Tag Archives: EA Games

We test da game

It is time to talk about Bethesda. It is having a rough week and not wrongfully so. Yet the application of exposure is something we do need to talk about. We see headlines like ‘Publishers like Bethesda Should Accompany Sony in Skipping E3 2019’; it is time to do a little more than merely disagree. Another review, the one from Eurogamer made a real effort to keep it clean and academically and that should be appreciated. With: “Bethesda’s attempt at Fallout multiplayer is, like so many of the series’ vaults, a failed experiment.” Those who played the Fallout games will know that this is a jab at Vaultec and that is fine. You see, the short and sweet of it is that we can look at Bethesda and think Nintendo; we can consider that Vault 76 is the Bethesda version of the WiiU and guess what? Out of those ashes the Nintendo Switch was born and it is a massive success, as such Bethesda can do the same, get a similar solution. Now, that does not stop the immediate, and it might not be immediately fixed, is that so bad? The fact is that Bethesda has never been a real ‘more of the same‘ company and we have applauded them for it and this time, we get to wait a little longer. Guess what, Ubisoft made us wait 9 months for Watchdogs (2012/2013) and the end result was still flimsy, Bethesda can outdo that achievement (effortlessly) whilst sleeping. Even as we see articles like ‘9 Ways Bethesda Can Fix Fallout 76‘, we see the impact of some people that have an axe to grind, merely because their expectations were smashed and that is fine. You should have seen me rant in the direction of France (specifically Yves Guillemot for screwing up the AC Franchise to the extent that they had done), we all have axes to grind and it comes with the field of gaming, emotions will run high. It is all linked to the complex mind and the necessity to play. We value that downtime like the hall passes we get on powernaps in the office on Monday morning, isn’t that what the Monday morning is for? When I looked at the list of 9 (at WhatCulture) there were parts we can optionally agree with and some we might not. You see, fast travel is a nice way to exploit glitches and the soul of Vault 76 might be the survival of you, as such the option “There’s not really any reason for the game to charge for fast travel, so it’s simply an unnecessary annoyance. It can be easily patched out of the game without upsetting its balance, and so it should be done” might be rejected, and focus on another stage. I very much felt like agreeing to ‘Add an Offline Mode‘, as this has been the core of everyone, to play offline, or online in solo, singular and lonely mode, optionally merely with the additional path to invite friends.

There I would go with ‘United we Stand, Lonely we Quest‘. I have friends (merely a few mind you) and I got unnerved way too much as they got into my line of fire. You see a marksman needs a clear field and when you get in my way you will get a bullet in the back of your head to remind the others not to get in my fucking way (I apologise for my applied use of French here). In a stage where an opponent needs to cross the 800-400 meter range so he/she can effectively open fire on me, my friends better not screw up my stats, I fought hard to have a decent accuracy rating, so one idiot getting in my way in whichever way is not my choice of acceptance, and people catch on quick, they kept out of my way and whichever enemy got too close was made permanently redundant (and they went down with satisfying graphics) . This is why I never cared for the Olympics, I absolutely love that the winner is heralded, yet why are the others allowed to live? (Sorry, I do have a weird sense of humour)

So back to that list as the previous part was linked to this. You see, I disagree with: “With the inclusion of an offline mode, though, Bethesda could also add in accessibility options for players to toggle the punishment factor of the survival elements“, I disagree here, if Vault 76 is about survival, having an impact and penalty is important, it also prepares you to not run into situations as most gung-ho players tend to do, survival is something else, it is cautious and tends to be slow. There is no greater sense of achievement as wiping out all life in a village and until the last person remains alive, these NPC’s had no idea what he was up against, which is a little wink at the Oblivion ‘Whodunit?‘ mission. In his list of 9 I failed to see a true link for greatness. There are valid points in there and some should be considered fast. Yet the bigger picture I miss is not what I saw, it is what I missed. In my view (apart from the bug fixing) which will take time and Bethesda is on it, I want to give a few points of my own.

  1. A built site needs a much bigger budget; in addition, the cost of defences should be down by at least 50%. Optionally build sites should be expanded on, so when the building budget is full, optionally expand it (for a price, or expansion mission add what would be up to 3 satellite mobile builders (one for each time a maximum budget had been reached), giving you the option to gain well over 100% of space, to optionally create an actual outpost, or perhaps link to a building, an official or community building, so that you can build something lasting. Not sure if that would be possible (software architecturally speaking), yet consider Fallout 3, who had not considered making the US Capitol their own personal space? Perhaps it is too large an example, yet that impact, like a subway station might be an awesome idea to build your own ‘town’. That was my hope when I was introduced to the intro of Vault 76, we understand why another vault is not an option, yet a failed vault (one that was not ready in time) is still an idea. Whether that idea is added as a DLC will not matter. It can even become a quest line in the game.
  2. Quests, there is (seemingly mind you) a lot missing here, as I mainly gathered from loads of reviews. My immediate idea was to add quests like ‘the Greenhouse effect‘. A mission that sets a stage where we need food to survive, aiding an NPC in setting up a greenhouse, growing vegetables and setting the stage to sell groceries to other settlers (a wink to fallout 4 Greygardens), not merely getting the entire structure up, but creating robots so that the work can be long term and automated.
    A similar quest could be created for clean water ‘the shape of aqua‘, and should not be repetitive in shape and challenges like the previously mentioned one. With these two in place, the game can give perks for outposts created. Another part for general goods stores ‘Crazy Goods‘ (a Crazy People wink). The trick is to make the challenges very different and testing, giving not merely a stage of improvement, but one with different sided challenges. It is one thing I partially missed in the past, there is a sneak preference in me, yet having a mission that is dependent on a technical skill, and perhaps one on heavy weapons/explosives and one on sneak gives a new view to how we ourselves, play that game, it is merely a thought. And it important to see that this is merely partial criticism on all this, I have not played the full game, not played to any large extent (merely a few hours at a friend’s place, as he has 4K and I do not). Even as it all looks impressive and even as it is buggy, it is still new, as well as in a new direction and that is what I love about Bethesda. I was never a rage fan, I never went beyond the first ‘the Evil within‘, yet they never stopped surprising me and they are willing to take leaps. They prove that their games are not for everyone and that is fine, the ones that do like their games tend to be extremely committed, you merely have to look at the Rage population for that part of the equation.
  1. Diversify! There are too many ‘password for terminal‘ moments in all this (I was given awareness of this, I have not tested this part). I get it that this is the operational stage of the Fallout series, yet the alternative to download terminals so that your Pip-boy can hack it (over time) gives us the need to find empty Holotapes and perhaps add the write capability to the Pip-boy (for the downloaded terminal), was that considered? How come that we cling to the ‘caps’ part, if this is the beginning, is there not a real needs for goods? Making the water, food and goods part more important and optionally also making those missions more rewarding? Then there is the option of ‘RandomWare‘. Spawn unique pieces in solo mode whenever a new game is created. So you cannot run to a place, you have to genuinely find it. For example a power armour helmet with sneak abilities (converting that item to sneak perks card perhaps), or a level 4 Rifleman card (+25% damage). This could be done for different sets and in different ways giving much more challenge and reward to the game. For example, adding 2 special parts for every S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skill might give the people true incentive to find every location and if those 14 parts are scattered randomly over 200 locations, the cheat guides will take a step back requiring people to become better players, it is merely a thought to consider. Consider that you have a game where you need to get lucky. That feeling that you get with Diablo 3, when after finishing the game 10 times, you still get a legendary item you never had before, in a trait that really gives you an edge; it is a real Adrenalin rush when that happens.

These are merely three elements that could add heaps to the challenge, prestige and rewarding sensation that is currently temporary lacking in Vault 76. I use the word temporary as I have complete faith that in the end Bethesda will come through for its players, so far it has never failed them and that must be said too. With about 5000 hours in the Elder Scrolls (not online) and Fallout, I feel that I know what I am talking about, besides the part where I have been connected to games going all the way back to 1982 (CBM Vic-20).

Is there more? Yes, there is always more but is that not the main concern with every Monday morning quarterback? So far Bethesda has not disappointed me and they will get past this, or perhaps not and the next gem we truly end up desiring is the one that comes after. It is always a side we have to accept, merely because games and gaming is not science, it is an art and art will always be personal, we either embrace it, or we do not. Yet in the end, like junkies we hope that the next Rembrandt is another Nightwatch, yet the next one might be merely ‘An Old Woman Reading‘, which is still a Rembrandt mind you. So when you realise that both him and me are both from the ‘van Rijn’ family branch, yet did that branch matter? It absolutely does not and I am not related to him at all, we are two separate trees completely (implying it at times, especially in New York was heaps fun, seeing the shock in the other person alone is worth the entertaining act), giving us another form of artistic entertainment.

When we realise that art is the foundation of any game you should start to realise how insane the Ubisoft claim ‘another Assassins Creed game every year‘ was. As I stated in a different blog before, it took me no more than 8 hours to create the foundation of Elder Scrolls 6 (not the one being made now), yet it is not merely the story, it is the art, the graphics (a part Ubisoft has truly mastered in all their AC games). It is the science of ‘AI’ so that the NPC’s are acting natural in the game and that part is still not perfect (in any game), there are so many parts and they all need to interact (making the Ubisoft claim much worse), because it all takes time and time will never ever bargain. It will never state that it will decrease itself in speed by 10%, it is the one constant we all face (until we die that is), making game testing crucial to success and taking into consideration that a game is finished whenever that is (the perfect CD Project Red) response to its fans. We can design and conceptionally spring the game in moments, yet it still needs to be done in the end and the visionary programmer will be worth gold at that point, yet the interactions with other parts of the game makers (graphics and sound) are still part of it all and that requires time. Bethesda’s approach to use golden oldies songs (in the fallout series) was a master move, we all (most of us at least) want those soundtracks with those old songs and they also give life to the consideration of classics, two home runs for the price of one. All parts that can be used to add to the game even more. The question becomes how to give proper positive impact to the gamer? It is a question no one can honestly state, not even the best marketeer. We can merely hope that the impact is appreciated, perhaps even loved by the gamer exposed to it. So far Bethesda has done really well and even as I was not playing them from the beginning (I started in 2001), I have so far never really been disappointed. Is that because I await the game, or perhaps I refuse to adhere to my own expectations? The second one is extremely dangerous. The moment that you start to live by your own expectations you will miss out, as I did ignoring Far Cry 3 for too long. It is an important moment even as I have raised my fist against Ubisoft for the longest of times, they got that one really right (4 and 5 a lot less so). If there is one impact for Bethesda is that they will face (deservingly) the issue that their launch day following will decline, yet I believe that they will overcome and any really great game will restore faith in the brand. Ubisoft faced that upbeat when we were introduced to AC Origin (still a true gem).

