred, how so many ignored the problems, and then later how so many supported what became the Nazi regime. All of what happened then is the same that is happening now. Fascism has familiar characteristics and the only difference is we have more technology to deliver them today. The desperate and the stupid are easily brainwashed and since they lack critical thinking, they will believe anything.

I believe that this is not the whole truth. I believe that there is a level above the middle level and below the higher echelons that is desperately depending on the current financial status quo to continue, with Wall Street calling the shots. That time is over and many are afraid, we can see the elements in play. Those in Europe connected to the ECB, praying that some Turkey deal is possible, hoping that some Iranian Nuclear deal will turn the economy around. It is too late for that, but they will not listen to common sense. The USS Zumwalt is only one of several examples where there is orchestration, not one, but a dozen orchestras all playing at the same time, all implying chaos, but it is not that simple. Those with blinders, only seeing and hearing one small part hears that one orchestra, the rest think it is merely noise, merely awareness of whatever comes next, but there is no next, there is no continuation, minus 20 trillion should be evidence of that, yet the people will not listen. That same stage is seen in Yemen. Even when we accept a part of it, the part that there are still allegedly 600,000 mines out there, when we accept only 50% of that number. When we do the math and we realise that the conflict started 4 years ago, we need to realise that it required 200 mines a day to be placed, 200 mines a day, every day. How many resources does that take? Now consider that Yemen never ever had this amount of resources (especially the mines), now we get to that part that matters: ‘Just how deeply was Iran involved from the very start?

That is the important part, because for 4 years most nations did NOTHING! And that is where we see the insanity of inaction, and let’s not forget, I am only taking on 50% of that claim, at the true expected numbers, this stage is a nightmare and we all let it happen. Yemen will be a death zone for many years to come, the impact of mines will continue for many years and whatever progress we think we make there is seemingly fiction, so as I decided to add to the fiction by placing the hardship on the transgressor Iran, I feel that I am doing the right thing. At least I am doing something, which is more than we can state from the media and their inaction.

The impact of insanity is doing nothing and hoping it will resolve itself, that stage was never a real one and that has been proven since long before WW1 was going to be a reality. The impact of insanity is a real one and it is a highly physical impact as well, we remain in denial, we remain in denial in a time where denial is not merely unrealistic, it is a choice where we merely harm ourselves in the short term as well, how is that healthy?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, IT, Media, Military, Politics, Science

It’s all about the funny, not the money

I made a prediction almost a year ago, and it is still decently on target to being met. I made the prediction in ‘All eyes on Nintendo‘, the article I wrote (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/04/06/all-eyes-on-nintendo/), In April 2018, I made the prediction that Nintendo Switch would become the number two console and they are nearly there, I also stated: “I have no doubt that Nintendo will take that spot, it is merely the fact that, at present, it will not happen before January 2019“. The fact that one third of the entire global lifetime Microsoft Xbox market was equaled in the US alone in 21 months, less than two years. In October we were given by PC Magazine “the latest sales figures from Nintendo confirming its hybrid console has now sold 22.86 million units“, that was almost two months ago and there were three large festivities on approach. And as we add the partial overlap with the 5 month challenge of: “The news comes from an article in Japanese daily newspaper, Kyoto Shimbun, where Furukawa also briefly touched upon Nintendo’s 20 million Switch console sales target for the same time period” we could almost conclude that they hit the mark, yet Microsoft did not sit still and that device is still selling. Still, within 5 weeks we will see whether my prediction holds, it will be a close call to equal total global sales in 24 months, whilst Microsoft has had 6 years to get there. As the gaming shops have playable Nintendo Switch consoles in their store and as we can first hand experience the addictive fun that the Nintendo Switch brings, we see that it does not look good for Microsoft. Some sources are already claiming that the Nintendo Switch is the bestselling console in US history, a bold claim and interesting if it is supported with the right data. Microsoft and their Xbox remains at a steady climb, now at around 40 million in total life time sales, it is almost the same for Sony, but with well over twice that amount sold, It is Nintendo who is shaping the curve with an actual monthly increase for now, even as it is merely 100,000-150,000 more per month, which is twice the monthly amount Microsoft has been selling, they were still catching up to Microsoft. I reckon that close to the end of the year the damage done to Microsoft by Nintendo will be a little more clear, yet I personally saw that in the time that I was in a games shop 3 Switch consoles were sold versus one PlayStation and zero Xbox consoles, yet that was in my particular window and that is not representative, even though it supports the indication given by me 8 months ago.

