Tag Archives: EA


These are the days where a lot of people reflect on choices made and I am not any different. I was at the foundation of gaming, when gaming was young, when people thought that this was the sport of nerds and I did not care. I reviewed games for 13 years and I never regretted it. I was there when Commodore release the CBM64 and the Amiga 500. Sony released the PlayStation, I was there when Nintendo released the N64 and the GameCube. I had the Sony PlayStation 2 on day one, I saw with amazement when the SEGA Dreamcast was released. I saw an amazing range of games and systems, even now I think back to how great gaming was in those days. Even now we see how some makers misrepresent their games on how unique their game is whilst in the end it is merely another version of Candy Crush or Bejewelled. The hide behind quick animations and we see some Zombie game and the list goes on, they all need to make a game that is quick so that it is downloaded, their name depends on the amount of downloads, the sheep that play games follow the games that have a lot of downloads, yet they miss the larger stage. A game is something larger, it keeps you interested, it offers a larger stage and there is no denying that Microsoft Game Pass might actually entice people who call themselves gamers will actually end up playing actual games. Yet there is a danger there too. I personally believe that Microsoft is in it for the soft money, the micro transactions and it makes sense, micro transactions represents billions a year in revenue, and there mobile systems are the biggest source of micro transactions and that too is a reason why Microsoft wants Apple access. 

It is time that this stage changes and if there is one stage we want to protect then it is the gaming stage, that stage gives direct access to the younger players. Even as these ‘critics’ proclaim loot boxes are ‘gambling’, there is no status on games like Candy Crush and all others designed to drive gamers to spend money, the addiction of achievement. Yet we see a lot less on that part do we? I remember playing the very first Lemmings, from the first hour I saw just how addictive it was, I still have great memories on Magic Carpet, I saw amazing games from Mirrorsoft, Microprose, Psygnosis, Rare, Westwood, Bullfrog and too many others to mention. Even then the creativity outranked corporate types and the gamer won. That field has changed!

Even today, I remember playing games like Millennium 2.2, Lemmings, Covert Action, Ultima 3, 4, 5, Eye of the Beholder, and that was long before PC’s started to take gaming serious. One title I am leaving for last, In 1987 FTL (Faster than Light) created Dungeon Master, it changed the way people looked at RPG games. It was only surpassed by Dungeon Keeper because Dungeon Master paved the way and created the love of the RPG game, Dungeon Master became the best selling game of all time for the Atari ST, others would follow and Dungeon Keeper would push the love of RPG to even greater heights, in the end 700,000 copies would be sold and it is there where we see what we can gain, in those days 700,000 copies were sold, in this day it would be 10 to 50 times as much. And we overlook the playability of those games now, yes we see the hypes created (and the games EA screws up), yet they also had there share of successes and underestimations. Who remembers ShadowCaster and Black Crypt? Upgraded they would make interesting games and in that same setting EA has close to half a dozen games that could raise the setting for Google Stadia. So what happens when we tinker Magic Carpet to become larger and multiplayer? And that is only the tip of the iceberg, Microprose has even more titles and that is all before we look at the near future and see what else we can do to set a larger stage of games that people either cast aside or ignored in the first place. An excellent example of that is Microprose’s 1990 release of Knights of the Sky. I loved the game and many others did as well, but the larger group seemingly forgot about this game, a game that could be upgraded and work on a whole range of systems, including Google and Apple systems. We need to take another look at these games, games produced in the era spanning from 1985-2005 gives us close to 100 titles spread over half a dozen systems and we forgot about them. Why is that?

I get it, some people moved on, they moved on to other things and that is fine, but there is an entire generation of people that is limited in its view of games and it is limited to match three shapes. That is not really gaming and we need to make sure that this does not happen. For a system like the Google Stadia, it is the difference from being in the game and setting a goal towards being the 4th system in gaming, from there the sky is the limit. There are enough games, the question becomes where do they (or Apple) want to go, offering a system or committing to a system. It is a small but distinctive difference, one is seemingly going that way (it doesn’t matter who), yet it opens up a larger stage. A stage where people can optionally now play a larger and repaired Mass Effect Andromeda, a game that is game 1 and game 2 together. A stage that Google Stadia and Apple allows for and that is good, perhaps the others will catch on, but that is not a given and perhaps not even required. Hardwire gives options, but when did all systems need to offer everything? I believe that Nintendo and Sony can work side by side, I feel certain that either Google or Apple will be the third system, there is a chance that people will select EITHER the Google or the Apple system, but I cannot be certain of that at present. And it does not matter, like Android and iOS, people will make a choice giving Google an edge but at present not a given victory, time will make determination, yet in time and over time we need to revisit the old games, the fact that we see more and more remasters is because the old jewels remain jewels, some of them merely need to get dusted, others need polish, but they remain jewels and the sooner some see that, the better their hardware will fare. 


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Let’s call a spade a spade

It is an old expression, lets call a spade a spade, the pot calling the kettle black and so forth. It is (when I grew up) the expressions that refer to let’s call it what it is, let’s label it directly, let’s not beat around the bush. So when the BBC gives us ‘Loot boxes: I blew my university savings gaming on Fifa’ (at https://www.bbc.com/news/business-53337020), we see the story of an idiot, an idiot named Jonathan Peniket, who basically is voicing whatever excuse he has for the simple reason that he is (as I personally see it) indeed an idiot. So when we see “Better players give you an advantage, and there is a virtual currency and market where these cards are traded. You can buy packs containing a random selection of cards. The idea that it was gambling seemed ridiculous to me at the time. I understood that the chances of ‘packing’ my favourite players were low. I spent the money, opened my packs, got lucky a couple of times, and tried to be positive, despite being left feeling slightly underwhelmed. ‘If I could just spend another £15…’, I thought. Four years followed of spending more and more money on player packs – each time seeking that buzz that would only occasionally come.” We see here the driven and almost educated response of a crack whore trying to get someone else to pay for her addiction, a little bitch looking for the 3600 cards and a person who wants the 1200 cards in month one. I know it sounds ominous and even offensive, but that is life. So when he was a teenager, like two years before his first card (at 17), he got inflicted with the Pokemon vibe (gotta have them all), that empty feeling was transferred to FIFA and when we see “How one teenager spent nearly £3,000” we see a person who is too stupid for his own good. The game is a mere £55, so how stupid do you need to be to spend 60 times that amount? The BBC writers Felicity Hannah and Jane Andrews are quick to dismiss in a short term the truth of the matter behind “They say Fifa Ultimate Team can be played without spending any money and that purchases are entirely optional”, it is a truth, I play NHL, I get 3 packs a day, free of charge, the packs add up that in a month you can save up pack points to get to specula bronze packs, two silver packs and two gold packs. In addition, every pack comes with virtual money to buy other cards online (bid for them), in the second months, I had all 30 arena’s, close to all home and away jerseys for all the NHL teams and most of the goalie masks. After 6 months, I had close to 800 hockey players, a few legendary, and several really rare cards, the game also unlocks upgraded players as you play more and reach milestones (game achievements) you unlock even more players and upgraded legendary players. I cannot answer for FIFA, but it seems that this approach has been mimicked over all the EA sport games, as such I have all that and NEVER paid a cent, showing you just how stupid this boy Jonathan Peniket really is, but the BBC writers are happy to convey “I accept responsibility for what happened. The decisions I made to spend that money were made by me”, yet the little tough guy was eager to state that he “was addicted to the buzz of chance when I bought packs” and “I was spending £30 at a time, then £40, then £50. By the time my card began to block my transactions, I was throwing £80 into the game four or five times a night”, so that the statement “video game packs and loot boxes [a general term for in-game purchases involving chance] are a form of gambling”, yes you can go that way, but when a junk is taking drugs, he isn’t really medicating is he, so what he states it is is merely a form to avoid as much guilt for his stupidity as possible. Loot boxes are not now, not ever gambling, so until we see one of these packs give us the 15 cards all stating ‘Thank You’ it can never be gambling. You get cards, there is always one rare in EVERY PACK, and you can always try to trade it. Consider that there are 3600 cards, 1200 are rare, meaning that you have a 1/1200 chance of getting Neymar, Mbappe, van Dijk, De Bruyne, Lewandowski, Ronaldo or Messi. That is the simplest top-line stage and people with the intelligence of porridge (Jonathan Peniket) decided to spend £3,000 and optionally still hasn’t learned that lesson.

In all honesty, I am no fan of Electronic Arts, they made a few errors on several levels and the loot box stage is optionally too exploited, yet it is not gambling. I remain firm on that part. The fact that some are too stupid to be allowed near a Credit Card does not mean that it becomes the fault of Electronic Arts, and if someone state that Electronic Arts needs to do more to temper per person spending that I would not disagree, but it doesn’t make loot boxes gambling. Only when there is a chance that you lose all, that there is no reward at all, then it becomes gambling. 