EA could face that same upbeat if they remaster (still a big if) the Mass Effect trilogy, they would have an option to fix the Andromeda parts if they are willing to go all out, but in the end, will they find the cash? It is important to look at this now; you see, most gamers cling to the old successes and so far plenty of people have seen the positive impact of a remaster, so the noise for the Mass Effect series is increasing again (and again, and again). Yet, is that enough? There is an option to set the stage for a fifth Mass Effect game, if the makers can learn to ignore the shouts for early release (aka muzzle their entire marketing division) and focus on quality, if the errors (seen in the first hour) are addressed and looked at as a challenge to make a better product, we see and we get to live through a new challenge that is a true new Mass Effect, but it implies that EA Games needs to be willing to put it all on the table and so far, they have not shown to be testicularly ready (aka they lack the balls), so why mention it? I am a gamer like all the other gamers and Mass Effect 2 is still one of the most perfect games I ever played; like everyone else I do want more of that and it is within EA to find that solution (there are millions of gamers wanting that) implying that if they get it right, it will come with millions of copies sold. Consider that Andromeda might not get that, yet link it with Mass Effect Hegemony (fictive future title) it becomes another matter altogether, especially if they are willing to change the focal point. I merely have to point at movies like: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Earth 2, where the humans are basically not the good guys to create a stage that is invigorating, creates moral ambiguity and gives consideration to other venues. A game like that would be a game changer, especially in the Mass Effect range. That same path should be considered with Bethesda. What happens if we up the game, what happens when there are real setback to the choice of becoming Railroad, Brotherhood of Steel or Institute minded? Just like we saw in New Vegas, where a direction impair another one, when direction offers options as well as impairment, we see a need to replay the gamer and that replay is actually just as exciting, providing that the missions are different and new, not merely a palate of sense (replace goods with slaves), it is a path less trodden because of the effort needed, yet the impact also implies that the game is valued up to 200% more that way.

We are all protective on what we desire and love, especially the games we embrace, it is natural to do so, yet we must be willing to be honestly critical when it does not meet our realistic expectations. As long as our expectations were realistic we will be able to do that, as such I feel no reason to joining the AOC (Active Oxhorn Critics). Here we see (via Reddit) “Seems like people hate the game despite it being good or not“, as the operative part is: “Oxhorn gets hate for actually liking Fallout 76“, it does not matter whether the expectations of Oxhorn were really low, or that he is like me, in Bethesda he trusts, all others pay cash up front. His dime, his choice. People are entitled to that part, plain and simple.

Faith is strange and fickle that way. I believe that the entire setting of the stage is not the one or the other, it is the appreciation of art, especially art that remains in transit and is still being upgraded, when the final product is a good one. We got the value for our bucks. Even if that is not the case, the price of art is what we are willing to pay for it. I have always been willing to pay $20 for any Rembrandt, yet that is the limit of my budget for an oil painting. Others pay $1200 for a pre-released No Man’s Sky, it is merely what we are willing to shell out at that moment and it is up to us to learn that we accept the choices we make. So even as some feel really bad of getting a launch day copy of Vault 76, we merely need to learn to look at the right sources informing us on what is and what is likely to be. Granted that this is difficult when a game is as large as Bethesda, or Project Red RPG’s, yet in this the success versus fail rate with these two players is so far massively in favour of the ‘I trust my maker‘ that we tend to go with the launch day part.

We win some, we lose some.

So get over it, especially as Bethesda is openly and loudly committed to fix the product, which in the end is still the biggest part we need to accept and I did mention the result after 9 months of waiting for Watchdogs 1, did I not? So let’s give them time to do the Sir Fixalot routine and await the upgraded result.

 

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When the old is new again

Finally the news is there; on December 3rd people from the later generation can finally see what the first PlayStation was like. You might think that there is no value in that, especially as the machine is there just before Christmas for $159. What is remarkable is the amount of games I had hoped to see and we will only get 20 games. But not to fret, the 20 games include Final Fantasy VII (not my favourite game), Metal Gear Solid, Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey, Rayman, Resident Evil Director’s Cut, Syphon Filter and Tekken 3. Each of these titles would have been worthy of the full price, so to get them all is so worth it, every penny of it. There are other titles, but this is the cream of the crop and even as I was never an FFVII fan, it is for that generation the pinnacle of Final Fantasy, a claim made by many.

Some will state that the very first GTA is also a classic, for me it is merely to see how far the game evolved over 5 cycles. It goes further, even as there has been rustling in the weeds, there is still no official confirmation for the N-64 mini; you might think that this would push Nintendo across and even as we have seen certain patents to optionally revamped N-64 hardware, there is still no official confirmation.

For me it is more than merely a sentimental journey. It should be the momentum to open the eyes of any optional game designer on how far games had gotten three cycles ago. In this stage that we were merely stopped by resources and in the end we get to see that the lack of resources made the game designers a lot more creative in adapting technology to the max. Even as I irritatingly got confronted last night with the Far Cry failure and taking into account “Far Cry 5 is a game that takes excess as ethos, yet, in pursuing that goal of more-more-more, stretches itself so thin as to offer up nothing at all” (source: Vice), we need to contemplate when is more actually less in the end? In my case it is the stage of adding more and more in Far Cry 4 that got to me (trying to get a few more achievements by replaying the game). It is my personal believe that Ubisoft should give both devices to the game developers and see if they learn something from it. The demonic precision and challenge that is known as Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey is perhaps the most visible one. As puzzles go, I have never met anyone who without cheating and hacking got all 100. And even as I do not oppose people seeking the internet solutions, I have never met anyone who got all 100 in one play through; it might not even be possible. To get this on a system with 2 MB RAM and 1 MB VRAM, with a disc that stores 650MB that is the lesson right there. Now we do not want a copy of that game, but the ability to give something that is still revered 21 years later, that does count. I don’t expect Ubisoft, or many others to ever pull it off, yet does not also show our growing common lack of creativity?

Personally I thought Tenchu Z, not the greatest game, was still an awesome stealth game to play. The Xbox360 gave us a cool version of a 1998 game. Even as the score was a mere 56%, the fact that no one took that to the next level is a surprise. Even as the game had issues, it also had clear promise and direction towards a much better game. There are several reviews that have given since that Tenchu Z was underrated and I support that. It reflects back to the PS mini as we see (for all valid reasons) that Soul Edge and the Tombraider games might be missing, we do see an amazing classic Resident Evil Director’s Cut, that whilst the remake of Resident Evil 2 is about to launch, showing us what a dedicated fan can do when he gets his hands on a true classic. No matter how we view this, the first two set the bar high enough making it impossible to equal for several years and that took some doing. The remake is not merely a remaster; it gives new light to hardware what it can achieve when it is kicked to a higher level. Its application of torches (what the original did not do) as well as the challenge of limitation and choice pretty much made me shit my pants and for a video game to achieve that takes effort and dedication.

The danger is that someone merely makes a new version. I did not mind that, especially in the case of Loderunner (CBM64), or The Sentinel that when it got converted to PC, with music by John Carpenter himself, I was delighted to still feel the buzz of playing that game. Yet is it not time to add 20 years of games evolution and max out games that can be taken to the next stage? Even as we eagerly await the remake of System Shock (and hopefully System shock 2), we need to see that the older systems do have gems that still await their turn in getting a polishing and technological upgrades. I believe that Seven Cities of Gold (Amiga) could have all kinds of educational insights, not unlike the original SimCity did. The same could be said for Richard Garriott and a trilogy of his achievements (Ultima 3, 4 and 5), Ultima (6) and Ultima 7+7b in the third part. The power of one island with all games over time, a place 9 times the size of Skyrim with 6 main stories and close to a hundred side stories, it could optionally equal AC Odyssey in time to complete. We are already seeing an upcoming version of the Bards Tale, so the idea is not that novel, yet I see that the main players are still not looking into that direction, which is a shame. When a reviewer from PC Gamers gives you: “Three hours into the beta of The Bard’s Tale 4, I realized how late I’d stayed up puzzling my way through the labyrinth beneath a wizard’s castle“, you should be able to consider that these remasters and remakes are a clear golden path to good gaming and we all want good gaming. I personally believe that whilst we admire all the things Bethesda has done, I believe that it was The Witcher 3 that truly gave the RPG bar a nudge into a much higher direction and those who played it want a lot more than we had in the past. I believe that this is driving the players (and perhaps their desire to get Cyberpunk 2077 as soon as possible). I loved every moment of Bethesda RPG gaming and still do (after playing those games for well over 5000 hours), yet it missed a part (unintentionally), even as Bethesda was all about you shaping your character and the world around you, Project Red gave us Geralt of Rivia to play and the person that he is a pure blend of light and dark that we found overwhelmingly addictive. Project Red got the jackpot with that character and pretty much all the gamers want more of him, or perhaps better stated a taste of someone else like him.

So how can we evolve gaming? I do not believe it is better hardware; it never was about the hardware. When you consider the GameCube, it had 24MB RAM, 16MB of DRAM a 1.5GB RAM optical disc (30% of a DVD) and even today finding something that equals Metroid Prime (one and two) is pretty impossible. It is about the quality game and we need a new generation of game developers to open that gaming superhighway, and this is where the PS mini can open doors. You see Creativity is within a person, you can polish it, you can teach that person skills to tap into that creativity, yet when that person cannot tap into creativity, the best thing we can hope for is a new version of a spreadsheet program.

Limitations drives creativity, but it needs to be within that person. Here again we need to go to Ubisoft, because the game ‘With Honor‘ shows that Jason Vandenberghe has creativity and loads of it. It was not my game because I prefer to play alone, I am not a multiplayer gamer, and With Honor was all about multiplayer, which is fair enough. It might not have been the game for me, but I was pretty amazed with the game. We can Monday morning quarterback that game all we like, yet in the end it was a well-made game. Here too I believe that the 80% score was underrated (by close to 12%), and that is whilst I am no fan of multiplayer games.