Even though VG Chartz (at http://www.vgchartz.com/analysis/platform_totals/) gives us a global setting of Xbox One at 41.26 million versus Nintendo Switch at 24.13 million, I believe that the total number of Nintendo should be closer to the 30 million mark. You see, if I am wrong (always a valid consideration), than it implies that the statement from Furukawa gives rise to his goal being off by a decent amount, it will no longer be the case of the Nintendo Switch not being able to meet the 20 million mark, it would lose out to close to 20%, which is a really big deal. In addition, the 20 million mark had been hit in August, so with one additional quarter and the holiday seasons (plural) that the 4 million mark seems too low, yet we will know in a week how the scores ended. Also we saw that over September, VGChartz gave us 900K Nintendo’s versus 400K Microsoft consoles, so in that light, my prediction is eerily on the mark and we might see that even though my call for January 2019 might have been a little too enthusiastic, the numbers are clear, in 2019 Nintendo advances to the second place and Microsoft with its most powerful console has degraded itself to a mere third position.

We can argue that there had been too much damage and Phil Spencer had to get through this moment no matter what, it is clear that as I personally see it, not listening to the gamers was the biggest mistake and accounted to the largest fall. For Microsoft to actually listen, the Nintendo Switch would still be a threat, but not to this degree and it would still be in a situation trying to catch up to the other two, Microsoft merely made it easy for Nintendo and that is not the fault of Phil Spencer. To change this, he has to make a few hop, skips and jumps. Yet overall Microsoft could pull it off, its game pass is a good move and should not be underestimated. In addition, Forza Horizon IV is considered by me as the best game of the year. I believe that God of War deserved to win in many ways, yet oddly enough my vote went to Forza.

You see, just as the entire Nintendo formula made it an instant winner, that Formula should also be administered to games. So there is me, and I loved the God of War, been a fan since the very first game. I was never a racing fan, I am no Microsoft fan (my reviews show that), yet whenever I see Forza, or better stated FH4, I want to race, the game makes me want to pick up a controller and race, even me as a non-racing fan. That pull is so strong that it is important to acknowledge it. FH4 is a true winner and even as in the scores the God of War was a little higher (and deservingly so), I felt it was important to weigh a game, a game I love to play against a game I want to play at the mere sight of it, FH4 did something remarkable there, that needed to be recognised and that is why I gave it my vote.

FH4 is merely the start, if Microsoft wants to turn the helm around, it needs to make choices it needs to make hard decisions and it has to ACTUALLY start listening to the gamers, if they do not, they are lost and in addition, whatever comes next will receive a lot less consideration than before. For now, for the beginning of 2019 it will be up to Microsoft to find a path to return to that second place, because if they do not, their own marketing will become a joke, proclaiming yourself to be the ‘most powerful console’ is nice, but like the older console names 3DO, it does not pay to pave the road about it, it merely leaves the console in a state like a sepia photograph, remembered fondly for a moment and then forgotten as people move again into the now of things.

The formula was not complex, it was actually quite simple, Nintendo got it and they got it right, Microsoft was able to get almost every element in that equation wrong, which is an achievement, but not a good one.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Gaming

Battle of the giants

The Guardian has released a list of the best games of the year. As a Sony lover, I expected to see god of War and it is there, we also see Microsoft’s Forza Horizon 4, which ought to be there too. I was never a racing fan and still that game blew me away, so there!

We also see games that never were my fancy; Monster Hunter World is not a game I tried as I was disappointed with the grinding that the 3DS version gave. I admit that the graphics on the new consoles looked amazing, yet i felt no need to try. Ni No Kuni 2 is not a surprise and the absence of Bethesda is no surprise. I am quite frankly amazed on how many times Bethesda dropped the ball in this quarter alone. I have no idea what got them hit with the stupid stick this many times. Red Dead Redemption 2 is there too and my only surprise is the remastered Shadow of the Colossus. I actually did not expect it to show up, as I saw Dark Souls Remastered. If we look at those two, they deserve to be there, and even as it hits the mark, they do have the benefit of having a long time to be the original, when we look today, it is much harder to find an original game, as such these two might be regarded as having an unfair advantage.