Gambling to most is “the wagering of money or something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome, with the primary intent of winning money or material goods.” Yet the operative part in gambling is ‘uncertain outcome’, here the outcome is always the same: 1 Rare, 3 Uncommon and the rest are common cards. And when you realise just how big FIFA is, you need to realise from the start that you can never have them all. In most CCG games the games are at best 400-500 cards (without expansions). FIFA has over 6000 players, as such, your ultimate team will always be limited, you need to make the best of this and lets not forget “Better players give you an advantage”, that is true, but only in the field where both gamers are equal and with a person like Jonathan Peniket that is not a given, it is extremely doubtful. You see if he was a true gamer, then he would get the UEFA cup with West Ham United F.C. (if that was his local team) wouldn’t he? In all this posturing we forgot about the gamer involved, didn’t we? Now, I’ll be honest regarding FIFA, I (pretty much) suck at it, I do not like Soccer too much and that is fine, others love it and that is fine too. I loved the 98 edition on the N64, I played FIFA to some extent on an earlier version on the Playstation (the first one) and it was OK, yet I am not into Soccer, NHL is my game and there I see great things, I love the games, I play my dekes (and fail at times too) and I get beat a lot by kids in the US, Canada and Sweden as they live for hockey. I can live with that, they play it 6 hours a day as such, I expect to get beaten and no matter who is in my ultimate team, I am not going to win. It is simple math and the math shows the truth. I still love the game as I am a hockey man, the NHL game grew and over 18 years I have had my share of it. I loved the original version that came with my PS2, I loved NHL03 on Gamecube and so on, I still love my PS4 version of NHL19. I never had to spend $1 on any pack, so I am not complaining (not much for the Ultimate league anyway).

I have a nice collection of cards and I am happy to report that I got all the NHL jerseys and all the arena’s. Yes there is more to the game and I never stopped enjoying the game, I reckon that the same applies to those loving FIFA and apart from the few who cannot fathom limits, everyone is seemingly happy, oh and the fact that Felicity Hannah and Jane Andrews never gave you a list of all the packs you can get for free on a daily basis is also something you need to take notice of, they are all about headlining ‘EA’s response’ and the ramblings of a shopaholic junkie are equally issues that need to be seen. So as we see the article end with “Fifa was approached for comment, but has not yet responded.” We see the little nags that they reflect to be. What was that, a remark towards laying blame on FIFA for allowing for this? The fact that there is concern on what constitutes gambling should be seen as a first, all whilst there is absolutely no guarantee that under Covid-19, there is no way of telling who at FIFA are aware of this. It is seemingly an issue yet The worlds of Electronic Arts “the well-being of players is paramount – and all their games, including Fifa, have the ability to use parental controls provided by gaming platforms to cap or prohibit spend” are underplayed, so we see here that there was a option to ‘cap or prohibit spend’ and when we realise that this was a mere approach to give a vocal stage to someone who should be given lessened consideration as a junkie is setting the stage? Gimme a break!

In the end, yes EA could have optionally done a little more, but how long until we forget the initial setting that the consumer needs to accept responsibility for their actions and stop nagging like a little brat? He was there spending money on pack after pack and that was on him, not on EA. The part of the act was mentioned, yet focussed on the amounts, not the stupidity of the person spending. 

This is merely my view and you are (of course) welcome to disagree. 


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What if they redid it?

I got lucky last week. I stumbled upon Cash converters with a Mass Effect Andromeda (for Xbox One) for $2, even as I had the PS4 edition, replaying it for $2 was just too nice to pass up. There was another reason to not get it for any more than that. I was hugely disappointed with the game. The makers were holding a huge pastry in front of us, only to offer a mere outdated carrot in the end. Still, the graphics were nice, the game remains flawed on several levels and the goals are for the most too linear.

It was at that moment that my mind redesigned the game again (I did that exercise after I finished the PS4 edition). And I wondered about the one question that needed answering. What if I created Mass Effect Andromeda 2 (MEA2), whilst upgrading the first game from a 72% game to a 91% game or better, would you replay it?

In this stage the game would be 3 discs with the first game (mostly), the second disc would be the Nexus and the third disc would be the second game called Mass Effect Andromeda: Debellatio.

First off, the first game would end up being twice the size, the entire memory segments part would be on the Hyperion alone, the Hyperion would be roughly 20 times the current version, whilst the playable part of the Nexus is 10 times larger and the view makes it 200 times the size. The missions of the first game would remain (there would be more of them) and the story would be amped up to give a larger storyline to the Kett, the scourge as well as the Angara. The question is: Would you seriously consider playing it again?

I believe that this could work. The game would be massive on the consoles (200GB), yet the stage created would give close to 200 hours of gameplay. The original touched on great topics and then let them simmer, which was a waste on a few levels. Still, there is really good material to work with and if the maps are enlarged by well over 50% it becomes more of an exploration. We could also fix the flaws in the first version by making the second tier (after the vault is restarted) a lot more challenging and rewarding. The mining part required upgrades, so that there is a direct link in building the nexus and completing it linking it to the resources found and mined. These are all elements that add to the game and add requirements to the need of exploration.

Lastly, the arks, all 4 (with an optional 5th) will be found by the end of the second game, making it part of the main storyline and not some DLC. Consider these elements and ask yourself, would you buy a game at $160 that offers all that? I believe it would, especially when the multiplayer part is upgraded to a Mass Effect 3 level. It could be a new wave of multiplayer hungry admirers, it will of course come with the guarantee that I get to cut off the head of any EA executive that messes with that concept or forces the buying of loot boxes, the Mass Effect 3 formula was utterly perfect, so let’s not ever mess with that again.

It took a mere hour to consider the steps that could get this game from 71% to 91%, and I get it, there are budgets to consider. The question becomes what does an EA executive see as the difference of a budget toward a 70% game versus the one delivering a 90%+ game? I wonder if they can really set a number to that. Consider that the first version was staged by a budget of C$100 million, which included marketing and research costs, whilst I designed in my mind improvements over a mere cappuccino. There is a benefit of having been a part of gaming since 1985, and I believe that I know what pushes a decent game to a great game. If the EA/BioWare executives make that claim, I wonder why they failed the first time, whilst they had 3 examples in front of them and they owned the IP of it.

Even as Forbes gave us in 2017 ‘EA Is Now Singing Mass Effect Andromeda’s Praises As A Revenue Driver‘, yes it is true, but the bulk of all these were people who had played the previous games and hoped for a glimmer of greatness. And a revenue driver sounds nice, but if it cannot be repeated it becomes lost IP, and who ever won a war by losing its IP?

The important part was that the combat part did not suck, it was a good combat system and that is at the core of the success that was and the greatness it could be. There is also a business case to be made, as Anthem is seen as a failure by more and more, we need to recognise that EA desperately needs a win, one that will allow them to be regarded as an AAA developer. The news ‘BioWare Loses Lead Producers for Both Dragon Age 4 and Anthem‘ that got out two weeks ago supports the placement that Bioware (EA as well) are no longer the high end developers they used to be. It is about business and profit at the expense of gaming, a disastrous formula well beyond twice over. I would go as far as stating that until these two players do not learn that lesson, they have lost their ability as an actual game maker.

The fact that there are options for both EA and Bioware is merely a stroke of luck on their part, hugely due to the previous designers who did do an excellent job, even now, one generation later Mass Effect 2 is still seen as one of the best games ever to grace the Xbox 360, moreover, the Xbox One has only produced games that equalled it, optionally with the exception of Assassins Creed Origin, a game that did break all the records.

And even now when we realise that a few months ago we got ‘EA ‘learned a lot’ from Anthem but doesn’t apologize‘ gives us the larger stage, we don’t need their apology, we need them to make an actual game (if they still can, and sport games do not count).

Yet the premise remains, what if the first MEA is added to the second and upgraded, would you pay for it, and would you play it? I personally believe it to be the case, especially when you realise the amount of times the first two games were played to be a nice and a naughty Shepard, optionally 4 times if you wanted to do it all for the ‘he’ as well as the ‘she’ version of the game. The groundwork was decent, but too largely unfinished and the amount of stages where the game failed on a few levels was just mind boggling, Mass Effect 3 had a few of these issues, but not as much, and they were less irritating I might add.


All gamers (including me) we yearn for the high of really good gaming and we want that feeling again and again. It is not just the sound of the achievement; the feeling of getting to the end of the game; and not to forget the entire journey to get to the end. We will go through great lengths to get that feeling again and again, hence the power of the Franchise, even after 5 partial failures, AC Origin made up for that and for the most we feel really happy that we got to that point. Ubisoft has seen this personally, EA might say that they learned, but it is still unlikely that they actually did. For the most EA became a pool of business graduates and there is nothing against that group, yet the business is gaming and not spreadsheets. You might want to keep it for your numbers, yet profit is no valid KPI of joy, the KPI of joy is excellence, it always was joy, Elder Scrolls, Ultima, Fallout, Dark Souls, Witcher, and God of War, not to forget the latest new RPG franchise Horizon Zero Dawn. They all know that excellence is what keeps you in profit, EA (optionally Bioware) forgot about that part and now they are bleeding, the amount of damage cannot be seen, it can only be seen in how they survive and whilst they think that profit and margins are the most important, these two players will miss the ball again and again. This is such a shame because before 2016 the Mass Effect franchise was a great achievement, the question becomes are the makers ready to fight for greatness?

