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The state of the gaming union

We see that there is a lot to rejoice about, yet there is in equal measure the need to take a moment, to stand still and realise that we have come to the crossroads. Some might realise that crossroads aren’t merely places where you take decisions, it is also a place where an 18-wheeler drives over you and that driver will not even notice the minimalized bump in the road that you at that point represent.

For Nintendo the initial ‘bad news’ moment is seen (at https://gamingbolt.com/jefferies-analyst-believes-switch-sales-will-see-a-slowdown-this-year), where we get: “even Jefferies’ Atul Goyal, widely considered to be the most optimistic of all analysts when it comes to Nintendo’s prospects on the market, has slashed his price target for the company by more than 10 percent, attributing his depressed outlook on a concern that Nintendo’s sales for the Switch in 2018 may not meet expectations“, which is an interesting way to put the setting, where we see that in two years, even with diminished sales, it implies that in March 2019, 38 million Nintendo Switch consoles are to be sold. Reconsider the number; by March 2019 Nintendo will crush the total lifetime sales of the Xbox One. So when I hear the utter BS approach on the ‘not the metrics of success‘, I wonder if they actually had an overwhelming presence, if they would be in the same stack of those in denial.

So as Variety gives us (at https://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/xbox-one-sales-1202796674/) the quote “Microsoft reiterated that it still doesn’t share the number of Xbox One sold, but this time explained why, noting that it’s using a different “key metric for success.” “We are continuing to look at engagement as our key metric for success and are no longer reporting on total console sales,” a spokesperson told Variety“, which is nice in a pigs eye. You see it is only 25 years ago when we were drowned in facts like: “The number of licensed users of Windows now totals more than 25 million, making Windows the most popular graphical operating system in the world“. That was nice, we agree that they did some good in those days, or should I say that this does not the reflection of a winner when they are left to announce that ‘the most powerful console in the world‘, is about to become the worst selling one. The fact that they always thought themselves so much better than Nintendo, with what some insiders hinted at was technologically not as powerful (that was a statement on the Nintendo GameCube against the first Xbox). Now that this so called overpowered console is merely number three is what I expected they were heading, the moment the world presentation of the Nintendo Switch was on everyone’s YouTube screen.