I also missed titles that should have been there. first there is Spiderman, it is not merely the best Spiderman ever made, it is graphically perfect, it has the clear feel of a Peter Parker adventure and it is true to a Marvel world, as such I expected it to be there, right next to God of war, two games that made Sony to be the Huge success it became in 2018. The Xbox One misses out due to exclusivity, and I am in conflict with myself over Assassin’s Creed Odyssey not being picked, there are reasons it should be there and optional reasons for it not making the cut, yet I feel the balance scale is still on the side of it being there. I believe that in this case the DLC is added reason for it making the grade this time around as well (the cultural DLC of life in Egypt last year was a stroke of genius, you walk through it seeing just how much as a gamer you missed out on, making the replay 150% more satisfying). As a PlayStation lover (an important distinction), I need to side with Keza MacDonald on this one. Her statement: “This game is a beautiful experience. As driving games go, it’s the best I’ve ever played“, in the end, God of War blew me away as well, it was such a rush to see a game propel to the size it did, yet in the end, there is every chance that Forza Horizon 4 might end up being the best game of the year, it will be a title well deserved. In all my opposition to what Microsoft calls ‘good business‘ and their view of gamers, this one they got right, well done Microsoft!

If gaming is perception and presentation, just to call the attention, we need to stop and take another look at Bethesda. Even as the media titles have been ‘protective’ like ‘Bethesda Accidentally Leaked Personal Data of ‘Fallout 76’ Customers Looking for Help‘, as well as ‘Bethesda’s attempt to fix a Fallout 76 blunder leaks angry shoppers’ PID‘, we need to be mindful, accidental or not. Personal data is out there, possible due to an overreaction by Bethesda. Many consider Fallout 76 to be a failure; I am slightly less pessimistic calling it ‘work in progress’. That is the nature of the beast, when you tackle the online gaming, things go pear shaped, not merely because of the dangers of online resources, the mere consideration that 4 eager gamers can ask more of a system than 23,665 programmers can correct for, it is a mere truth of the online stage. And it was my personal feeling that after Tamriel in an online stage, Bethesda would have learned enough to get it much better from day one, they did not!

So it is unlikely that Bethesda is going home with any prices and awards this year (however, there is still Legends, and optionally blades).

Why look at this?

Games are not merely games, when a person buys a game; he or she pays for both an experience, as well as a stage of engagement. It is hard (read: impossible) to merely see AC Odyssey, without going back all the way to Masyaf and the very first Assassins Creed (if you played it as early as then), this is why AC2 and AC brotherhood are still seen as the path of perfection that AC Unity devastated. I got this Ubisoft punishment device (see image), just so I could explain it to the skull of Yves Guillemot as graphically as possible (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).

We have had plenty of reasons to get mad at Ubisoft for a whole range of reasons and now we see a growing group of people angered with Bethesda. I say one optional flop does not make a raging crowd, yet the views, visions and YouTube’s out there say different. As for perception, this game (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWwyhymcDxI) was one of the first 5 games I ever bought (3rd or 4th), I still think fondly of this game, even after 34 years. I got the Broderbund title as it got the IBM joystick award (in those days there was no proper game reviewing). It was an instant success. When you get emerged in a game, your world changes, and you tend to focus on fun and challenge. This is not unique for me; this is for anyone who loves games. Now we can hardly perceive this, yet I still remember the challenge that level 5 was initially. For many, their first console, the first game they truly got involved in, that title they will carry in their hearts for the longest of times, they will judge other games by that game. For many it will be on all systems, others will judge it per system (which is fairer anyway). So the new gamers will hold a light to any new game, comparing it to FHIV, AC Odyssey, Super Mario Odyssey, and Red Dead Redemption 2. That is the nature of the beast and when we find the developer lacking, they will get slapped around by these gamers (poor poor Yves Guillemot). Yet when a developer gets it right, when they deliver beyond the over marketed title (like AC Origin) they also get the benefit of powerful acknowledgement (as they are entitled to that too). For me (in the Mario universe) it started with Super Mario 64, and until we got Super Mario Sunshine, it had the crown, even later as we saw Wii and WiiU, Super Mario Sunshine still ruled and now we see the optional crown going to Super Mario Odyssey (I only played the demo so far).