Gamers care for that and even as we realise that others are vying for our attention and our allegiance, they now see that the time of options like Anthem is transient at best, the fact that gamers are willing to pay full price for a well-made remaster of the original three, even now after 10 years is the part that matters. You either rely on old games for a little while or you up the ante. It is at Ubisoft where we see that optionally become reality, even now, as far as we can tell, they went all out on Watchdogs 3: Legion and so far all the response is raving, and the fan club of those wanting to play it in the first hour is still growing non-stop, even after its initial view several months ago. Watchdogs had a speckled past, but they upped their game in the second game and it seems that now, in the third game they up it all in a very different and very novel way, the path a gamer did not see coming, the most enticing drug of all, the surprise path, EA and Bioware should learn from that.

It is important to learn and important to up the game because serious games do that and they are up against a larger community of games, games that will include Cyberpunk 2077, God of War 5, an optional Horizon Zero Dawn 2, Watchdogs 3, all games that have (seemingly) upped gaming and both EA and Bioware will be up against it. If they are to be considered an AAA developer they have to equal and surpass that opposition, a lesson that business graduates often did not learn, it might mirror the US stupidity in the Middle East, it is based on the American standard of ‘Money talks, Bullshit walks‘ it is there that the middle east policy failure shows it for what it is. It is the same in gaming, you need to flaunt it, but to do that, you have got to have it, there is no other way and business graduates are too often of the path: ‘Fake it till you make it‘, it merely keeps you afloat in an ocean of gamers, all well versed swimmers mind you.

I have seen excellence in gaming since 1984, I can recognise it almost instantly and it is not linked to micro transactions. I saw the excellence of Elite on a CBM64 in 1985, is still lives today as Elite Dangerous, 30 years later it creates a large following of over 4 million gamers, not a bad result. There were more games and there are even games that are successes and I missed them, I cannot be everywhere. Yet I have never failed to spot good games and I have seen the path to improve bad games several times. I believe that the Mass Effect Andromeda franchise could be resurrected as a great game; I wonder how far Bioware and EA are willing to go to make that happen.


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Heaven is coming

Last weekend some (including me partially) decided to look at the Deep Dive Video of the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 release. The video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FknHjl7eQ6o) gives fair warnings, and to be honest, I initially decided to not watch all of it. Not because of anything negative. What I saw blew me away in several ways. If you think that CD Project Red broke the mold with Witcher 3, think again, I am watching something that could establish a totally new level of gaming excellence in RPG, optionally an entirely new level of gaming experience altogether. The video gives two play styles, direct and brutal, as well as stealth and hacking. It also gives caution that footage was edited to minimise spoilers, you get to see an advanced stage of the game, seeing characters ahead of schedule, and so I stopped watching soon thereafter the first time around. The little I saw overwhelmed me. This is what gaming excellence looks like; this is what EA, Ubisoft and several others never learned. To get a game this perfect takes time and even now in pre beta mode, this game surpasses anything brought to gaming before. If the story surpasses God of War 4 (and I have no doubt it might) this could optionally be the game of the decade.

The little I saw was that amazing at present; I watched a little more second time around and saw a little more and a lot I never expected. It is in part the Netrunner side that has so many options and both sides that have so much freedom that this game is not merely a game; it is what some might regard replay heaven, two different sides with different ways to get from one place to another. It seems that CD Project Red has taken time to maximise this world.

I would love to know how William Gibson values this game (the writer of the original Neuromancer), I wold love to see him play this game anywhere and comment on the game and how it aligns with his cyberpunk vision (he is after all the father of cyberpunk). I got into his book when EA created Neuromancer, that game on CBM64 was my introduction to Cyberpunk, so to see that concept mature in Cyberpunk 2077 into something beyond I thought possible, and the fact that any game could surpass the expectations of the imagination of any person to this degree is pretty much unheard of.

Yet, that is how it seems to unfold. For the most I will avoid spoilers to the max and I will when commenting on the game, it will be to the engine and control of gameplay and avoid (whenever possible) leaving any spoilers untouched. I believe that games like this require that as a game unfolds shaping the story, the way I saw it as an option also implies that one person’s spoiler is not another one, the implied impact of solo person (visceral combat) versus netrunner (hacker stealth) could be that large and it is rare to see that unfold. There is one additional part and that makes me happy. Cyberpunk is expected to be released 5 months after Death Stranding and that makes me happy (I feel certain that Kojima agrees), never before has Kojima faced an opponent on his level of gaming experience. The fact that there is genuine concern whether Death Stranding (Kojima) or Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Project RED) is the best is a new level of gaming. Never before was there any competitor going up against Kojima at the same time. The fact that CD Project RED could seemingly equal and optionally surpass Japanese gaming excellence is a new bar on gaming standards and it has been set to the highest possible level, the final days of XB1 and PS4 are going to be awesome, especially in 4K, what a way to end a console cycle!

Be properly alerted that only non-gamers and those who cannot game would avoid these two titles, or better stated the titles that will be on their system only (Death Stranding is exclusive PS4), and let’s not forget that as it seems to be now, the makers of Witcher 3 surpassed what they did there and that game ended up being a 93% result. A stronger message towards Ubisoft to focus more clearly on gaming excellence could not exist.


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Victimising criminals

OK, this is not the latest news. I got the news 2 days ago, but I was slightly too angry to deal with Zoe Kleinman directly. It all started with ‘My son spent £3,160 in one game‘, the headline was already an indication that I was dealing with a stupid person, which in itself is not a crime, yet when we are given: “I have a 22 year-old disabled son, who has cerebral palsy, complex epilepsy, autism, learning difficulties and the approximate cognitive ability of a seven-year-old child. He is unable to do any bilateral activities so relies heavily on his iPad and PlayStation for entertainment and educational activities

Yes, there is always some excuse and the dog ate my homework is right there on top reasoning here. ‘He has recently been playing a game on his iPad called Hidden Artifacts‘, yes this is part one and part 2 is “He has been charged £3160.58 between 18 February and 30 May 2019, clearing out his entire savings“.
It is an interesting excuse because the question: ‘How do I block purchases on my iPad?‘ is answered in three steps:

  1. On the iOS device, open the Settings screen. Tap General, and then tap Restrictions.
  2. Tap the option to Enable Restrictions. Enter and then re-enter a Restrictions passcode.
  3. By default, all of the apps and services are allowed. To disallow in-app purchases, tap on its button.

So, people can download free games, play free games, but cannot spend money to purchase. The fact that this is not a new answer but it has been there for years, moreover, I still have the very first iPad and the functionality is there too makes this a bit of a cry story. Unlike the previous story on FIFA (which I am about to get to), this was about a person’s savings and as the person is in the described situation, it could have been prevented if the parents were more on the ball, the fact that there is no casual investigation of his bank account on a weekly basis, to check if nothing funny was going on is also a parental failure to some degree.

The basic foundation that there is no ‘free’ in free gaming does not appear to sink in to the minds of people who think that gaming should be free, there is always a price to pay, it is either through captured data, or it will be through micro transactions. We can agree that many do not use that option, and they will stop soon thereafter as the frustration algorithm kicks in making the game harder and harder. Some will spend some cash and then there are a few that go overboard. Yet in all this the makers did nothing legally wrong, they should have set the limit to max spending to look better, but they did nothing wrong, the parents failed in this case and the parents keep on failing to a much larger degree.

It is the second part that is more striking. We are introduced to EA NBA, where we get: “He used my bank card and I didn’t realise until I had a payment declined. He accessed the app via Google Play. EA made no response to me and Google Play has a disclaimer about kids using parents’ bank details without permission“, so this 16 year old stole from his parents and the parents lets the other kid pay for it. OK, that was slightly unfair, but the case remains, this is a simple case of theft and EA has no blame here.

Yet there is another side, and it is found in the same article by Zoe Kleinman. Even as the stage is almost the same, in one case, the case of that dastardly Mini Golf King, we see an important fact that is important. The game was classified as PEGI 3, now we have something to slap the makers (and Google) with. The law could force a change that in game purchasing cannot be allowed to games that are below PEGI 12, so the games that are PEGI 3 and PEGI 7 should not have any in game transactions, other than rewards for watching advertisement. In this the Pan European Game Information failed its consumers miserably and that could have been avoided. Although I am willing to put some question marks at the quote: “this game successfully tricked him into spending £300 on in-app purchases“, the stage of deceptive conduct towards minors should be investigated by PEGI and Google, if it is supported the game should be barred and pulled, also, the change towards PEGI 3 and PEGI 7 should be made immediately. We can definitely argue that these two PEGI ratings (with a green background, to make it seem safer) should not have anything resembling in game purchases, other than optional additions that much be bought at a one-time price (like mulligan refresh every 24 hours), I am certain that parents will have no issue adding the £1-5 as a one-time expense. The truth is that no game is ever free and that should be advocated much louder.