Now that the realisation is here (well almost) on their retinas, now they change the metrics. Its fair enough, they are allowed to do this. It is how you present a failure, one that could have been prevented 5 years ago. Now that the second tier of opposition could move against Microsoft, they need to realise that implied settings are up. With the need for new directions, we see that Microsoft now goes into other directions on marketing a new setting. Wired gives us this (at https://www.wired.co.uk/article/xbox-scarlett-game-streaming-xbox-two), with “However, the Project Scarlett rumour suggests that rather than its tried and tested business model of releasing a high-powered console to sit under your TV, the potential successor to the Xbox One will instead be a bespoke unit to stream games from the cloud” we see an optional path that could optionally backfire even more. You see, the shift that is speculated on with: “The prevailing rumour, spotted by Thurrott, is that Microsoft will release both a traditional console for high-end enthusiasts – likely building on the powerful Xbox One X, released in 2017 – as well as a cheaper model that will be streaming-only“, so how long until we see congestion on a new system, whilst the previous developed system is just too shallow? That and the overbearing marketing that every console shows are in equal measure showing to be aggravating to too many gamers at present. So when we see “Although Game Pass titles are downloaded to your local console, it could show Microsoft is developing a server structure to support streaming games to players in future. The Xbox Game Pass payment model would also be easily transferrable to a hypothetical ‘Xbox Cloud’ subscription for owners of the proposed streaming box“, we do see a solution that works from the Microsoft point of view, yet as games get bigger, and when we consider the recent blunder by intellectually challenged Bill Morrow of NBN when we were treated to “Morrow “didn’t ‘blame’ online gamers for congestion on the fixed wireless network”, because the real culprit is “concurrency” (that is, too many users hitting the network at once with bandwidth-hungry applications. Like video streaming. Or gaming), “in addition to higher-than-expected take-up and consumption”“, so he rephrased him blaming the gamers, yet with ‘Like video streaming. Or gaming‘, that whilst the clear evidence was that this was clearly the wrong statement to make. Two replies give us “Online gaming requires hardly any bandwidth ~10+ megabytes per hour. A 720p video file requires ~ 500+ megabytes per hour. One user watching a YouTube video occupies the same bandwidth as ~50 video gamers. The NBN chief might not be suitably qualified for this role.” So as non-qualified as Bill Morrow is expected to be, the second part is “The NBN is unable to cope with current demands, so projected increase in demands points to a crippled system in the near future. Billions wasted and potential destroyed“, this now reflects back on part of the speculated Xbox Johansson, nay Scarlett. You see, when those on a small budget are forced to stream, apart from the internet connection that they might no longer be able to afford, gives us that the Australian NBN congestion is pressured by an expected few millions of Scarlett users. Yup! That should solve it and even as we see an increasing amount of congestion articles pop their heads up; we see Microsoft moving into a cloud set streaming solution. So instead of fixing the flaws they had, they merely push their heads in the sand and give us another path to frustration. So as Network World gives us: “As enterprises accelerate their move to cloud, including the growing trend toward cloud office suites, such as Office 365 and Google Suite, where users expect LAN-like performance, challenges are mounting. According to Microsoft, Office 365 is growing at 43 percent, and as of the end of 2017 was boasting 120 million active users. A 2017 survey by TechValidate noted that despite increasing both firewall and network bandwidth capacity, nearly 70 percent of companies experienced weekly network-related performance issues after deploying Office 365. Gartner’s 2018 Strategic Roadmap for Networking, released earlier this year, noted that nearly all enterprises will need to look beyond MPLS and at re-architecting the WAN to optimize for cloud“, Microsoft is now ready to push as many gamers as possible in the setting where minimum packet settings are stretched to the age of 8-bit gaming. Yes, that was always going to be a good idea. Oh, and if you think that this is harsh, consider those providers taking the cheap way out initially in offering 5G like services on their 4G systems. Yes, these are different systems, yet the WAN is still used to push data across and now add 10 million players all downloading the speculated size of an 85 GB 4K game, so how long until that starts backfiring?

Now, we understand that Microsoft had to act and over time, the cloud would actually be for some a solution, that whilst we need to store the games somewhere, so what happens when up to 30 million Xbox gamers have to download amounts like that on a weekly foundation? How long until the pricing setting of the internet changes? How long until gamers are pushed into a corner on usage? When those gamers actually need the bandwidth of those watching 4K movies via a YouTube solution? This goes a lot wider than merely Australia and the UK, when we look at current congestion in New York, New Jersey, California and Texas, when those points get a setting that is no longer YouTube to gaming as 50:1, now it shifts to 4:1. How long until systems start to buckle?

Lets all be realistic, we do not know what the Xbox Scarlett is exactly, but the setting that the lifespan of the Xbox One X is to be less than 2 years, that is still a setting that is worrying for anyone who bought the Xbox One X this year. In the end, Wired speaks about the ‘genius step’ and gives us “Those who favour a physical collection, lack sufficient internet speeds, or simply want the bragging rights of having an incredibly powerful console can get the latter, while more casual or progressive – depending on how you view it – players can opt for a streaming device with an ever-evolving backend. With Sony and Nintendo investigating streaming, too, it might not only be Microsoft betting its future on the clouds“, we need to realise that the setting of ‘lack sufficient internet speeds‘, is partial denial. It is the setting of congestion that comes with the setting that gamers are likely to face as everyone is downloading the Netflix and subscription fee software solutions. All this did not require the New Xbox Scarlett; it merely required the Xbox One to have decent storage, something many have thrown into the faces of Microsoft. And there is nothing against the Scarlett, over time (2021-2023) that need would have optionally been clear, but in this stage where bandwidth is a bottleneck in many places, now it is about lousy timing, whilst we see the lack of care towards the gaming community by Microsoft. So even as they are in a stage where they look at ‘different metrics‘, the chances of many more future ‘former Microsoft fans‘ are moving to another platform.