I believe that Ubisoft is sitting on a hundred million dollars of underestimated or neglected potential and even as we accept that making games costs a lot of money, sitting on a chest worthy of funding a dozen games, a chest that is collecting dust seems like such a waste. Consider that Far Cry 5 81% could have easily added 10%, how much sales was lost because of that? In this I add parts of a list called ‘14 Ubisoft Video Games – Ranked From Worst to Best‘ and see what could have been done better.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity. There is no avoiding that title, the QA, the testing and the AI bugs were a joke. This game should not have been released before proper testing would have been done, but we have been here a few dozen times, so let’s move on.

Zombi (PS4 Edition). A game that was actually better on the WiiU, can we get any clearer, a decent idea was not properly set forward making it a joke. This went beyond testing, I can only speculate that it was never properly programmed and the original had loads of potential, for the limitations of the WiiU, the makers actually got a whole lot further, even as the random spawning had a few knockbacks of their own the end result on the PS4 was pretty much completely unacceptable.

Watch Dogs. I had this as a day one order (with the PS4 launch), so I was miffed. It went further in the game with programmed settings and a few other quirks (a lot of them) the game fell short in many ways (that is even beside the delay that outstretched any pregnancy), yet the concept was pretty good, I made the AC1 comparison that as an original it had potential and just like AC2, the game would make or break. Watchdogs two was weird in some way, but it was so much better, the second game made the franchise, so that was good. The first game had a good story, we all could relate to it, yet some parts were too awkward and it never got fixed or improved.

The Division. Again a multiplayer game, which was not my thing, yet the story line, was immersive and people around me really went for the game. So as we passed a few quirks and bugs (blocking the door being the most visible one), we see a game that in its first premiere has loads of potential, potential brought to light, yet these flaws were not deadly and that too is important to recognise. the two parts that Forbes gives us is “As excited as I am that The Division has matchmaking for every single activity, for daily missions, it’s a complete and utter disaster“, as well as “I mean it is literally bugged to all hell where you are lucky if you can even start a game, much less finish one”. They are both indicatory of larger failings and beta playtesting to a much larger extent might have shown the weakness, yet the biggest issue in these games will be hackers and cheaters. I do not mind that they are around, but when I get fleeced for everything I have, it becomes annoying really fast. Still it is a franchise with optional forward momentum, that too much be recognised.

Far Cry 3. We need to look at this, as it is quintessential the best Far Cry ever, the main adversary Vaas Montenegro (brilliantly voiced by Michael Mando) is amazing, the graphics are good, the stealth is stellar and the challenges are equally from out of this world. Chasing all these objects are well overboard (not in a good way) and the stage of cell towers and outposts are pretty amazing. the ballistics are a problem as I have never seen any tiger walk away from a .50 headshot let alone 2, but if that is as bad as it gets we have a winner here and that is exactly what it was, a winner. From this it was downhill, 4, Primal and 5 are nowhere the third puppy (neither were one and two for that matter) and even as 5 is a step forward in many directions, the game in the end was not a better end product. This ended as Vice gave us: “Far Cry 5 is a game that takes excess as ethos, yet, in pursuing that goal of more-more-more, stretches itself so thin as to offer up nothing at all” and they are right.

Assassin’s Creed II. The game that should be regarded as the franchise starter of the AC range is brilliant, even as there are a few issues; the game was so far forward from AC1 that we eagerly forgot about the flaws we saw. The game in every respect shows that it is the fortune maker for Yves Guillemot and his two baby brothers (Michael and Gerard). Even as AC Brotherhood was more of the same, it was still forward momentum in a few ways. These two games were the start of an addiction but also the end of the original push forward, in the end what came after was more of the same with too little forward momentum, It actually reflects TombRaider, which after the second one was trying to be too clever and ‘deceptive’ with twists, yet we never got something really new, just more and that would not change until the definitive version was released.

In the end we could also look at Splinter Cell and how that went not forward, but more and if you love stealth, you will love more, yet in blacklist the ball was dropped by too far and that is what hampered Ubisoft. This is seen when you consider that the ratings went from 94%, to 89%, to 85% and 84%. I would have thought that after the second rating alarms would have been raised, they might have been, but they did not work. It is this path that needs to be reflective in all this, because if we consider Watchdogs 3, Whatever AC comes next, the Division 2, Far Cry 6 and Hopefully another Splinter Cell, Ubisoft needs to consider on how to make the games actually better, not merely bigger, or give us more of the same. the story will be everything, yet the playability with have a massive weight on the vision handed to the players that is where a few dozen million Euros are hidden and Ubisoft might lose out on that; the amount of missed money represents well over 50 of my life time earnings, so I think that some of the people behind the players need to take a serious look on how to secure said optionally lost funds. I see it in another direction, if my mind can construct a virtual foundation of (an imaginative) Elder Scrolls VII within eight hours, how many opportunities did some designers lose by not truly investigate the projects they were working on? I might have been in games since 1984, but I know I am not the best, I have met the best (Peter Molyneux, Richard Garriott and Sid Meier) and I know they surpass me by a lot, yet I have the drop on some developers today and that saddens me. They should be running loops around me without breaking a sweat.

The gaming world is ready for new unique games and new franchises, even as some of the older games might point the way, we see that finding a new game, and actual new original game is a hard thing to do, it can only be done by a dreamer, a dreamer that others will listen too, an artist to give view to the dream, a programmer to set the stage and a writer to translate the dreams into stories, even as the writer and the dreamer are likely the same person, the place where the two acts are done is likely to be different and until that part is recognised, the making of any new 90%+ franchise will remain out of reach for all developers like Ubisoft. If you doubt that part, merely look at the history of a game called Lemmings. I tested it initially and I remember on how Psygnosis got to the game in the first place, so when you think that all good games are a calculated results of proper investigation, think again. A game released in 1991, whilst we still see today: “The best Amiga game of all time (2011)“, you better believe that artsy has everything to do with it. This is quite literally the shit that gamers live for, how else can you explain the desire after decades for a game like System Shock (or the remake of FFVII for that matter)?

If there is one part that must be told, than it would be the part that I never saw coming. For that we need to look at the Xbox360. I never knew the game, so I got caught off guard. I initially did not buy it as I was playing Bioshock 2 and awaiting both Fable 3 and New Vegas. So when I heard the score, I got curious. One gave it 90% the other 83%, this piqued my curiosity and it was not disappointed. They say that 97% liked this game and that should have been the rating. Mikael Kasurinen, Sam Lake, Mikko Rautalahti and Petri Järvilehto surpassed themselves and many game designers with Alan Wake. The game was everything we hope for and more, the setting of a mere danger by being in the dark was a direct original approach to our primal fear (even in games) and Alan Wake did use that to the max. It was an amazing stage of open world and level challenge all into one and your life does depend on the power of a battery here, so there was that to get worried about. Alan Wake also shown that the creative dreamer will always have the advantage over the stage of calculated new versions of a franchise. Even as Alan Wake might have that fear to deal with, the original was more challenging than many other developers were able to give us and Microsoft Studios actually created an instant classic on launch day, something not many game developers have ever achieved.

I never saw it coming, so I do not hold all the wisdoms, I will not even make such a claim even as the article might imply it. The fact that a game like Alan Wake could surprise me to such a degree is also the reason why I am still a gamer, just like a junkie hoping for its next fix of amazement. The nice thing here is that it is a lot cheaper than either Heroin or Cocaine, so there is that benefit for any gamer too.

We seem to chase the old to get a new version because of that feeling of amazement, which is good in one way (especially the owners of the IP), yet the lack of true new IP is also a worry for the gamers and getting the right developers and creating the right programmers is not about giving them all the resources, but to teach them how to overcome shortcomings in current architecture. It is not the programmes that maximises a system we need, it is the one who gets it done on a 75% system that is the one we need to get. Merely because that game will be lean, it will be mean and it will still transgress the borders that a seasoned programmer did not consider. to be able not to merely to make a stronger game, but to set a proper stage where replaying that game is just as rewarding as playing it the first time, that is the classic of tomorrow going home with a 95%+ rating and taking home the coffers of gold. This is what all the game developers need and some are in the process of getting there; it would be a shame if players like Ubisoft and EA games miss out because they were not willing, or able to go that distance.

And as a gamer as well as a dreamer, consider the game when you add AI in the mix, not the AI of the enemy, but the AI that you as the gamer get to shape. In this we need to consider an oldie like Sundog, Frozen Legacy by FTL Games (the maker of the legendary Dungeon Master and Oids). Now consider that the game starts with only you, but as you shape the AI, you can hand your navigation skills to an android and grow your crew. The game will only be as good as you are. As you grow the positions on the ship upgrade the ship and get a larger one. You will need to get more knowledge and only when you have one placement over a certain percentage an android can take over. You have to be the navigator, helmsman, the tactician and the engineer. You need to master one role after another, downloading your skill enhancements into the android and growing a crew, not programmed intelligence, but your game interactions that are transferred to the android. What game thought of that? Actually Epyx had a game called Chip Bits, yet I don’t think it ever made the light of day.

If such an addition is added to a game like Elite Dangerous when you upgrade from a 31 meter Eagle fighter to an 88 meter Python (see Image), how many hundreds of hours of gameplay would that get you? Elite Dangerous now has 30 playable ships and you have the option of ‘merely’ flying the ship, yet what extra will you get when you are adding functions and you have to repair the ship under combat conditions? A side that Sundog had to the minimum degree and with 1MB RAM the Atari ST did not get far, yet it gave us more than some games currently do, is that not weird either?

There have been so many games between 1984 (CBM-64) and 2005 (Xbox360), a timeline filled with gems, many of these gems could be the foundation of jewelry that is multifaceted, colourful and challenging in so many ways. Many of these are not merely remasters; they could be the foundation of new and optionally uniquely new IP.

In this, the CEO of Ubisoft might have stated it the best when he said: “There will be one more console generation and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us“, that might be true, so getting to new IP now makes perfect sense, in many ways. to do that in the streaming age is a dangerous move for a few reasons, mainly because the streaming power will not be with the gaming side of things, it will be with the telecom providers and there have been more than just a few indicators that this will start in the most rocky of ways, especially outside of metropolitan areas. I have had this issue a few times to a smaller degree, yet as we consider that this is 2 weeks old “Optus say it is congestion but can’t explain how you can get 100 mbs and then the next minute you have a dropout. They appear to be doing nothing as they can’t say how long it will take to fix or what they are doing to address the issue. Have been a customer for over 25 years but the last 6 months the service has been substandard“, I believe that this goes (a lot) further than just one provider, congestion is increasing all over the global field and until some telecom providers (multiple providers) get their house in order and up their game, streaming games will become more and more hazardous over time, it will take years to get this environment a lot better and 5G is not making it any easier. So the next generation of consoles is the best time to maximise IP, because the IP after that will end up not having as much value as the blame game between telecom providers and game developers are likely to flare and they will flare up all over the planet (or is that this planet).