Yup time to go back to FIFA, there are two points, the first thing is that you cannot make EA guilty by victimising your little criminal. Although in this particular setting there is a sage of doubt whether they were fully aware, but it seems that they knew they did something wrong. As we see: “Mr Carter, from Hampshire, admits that he did not take full precautions to limit access to his Nintendo account: he did not use a unique Pin number and the emailed receipts were sent to an old email address with a full inbox“, I am on the side of the parent to some degree. Yes, this was an error in judgement and we all have them, I for one once fell for the witch Teresa Palmer until I learned that she married the actual original Scott Pilgrim 5 years ago. You see that is a guy who went up against the world to get one girl, I salute him, to the victor goes the spoils, and as I looked into the eyes of that witch one more time (they were sapphire blue, sniff sniff) I moved on.

We all make errors in judgement to the father I advice that never use a credit card, just buy some credit for the game, you can buy system credit for Nintendo Switch for Microsoft Xbox, and for Sony PlayStation, ranging from £20 to £50, you can buy in game stuff, renew subscriptions, buy DLC and at no time are your credit card details out in the open. All five (Apple and Google have that too) they had this option from almost the very beginning and it allows you to limit expenses and keep your details safe, a solution that works well, most articles never mentioned that part, did they?

Then there is the other part, where we see all the fire and hardship on kids trying to buy Lionel Messi, all criminals that are being victimised. And I particularly like it on how the BBC phrases it: ‘the contents are only revealed after payment is completed‘, it makes the BBC equally deceptive. When I see phrases like: “A 32-year-old FIFA player from the UK spent more than $10000 on FIFA in two years without realizing it“, I merely see a stupid individual that has no concept of purchase, no concept of value and no regard for credit cards (or his credit rating), he was his own worst enemy and he is not alone, in all that EA was not to blame, we are responsible for our actions.


I myself am not a soccer fan, I always saw it as two monkeys in a cage and 20 fools chasing some ball, OK this is not my most eloquent moment, I admit. I am into real games (NHL) and the FIFA card setting is there too, yet like in the other games there might be differences between these two.

As I know it, FIFA gives a daily gift though logging in: “Every day you do it, you get free coins or a free pack. If you forget to log in you lose the offer of that day. The daily gift expires every day at midnight (UK time) and then it starts a new one“, it is different from NHL where you get a free pack every 8 hours. However, every pack has a token, and over a month these tokens give you a bronze, a silver pack and a gold pack. Every pack will have something and a random amount of coins between 100 and 1250 coins (largest amount I ever got). Within 3 months I had every NHL jersey (both home and away), every stadium, as well as all the NHL goalie masks and of course a truck load of players. Over time I got the jerseys from the Canadian League and a few more and I never had to spend anything. I could, but did not have to do that. On the other side, I have no real legendary players to speak off (I have around a dozen 90+ players), none of the Capitals (My favourite team). Am I upset? No! I have a great game that is fun to play, some parts I do not like, but plenty are great fun and NHL 19 is the best of them all (some dekes are just too finicky, I did not like that part), but overall a great game. I reckon that FIFA is similar. In addition, by playing the game, I unlock coins (no charge) and players, OK you need to get your game up, but those players come at no expense. Now there is a part I did not like in FIFA, you can buy an ultimate addition, which was $10-$20 more at the beginning, however it was digital only and it did include 2 gold packs a week for 20 weeks, each pack had 26 cards, 3 rare cards and a minimum of 6 players that times 2 every week for 20 weeks, so it is worth the extra, I merely hate digital downloads (this is just me), there is of course always a side to nag about and that is fair, but it is still value (for some) and more important it is not gambling!

How so, no gambling?

To explain this, we need to make two jumps, the first is to card games this entire concept was started by Wizards of the Coast with a game called Magic. In case of their other game Netrunner we see a box are 36 packs, each pack has one rare, 4 uncommon cards and 10 common cards. Consider that the game has 374 cards, 100 rare, 125 uncommon and 149 common cards. So in that setting 3 booster boxes, would make a complete set, the truth is no, but for the most it fits. 36 rare cards and three boxes means 108 rare cards, yet you will get doubles, so you need to find another person to switch rare cards and complete your set. The math also plays a part, you have one rare, but 1% of a chance (1/100) to get a specific rare, and in the end you get 108 times 1% (which is not 108%) to get a specific complete set. In this case the amount of uncommon and common cards you get will be completed 98% for certain (commons 100% complete). There is a chance you might miss out on 1-5 uncommon cards, but they are usually easy to swap, it is the rare cards that make for the difference.

So, why is it not gambling?

Because you always win, you always get cards and you always get the same distribution, so those with plenty of fellow friends who play will get their collection complete, it is not the one player buying the three boxes, it is the 50 players doing that who play the same game that level the playing field. It becomes gambling when the booster pack is empty and you only get a ‘thank you card‘, that never happens, you always got the 15 cards and the same can be said for FIFA and NHL. The packs you buy will always have a distribution, have certain content. the fact that it might not have Messi, Pele, Cruijf, Beckham or Bale, but you get players, players that you can trade, yet there will always be an issue, not every player will get a Messi, there are 211 countries connected to FIFA, 11 players per team, which gives us 2321 players. Now we get it that not all countries are in FIFA 19, but you are starting to get the picture, if every nation has 2 legendary players, or one player and one goalie, we are looking at one hell of a collection you need. And FIFA 19 is true to its word, it has 30 leagues and over 700 playable teams, so we have a setting of well over 1400 players that the bulk will want and desire. Now, we get that Scandinavians have no interest in some of the Latin teams, but you bet your life that they all want the classical Pele (nowadays Suarez/Maradona) card. This creates another mess on a few levels and even as it is not gambling there is a collector’s pressure in play.

Media is guilty, EA too

The media is also guilty of propelling this pressure, not in the least with the accusations and pressing for a larger visibility of criminals being placed as victims, the game intensifies when you look at the hundreds of YouTubers adding pressures for their own need for visibility following and reputation. You merely have to search FIFA 19 in YouTube to see the mess it creates by the vocals of subjectivity on what they think is fair and not, what is sic and mundane. This all creates an unreal dimension of fake imagination. And in all this EA tries to create hype after hype and becomes the evil it should be preventing. In addition, we see a lack of exposure by the media on that part on a few levels.

So as we look at the origin of CCG cards, we learn from the very beginning that these games all have checklists, so that you know what you have, and what you are missing. EA never gave out that list; as such they are propelling the stage that works against them. Not one list of what cards there are, merely what is optionally in a pack. EA should have been clear upfront on which cards are in the game, and they have (as far as I can tell) never done that, yet when they propagate their 700 teams, they should have added digital checklists and on which players are bronze, silver and gold and we do not see that part. EA failed its fans!

EA should have set up a Wiki page from day one, giving us lists too download so that we can see what is what, but they also realise that the list will blow he socks off every player realising the daunting task and there for did not do that (as far as I could tell). That is perhaps the one deceptive part on the side of EA as I can tell.

So why the card reference?

The origins are important, it makes us comprehend where it all came from and in this specific case, Wizards of the Coast, there is also another side, it is seen with the game Netrunner.

That game was re-released as Android Netrunner with a big difference. The starter kits and expansions are all identical. So as you buy an expansion you got all the cards, no rare cards, no uncommon cards and no common cards, the base set has a set and the expansions (one box with 60 cards) ever month, so as long as you had the expansion, you had every card and you all had a level playing field, even as some tactics would never require any additions, having the additions allowed for tactical options you might really like. So as EA switches from one set to another, selling a factory set of KNVB (Dutch), AllSvenskan (Swedish), BundesLiga (German) and so on, the national players could get all the players for let’s say €5 for country and down the track for €10, European, Latin America, Asia, Africa and so on. Yet the money in this shape is too inviting and EA is unlikely to change, yet we can force on part, for EA to set up an open list of every card that can be acquired, consumables, outfits players and so on. When the player realises how huge this list is, it might temper spending and change the way these games are addressed. I remain on the fence and denouncing this as gambling, but the fact on how many cards there are should be clearly stated, so far I cannot see a real comprehensive list anywhere. The media failed us all by not looking at that part. Even as there is a FUT database giving us: “The EA SPORTS FUT Database is a complete catalogue of Players in FUT. You can search for Players by their nationality“, I want to see a pdf with a complete list (which will be hundreds of pages I reckon), so that every player see clearly what they are in for, not some implied number, but a complete list to browse, when they all realise just how large it is and how insane it is to think you ever get all the players, or a specific legendary one, at that point it will clearly sink in how much money is involved. The EA site (at https://www.easports.com/au/fifa/ultimate-team/fut/database) does give you the option to search the ‘gold list’ and that does merely give the total of 2189 players and 220 goalies that are golden cards that make up for merely that part of the list, yet a better visibility of exactly how large that list is seems absent in many places that are so bound to push for the gambling tag.

So tell me, what media gave proper light to that part of the equation?

I am not saying that EA cannot sell cards, I still think it is not gambling, but the completionist part will never be realistic and that too is a problem, we might not have all players at our back and call, not in FIFA, not in NHL, but pushing for a dream team in a $90 game, when it requires $12,000 to get every player is equally insane and not realistic. We should add the limelight to that too. Yet I do remain on the team that does not call this gambling and EA might consider to create a factory set of all these players (non-tradeable) after 6 months of initial release, if they truly want to be seen as a decent company, a phase that they are still in denial off at present.