In all this Sony has been on a similar step, we saw that with “Sony has been experimenting with cloud gaming through its PlayStation Now service since 2015, which allows players to stream classic and contemporary PlayStation titles to both PS4 and PC“. We see that there is in part a path here, but the setting that we need to see is ‘classic and contemporary PlayStation titles‘, games that tend to not go beyond 5GB, just like the Xbox 360 Games, and it is a perfect and as Microsoft is re-enabling those games on the Xbox ne, their gamers rejoice, no one denies that, yet try that with AC Origin 4K at 105 GB, or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey 4K 110 GB (speculated). Now stream that to all those users. There are no clear sales numbers for AC Origin (over all systems), but it goes into the millions, AC Origin was able to recapture many lost fans and that is likely to press towards even better sales of AC Odyssey. So when those are all cramping the networks, how long will it take to get it all on the systems and more important, is there even space for that game on non-PC systems?

This is the state of gaming. We are faced with more needs, better connection and more bandwidth. Some of it will be felt no later than the end of the year. The question becomes is it mere folly from some?

Is it folly or foiled folly?

With Microsoft that is hard to say, the steps are not outlined, so we need to take care not to rely on rumours until the official unveiling is done. Even the more reliable places (GamesRadar and Wired) are full of speculation and ‘expectations’, which is a dangerous setting to have. Even I am in a dangerous place, because my speculations are based on several settings, but not on the official word from Microsoft (which has been a lot less reliable lately). I personally believe that the hardware and OS fixes could give the Xbox One X at least 2-3 years, whilst we see the optional maturity of GamePass and other streaming solutions. No one denies that these paths will give options and opportunities, but remain sceptical on the setting that is relying on an infrastructure that is showing fatigue and dangers of buckling in several places, angering Microsoft gamers even more, in a time that Microsoft really cannot afford angering their gaming population.

All this is about to be the second round in the console wars, we have seen the equally speculated setting of the PS5, and there are already the speculated articles on how one is better and more optional in versatility then the other. Yet in all this Microsoft never stopped harassing the users, even after it had to back paddle on ‘always online‘, this is a setting that is still fresh in the mind of players, so there is that issue to consider, in addition, all this comes to light AFTER the Nintendo Switch will have surpassed the Xbox One total sales within 2 years, so there is that stinging pain for Microsoft to consider. In addition, the Nintendo Switch hit Sony equally hard, even as Nintendo cannot surpass total sales of the PS4, the monthly sales has set Sony to the number two spot behind Nintendo, so they too need to up their game. Even as we see that the Sony following is massive, the next generation will not be about total consoles, it will be about software sales and at present Nintendo Switch is breaking all the records.

I also predict that there will be a shift in gaming on another level. As we see the records that Fortnite is breaking, we need to realise that the indie developers are going to be a lot larger next time around. We have seen great work from some of them and even as we will not deny that Ubisoft and Bethesda take the lead, the Gran Turismo of outer space (Elite Dangerous) has now surpassed 2.75 million copies sold, in a multi-billion dollar industry that mile stone gets noticed by everyone. Add to that Subnautica, one of the most original RPG survival games this decade, which is now at the 2 million copies market, all three makers realise that as software sales is king in the next round, the indie developers will take a much more central role in gaming than ever before. I still have high hopes for the slightly delayed remastered masterpiece called System Shock. Nightdive is showing to up the ante by a fair bit and even as some have played the game before (close to 100% of all kick-starters), the setting that we forget is that some titles are even grander then the original was, because the remastered edition gets to enjoy 20 decades of gaming evolution, whilst the gamer was unaware of that shift. The same is seen with the new Resident Evil 2, so when it comes to gaming, some of the amazing works in the past are likely to be even more overwhelming in the new jacket, so as consoles are given new opportunity to create engagement, both Sony and Microsoft have forgotten to adhere to those levels of engagement in almost equal measure. There are other opportunities here, but that lies with some of the visionaries that also heeded the calls I made last week, making me correct in all this one additional time.