It goes beyond mere gaming. You see The Network Congestion 2030 project, launched in 2009 (for airports), was designed as a two phased approach towards solving congestion issues, yet when we see that approach in the Netherlands we see “Unlike the Telecommunications Act, the Regulation furthermore allows Internet Service Providers to take reasonable traffic management measures, e.g. to avoid imminent network congestion. Such measures must be transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate, and may not be based on commercial considerations. The Telecommunications Acts allows Internet Service Providers to intervene in the Internet data flows only if a data accumulation must be controlled. A frequent criticism of the Regulation is that it is difficult to monitor traffic management measures aimed at avoiding imminent congestion, which may give rise to abuse. An example in the Netherlands related to network congestion is the ACM’s decision of 2013 to put an end to its investigation of the restriction of free Internet in trains by T-Mobile. ACM concluded that the blocking of certain internet services by T-Mobile was permissible to prevent “traffic jams” on the network“, with the mention of ‘may not be based on commercial considerations‘ we see the optional impact on gamers, because these systems have not been tested with millions of gamers streaming, in European terms even tens of millions. Netflix had a dramatic growth (after this entire issue started) and as gamers do the same added to that same construction devoid of much larger expansions the impact will be there and it will be there very visible; throttling streams will make them collapse and that is where we see that down the track the impact on gamers will be much larger and they are for now, not even considered.

So as the old becomes new, we see new challenges and other obstacles that are now not in the hands of non-gamers, but they will be the moment that streaming congestion becomes the daily reality of every gamer.

So the need of being able to be creative and set the stage for a 75% resource solution would at that point become crystal clear at the moment the situation emerges. Merely a new iteration of complications to solve in addition of all the other corrections needed. At that point to have a much better QA will be essential for the IP holder not to go bust almost overnight. You merely have to consider the Division launch day crash and the idea that this could happen once a month at the very least in that new setting. It will be something that is not the fault of Ubisoft, not the fault of the designers, it will merely be the impact of congestion and the telecom provider will mention that they are sorry, but it is out of their hands and they cannot explain to you why it happened.

Oh and this issue is as stated a global one, in the end you cannot blame the game makers when the issue is that your gaming evening depends on something like the Comcast outage map. When you see: “Comcast/Xfinity is reporting a widespread outage in the south suburbs” and you miss out on the season challenges of whichever game you are playing because of: “An aerial pole in Harvey was reportedly struck, damaging 288 cables, according to Comcast officials. The outage is expected to last until approximately 3:30 pm” and you can forget about gaming that day, that is when you get the first moment of irritation with streaming. In single play you can still get your gaming on, games like Elite Dangerous fall away that day and starting Fortnite becomes a foregone illusion. When all games become a streaming experience you might in the end only end up having Minecraft in offline mode available, a great game, yet when it is the only game it is more likely than not the evening you never banked on, or hoped for.

 

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EA Games is waking up

We agree that EA Games has had a rough time, there is the loot box gambling part, a part I am on the side of EA games and I do not agree with the findings on a few levels. Yet there is a side where EA Games needs to wake up fast. first the good parts, like Forbes in September (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/games/2018/09/13/nhl-19-review-the-good-the-bad-and-the-bottom-line). From my point of view NHL19 is the best NHL game they ever launched. They started really good at the launch of the PS2, then there was a really good version of the game in 20903 on the GameCube and after that it started to sizzle (as I see it). They were more asleep than awake and the NHL franchise fell behind and fell behind a fair bit. EA Games had a few more good moments. Madden NFL 2002 On the Xbox was surreal and amazing, but that too fell down a bit, most state to me that NFL19 is awesome on many levels and I might find it out for myself in the Christmas sales dumps (somewhere out there). I was never a soccer fan, so FIFA is not in the cards, but the reviews are good and I accept that, but this is not about that, it is about the flaws in NHL19 and there are a few. Most of them are around the cards that you have accumulated, there is an option missing and a few details going into space, all could have been avoided. I personally believe that all 19 games have the same flaws and that is such a shame.

Then there is the use of cards, in my case I ended with a free HUT silver card and I have absolutely no clue what it does. So EA Games is not informing the users on some of the cards, which basically amounts to deceptive conduct. In a stage where EA games cannot afford to get markers of deceptive conduct against them is not a good thing. I love it that you get a free pack of 4 every 8 hours, which is awesome. Yet that does not rack up a lot in all the things I found. The option of a decent CCG album would have been great, with the cards on the right (or left) and the other side a superimposed image of that card where you could read all the details, why is it not there (not the version that is there now and it is a little laughable)? The filtering in auctions and looking at your cards is awesome, yet the lack of certain elements would have made it better. The customisable main screen of NHL 19 is awesome, and the practice part is fantastic (the final deke is a nightmare), yet overall this addition will entice more new players to NHL, especially those who have a puck instead of a heart (like me), it’s fun to have one but it freaks out the cardiologist to no amount, which is additional fun to boot. Why not expand on Franchise mode? Perhaps I did something wrong, I found the beginning awesome as I got my favourite team (Caps), arena, logo and jerseys unlocked. Why not unlock more with each game you win, other caps jerseys? I think we can accept that these will be non-tradeable cards, most gamers will not care, consider all the teams, American, Canadian, Scandinavian and other team leagues in there, the amount of jerseys and logo’s to unlock, would it have been such a shame to add them as unlockable parts? Now, I get it that this does not apply to the players, yet you still have the option to get those in the free packs (up to three players a day). It adds to the replay power of the game, adding bang to the buck and value to the game. Overall NHL is a screaming success, yet the parts that I found have a 5-10 point negative impact, whilst that should not have been the case in the first place and I reckon that I would find the same failings in both NFL19 and FIFA19, so a failing thrice over, and then there are the auctions. It is great that the game gives a free pack every 8 hours and there is always a coin card with 100 coins or more. Having won more than one 1000 coin cards made me very happy, as it allowed me to get 20 arena’s and half a dozen jerseys in a mere three weeks, so this is all good. What is less it that there seems to be an auction bug. I have been the front runner more than once and feeling happy having won a few auctions as the auction ended with me having the highest bet, only to go to the menu finding my coins returned and no card, which feels like a total sham. I actually lost my money once, but not through the auction, that daily coin card just vanished. It was a mere 200 coins, so no biggie, but it feels a little sour for a few seconds.

The graphics are awesome on the PS4, the controls are for the most outstanding and actually feel intuitive (except for some dekes) and practice mode adds to the flavour of preparation, which makes you more and more in the winning state of mind. I feel that having to select the language every time I start the game is weird, but what the hell, so first the language, then selecting the game at the main screen, a part that could have been done better I guess. Forbes has a few additional parts, all worth consideration, and the quote “The balance between offense and defense is good. Poke checks aren’t out of control as they were in a previous version, but still, an effective way to stop an offensive player’s progress. I think this year’s game forces you to use all of your defensive tools more than others. The more tools you can command, the better you’ll be at the game, and that’s the way it should be“, is one I wholeheartedly agree with. In addition there should be mention that the soundtrack adds to the game in a way that must be noticed. or me the fun was that I didn’t know any of the songs, which is always nice, especially when you feel more in the mood to play hockey because of it. In the end, the scores varying from 80%-89% is decent, yet I personally believe that adding these few parts to the interface and adding the reward unlocks might have made this a 85%-94% game. When that realisation sets in, consider what FIFA and NFL are optionally missing out on, especially when you realise that some people will not consider a launch day game for any title scoring less than 90%, that racks up to a serious amount of cash.

As stated, NHL 19 is the best NHL game I have seen in many years and that is still a great victory to behold, especially to play it again just as my team won the Stanley cup for real, which after supporting them for almost 27 years is a real good feeling. Now, I just need to get them there in the Pro Career (which might be a taller order for me), yet I remain an eternal optimist.

You see, if Colonel general Igor Valentinovich Korobov can drop the ball in Salisbury to the extent that the ball has been dropped, I definitely could be a successful NHL goalie, preferably the Western division so that I do not have to go up against my own favourite team, do you think that the San Jose Sharks could use another goalie?

Oh, and I had initially planned on writing about the media BS that we are getting from AstraZeneca and Brexit, which especially in light of certain patent pains are a hoot, but I am still gathering materials, so that will take a few days.

 

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Just like everyone else

For the longest of times, I have worshiped Google. I have always been pro Google, and having worked in their offices for a year, being exposed to the options within Google is just overwhelming (and the food is pretty much the best in the world). So what happens when you are shown that Google is basically just like all the other large corporations? What when you wake up to an early e-mail where google advises you on the new Google Home Hub and the Google Pixels 3 (which is appealing even if it is at the price of your soul), yet 150 minutes later, you are shown by the Wall Street Journal that Google is just like every other corporation at present, how would you feel?

I can tell you that an ice bucket of water over your head at that point would have seemed a soft caress in contrast to the rude awakening I was made privy to.

To get the better view, we need to go back to May 2108, where we were treated to: “Google Australia’s boss Jason Pellegrino, who spoke on a CEO panel at Sydney’s CeBIT tech conference today, told the audience there had to be a “utility exchange” for the data a business obtains, adding if there is no trust, it can prove detrimental“, as well as ““That was about a leaky bucket. That data was going to places that consumers didn’t expect, didn’t agree with and got not value out of themselves. “None of these data buckets should be leaky. However, it’s started a discussion about what’s in the bucket itself. The data that’s there has been used to deliver a great service – no one has been sitting there saying Netflix ‘I can’t believe the data that you’re sharing’ – because they are delivering a wonderful service.”“. So as we were given on Monday ‘Google Exposed User Data, Feared Repercussions of Disclosing to Public‘ with the two quotes: “Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of the Google+ social network and then opted not to disclose the issue this past spring, in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage, according to people briefed on the incident and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal“, as well as “A software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue, according to the documents and people briefed on the incident“, so basically Jason Pellegrino (not the exquisite Italian sparkling water) was basically calling the kettle black, whilst we can agree at this point that he had no business opening his mouth in the first place in light of 3 years of hidden software screw ups. It seems to me that both are in equal hot waters. Even if we water it down (not using sparking Pellegrino) into a setting that Cambridge Analytica was doing it on purpose and that the implied setting by Alphabet Inc. is that their software engineers basically did not know what they were doing (to some extent). We can call a fair dinkum, but something this hidden for three years. What optional issues can we expect from the Google Pixel 3, with Android version 3.14159265418 (Android Pie), as well as the Google Home Hub where the consumer is optionally revealing all their daily needs (including the speculatively implied and roughly estimated 54,233 daily attempts to watch Pornhub) with or without the optional keywords Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Ariana Grande, Shania Twain, Selena Gomez, Kirsten Dunst and Taylor Swift. Yes, that is the data those marketeers are willing to pay handsomely for, not to mention those unnamed parties speculatively involved in election persuasion consultancy projects.