So we have plenty of issues, but to a decent extent they are not the gaming baba-yega, at least not when it comes to FIFA and NHL, other games might require deeper scrutiny and optionally an overhaul.


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The shows on E3 (part one)

Jedi Fallen order, which looked pretty amazing, I saw several parts, a few questions did rise, but as this is merely a pre alpha part, I will wait until there is a final version. It did what it had to do, amazed gamers and as such Fallen Order succeeded 100%. A little additional caption is that the droid is the cutest Star Wars droid ever.

There was more Battlefield 5, FIFA and Madden 20 and Sims 4. Basically more of the same and for the fans of that type of game, that is good. With FIFA it came across as a lot of bla bla consistency bla bla technical improvement on one on one with keeper bla bla bla. OK, I am not a FIFA fan (no soccer fan either), what I took from the game that the claimed in game capture did look better than previous versions of FIFA. Graphically all these games looked top notch, there is no denying that.

Madden_Cover_SocialI will not touch it further was my initial setting; however that was before the Madden 20 presentation was given. There we see a lot more than just good graphics.

Abilities, X-Zone, The fact that a signature is linked to one quarterback is not just a game changer, it makes for choices to stage the gameplay you want and then you still need to be good enough to make that play. It will raise the game and to get such a surprise after 20 years of Madden is pretty impressive. So, ever as EA did not have a lot to offer, what they offered was up there.

Still, when we look at the overall part EA did not overwhelm, and with one actual new game (Fallen Order), it seems that there is not a lot to look forward to, in my case the absence of NHL20 is a little lame, but that is the nature of the game. With a presentation set around 6 titles where 4 are merely expansions or annual renewals gives us not a lot to work with. The presentation was too much of a ‘Yo Bro!‘ gig, which is a choice. Overall I will give that presentation a solid 70%.

Next will be Microsoft and after that Bethesda so this article will be updated on Tuesday.



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Comprehension amok

We get it, some games are flawed, and some games go for the image of coolness and fail. We heard it well over 12,324 times, through articles and YouTube videos. Anthem, a game that is not bad is a failure. Some have a deeper idea, was this due to EA, or to Bioware? The issue is that the makers were no beginners. Bioware, the people behind the Mass Effect series, Dragon Age and a few more had a great track record. Even now, Mass Effect 2 is still one of the very best games to make it to any console ever, which is some achievement, and it remains a factor, even today.

Some give the decent feedback ‘a cool looking game that is not bad, but it is not getting us where we want to be‘. I can get along with it. Then I got a hold of a slide which is more important than you might ever realise. Another quote that matters is: ‘Anthem is an example of EA’s monetisation plans in action‘, we now have two settings that can easily make a game go from acceptable to really really bad. This matters when it is not merely a game you buy, but when it becomes Gaming As A Service. The issue is not how much you pump into it; it is how right you need to get it the first time over. They dropped one optional solution to it (not part of this conversation) and focussed on the artificially created Hype called Anthem.

I had seen issues with Destiny, so I was giving this game a wide birth until the game had proven itself and within 24 hours, the massive amount of complaints starting to hit the internet in close to every way possible. I was actually decently amazed how neutral and how considerate some reviewers were. the AngryJoeShow was its usual self, but for mere entertainment watching it is still the first step to consider, I do to see where haters come from, and he does not disappoint (a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AJsKyh0x7w). When we see the statement (supported by evidence of sorts) that the loading of the game took longer than the actual gameplay, we see just how far Bioware had fallen of the wagon, or was that EA? Angry Joe gives a list that does not screw around. This does not merely indicate that there is a core issue, there are other parts linked to the core that give strong indication that EA failed on too many levels, optionally Bioware also failed on several levels, yet in all this we need to take a look at a screenshot.

When you make a game where jet packs are central in the gameplay, the makers need to consider that some people think outside of the box. So when we are in a cave and we see a large opening, large enough to fly through, so when you try and you get slapped back for no good reason, we see the first larger failing, the tactical side that was not thought through. Levels made on cosmetic states where the state of consideration should only ever have been tactical, so either remove the good looking hole giving you ambient feelings of lighting, or make sure we can use it as an escape cover. The second screenshot was early art work I was able to find. Now, I do not know whether that is in the game, but it seems to me that it is a clear sign of copyright violation and an optionally downright stage of plagiarism.

For some reason the stage reminded me of Alien 1979 and Aliens 1986, but then I might be wrong. If that is set as early concept art, it should have been a huge wake up call for both Bioware and EA, right there is where people had to consider the danger they were walking into.

Yet, for me this is not about those failings, for me there is another side, there are actually two sides. We see that with the GAAS image. The two elements that were there above all others were Player Centric and Lifetime value. Al the indications shown by so many people give us that these two were not merely ignored, they were not comprehended by the people trying to sell the idea, and they added catchwords to sell the money maker, without comprehending the impact it had, that is how I see it.

Player Centric comes from Customer centric. Yet there we see in one place: “Customer centric is a way of doing business with your customer in a way that provides a positive customer experience before and after the sale in order to drive repeat business, customer loyalty and profits. But, a customer-centric company is more than a company that offers good service. A place like Amazon is a prime examples of brands that are customer centric and have spent years creating a culture around the customer and their needs“, and when we consider that part, we see that Anthem would not have passed the Alpha stage at present before August 2019, that alone means that of the 6 elements, one is a 80% failure, making the game 17% less effective right of the bat. The additional testing and reconnaissance of the game in real live server environment would have shown 4 essential elements to be too far below par. The load screens, the loot, the tactical setting of the map(s) and the story-lines, storytelling as well as the interactive parts (those three all count towards the story dimension).

Here we see the failing of the presented Player Centric part. This also impacts the second element, namely ‘Lifetime Value’. The moment the player centric parts were hit, ‘Litetime Value’ was equally hit, but to a much larger extent. It is clear that proper testing would have ousted many of the elements, as such it stands to reason that either the makers BE-A (my optimistic version of this merger) never cared, or did not properly do the essential testing and fixing. All what I have seen (console versions only) indicates that it could have become a nice game when it gets to the beta stage; the game is nowhere near that ready. The graphics look good, but good graphics on a failed core is still a failed game.

Say What?

that is where the issue starts, a game that does not look bad and has potential is in the GAAS (Gaming As A Service) still a failed project when it does not meet certain expectations and Anthem fails a few of them. Even as I was never a fan of this genre, I see issues that I should never have noticed and those are really badly managed issues.

Still we should acknowledge that it is a failed, but not a bad game, which also implies that what went wrong, could optionally be fixed, yet when we get to the loot part, we see just how far the model failed. The loot is mentioned by several to be massively repetitive, in the stage of this game where the weapons are shown we see too much repetition making the loot way too bland, so when we look at this part against ‘High User Engagement‘, over a period of 6 years, we see that the third part fails too, at least when we consider player expectation. In all this when we see that other elements can only be bought, we see the drive towards Recurring Revenue Business, a side that will not be successful as three elements have already failed for too much. At that point the game has gone from 83% to a mere 41% effective as a GAAS experiment, a stage that could have been avoided to a much larger extent if it had only been tested better, stronger and with more diligence.

They did get the graphics right, and it looks cool, but there again we see that a real GAAS solution is so much more and the fact that one of their alleged slides show the failures to this degree, we see that gamers should be upset. A game like this could not be sold in any other way than an open BETA, optionally an open BETA that is for those who have pre-ordered (and pre-paid the game) offering these people unique gear and weapons, for their effort, that might have worked, giving them additional options would have made things even better and it would all have been in support of ‘Recurring Revenue Business‘, as well as ‘Multi-Platform Business‘, gamers love that shit. To be regarded as official beta testers upping the game to such an extent? Gamers would buy the game for the mere notion (as long as it comes with actual unique gear).

So as we see this game and the game maker we see that comprehension went amok on a few levels, in this I would point the finger at EA (for the most) yet the stage of whomever let this game slip towards the ‘approved for release’ that person should never ever be allowed anywhere near the gaming industry ever.

In the end I wonder if they have seen the Single Player GAAS opportunity that Mass Effect Andromeda would enable for. That is if they ever get a visionary to call the shots on that part of the equation, because if they fix up that game, they could have the stage of ‘High User Engagement‘ that surpasses 110%, which would be a legendary achievement to say the least.

If there is one accomplishment that does stand out beyond the graphics then it is the person who decided that hiring Sarah Schachner was a good idea. She created two pieces, AC: Origin and Anthem both soundtracks that make you wonder if they were even made by the same person and she hits the ball straight out of Fenway Park, twice in a row mind you. Two soundtracks that were utterly amazing, yes, the Music of Anthem does exceed all human expectations (merely my view, but I stand by it); as such I expect to see more great work from her in the future. If EA and Bioware can get the rest right, they might have a chance to survive this expensive overpriced, wrongly focussed ordeal called Anthem.

The EA shareholders would definitely be appreciative of that notion.