So when we see this, when we realise that best game of the year is also smitten with what they made before, we see a difference, another measurement. So in that light, I do hope that the rumours of Samus Aran and her trilogy for Nintendo Switch will be true. So far in 14 years no one ever surpassed the fun and challenge value that Metroid Prime delivered and I loved Metroid Prime 2: Echoes to that same degree. So to get that on Switch will up the ante for any game developer. The fun, the challenge and getting to the conclusion of the challenge is everything to the gamer, Nintendo has forever understood that part of gaming to a much better degree than any other developer (Bethesda had a good grasp of comprehending people on the past).

So when we see that the reality is that we will optionally be able to replay those titles via the Nintendo Switch Virtual Console, we see that Nintendo has a long term future as well, as these titles can capture the older hearts, as well as new players giving them a lot more bang for the buck. Nintendo rules these waves, we see this with the latest addition Super Smash Bros (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWo9wfsnj7M). It is Super Smash Bros that gives the main dish as a desert. When we realise that the impression of fun is not merely looking good, it is about getting it right, it is in this view that looking perfect will always lose against getting it right.

It is that distinction is also important when you look towards the best game of 2018, even as a PlayStation fan (a bias that is forever important), we see that Spiderman PS4 got it right, Forza Horizon 4 merely got it right better. So Microsoft on a game type that I am not really a fan of; justly wins with a title by getting it right the best. Even as God of War was perfect, exceeded everything they made before, we might compare it to why Super Smash Bros got 94%, yet in the end, the game that blew us away more will take the cake and candles in all of this. FHIV might never be in my collection as the One versus One X is just to distinct here (for now), yet the fact that whenever I see FHIV, I get the desire to race, as a non-racer, that impression is extremely distinct; it is why my vote went that way. To capture the heart of a player that has another game style is an achievement that we all seem to forget. Just like Super Smash Bros has the ability to get all kinds of people to pick up the game and play against as many people as possible, we see the impact of excellence in gaming through fun and the joy of getting there. Nintendo mastered that ability a long time ago and whenever we see any other game getting there, we rejoice.

Far Cry Primal got close and then dropped the ball by being ‘predetermined’. Far Cry 5 never got there by offering everything and becoming nothing at all, the God of War got there through the people who knew the originals, giving us a new track, another path in almost perfect graphics and with a rating of 94% they did excel, set that against the 92% of Forza Horizon 4 and in my state of mind, there would be no contest, game over for Microsoft Studios, yet that was not the case, challenge and fun, they merely got it slightly better. Even as we see that they got Best Racing Game and Xbox Game of the Year (which was not really that much of a challenge this time around), they are still on track to get Ultimate Game of the Year, Best Sports/Racing Game and Best Audio Design, it is my personal opinion that they would optionally lose the third one and anyone who has heard the soundtrack of God of War is likely to agree with me. As I see it, Forza Horizon 4 gets to be the Ultimate Game of the Year; at least that is how I personally would vote.

The annual award is a battle of giants, some excelled for a long time, some excelled in every way and some merely competed to some extent. What is important in not merely who wins, and who gets nominated, we see that the winners will impact what we see in upcoming 2020 games and that is important to realise.

As we will anticipate on the coming of the Trilogy on Switch, some might wonder why. It is not merely the FPS part, it is open (to some extent), it is a challenge and it is an adventure, even in 2002 when it was released, even with the more ‘advanced’ graphics that the Xbox and the PlayStation 2 had, they could not touch Metroid Prime and its 97% rating. That small disc, holding a mere part of a DVD blew away all competition and with Metroid Prime 2: Echoes at 92% it did so again, and those who loved gaming want to get that feeling again. That is the impact that fun coated in challenge, or is that challenge coated in fun? Whichever way it is presented it creates gamers and it creates desire within a gamer. The ultimate game of the year can impact that future of where we will look next, what we will try next, even if it is not our cup of tea. When it hits the mark we will all order a pot of it, not merely a cup. That is one part that the game makers understand, and they are eager to get into the sweet spot of gamers there.