It gets even more interesting that the Home Hub could potentially reveal when a person is at home or not (like on vacation), because there is no one who would want that data, right? Last week we would not have given it a second thought, yet with the revelations in the Wall Street Journal (at https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-exposed-user-data-feared-repercussions-of-disclosing-to-public-1539017194) we now have a much larger issue. It was fun to see the review on the Verge where we see this puppy in action (the Google Home Hub) where the operator asks for the overview of the Pixel 2, whilst pre-orders of the Pixel 3 are happening all over the world, another fallen blobby in all this.

So as we see the turmoil that one of the world’s biggest tech giants will face over the last quarter of the year, we need to realise that you should never meet your idol whilst he is still alive. I reckon that Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai will be able to hold his cool for the smallest amount when he meets me, but that is presently not a given.

So as well are treated to “The closure of Google+ is part of a broader review of privacy practices by Google that has determined the company needs tighter controls on several major products, the people said. In its announcement Monday, the company said it is curtailing the access it gives outside developers to user data on Android smartphones and Gmail” we need to wonder what is next for the social media people. I actually preferred Google+ as it was less junk driven then Facebook. And it also gave me the timeline as a first instead of the populist drive, which still annoys me in Facebook. So even as some at Google as trying to wane us to slumber, the cold reality is : ‘the company has no evidence that any outside developers misused the data but acknowledges it has no way of knowing for sure‘. That is the immediate setting in this, we no longer know who has our details and we might never know how we were optionally specifically phished and targeted as per 2015, is that not a nice new reality to face?

So as we need to realise “The company will stop letting most outside developers gain access to SMS messaging data, call log data and some forms of contact data on Android phones“, we might think it is no big deal, but this has the data potential to be a lot larger than any nightmare scenario that the UK ‘Hacked Off‘ ever envisioned in their nightmare settings that the press would have been up to, when people with less scruples (not by much though) have been given optional access to and let’s not forget, the criminals tend to be more creative then the law enforcers ever have been (or some of the intelligence services for that matter).

So even as we accept that the Google plus issue is a dwarf compared to the Facebook scandal, it still optionally victimised the setting through: “It found 496,951 users who had shared private profile data with a friend could have had that data accessed by an outside developer, the person said. Some of the individuals whose data was exposed to potential misuse included paying users of G Suite, a set of productivity tools including Google Docs and Drive, the person said. G Suite customers include businesses, schools and governments“.

I am not alone in this, a few hours ago, the New York Times are giving us: ‘How Will Google Play Its New Product Announcements on the Back of a Data Scandal?‘ (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/09/business/dealbook/google-data-products.html). It is not merely that part, we need to consider that at present only Apple has a seemingly clean slate and they can use this to their advantage. It is in the end watered down by the NY Times through “They’re all part of Google’s strategy to highlight the company’s services via hardware (rather than necessarily become best-sellers in their own right)“, they are all still ruled by software and the cold setting here is that it is their software that was incompletely tested and prodded by those who should have done so. I refuse to merely blame a programmer here, it is a much larger problem!

The failing here can be seen in places like Ubisoft, EA Games, Bethesda, Microsoft and several other large developers. The non-stop trivialisation of proper testing and proper timelines to test settings is at the back of all this. It is not merely a lacking QA, it is a non believe in the power of testers and longer conversations in their insights that is here as well. Issues seen in FIFA 19, several shortcomings in NHL 19, AC Odyssey bugs reported mere hours ago and the less said regarding the Microsoft Surface Go the better and the list goes on. These issues shows that Google is part of the entire problem, the quality testing and scrutiny is seemingly not done (or not done to the extent needed), and with the Google Pixel 3 just around the corner, with a lessened confidence level at present, would you at that point trust the Google Pixel 3XL 128GB at $1500, or will you play it cautiously and select the less powerful, but still a large step forward when selecting the Huawei nova 3i 128GB Handset at $600, in this day and age, can we feel comfortable with spending an optional $900 too much? I will admit that there are a few alternatives at that price, not merely Huawei, but the list of quality choices is very small.

The revelation that the Wall Street Journal exposed us to on Monday is probably the most inconvenient that Google has faced in a long time. Even before we see whatever Google has to promote in the near future on 5G capabilities and enabling technologies, they now have a visible problem to address. It is not merely a dent in their armour, it now shows us a Google that was optionally never the knight in shining armour it has largely been seen as, which is a much larger problem for Google then they are willing to admit to any day soon.

Too many are hiding behind hype terms like AI and machine learning, yet the realisation that non repudiation and authentication was required on many more levels where data is involved in all this, is a failing on several levels, predominantly the developers one and it is there that Google will possibly face a very hard time to come.

#Halfwaytotheweekendnow

 

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Bragging becomes the burden

We have all done it; we have all made that one claim that was in our imagination the better truth, or perhaps the better part of a truth. I myself offered a certain lady a 10″ penis (a long time ago), it would be delivered in two installments. I kept my word, she basically faltered in math, was I fraudulent?

That is the thought I went with when I got the annoying message on more than one game trailer when Microsoft stated: ‘Play it on the world’s most powerful console‘, which is hilarious for a few reasons. Now when we consider the quote from Japanese Analysts that “Nintendo Switch Sales To Surpass Nintendo’s Forecast“, which is of course really good for Nintendo and with “Japanese analyst, Hideki Yasuda, from the Ace Economic Research Institute in Osaka, has released his latest forecast for Nintendo’s full fiscal year – predicting the company will shift 25 million Switch units and 140 million software units. According to DualShockers, this would put the total amount of Switch sales at 42.79 million units by March next year“. This now also implies that the total sales for the Xbox One (not just the world’s most powerful part) will be surpassed in their total life cycle in approximately 13 weeks, which is just before Christmas, making my worst case scenario for Microsoft a reality. By the end of the year, which I actually did not expect, but there you have it, a console surpassed via short-sightedness and of course the blatant stupidity of NOT listening to their customers. From these parts we get the setting that if Microsoft is pushing forward on Project Scarlett, they have to do it standing from last position, the wooden spoon place, all because certain players (Microsoft executives) thought that they knew better than those who actually are the gamers, who play the games, who live the frustration.

And that is not even the good news, the good news was hidden in the previous quote, with “140 million software units” we see that the Nintendo gamers are not merely happier gamers, they also game significantly more, adding largely to the coffers of Nintendo wealth. Even as Nintendo was less enthusiastic, we need to consider that Nintendo is still picking up momentum in the US, or better states (by US Gamer): “The holiday frenzy is about to gain some sick momentum“, implying that both Thanksgiving and Christmas could be ruled by Nintendo this year around. Apart from that the pressure is on for Sony as well. Even as Sony has been the front leader for the longest of times, we were treated to ‘Nintendo Switch Set to Overtake PlayStation 4’s Lifetime Sales in Japan‘ a mere 3 days ago. It has no chance to catch up on Soy global sales any day soon, but this milestone is important, because that is a milestone we did not expect to see passed this early. For any console to surpass its own Japanese opponent locally, as well as the other player globally is just too strong an achievement, it cannot be ignored; all this whilst software sales are equally booming for Nintendo.

Venture Beat added to that setting a mere two weeks ago when we were treated to: “The NPD Group revealed its list of the top-selling games of July in the U.S. today, and Nintendo is the month’s big winner. Octopath Traveller is the best-selling game of the month. Nintendo not only wins July in terms of software sales, but it is also at the top spot for the year so far when it comes to physical game retail sales“, all because one player listened to their consumer base and the other one merely considered its own ego. That is how businesses collapse into any basement. In addition, we see that half of the July’s top 10 are Nintendo exclusives. In variety we see the additional info: ““Nintendo Switch is the only platform showing year-on-year growth in full-game dollar sales with gains of nearly 70 percent when compared to a year ago, despite digital sales on Nintendo platforms not currently being tracked by The NPD Group,” said analyst Mat Piscatella. “Year-to-date sales of full-game software on Nintendo Switch have more than doubled when compared to a year ago.”” That is the simple situation when we are faced on giving the customer what they desire or giving them what we think they desire.