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Warring consoles

There are a few wars to look at, but the setting for the consoles is one that is shifty as hell. I have been outspoken against a certain brand whose name starts with ‘M‘ and ends with ‘icrosoft‘ for a few reasons, but that is not what it is about. It starts with the Sato. A writer for Siliconera giving us the sales of consoles for last week. The systems that matter for the week of 10th to the 16th of September in this are Nintendo Switch that sold 38,738 consoles, down from 43,513 last week. The PS4 12,057 down from 12,281 last week, the Xbox One 58, up from 19 last week, the PS4 pro 4,959 down from 7,442 and the Xbox One X 159 up from 30 last week (Japanese sales numbers). So we can go with the fact that Microsoft is the only one on the rise. We can go with the optional truth that Microsoft consoles (plural) merely represent 0.5% of the Nintendo Switch sales. I did not even consider News Nintendo DS systems in all this, the number would become laughingly small (and blow away whenever you open a window), if it has not done that already. Microsoft Xbox One systems are a mere 3% of the PlayStation 4 systems and that is not a good thing either (for Microsoft that is). Yet we must also acknowledge that Nintendo is a force of nature at present. You see, at present the Nintendo Switch might merely be at 45% of all the PS4 systems sold (normal and Pro), the fact that they did this in under 2 years is an amazing achievement and there is no stopping Nintendo. I expect that they will break additional records at both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year (as well as the Saint Nicholas festivities in one or two places).

It goes even further when we see the Nintendo games exploding on the screens when it comes to the revenue. This year alone, the revenue for Nintendo went up by a cool 100% to a net value of almost 10 billion dollars, that is a massive achievement in gaming and their growth is still enduring. With online play being free and Fortnite still on the rise and with 30 titles still arriving before the end of the year. It seems to me that Nintendo figured something out and Microsoft is paying a high price for the wisdom gained (Sony gets hurt too but much less).

So whilst Xbox UK is still hiding behind what I would clearly define as ‘deceptive conduct’, they might think that it is ‘innovative thinking’ we are merely confronted with a once growing game maker that is now becoming obsolete in its thinking.

So why deceptive conduct?

You see, the people were confronted with a tweet a mere three days ago. The tweet: “Play 500+ Classic Xbox & Xbox 360 titles on your Xbox One today… totally for free“, yet when we read down the tweets, we see the hitch. We see: “If you already own them – no need to buy again! Just download or put the disc in, and away you go“, news that is 2 years old and we are still confronted with a digital department that just does not get it. They did not tell us “We have upgraded our backwards compatibility program to 500+ games“, no that would be too honest. No we get: “Play 500+ Classic Xbox & Xbox 360 titles on your Xbox One today… totally for free“, it is not merely deceptive conduct, it is what I would personally call an open blatant lie. You see: “totally for free” would have been the setting if pre-owning the game was not a requirement, so some purchase was required, giving the setting one that is a an outright lie, as I personally see it.

Getting back to the sales I mentioned earlier, we need to realise that this is not global. The numbers come from merely a Japanese source, sales in Japan. Yet the setting is still clear (to some degree), Nintendo is here to stay and it is growing its influence on a global scale and when we see the mere achievement of 58 Xbox One systems over a week in a nation that is around 130 million people, whilst some sources give us that 50% of them are into gaming. We do not have a comprehensive data file that gives us a more complete picture. Yet we see that there are around 700 million online gamers, which is well over 40% of the online population, when you consider that, we see that the numbers and the setting is massively important. Venturebeat gave us in the past that spend per person is Japan (#1) with $120 per person, the US (#3) with $62 the UK and Australia in 4th and 5th, whilst they are on equal footing with $62 and $55 per person. So at that point do you still think that all this misrepresented loot box mess is merely about gambling? So when we were given: ‘Australian Senate inquiry extended after study calls loot boxes ‘psychologically akin to gambling’‘ merely three days ago as well as both “The Australian Senate inquiry into micro-transactions is taking into consideration a large-scale study that claims “loot boxes” are psychologically akin to gambling“, as well as “The paper is the result of a paid online survey among 7422 gamers. Curiously, over 6000 responses to the survey were discarded because the answers were either not serious or incomplete“, which is interesting because I never saw that link in any place and I have been a gamer since 1984, long before the word ‘gamer’ was cool. The article is actually good and gives us one part that I can stand behind: “recommends adjustments to the current game classification system advising “parental advisories for games that feature loot boxes” as well as “a descriptor outlining that the game itself features gambling content”“. I would be willing to take it one step further. I would demand that there are two additional parts. The first is that there needs to a clear path where we can earn loot boxes for free (not unlike the Mass Effect 3 setting), in addition we need to see a clear sticker on the front of the box stating that ‘no loot boxes are required to play or complete the game‘ Several games have clearly stated that in the past, yet adding this on the front of the cover is not the worst idea.

I still disagree that it is gambling, yet having a clear mention that loot boxes are set to chance and optionally the chances of getting a certain rarity is not the worst idea either. And in all this, the console war is now setting to a much larger stage, even as they all (partially correctly) point their finger at EA Games. Ubisoft has unlockable content (at a price as well, yet they ALWAYS clearly stated ‘this item can be unlocked through regular gameplay‘ as well. So it is not immoral that they offer it as an initial unlock for $5, it merely shows us that that person is not really a gamer, merely a player.

In this there is more to Ubisoft; it is clearly seen in their Assassins Creed games. Going back to Assassins Creed 2, they had the Ubiclub. You can buy things there. Unlocking premiums and extra’s (skins, backgrounds, outfits and weapons), to buy them you play the games and when you get to a stage, like completing a set of conditions, making it to a certain point in the game you get points, these points re kept in you profile and you can unlock them for any Ubisoft game you have, giving you more and more by merely playing. It opens up the need to complete, the drive to achieve and the option to get cool things. Here I clearly state: ‘Well done Ubisoft!‘ and this is still an ongoing stage with badges and cool stuff with every additional game that they release. So as I state that loot boxes are not gambling, I am for the most not against the setting: ‘Study urges games with Loot Boxes to be Restricted to Players old enough to Gamble‘, which is not the same. The question is not merely on how to check it; the issue will soon be that abuse is harder to check. Even if they cannot be merely bought online, even when the loot box cash needs to be bought in the store, we will see the irresponsible act of the parent giving in to ‘junior’ buying more and more loot boxes. It is important to raise the issue as more and more consoles are confronted with games that depend on loot boxes, and that is not nearly the beginning. We see part of this in Eurogamer (at https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018-07-23-fifa-player-uses-gdpr-to-find-out-everything-ea-has-on-him-realises-hes-spent-over-usd10-000-in-two-years-on-ultimate-team), when we are given “Michael was sent a data dump by EA via two PDF files each over 100 pages long. This amounted to a huge number of files, which include engagement data, FIFA 18 stats, device information and more than 10 audio files (these are recordings of his calls to EA support). It also included details of every player Michael bought and sold over the past two years in FUT“, so beyond the setting of “EA also provided data relating to how much real world money (in dollars) Michael had spent on FIFA Points, and he told Eurogamer he was “gobsmacked” to discover he’d spent over $10,000 in just two years“. Apart from the fact that you are losing your screws, the mere fact that you are not aware wasting cash to such a degree is one part, yet in this, the part that everyone ignores is “30 days later, Michael was sent a data dump by EA via two PDF files each over 100 pages long. This amounted to a huge number of files, which include engagement data“. I never played FIFA, yet when Microsoft remained in denial that 5 GB in 10 days was uploaded without my consent or knowledge into the Azure cloud, they merely pointed at the internet provider and stated that this is their responsibility (whilst I had not played any multiplayer games), and now we see what EA collects, in all this, the collected data is not an issue in any of this?

And the console wars are not done, not by a close margin. This goes beyond which system is popular, with system has loot boxes. This is about data and with all these systems being online and optionally ending up collecting personal data, there is a larger for not merely gamers and players. It is about classifying people and the setting of how bankable have we become? We saw this a few months ago with ‘Esports streamers and gamers are among the most bankable influencers, pitching to a new generation of consumers that don’t track traditional‘, it is about finding money people, those who propel the brand and when we realise that we seem to have a few additional problems and the fact that no attention is given to that part in the equation is equally a problem.