Should you think that gamers are selfish, think again! Digital trends reported less than 2 weeks ago: “Grandma Shirley — had left expressing her doubts at living to see The Elder Scrolls VI, a petition was created on Change.org to have her immortalized in the game“, gamers care to this extent, especially when they share a connection to a game, so I think that Bethesda needs to be truly stupid to not consider this, and to be honest Bethesda has been overly considerate in the past, not for personal gain or marketing, their actions regarding Erik West (Eric the Slayer), and there are more examples. Bethesda has forever been trying and aiming to get it right and to a larger extent, they have, so I was puzzled on how they got Fallout 76 so wrong. I merely cover it with ‘a work in progress‘, which in light of the approach is probably as correct as it gets (for now).

Gaming is for me not some state, or an escape. It is a world you become a part of, not replacing reality, but having it on the side. Making it part of the 24 hours a day you have, not replacing the 24 hours you should live in. Some choose sports, some choose a passion (or passion itself) and some hike, trail and be out in the open. Gamers do the gaming thing and when developers get that mindset right, the games will propel in excellence, it is a lesson Nintendo learned early on and they are still able to surprise us. In this Bethesda and Nintendo are optionally more alike. They both got it wrong (WiiU/Fallout76), yet as Nintendo Switch is now the golden mark of excellence, we might get the same from Bethesda (with whichever titles comes next) and that too is gaming, when the challenge is met and we get that satisfying feeling of a new challenge and we look forward to every second that comes next. That ‘Oh Yeah!‘ moment (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB8BLMMVFLg) when you see that they are got it right. Gaming has had plenty of these, which is why developers are getting additional chances. Witcher 3, Mass Effect 2, Diablo 3, Skyrim, Metroid Prime, GTA5, the Last of Us, Golden Eye, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The list goes on and will remain growing after tomorrow, because any developer that flops now (Far Cry) will optionally be able to hit it out of the park at a later stage (Far Cry 3) and that is gaming too, to be there and live through the successes, even after a massive failure (AC Unity anyone?)

Gamers can afford to wait as there are plenty of players offering the next golden egg, or is that the next golden eye? And with results like God of War, Forza Horizon 4, Ni no Kuni 2, and Subnautica I personally believe that the future of gaming is in good hands. No matter who gets to be called the ultimate game of 2018. There has been 45 years between Pong (1972) and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017), it was never about who had the best graphics (Minecraft 2011 is evidence of that), any category can win, any style can win (Rock Band 3 2010) and it opens us optionally to playful directions we might never have considered on day one of that game (Limbo 2010).

Personally I love the yearly gaming awards for reasons mentioned earlier, but for the most, for me it is about to consider a game that stood out in one way and merely missed out on that game initially having something to look forward to, which in my clearest case was Far Cry 3, the previous versions were not up to standard and therefor I never considered it, which gave me in the end more joy than I bargained for, exceeding expectations can end up being that rewarding.

It will be Monday morning in 60 hours, so try to take a moment and play a game this weekend, even if it is for merely an hour and it is something as simple (and highly addictive) as Minecraft.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Media

The Saint’s parcel

Today it is December 5th, in the Netherlands that means it is St Nicholas day. It is the Dutch version of Santa Claus, but with a difference. The story goes back to the Greek bishop of Myra, what is now known as Turkey (270-340 AD). Saint Nicholas is the patron Saint of children and the day preceding his birthday (6th December) it is the evening of presents and all the kids (until a certain age) will receive a present.

As you might imagine the week before all this, things can get really hectic, especially in the toy stores, on a global scale when we see Thanksgiving, St. Nicholas and Christmas, the numbers given to us by power retail ‘Cyber Monday Breaks Record, Becomes “Biggest Sales Day Ever”‘, these numbers makes sense as moments like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other deal moments with discount sales is what people look for globally so that they can show their kids that there are happy times, even if it is just for a day or two. Variety gives us (at https://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/nintendo-switch-sales-holiday-sales-figures-1203038569/) even more. With their headline ‘Nintendo Sold $250 Million in Products from Black Friday to Cyber Monday in U.S.‘, they are showing a setting that is awesome.