That difference is the one bringing doom (not the game) to Microsoft. Yet we also need to give consideration to the other side. CNet did (at https://www.cnet.com/news/xbox-chief-aims-to-be-the-voice-of-consumers-inside-microsoft/) and we see a few things there. The first is “Looking at Phil Spencer’s role at Microsoft is a bit like playing the game “One of these things is not like the other”“, I like the setting because it gives the voice of gaming at Microsoft in another way, my interpretation is ‘something here does not belong‘, not as diplomatic but it seems to fit, the business side of Microsoft for the longest of times never understood gaming and Phil Spencer is at the deep end there. We also see: ““The analogy I use with some people is we were like the garage band for a long time,” said Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming. “As long as we didn’t play our music too loud, we’re allowed to keep practicing.” He’s allowed to play music as loud as he wants now” this is a comprehensible point of view and it makes sense. It is almost like ‘you can play, but do not disturb the people doing actual work‘, which is wrong on so many levels, mainly because the other players (the work people) are set in a stage of making less and less revenue whilst the gaming sector could have been the supporting pillar for them if they had only listened to their customers. A mistake still not tended to I might add. The question now is not whether Phil Spencer comprehends the market, we know he does, but does Satya Nadella have a clue in all this? That is one part I am not convinced of, basically time will tell. Yet it is the escapist that gives us other goods, goods that matter not merely for the systems, but for the players too. You see, we are smitten with titles, with games, with ideas and in all this the JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) has been tremendous in all this, it has been driving sales and desire among the players, which is exactly the well of goodness for Nintendo. Sony has benefitted as well but not as much, so when we are treated to: “Even 17 years after the arrival of the original Xbox, Microsoft still hasn’t gained a foothold in Japan. At this point the situation probably seems hopeless. But I think there’s a way in, if Microsoft is willing to do something unconventional“, I partially agree here, it can work if the unconventional is addressed into a form of curiosity for the new players and an irresistible urge for those who are not new players. That whilst the article ends with: “History has shown that drastic reversals in fortune are possible, particularly when the buying public is being denied something they really want“, which turned out to be the killing game show that murdered their own console. Storage and off line achievements are the two most damning part, both easily adding to 40% of the non-buyers, or switchers (to another system). How can Microsoft survive? Well, first of all they need to get the right indie developers (and fast too), because there is a market that embraces indie developers. You merely have to look at Elite Dangerous and Subnautica on the waves that they created. Microsoft had the right moves there, but as those players are now no longer exclusive, people moved away. There are a few more options. The still anticipated System Shock will get people to the Xbox/PC if released in the right way, the following for that title was huge and they are still there waiting to replay the game that these players loved for decades, that is a need that will not die and there is more in the open to get. When we look back even further we see that there is a world of untapped games, games that were OK and sometimes even great in the old days and they are awakening the next generation, whilst at the same speed also calling back the old gamers.

The essential next step is not merely looking at new IP; the power is that old IP under new conditions can become a truly great IP. When we consider the older games on the CBM Amiga, we see a setting that a decent game remained decent game despite the utter lack of resources. What do you think will happen, when it gets true resources? When those playing the game realise that was merely passable on that system with 512Kb gets to be fully versed in a system with 8GB RAM and plenty of gigabytes on the Drive? What happens when we see a game like Seven Cities of Gold with some real resources? We are seeing that the makers of the Bards Tale moved to today’s systems and the reviews are giving us ‘Contemporary take shows Bard’s classic tale stands test of time‘, so basically, what was old is new again and it is one of several games that are out there. I mentioned Seven Cities of Gold, yet there was also the Black Crypt, Paradroid, Space Hulk (now released as Martyr Inquisitor), a collection of thousands of games, where several dozen could be revitalised, Indie developer can get the gamers what they desire, the question is which console will get to these games first? Will we see a smoother version of what was one of my favourites Knights of the Sky? You see, it is not merely about copying the idea that has been done before, but to set the stage on a scale of arcade versus realism, where the setting can be tweaked by the player to their own preference is more important than you might think. Some of the players are not Forza dedicated (they admire and love it), some are more for a little more arcade version of that game and the one who gives both will rule that land. Will Forza remain or will the Crew 2 take it all? When we see Steam giving it 60%, IGN 70% and Gamespot 80%, yet we see that 94% loved the video, we see that something does not add up. I was personally overwhelmed with the E3 video, even as I accept the review by some on ‘jack of all trades‘ to some part, the game is graphically amazing and it is perhaps more arcade then Forza, which is for some the part of gaming that many prefer. I have had my issue with Ubisoft for the longest of times, and even as I am not a racing fan (I never was) this game drew me in and that is what matters, or what should matter. So where is this going?

I think that we need a stronger setting for adjusting a game to the player. If the Crew had the option to switch ‘realism’ levels and become a Forza? Would that change the game? Is that even possible?

These issues are important because even as we want a true Crew 2 game, how far can we get? This now links back to Knights of the Sky (Amiga), the Red Baron (PC) was in that basic setting of realism versus more arcade playability. It is not merely the graphics, even as the comparison video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFTO7JHXn7s) gives us the part that we accept and that pushes us towards a decision which game to buy. The Crew does not win, and against a game that has been out for 2 years, it matters, yet the Crew 2 gives us a much larger arena to have fun in and that matters too. For gaming it will be to find a larger community and that is where we are when we see the upcoming game Forza Horizon 4 (due in one month), giving us a setting that is more Crew, all open and in Britain with all the seasons available making it an entirely new challenge. In all this Microsoft has outdone themselves, anyone claiming not, trivialising that achievement is merely a Microsoft hater. The question is, why is Microsoft not more aggressive in gaining this level of excellence on more fronts. If we accept that exclusive games are the wining card in any console war, why is Microsoft merely running behind other crews doing new stuff? When will the Xbox and PC gamer get treated to a set of games that gives them some level of an upper hand? God of War and Spiderman on PS4 shows that the queues in shops are large and growing. Merely waiting for the next Assassins Creed and Lara Croft is no longer good enough for Microsoft, not when they are about to become a mere third position, right behind the least powerful console in the world. Microsoft has to change the game and the games they play. Indie developers are soon to be the essential first in all this. That, and to address the pressures from the gamers, which is something they needed to do a long time ago, just some of the issues that is dragging Microsoft down. So even as some shareholders are smitten with that ugly term ‘Play it on the world’s most powerful console‘ they will be less impressed as they are soon confronted with a third position and that ‘most powerful’ expression merely ended them with the wooden spoon console trophy, at that point their enthusiasm will simmer down really fast.

Microsoft is running out of time and options, when they do get surpassed, the options they did have are very likely to melt away like snowflakes in the sun.

#HappyGamingSunday

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The future arrived Yesterday

I was at an interesting gig yesterday. I was introduced by a friend to several new options to engage with an audience, and options to interact in engagement, not mere presenting, we got to see true engagement. Several solutions that by them self are impressive enough, but combine the abilities we see options for engagement that will knock the socks off from players like Marvel and Nintendo, options that large players like Microsoft set aside for too long, options missed by some players as they are pushing for similar results again and again. Yet like the failures of Ubisoft in the past, as I stated it ‘a game that was designed to not be a failure will in equal measure never become a true winner‘, Ubisoft learned that the hard way with the their Assassins Creed franchise and now, we see opportunities that EA Games could get with FIFA19 and micro transactions, not just that, the act of engagement would allow for plenty of additional visibility towards groups that are currently not considering certain products. Engagement has always been the primary key in that and I saw a truckload of that, much of it in a new wardrobe that fits basically everyone.

So even as some are given to be a display towards retail, they have the ability to be much more, this is a marketing dream and all available for so many participants before this year’s Christmas shopping spree sets in. Options that are more than just engagement, they are optional content distributors, unlockable gems that people in certain areas love, a simple image that can immediately translate with you in the foreground and your destination in the background, combined send as a postcard to your mobile on the spot.

It is a simple setting, where an RFID scanner that could instantly reveal what the Nintendo Amiibo offers to the customer in store, not relying on dodgy third party lists, one Nintendo list and places like EB Games could in store reveal what the person is buying. The applications are here and not in the stores, not used by players that could gain the brand additional momentum, so what gives?

Well, for the most retail and larger places are seeing these devices and solutions as a cost, which they are (to some degree), but they in equal measure forget the opportunity that they bring. If we consider Market Watch (which I question), we see the setting that the games market, in particularly the Augmented reality Gaming Market, we see a forecast where we are treated to According to Infoholic Research, the “AR Gaming Market” is expected to reach $284.93 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 152.7% during the forecast period 2017-2023“, I still think that this is ludicrous, I have zero percent faith in that, or to state this that I am predicting that this is 100% wrong. Gaming is a 135 billion dollar market globally, if we get “expected to reach $75 billion by 2023“, then this would be an awesome result for AR gaming. I am certain that Infoholic Research did not just get their wires crossed; I feel that they are buttering someone’s bread on both sides. In both normal gaming and gambling, we see that there is a trend on the rise and some of the systems shown yesterday can grab in on these potential markets in several ways, it is up to the creative marketing mind in the larger places to use this not merely for branding, but also for creating awareness and grow interest through engagement.

Consider that this goes further than mere advertising and branding, consider the information kiosks, you might wonder what a mere information kiosk could add. The new generation can also scan you or what you are holding. A logo, a brochure, or merely a QR code. These parts can immediately be converted to a shop with location, a digital travel brochure that can be interacted with on the screen or merely a QR code that your mobile device can scan, giving you the app, the additional information or a mere YouTube video to watch. All options actively available now and when you place such solutions in a place like Neom (for those not in the know) “Neom is a planned 26’500 sq. km transnational city and economic zone to be constructed in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia close to the border region of Saudi Arabia and Egypt“, and Saudi Arabia has set aside 500 billion for the creation of that city. The option of being the first and more important, setting up the 5G hub allowing a primary spot for a 5G growth in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, a place where Huawei is already roaring to set up shop, they have the lead there, and now consider that the push from the Saudi Arabia government is all about being ahead of the rest, the smartest of all smart cities and it will not take long before they realise that to get ahead of all the others you need to be willing and ready to have solutions for engagement there, primed, active and ready to grow. More important, three months ago, we were treated to “Chinese tech conglomerate Huawei is already committed to training 1,500 local engineers over the next two years“, so this is one place where Telstra got in way too late, as did the European players. The hub for a 120 million customer 5G population, when I mentioned this in the beginning of this year I was not kidding. Now we see that certain paths have started, we need to look at how you can get a smart city population to engage, because that is the trigger for growth. This directly relates to gaming as gaming is the big equaliser here, it has always been that, as early as the early 90’s. For 25 years I have seen how gaming and engagement lowered the threshold for those nervous about technology and yesterday I saw a whole range of engagement opportunities. Not merely interactions and RFID application in other ways to show interaction, but a setting where it pushes non-personalised data to a tenfold and that data can push the curiosity towards engagement for everyone.

When he European commission gave us the ‘What 5G is about‘ most looked at it and thought ‘Nice!’ what they missed is that is goes beyond mere RFID and Domotics. The direct interactions of Smart Wearables, Smart Mobility, Smart Grids and Smart Parking show that when the car is low on fuel (or an almost empty battery is you have a Tesla), the SATNAV will reveal the closes fuel point, or warn you if you cannot make it to the homestead, the smart wearable can link directly to health care, the nearest pharmacy, the doctor allowing for a prescription on the spot, the phone that now shows a map and receives the information YOU wanted to engage with from a kiosk that is now also a data hub and transfer point of information, all on the fly without YOU having to type anything, all done intuitively on the spot. In all this, you remain in charge of your data and (except for the healthcare part) all null and void of actual personal data.