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Way of the Dodo

Tariffs are nothing new, these things have existed for the longest time. I grew up where that was a given, so in my youth, only the rich bought a Harley, a Chrysler or a Chevy. I still remember walking to the shop in Rotterdam and look at all those awesome vehicles through the windows (I was too young to drive in those days), many grew their passion that way. It seems odd that living next to the country that made Volkswagen and Mercedes, we wanted a Blazer, a Harley or another American car. Nowadays, the petrol guzzlers they used to be wouldn’t make it today in Europe. So when we see: ‘EU tariffs force Harley-Davidson to move some production out of US‘, I merely see a stage setting to the old ways. The Guardian gives us loads of information as the market slides, as the shift of production and the changing of the US stock market. That is the direct visible impact of the Trade wars. Australia had this setting a few years earlier as the car industry packed up and left Australia for more exploitative settings in Asia. In the booming market that is stated to exist, we see ‘Harley: EU tariffs will cost $100m/year in short term‘ (source: the Guardian). this is a war the US president started and he forgot that companies, especially US ones, have one focus, short term ROI and a trade war changes the hats of many corporations overnight. This is seen to some degree as Bloomberg treated us to ‘Bigger Booby Trap for U.S. Economy‘. We get introduced to “Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on June 20 that officials are beginning to hear that companies are postponing investment and hiring due to uncertainty about what comes next” (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-24/trump-s-trade-war-sets-bigger-booby-trap-for-strong-u-s-economy). It is what is sometimes referred to as the corporate mindset, the consideration that tomorrow is not going to be any better for now. In all this the US hides behind “tax cuts power both consumer and company spending. That would be the strongest in almost four years and twice as fast as the first quarter’s annualized advance of 2.2 percent“, yet the US seems to forget that tax cuts also means that infrastructures are falling apart, the US has a debt it cannot seem to pay and the debt keeps on rising. This in a nation where the national debt has surpassed $21 trillion (103% of GDP), whilst in addition the statistics show that the US faces a setting where the debt per taxpayers is $175K opposing a revenue per taxpayer is merely $27K, a $148K per taxpayer shortfall, that is not the moment when tax cuts have any clear momentum, because the moment the infrastructures start failing, at that point their momentum seizes. Even as Nariman Behravesh the IHS Markit’s Macroeconomic Adviser give us “If they keep down this path, all the positive effects of the tax cut will be gone“, it is worse than that. This gives the indirect implication that unemployment rates will go up giving additional ‘attack’ against the US infrastructure. All this seems to become a direct result of the tug of war between tariffs and protectionism. The BBC gives the best light (at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-43512098), when we consider ‘Five reasons why trade wars aren’t easy to win‘. In this we see (not all five added):

  1. Tariffs may not actually boost steel and aluminium jobs much. The question becomes, how much of a boost would be possible, and is this proven or still merely speculation?
  2. Tariffs are likely to raise costs in the US, so the cost of the product will be increased as these CEO’s do not want to take it out of their margins, so it will be bookkept in another place, the consumer has to pay for all these charges in the end.
  3. Tariffs could hurt allies and prompt retaliation, which is already the case and when you consider that the two largest deliverers of steel are Canada and the EU, the move does not make that much sense. So we see a tariff war that will be about exemptions. In that regard, the tariff war is a bust where the companies hit will be facing a rock and a hard stand on tariffs, this is shown by a few clever people to move part of their operation to Europe, and Harley Davidson is merely the first of several to make that move.
  4. China has options, this is the big one. The US blames China for flooding the market with cheap steel and aluminium and has already stepped up protective measures against Chinese steel products. In opposition, US businesses, including those in the car, tech and agriculture industries, are eager to get into the Chinese market, giving leaders there some leverage. So in the end, the tariff war is not strangling US businesses to fan out to the Chinese market, as exemptions are gained here, the tariff war becomes close to pointless and it merely drove down the economy. This last part is not a given and cannot be proven until 2019, which could null and void any chance of President Trump getting a second term, in addition, if this is not going to be a slam dunk win for the Democrats, the Republicans better have a strong case, because 2020 is the one election where the chances for winning by Jeb Bush (Florida) and Ann Coulter (Florida) seems to be a better option than re-electing the current president. Who would have thought that in 2016? It becomes hilarious when you consider that 2020 is the year that Marco Rubio declined to run, only to give the presidency to Ann Coulter. My sense of humour needs to point that out, whether it becomes reality or not.

The previous part is important to consider, not for the matter of who becomes president, but the setting that the economy is in such a state where we all see the proclamation ““Anyone who thinks the economy is being wrecked doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a June 21 Bloomberg Television interview“. We accept the fact that he states that, yet everyone seems to overlook that the debt also gives an annual interest that is close to $100 per taxpayer, now consider that 80% of the population is in the 15% or 10% bracket. So from their taxation we see a maximum of $755 where 13% goes straight to the paying of the interest, when you are in the higher bracket 3% is lost. So before anything else is done up to 16% is lost and that accounts for 80% of the population, merely because no budgets were properly kept, the US infrastructure lost up to 16% straight from the start, that is the undermining of an infrastructure that also fuels the economy which it can no longer do. You see behind this is the IP, or as the US calls it the IP theft by China. I am uncertain if we can agree. I am not stating that it does not happen, I merely look at the Dutch examples from Buma/Stemra in the 90’s and their numbers were flawed, perhaps even cooked. They never made sense and after that we have seen ‘political weighting‘ of numbers that were debatable from the start.

So when we look back to 2017, we see the NY Times giving us: “Intellectual-property theft covers a wide spectrum: counterfeiting American fashion designs, pirating movies and video games, patent infringement and stealing proprietary technology and software“, yet I have seen these accusations in Europe and the numbers never added up. So when we see: “Central to Chinese cybersecurity law is the “secure and controllable” standard, which, in the name of protecting software and data, forces companies operating in China to disclose critical intellectual property to the government and requires that they store data locally. Even before this Chinese legislation, some three-quarters of Chinese imported software was pirated. Now, despite the law, American companies may be even more vulnerable“. It will happen, yet to what degree does it happen? What evidence is there? Consider the setting when we think of students. Students tend to have one of the harshest budgets to live on. Let’s take 100 students and they all decided to duplicate (read: borrow) the latest album from Taylor Swift ‘Reputation’ (it is easier to imagine it when the victim is a beautiful blonde who only recently stopped being a teenager). Now, basically she lost $2390 in revenue, yet is that true? How many would have actually bought the album? Let’s say 10% of all students are real fans and they would have bought the album (when not confronted with the choice of food versus entertainment), so the actual loss is $239. Now, this is still a loss and she is entitled to take action here. Yet the people making a living in the facilitation industry will demand the loss be set to $2390 that is where the numbers do not add up! There is the setting of eagerness to hear an album versus the need to have the album. We are all driven with the need to hear the album and some will buy it. This opposes several views and whilst the implied copied work allegedly is done so in the hundreds of thousands, the evidence is not there to support it. That is where weighted forecasts are the setting and it is an inaccurate one. So in all this, from the IP point of view, do we have 23,675,129 C# programmers, or merely 24 million people who wanted to take a look at C# only to install it and never use it because they could not figure out what they were looking at?

Now we get to 2018, where we see (at http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/23/technology/china-us-trump-tariffs-ip-theft/index.html) the projected issues with “The United States Trade Representative, which led the seven-month investigation into China’s intellectual property theft and made recommendations to the Trump administration, found that “Chinese theft of American IP currently costs between $225 billion and $600 billion annually“, I wonder what numbers they are set on. Now we can agree that the likelihood of “”China has sought to acquire US technology by any means, licit or illicit,” James Andrew Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, wrote in a blog post Thursday” being true in regard to defence projects would be high. Yet in all this, where is the data supporting these views? Without proper data we are faced with US companies setting expected revenue that is many millions too high and that part remains unanswered on many fronts. Now in defence, we get it! That is the game, so as we consider the news last year from breaking defense with the news that: “compassion for the Army, which is trying to standardize its computer systems across more than 400 units in the next 28 months. The objective is a “single software baseline,” where every unit has the same set of information technologies. Such standardization should simplify everything from training, maintenance, operations and future upgrades“, this is fun to read as I had to set up something like that for a company much smaller. There we learned that Dell was kind enough to have within two shipments the same model computer yet both had different patches because one chip had been changed. Now consider that this ‘unsettling dream of standardisation‘ was for a company with hardware usage merely a rough 0.13% of what the US Army has. So, that is something that will bite them soon enough. This doesn’t make the setting smaller, but a lot larger, the wrong patches tend to open up networks for all kinds of flaws not correctly set. So the cyber intrusion setting would be an optional 300% larger, giving a much larger success rate, all people willing to sell data to the Chinese (or the Chinese merely enticing the American people to embrace marketing capitalism for their own gains).