More important it is their e-commerce sales of games that is partially taking the cake with the statement: “The Nintendo Switch is now the best-selling Nintendo console in U.S. history for that five-day period, surpassing even Wii system sales, the company announced Wednesday.” Even as we see “Nintendo’s overall goal for the financial year of 38 million units sold, though analysts are still predicting it will fall just short, hitting about 35 million“, yet in all that the analysts are eager to avoid the one setting that matters, in under two years the Nintendo Switch is about to equal the lifetime sales of the Xbox One, a number that is very impressive as the Xbox One had 300% of the time frame to get to this point. And overall the entire Microsoft issue is expected to hit a few more bumps in the road. Software was the key in all this and Nintendo does comprehend quality software. The curve is changing for the better for Nintendo as their demo stations are all over game shops like EB Games. Parents can see how amazing it looks and as the kids are having a go at playing kart and playing Mario Odyssey, we see (as I saw) that the parents are getting a smile on their faces. It is a family friendly system, where violence is limited to a paint gun with a colour. And as we see the greats (Diablo 3) added to the Switch, we see an amazing list of games titles we see a system that is more and more overwhelming when it comes to quality gaming. A game setting where quality is not the silly notion of high level graphics, no! Quality gaming is the level of fun you get out of it and Nintendo is turning heads around and for the first time in history Sony is starting to get worried as the setting now is that this year Switch surpassed the Sony PlayStation. Now that does not means that Sony is number two, they have well over 250% in number of consoles in the field, yet the fact that Nintendo is closing the gap slightly and surpassing Microsoft has never been seen before in the age of gaming. I loved my GameCube (I still miss Mario Sunshine even today), I loved the games I had and when I saw that the Wii was backward compatible I did not hesitate, yet the Switch is showing to be up to the challenge of equalling this in quality gaming. In this we see that Nintendo is getting it right and even as I questioned the stupidity of analysts with their ‘predicting it will fall just short‘, I believe that their entire setting is bogus. Nintendo has the goods and is showing it has equaled the challenge gaining on the larger advantage that Sony has and surpassing what was once the great Microsoft console and the most powerful console? It might be, yet when it offers a mere 25% of the family fun, I wonder what some people choose.

Now, we do not state that the Xbox cannot deliver the goods, yet we have always known that Nintendo was a family and younger player system. Now that we can be on the road, play on TV (via dock) and have access to some of the most addictive games (Diablo 3, Mario Kart, Skyrim, Minecraft, Rocket league) and so many more titles we need to wonder what the others did wrong.

Well they didn’t!

They made a choice and they continued on that path, Microsoft thought what it had to compete with Sony and they did not end up doing that, they soured their own milk from the very beginning in policy and hardware, they refused to listen to their gamers and they are still losing traction in the process. Even as some corrections and some really good ideas have been launched (Game Pass), they have too much to catch on. Nintendo remained on the family fun and family friendly path and they merely gained speed, and within a year they pushed for a speed that would surpass Sony annual sales and they seemed to have done it in 2018 (the official numbers are not out yet). However the consoles and the quarter of a billion in online store sales in under a month is now showing to become the monster truck of revenue. So as I personally sneer at “Nintendo stock hit a five year high of $58.45 a share this year, only to shed more than 40 percent of its value this month, with a year-low of $33.90“, I see clear numbers that do not support the actions and recommendations of these analysts. The titles Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2 represent 40 million copies sold. This implies that every Nintendo Switch has at least one of these games and that is an amazing result. Now set this against a company like Ubisoft (as a mere example) with Assassin’s Creed, 100 million copies over 11 titles on 3+ systems, Far Cry, 25 million copies over 6 titles on 3+ systems and Watch Dogs with 2 titles on 3 systems, 10 million copies sold. These are all decent games and when compared to four titles on one system, we start seeing the first part where the others seem to be getting it wrong. That is the comparison that some analysts do not seem to grasp. In addition, the close to flawless results against other titles on other consoles show and we have not even started with the millions of players playing Pokemon on Nintendo handheld systems.

On the day of Saint Nicholas we look at these kids and we see the overwhelming need and desire for gaming, consoles and handhelds. For the next 4 weeks it will be about that group and I predict that Nintendo will be looking at another half a billion if the previous record is anything to go by. It is likely that Boxing Day sales will add to that revenue surpassing my prediction. Clever grandparents adding an optional $30 gift card for their grand-kids to get several games cheap on boxing day sales, adding even more to the Nintendo profit coffer.