 

Let’s take this to a next level, some have seen something like this, it looks like an old amplifier volume knob, but it is actually a Bluetooth speaker, place it on nearly any table and it becomes an amazing speaker, yet the next level is not merely a speaker, it is also perfectly placed to be a data hub. Now combine that with a sheet of Perspex as a display (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdDAG0uwg3s), when we combine the three, we get the information on the kiosk, transferred instantly to your ‘speaker’ that is also the data hub and displays the information on that sheet display, wearable or other option. Maps, data, and brochures, all instantly available; Google already owns that solution, a solution that is merely awaiting implementation. A setting driven by what I would call ‘dumb’ smart devices. All the fear of personal data gone and total interactivity remains, engagement and the ultimate lure that draws consumers into your business; that is what engagement allows for, no other way will get that great result because that is the advertisement of tomorrow, not the data they hold, but the curiosity that they bring, all linked to the need for engagement. All those people, millions, who would walk in because your window had something interesting to show, yet now it is not your window, your window is also in every data kiosk, every advertiser point and every screen.
It is no longer about the mobile, people are less trusting with their data, but a smart (dumb) device, their watch, their Pendent or ring, now a data hub and consider that the 15 mm for a micro SD fits into rings, pendants and watches, all optional long term data hubs on the go, without any long interaction and we can get 32 GB for a mere $5. Picking up the ideas and interacting from place to place, our shopping needs and information on the fly when YOU want it; the data kiosks merely one of many places to interact with the addressed needs everywhere.

All settings not yet available in such an advanced state and all options out in the field for those willing to be the enterprising in the new places where they are willing to spend $500 billion in total, to make a next gen tech hub a reality. Or as Jeremy Irons stated in Margin Call: “There are three ways to make a living in this business. Be first, be smarter, or cheat“, he said it and I agree, it is always best to be first and whilst some are still trying to market what they are trying to set as 5G, we see that Huawei who are setting the stage on what 5G could be, Huawei s in the implementation stage of preparing the engineers of setting it all up in a live environment. So whilst America is still in anti-China mode, we see “Now, the whole industry is taking the final sprint towards 5G commercialization. The completion of SA specifications which complements the NSA specifications, not only gives 5G NR the ability of independent deployment, but also brings a brand new end-to-end network architecture, making 5G a facilitator and an accelerator during the intelligent information and communications technology improvement process of enterprise customers and vertical industries” and Huawei has already started in Saudi Arabia, so my other prediction is coming to pass as well, By Q1 2019, Saudi Arabia will become a market leader in 5G and will connect with Europe soon thereafter. In all this Australia things will go from bad to worse, especially as we cannot tell whether we need to consider if people like John Watters, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Strategy Officer of cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc is bedding Telstra or the USA, the fact that no one has been able to produce any clear evidence in Huawei’s ‘dependency’ on the Chinese government and the overly fearful US Tech as well as Telstra in all this is more than what I consider to be merely a sham, they are currently quite the opposite of embracing engagement and new tech, it will end the end make them look like the fools they should have been trademarked as in 2017.

So as we might remember Telstra at IT News with “Telstra said in a slide deck that “full commercial deployment of 5G in capital cities, major regional centres and other high demand areas” would occur in financial year 2020“, we can now see that they will be almost a year behind Huawei. Al this angers me, merely because it stops advancement and innovation, which makes Saudi Arabia the one remaining golden opportunity for true 5G innovation and yesterday’s presentations showed me how much many more avenues can be approached, because some of the innovations are out here today, in some cases, merely linking the solutions remain. It is important that we consider the Huawei part a little longer, it is important because 5G is so crucial to all this. When we see the article (at https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/59w49b/huawei-surveillance-no-evidence), we see that the title gives us: ‘There’s No Public Evidence Huawei Spies on Americans‘, in addition we see “Huawei’s efforts to make inroads in the U.S. quickly resulted in numerous allegations over the company’s alleged connections to Chinese intelligence. Despite breathless hysteria, numerous investigations (one 18 months in length) found absolutely no evidence of such a threat.“, as well as “a follow up report by Reuters indicates that there has been pressure applied on U.S. telcos to avoid doing business with Huawei, with companies like Verizon and AT&T being told they risk losing their lucrative government business contracts if they strike deals with the massive Chinese multinational“, when we complete it with ““We knew certain parts of government really wanted (evidence of active spying),” one person familiar with the probe told Reuters at the time. “We would have found it if it were there”“, now we see the parts missing, in all this the Australian government needs to be optionally seen as a dog collar without a leash around the neck of a rabid dog named USA. This all smells like AT&T and Telstra in desperate need to not get drowned by an actually innovative technological opponent, who did just that, they became truly innovative. We need Huawei in all this more then most can comprehend.

To get this a little better, we need to look at ‘Media Engagement and Advertising Effectiveness‘ by Bobby J Calder and Edward C Malthouse. Here we see “Traditionally, marketers have thought about advertising as a process of translating a brand, expressed as a benefit, a promise to the consumer, a value proposition, or a positioning in the consumer’s mind into a message that is delivered to the consumer through some medium. This advertising will be effective to the extent that the consumer values the brand idea and the message does a good job creatively of communicating the idea“. Yet when we consider it more fully, we see: “It is engagement with a TV program that causes someone to want to watch it, to be attentive to it, to recommend it to a friend, or to be disappointed if it were no longer on the air“, through engagement, the TV Series Lucifer was not cancelled, it moved from Fox to Netflix, merely by the acts of engaging fans. Engagement can be that powerful and it goes beyond merely revitalising a TV series, it will be the bread and butter for most companies as growth is often seen as  linear with ‘advertising’ whilst we have to accept that exponential growth can only be achieved with an actual engaging audience. Because like in Facebook, that one engaging person is linked to dozens, if not hundreds of others, and their actions are more easily accepted by their close connections then the one advertisement is. In two stages this is seen that one engagement is optionally 900 hits in a low estimation, versus a mere advertisement that gets 5% out of 10,000 shows, so it took 10,000 attempts to get 500 people taking a second look, whilst one engagement event could be the start of 900 instant opportunities, so which option would you more likely turn to?

Yet, we must also be aware of the negative side in engagement. Calder and Malthouse give us that with: “Intrusion may produce a negative response from consumers because the advertising harms the experience of the media content. This in turn could lead to a negative reaction to the advertising, compromising its effectiveness. The consumer may feel that the ad has intruded on the experience with the content and accordingly may have a less positive reaction to the ad“, so in this the interactive kiosk becomes again not merely a vehicle, but THE vehicle in all this and Time is the one currency that is at the centre of it all, it is time that usually and largely triggers the intrusion emotion (waiting, or idle time tends to do that). With the smart ‘dumb’ devices, the automatism of storage whilst the interaction is merely a second, perhaps even two seconds. The element of intrusion decreases and engagement remains, or optionally even increases. It is achieved as the advertisement is not the focal point, but merely part of it and the experience is not impeached, as we get 125Mb in that one second, we get the brochure, the movie clip, the setting, the review and the applicability; all available to watch at our leisure and when we want to decide what to see and how to watch it. So from a $5 32GB Micro SD card, we can get more with a $100 200Gb card, and that is now, in 2-3 years we can get 5 times that storage for the same price. In this non-personalised interaction setting, we achieve to get heaps of analytical information whilst driving engagement. So in that we are confronted with all the latest trailers by merely passing a cinema. And we can just leisurely watch what we need and wipe the rest. It is a brand new day and those ahead in the game get to set that stage of new tech needs for an entire population, engagement is the key element to drive all that.

The future arrived yesterday, whatever will we get treated to tomorrow?

 

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A short sighted Senate?

This was always going to happen. Whenever there is a political setting, it will always be about the money. In this, I will be trying to have a field day. So, a paper will be drawn, demanding that the Australian psychiatrists and researchers will have to sign; they will not get a choice in the matter. They do not deserve a choice in the matter. It will be fun for them to openly condemn Telstra, Apple, Amazon, JB Hi-fi, David Jones and a few other places, because in the end they are all linked in this, even though they do not even realise that yet. It is as I see it, the consequence of a biased setting and we need to make sure that these people will not merely get the limelight, they will, in this setting be responsible for the economic fallout. That is as I personally see it the consequence of greed driven bias.

You see, it is clear that this is about money. The fact that we see the flock gather around a person, who is so stupid that I equally demand that this British person, who is clearly too stupid for his own thoughts must be barred from credit cards for life! If he cannot control himself to that degree, we must protect him from being that stupid ever again.

You see, you think that it is an emotional part, but it is not. Even as I accept “Video games have generally been considered games of skill rather than games of chance and thus are unregulated under most gambling laws, but researchers from New Zealand and Australia, writing in Nature Human Behaviour, concluded that “loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling”“, a setting that I do not agree with (explanation to follow), the quote coming from Aaron Drummond and James D Sauer, which was published in ‘Nature human behaviour‘, I feel uncertain to comment on, or oppose that part as I lack the proper psychological education in this.

Why is it not gambling?

That is the important part. Yes, there is a setting of luck, but ever loot box has a similar setting. We see one rare element, 2-3 uncommon elements and the rest will be common elements. So how did this come to be? For that we need to look at the father of loot boxes, the game Magic the gathering. Consider that on a piece of paper (size A0) cards are printed. An A0 page (841 x 1189 mm) will fit 12 cards per row, and 12 rows. The cards (usually 63 x 88 mm) get 144 cards on one page. In this setting we work with 288 cards, and if printed on 4 pages, we get 576 cards. So here we see the initial setting where we see that on these pages, the rare cards would be printed once, for example, two columns of 12 per page, in total 96 cards, the uncommon would be there twice, which gets us 192 cards and the remaining cards three times getting us the 576 cards, a set of 288 cards. So we always know that we get a certain combination, but we merely cannot tell which one. So this Australian government that allegedly is ruled through law, sets the stage (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-02/crown-casino-pokies-maker-aristocrat-court-decision/9387168), where pokies are not deceptive, whilst loot boxes are?

Am I digressing?