To explain the previous part in its proper light we need to realise. It is not merely about IP theft and rights; it is also about common cyber sense. In both the military and corporate setting there is a need for levels of standardisation, whilst IP that tends to rely on standardisation to be more successful, the IP theft setting is actually opposite to that. The Conversation (at http://theconversation.com/three-reasons-why-pacemakers-are-vulnerable-to-hacking-83362) gives us when they look at the medical dangers. As they give us Power versus security as well as Convenience versus security we see the first dangers. So consider the following. First there is “according to Carnegie Mellon researchers, can increase the energy consumption of some mobile phones by up to 30% because of the loss of proxies“, then we get “Most embedded medical devices don’t currently have the memory, processing power or battery life to support proper cryptographic security, encryption or access control“, giving us that hacking into someone’s pacemaker is actually not as hard as one might think. Now consider that encryption, or a lack thereof can be found on a large variety of IoT devices, and any army has their own devices that need to be more accessible at all times. In the second consideration we get “The prospect of having to keep usernames, passwords and encryption keys handy and safe is contrary to how they plan to use them“, as well as “When your pacemaker fails and the ambulance arrives, however, will you really have the time (or ability) to find the device serial number and authentication details to give to the paramedics“, it is the age old setting of convenience for the safety of all. So as we realise this, how much IP theft was already available before anyone realised its need? It is almost like the gun laws in the US, everyone wants gun laws whilst there are millions available for unmonitored purchasing defeating the purpose altogether. In that same setting we ignore common Cyber Sense too often allowing for IP theft on a much larger scale. The issue is that it does not mean that this is actually happening, or that others have interest to steal that particular IP. So we can optionally agree that the Chinese government that they definitely want all the IP on that front, even as some sources state that there is still a problem. So when we consider to an example, we need to look at that part of the information came from a research report by LtCol B. L. Ream, USAF, which gives us “There are two types of guidance systems available, the AGM-65A/B is optical guided and the AGM-65D model Is Infrared guided“, as well as “Once launched, the missile maintains a lock on to the target and guides autonomously, providing a standoff launch and leave capability. The aircraft can then egress the target area or set up to fire again in a target rich environment“, yet the other undisclosed source gives us that a programming issue on the locking when it is set through a buddy system. The: “data link control of the weapon can be provided from two different sources. Either the launch aircraft can guide the weapon or a buddy aircraft can control the weapon after launch. In either case, data link line of sight must be maintained between the data link aircraft and the weapon. Thus, on a standoff control scenario, the further away from the target the control aircraft is the higher altitude it must maintain. Even though this may not appear to be tactically sound, the standoff range is impressive“, so the undisclosed source that gives that the Data Link has a match issue and there is a chance that the speculated offset of 35 metres is ‘accidently implemented on targeting‘, will there be an issue of IP theft? When materials are openly available on the internet, as I was able to read the report on the Defense Technical Information Center site. When is there a case of IP theft? In this I love the reference that WIPO uses. Here we see: “Copyright protection extends only to expressions, and not to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such“, considering that ballistic software is 90% math (read: the application of mathematical concepts), copyright as an option goes straight out of the window, in addition, the data link adjustment makes it in theory a new product that was not covered in the first place. So standardisation makes it easier to get to the lollies, and by adjusting the wrapper it ends up not being IP theft, as long as no trademarks reside on the wrapper (a ‘it is more alike than not‘ issue in IP law).

And now for the main meal

This is seen in the CNN article I raised earlier. The headline ‘President Donald Trump has slapped tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, taking aim at China’s theft of US intellectual property‘. It was and has always been about IP protectionism. Business Insider gives us “Two former senior Defence Department officials said Chinese intellectual property theft cost the US as much as $US600 billion a year, calling it possibly the “greatest transfer of wealth in history.”“, the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/995063be-1e0a-11e8-956a-43db76e69936) gives us: “as Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, suggests: “It is entirely inappropriate to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat to the United States.” Yet once this loophole is used so irresponsibly by the US, of all countries, where might it stop?” The Financial Times takes it a lot further giving raise to the question how did it in the end serve IP? Where we saw more than once the terms ‘as much as $US600 billion a year‘, yet no evidence is presented. There is no setting that ‘Two former senior Defence Department officials‘ can present a list adding the numbers up and with $600 billion in the balance (as opposed to the commercial industry) we see that if proper evidence was presented a better case could have been made. Where we see in opposition to China: a lucrative market in designer knockoff goods in places like Amsterdam and London. London getting its share of 17 million tourists, all happy to get the latest Gucci bag for a special discount price of £19.95 as well as in Amsterdam where the 14 million visitors can get them for a mere €25. So did Gucci report a €812 million in IP theft losses? What about the other brands? I was the proud owner of an Australian Polo for $12, I merely needed a polo shirt (many years ago) as some drunk blonde thought it was perfectly normal to dance in high heels in the middle of the road holding a glass of red wine, so as she jumped to get away from a car (who had an actual reason to be on the road), I ended up with her wine on my shirt. So I got to the first place that sold a polo shirt and got a new one so I would not arrive at a diner red stained before it even began. Did I initiate IP theft? I had no idea what ‘Australian’ was in those days. There is the setting, what we know, what was real damage and how it is presented by those needing inflated IP theft numbers?

It is in this setting that we need to see the stage for reported IP theft. We agree that the smallest fraction is indeed set to the covert acquisition of military IP, yet the bulk (well over 95%) is all about a misrepresenting economy, the brands want their losses to seem as large as possible, the US is setting that stage to prospective economic health, yet that evidence cannot be validated and the tariff war is likely to become a much more detrimental factor in the US economy that is currently presented as a revenue bubble that will impact sooner rather than later. The independent gave us last December (at https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/economy-signs-interest-rates-donald-trump-market-bubble-burst-next-year-a8102356.html) that ‘Five economic signs that can tell us if the bubble will burst next year‘. Here we see “The good news is that the world is at last experiencing a coordinated expansion, with all major regions growing reasonably swiftly“, as well as “the policies that have led to this expansion, especially ultra-easy money conditions, have created a boom in asset prices that at some stage will come to an end“. There are a few views in all direction, yet the one that no one seems to focus on is the quality of life. Earlier this year USA Today reported that “California has the worst quality of life in America“, the sunny state is where people can no longer afford to live to any decent degree. That part is forgotten, the QoL in New York is in 25th position, not a great place to be. The Quality of Life in the US has decreased to the degree where it is the lowest in the developed world. That and the fact that the US is at minus 21 trillion does not help. It is shown in the US Social Progress Index where none of the five largest state economies (California, New York, Illinois, Florida and Texas) are in the top ten states on social progress. This is important and reflects back to the student example I gave earlier. So as these people will all ‘borrow’ the latest Taylor Swift album and none of those will buy it, because they cannot afford to do so. That part becomes even more visible when you consider the Wired setting on pre-owned games in 2016. At some point Microsoft made the terminal choice as given by Wired through “You may remember that Microsoft attempted to do away with “used games” with the launch of the Xbox One. (Yeah, they made some hand-wavy claims of players being able to trade games at “participating retailers,” but the DRM scheme meant you couldn’t borrow, lend, sell them on eBay“, that setting is merely exploding in an economy that is not moving forward. That with 80% of the people on merely a 15% tax bracket or lower and the cost of living there is still going up. Even as Microsoft is pushing to “buy at the Microsoft store“, a digital copy cannot be handed out to friends, so there is little push for that move when you can only afford 4 games a year. However, Microsoft is in equal measure pushing for the Game Pass which balances one for the other. EA is making a similar move and it is actually an intelligent move to make. The few that would buy the latest NHL version no matter what gives is nothing compared to the overwhelming group that will happily buy the previous year version when it is part of a package deal at $40 a year. So I might wield the latest NHL version, at $40 a year getting the previous season of FIFA, NBA and NFL is just smart thinking. Yet these people are equally part of the claimants of IP theft. The question becomes (even as we accept that it will happen), how large is the actual IP theft? So when the US adds a 10% tariff on video games, does that merely make the download 10% more expensive? I do not think that from $40 to $44 for EA games is an increase we lose sleep about, yet the ‘cost’ of downloading remains as well, and in the flawed Microsoft design, how does the tariff apply over time, on DLC and other elements in gaming? All these changes and increases, where the consumer sees no upside, all based on projected and presented numbers without its proper representation and scrutiny.

This is how an economy goes the way of the Dodo, so when you think (source: Sydney Morning Herald) that the start of ‘US plans to curb Chinese tech investments, citing security‘ is a good idea and it is waxed with “the White House would use one of the most significant legal measures available to declare China’s investment in US companies involved in technologies such as new-energy vehicles, robotics and aerospace a threat to economic and national security, according to eight people familiar with the plans“, we need to see in equal setting the fact that 750 million Europeans might find the escalation of events important and threatening enough to take a 180 degree position on tech operators like Huawei when we are treated to “Huawei, China’s biggest maker of handsets and networking equipment, which has been flagged numerous times by US lawmakers as a possible security threat to Americans. Upon the New York Times’ publication of a piece (paywall) highlighting Facebook’s data sharing with Huawei, as well as with three other Chinese companies, the social network told the paper it would wind down (paywall) its partnership with the Shenzhen-based phone brand“. One side tries to stop and filter, whilst the other side turned open the tap and let the room flood. Even now, after a congressional hearing and the Cambridge Analytica events, we see alleged transgressions and the sharing of data on a stage where we see only growth. With “Due to the importance of highlighting the natural and heritage landmarks in the Kingdom, “Huawei Saudi” joined together with Qumra’s community of photographers to organize a workshop around “photography through smartphones” by using the latest “Huawei P20 Pro” phone” and the setting that offers the latest in mobile technology far below the prices that Google, Apple and Samsung have. It does not matter on how the tariff war is to become a disaster, it is the mere realisation that it fails because those implementing changes do not seem to comprehend that the economy consists of well over a billion consumers and they cannot afford the 10% more or the 28% more expensive mobile phone alternatives. In all this the people confronted with the dilemma merely went directly to the consumers, as such Harley Davidson is moving to Europe to circumvent a few barricades, a tariff war that was short sighted to a lot of people more intelligent than me and the country that considers naked short selling to not be illegal seems to be doing just that to its own economy, how is that the setting of morality of capitalism?

We consider the way of the Dodo and realise that in the end it merely tasted like chicken.

#HowSmartWereWe or is that #HowSmartHuawei

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