Even Forbes gave me the thumbs up (virtually that is). They had the top purchase mention with Nintendo as one of the titles and the PS4 as the most talked about, no mention on Microsoft. Even as Apple got a few mentions, the words ‘Microsoft’, ‘Surface’ and ‘Xbox’ were absent in that view (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbes-finds/2018/11/12/5-best-headphones-under-100/#47cb25aa5239), in addition the aggressive discount that the Nintendo gives with their Switch plus Mario Kart in the Netherlands is seeing its own fair share of mentions. If the feast of Saint Nicholas has one drawback then I would think it is the longer absence of board games. Playing a game like monopoly whilst unwrapping a present whenever one player passes go was heaps fun. There was the tension which name was drawn and as present by present was opened; whilst we played monopoly and had hot chocolate milk (it is cold in the Netherlands in December) was a level of fun I still miss.

Yet, we must not forget the hardship either, and there is a lot of that and a lot more coming; in the last year over 50,000 children died in Yemen from hardship, disease and famine. I expect that in 2019 we will see that the 2018 numbers will surpass the passing of 100,000 children. The children are too young to face what other children have to go through in other places, yet we adults cannot afford to do that. If I had to forego my optional Nintendo Switch for one child in Yemen to have a decent meal, I will end up not playing a Nintendo Switch for some time to come, even as the child still dies and I merely prevented it from dying on an empty stomach, I would do so. Even as the peace talks are being held, I fear for the lack of progress, as this is not in the interest of Iran. It is still progressing on arming Houthi; it is still facilitating via Hezbollah and the children are merely in the way there. From my point of view Europe is enabling it as they want their nuclear accord, an accord that is not likely to be the value of printed paper, the Iranian missile tests can be considered proof in this. In this part Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is actually in a very dangerous place. Even as he is with an ally, as the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, we see that the danger is twofold. As more and more US politicians are seemingly ‘bashing’ Saudi Arabia, yet they seem to ignore the danger that Hezbollah is there, we see the start of imbalance, and as this imbalance continues, so do the events in Yemen killing even more children. The hollow words like ‘Iran has praised Yemeni peace talks scheduled to take place soon‘, they want their version in charge in Yemen, not the elected one and they are willing to let millions of kids die to get that done. So whilst the US gives us “The United States has displayed pieces of what it says were Iranian weapons deployed to militants in Yemen and Afghanistan“, whilst at the same time US politicians are unbalancing their allied commitment to Saudi Arabia, we see that in the end it is a political stalemate with the lives of all the Yemeni children in the balance and there is no reasonable chance that the children there will get a better deal out of it.

So as we see the independent giving us the goods and the stage of truth last week with: ‘US struggles to find footing on Yemen, as Iran increases influence‘, we see (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-yemen-civil-war-iran-influence-saudi-arabia-bombing-trump-weapons-houthis-rebels-a8661546.html) that the US and mostly its politicians seem to have lost their perception on the larger game. the quote “The US Senate, angered in part by the White House response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on Wednesday voted in a surprise move to advance a bill that would cut American participation in the Yemen conflict“, the emotions towards a previously unknown journalist (and ignoring all those imprisoned and dead journalists in Turkey) is setting the stage of enabling the Iran agenda. Vetoed or not, it will up the pressure on Saudi Arabia and in all this, the populist pressure is one that historically has turned anti Saudi more often than not, increasing the larger issues towards Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in other directions as well.

In all this does America even know who their allies and enemies are? The question is more important than you think, as we see on the feast of Saint Nicholas that millions of children in Yemen are abandoned. So what did this have to do with games?

When you watch your child play some Call of Duty game and you realise that it is not Battleground 5, it is not Call of Duty, or Fortnite, but it is the game ‘Holy Defense’, created by Hezbollah to let gamers and players kill ISIS members. When we are treated to: “Hezbollah has developed a 3-D computer game to capture the minds of its youth, while showing them a good time.” When you see your children play this free downloaded game in Europe and America, how much safer was the Nintendo Switch with their family values to begin with?

I agree that this is not a fair remark for Sony and Microsoft and they are not part of this in any way, but when it comes to First Person Shooters, can parents even tell the difference anymore? And when it is getting to close to the factual truth, can they even perceive how many children are getting killed in the process whilst Yemen is facing delay after delay? Should that not be the central issue on the day of the patron saint of children?

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, Media, Military, Politics