No, you see, in the CCG we see that there is a physical part to all the cards, with the virtual loot box it is not entirely the same setting. So even when we consider the ABC Quote “It argued the Dolphin Treasure machine, which is manufactured by Aristocrat and available to players at Crown, had been deceptively designed to give players the impression they had won, when they had in fact lost money“, yet in that same light, we see that a loot box, always gives a price, yet is it the price the buyer wanted? In this case I revert to the previous setting, now we add what is called a booster box. In a box are 35 packs (can be 30-36 depending on the CCG game), so we could argue that when we buy 3 boxes, we should have the complete set, yet with the 105 packs, we do get 105 rare items, but in that same setting, over the 96 rare items needed, if only 10% is double, we no longer get the complete set and we will have to swap with others. With physical cards that is an option, with virtual items that is not always possible. This is indeed the trap, yet is that gambling? When we know that we get a rare item, yet we cannot guarantee that item is that gambling? That is the question, yet in the case of the Crown Casino, the judges stated that that there was no deceptive conduct, and neither is there in this case. With Loot boxes you are ALWAYS a winner, but is winning and winning the price you want enough difference to warrant it gambling?

The economic setting

That is also part of this, because some power players are all about facilitating towards casino’s (go to Barangaroo if you doubt me), and we are also treated to “This is a win for 140,000 Australians who have jobs because of poker machines,“, as well as “Every year Victorians lose more than $2.6 billion on the state’s 27,000 poker machines that operate outside of Crown Casino“. This hypocritical setting is about money, plain and simple. This is a setting where the loot boxes are funds that go directly to the makers of those games and they are not in Australia. Unlike the other setting where we see “The State Government receives more than $1 billion in tax revenue from pokies every year“, yes all things are definitely not equal!

Are there issues?

Well, the quote “Games with loot box mechanics have long proven controversial” is actually true. There are two settings. Loot boxes you can earn and those you can buy. We will forever hear the argument of the game Mass Effect 3, for all, the golden standard. They could be bought, or won, the same loot box. Earn enough points in the game in multiplayer mode and you had the option to buy a golden box with earned points, instead of purchased credits. That was the best of all settings. Now we have these boxes that can be bought only, yet the foundation is that the game can be played and completed WITHOUT EVER buying a loot box, so those people are merely buying the boxes to get the insane chance of getting an over the top powerful item, which is weird in some ways. In support of some we must also acknowledge that EA Games as one of the players in all this decided to cut themselves in the finger and that is all on them. End Gadget gives u that (at https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/13/electronic-arts-loot-box-mea-culpa-e3/), so when we see ‘How EA talks about loot boxes depends on who’s listening‘, which might be good business practice, but it is really really stupid. You see, with “EA wants you to know that it has changed; that it isn’t the same company that put pay-to-win progression systems and loot boxes in two of its biggest games last fall. “We are always trying to learn and listen, and are striving to be better,” CEO Andrew Wilson said before closing out the keynote address“, we see one side, and with: “He thanked the investor for his question, saying that EA was working with “all the industry associations globally” and talking with regulators in territories where loot boxes had been deemed gambling, without naming any specific regions. He said that his company and the regulatory bodies concluded that Ultimate Team wasn’t gambling. Since players know they’ll get a certain amount of cards in each pack, and that the distribution of each pack is the same (i.e. one rare footballer, three uncommon, two common in each) it doesn’t break any laws“, here we see the part that I partially agree with, but it also shows that EA Games is all about the money and the ‘FIFA Ultimate Team‘ part of all this represents billions, billions that they do not want to lose.

There are two big parts in all of this, that is aside for that one person who could optionally be the most stupid person in the United Kingdom, especially when he ‘discovers’ he’s spent £7,500+ on FUT Ultimate Team cards (source: Daily Star 29th July 2018). The first is that FIFA is a game played by non-adults, so they will desire to optionally spend on these cards. The fact that there is no limit set is optionally an issue, if EA Games has set the stage where per month no more than £25 would be spend, that is close to half the cost of the full game, so it might need to be lowered. The second is the chance to swap any double won, so the fact that you are missing a Beckham, but have two Pele’s, you can seek someone who had the opposite setting. That could have saved a lot of issues, possibly all issues and EA Games merely made it harder by (as I personally see it) being stupid. That evidence is seen (at https://www.fifauteam.com/best-packs-fifa-18-ultimate-team/), Yet is also gives us that EA Games has free packs and they also give us “FREE PACKS. Not available to purchase on the store. They are assigned to you in the beginning of the game, as daily gifts and as draft, SBC, FUT Champions, objectives and seasons rewards“, so if free packs can be won, why is the entire matter still an issue? We also are given “Jumbo Premium Gold pack and Silver Upgrade pack both cost 15,000 coins but the first one may be purchased with 300 FIFA Points while for the second we only need 50 FIFA Points. Players should also pay attention to this aspect“, Yet I am also given “You can earn FUT Coins by playing FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) and trading within the Transfer Market, but you can’t buy them. Buying coins from a third party, promoting coin buying, or coin distribution is against our rules“, so we can transfer? Then again, why is there an issue, when there are so many factors that are not funds driven?

There is an interesting video on this (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=25&v=Igs5Ca9Nw4M), the man talks too fast for his own good, but it is very informative, giving us a clear view that there is a clear way to get items and players making it weird on how someone would have paid £7,500+ on FUT Ultimate Team cards. I do not doubt that this was done, yet it asks a few additional serious questions on the mental status of some video gamers. In all this I see several issues on both sides, but for the most, the entire setting is gambling and with the options for free packs and transfers, there is less and less a setting of gambling, merely the oversized need of greed by a government wanting non-taxable parts to stop. Yet at the bottom of the FIFA team page is also a comments section and we see the most interesting part that was also on the video.

Q: You say that we can buy coins directly?

A (Admin): My main suggestion is to trade. Buying low and selling higher is easier than most of the people think.

All given actions based on common sense, a part that someone paying £7,500+ for these cards is the setting of a person lacking common sense in spades, diamond and in clubs, basically the buyer was seemingly without hearts and common sense. Reverting to overspending and hiding behind gambling statements when there are trades and free options is overly unbalanced.

Yet I agree that this is all mostly based on FIFA, so how does that fare in other parts? With Overwatch (at http://overwatch.wikia.com/wiki/Loot_Box), we see that they are bought, yet they are also awarded.

  • One Loot Box is earned every time a player levels up.
  • One seasonal Loot Box is earned for the first time accessing the game in a seasonal event.
  • One Loot Box is earned for the first time winning some game modes in the Arcade, for example 1v1 Mystery Duel or 3v3 Elimination.
  • One Loot Box is earned for the 3rd, 6th, and 9th winning by playing Arcade game modes within the time between 2 resets. This cycle resets every week whether or not you win 9 games.

So these are options that do not require funds (yet can also be bought). It merely requires you to be a decent player. A decent player will have the option to three boxes a week by winning enough times, in all this, we see skill based progression.

This is the setting that we are faced with, and in this I wonder how thoroughly is the issue investigated, or will this merely be a senate exercise on lost (read: non-taxable) revenue?

In the end, when we move back to the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2018/aug/17/video-game-loot-boxes-addictive-and-a-form-of-simulated-gambling-senate-inquiry-told) and we see no mention whatsoever that loot boxes could be earned, or are optional (under the right setting free), what other parts is the writer Patrick Lum not informing us on? In addition, when I see “Australian psychiatrists and researchers have called for greater regulation of video games that encourage players to purchase chance-based items“, whilst there is no mention on the earning option, or the initial free options that pretty much every game seems to have offered. When that part is equally missing, how fair will this inquiry be?

The article has two additional issues. the first is seen with: “The Office of the eSafety Commissioner estimated that 34% of young people made in-game purchases in the 12 months before June 2017, while the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia cited research finding that around 20% of simulated gambling players moved on to online commercial gambling and 5% of young Australians would develop gambling problems before they were 25 years old“. When we see ‘estimated‘, it should be made clear that this is not factual evidence, more important, what was the estimation based on? We are unlikely to get clearly informed on that part. In addition, the part ‘the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia cited research finding that around 20% of simulated gambling players moved on to online commercial gambling‘, is under scrutiny, because in that regard, I would want those so called ‘Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia‘ to produce the evidence and the raw data on how the ”around 20%” was obtained.

The second issue is seen with “Dr Marcus Carter, a former president of the Digital Games Research Association of Australia, argued that “predatory” practices were “pervasive”, citing potential variable odds manipulation, push notifications about limited-time offers and other player retention mechanics“, although I find his setting a much better one, there are still issues with the use of ‘potential’ in that, without evidence it is merely highly speculative and even as I would accept the danger of ‘variable odds manipulation‘, that part can be addressed clearly enough. The requirement is that there needs to be evidence that this is happening and a pre-emptive setting of making the optional issue of ‘variable odds manipulation‘ unacceptable in legislation is not wrong, yet requires proof. In addition, the entire setting of ‘push notifications about limited-time offers and other player retention mechanics‘ is equally valid, but can be stopped by an opt-in setting, in addition if that is addressed, we need to accept that all ‘limited-time offers’ in advertisement on media and TV are to be equally banned, because we could optionally get a ‘buy a new pair of shoes’ addiction (for a limited time that is). If that is to be accepted (cheating small time businesses out of advertising as well as taxable advertisement funds go right ahead, Or perhaps make it illegal to have ‘limited-time mobile offers‘, and we leave Dr Marcus Carter to explain that change to mobile providers, who will be crying over lost revenue. You see, when all players are equal there is no setting of fair play at all, merely the setting of expedited needs, in this case the government. All that when it was made aware of lines like “EA earns $1.68 billion in micro transactions in FY2017“, that whilst Australia’s biggest super villain (read: Taxman) never got a cent of any of that.

That is the actual setting and that got all those trying to set this all to gambling. Including the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and now Australia, they are all about getting a slice of that micro transaction pie, all that could have been prevented 15-20 years ago by them using their brains. Yet at that time ego and greed got the better of them and they were unwilling to kick Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and all other e-store players where it would have hurt, they were in my personal view mere cowards letting actual physical shops fend for themselves, as their business was pushed online and away from them. Now we see patch upon patch, all players trying to get as much of the cream as possible whilst trying to hide the fact that they had no backbone in the first place, all merely equipped with paper backs ready for recycling.

The mere setting of ‘All online items are GST set and paid for in the country of the purchasing consume by that nations legal setting‘ would have sorted 98% of all this, but the politicians in those global nations were, in the end merely as ‘solid’ and morally strong as wet tissue paper.

So in all this there is a huge issue with the loot box and gambling setting, merely from the point of view that I have that this is not about gambling, it is about non-taxable income, a very different issue to say the least.

 

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