Even as the future of gaming might be uncomfortable to some degree for one of the players, it seems clear that overall gaming remains gaining forward momentum, that is, unless some will rely on congestion not to become an issue ever, at that point all bets are off.

Yet, for the Switch, their prospects are actually better than ever before, even as some claim that the targets will fall short by 10%, the selling for games in Japan alone surpassed the 5 million mark this year, which is actually excluding all the sales in the eShop, so they are already making quite the leap forward. In equality, Microsoft with GamePass is seeing large gains there too, giving us the clarity that the gaming future will be about the software sales to a much larger extent than ever before.

 

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Commerce inverted

A decently intelligent salesperson educated me (some time ago) in the concept of think global, act local. it is something to live by for several reasons. It made perfect business sense, yet what I did not know at the time that it came from the consideration towards the health of the entire planet; to take action in communities and cities. It comes from that ‘sane’ period of time when individuals were coming together to protect habitats and the organisms that live within them. It is what founds the event we now call grassroots efforts, occurring on a local level and are primarily run by volunteers and helpers. So when we consider this and in the business sense we see that It asks that employees to consider the global impact of their actions. It can be applied on a near universal scale and it is a setting of common sense as I see it. So why exactly is Microsoft doing the opposite of it by acting global on a local way of thinking?

Now, they are not alone, but they are the most visible one, because that is how they played the game themselves. When you want to consider an eCommerce move, you need to consider what you are up against and adjust your model accordingly. So why exactly do they advertise the new game Shadow of the Tombraider for AU$144 and the Digital download for AU$114, whilst the shops in Sydney are already offering it for AU$79 and a special edition for AU$89? How does a 42GB download (speculated size) become 44% more expensive, whilst getting an actual physical copy in Sydney is stated to be up to 61% more expensive to download from the Microsoft store? So here we saw (all over the E3) ‘pre-order it on the Microsoft store‘ to be slightly too none lucrative for anyone to ever consider it. Another (weaker) example is FIFA19, where the download is a whole AU$2 cheaper than the physical copy. Yes, it seems to make perfect sense that 4-11 hours download to get that game AU$2 cheaper, does it not?

Now, in itself, I have no issues with the Microsoft store, there are several perfect examples where the store comes with awesome deals, absolutely a given, but now, just after the E3, the new games are what counts and that is where we tend to look. OK, not everyone, I saw ‘games coming soon‘ and the entry was the anticipated game ‘We happy few‘, so I wanted to take a look at what it would cost (and when it is released), and guess what, it wasn’t even in there at all. It is just as deceptive as ‘Play FIFA World Cup Free‘, whilst you are taken to the FIFA18 game of AU$24 (which is a good deal) and in the text is somewhere that it is an addition, a free DLC for anyone who has FIFA18, so why not state ‘Free FIFA 18 World cup DLC‘? It would clearly indicate that it is part of FIFA18 and gives out that it comes with a DLC. None of that is seen and Microsoft is not learning how to properly play the game, not to treating gamers like kids, but like the savant controller users most of them are (and many of them are adults). Microsoft needs to up their game by a fair bit at present.

Oh, and before you think that this is all me, that this is merely an error. I first mentioned it in regards to Shadows of War on May 13th in the article ‘It is done!‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/05/13/it-is-done/). There the difference was 50%. Microsoft made no adjustments of any kind. Now, let’s be clear, they are not required to do that, yet in light of the evidence we see where buying from the Microsoft Store will regularly be well over 30% more expensive than a physical copy, why would we consider getting new games there unless we needed that title desperately? This gets us to the entire ‘think local, act global‘. When the question becomes: ‘we need x% margin‘, and when it comes from an overpriced place, the equation changes and logic goes out the window (as I personally see it).

So when we tally the issues that Phil Spencer has on his desk, we also feel sorry for the man. Not, pity mind you, I do not give a hoot about giving him pity, his income is likely in line with a fortune 500 CEO, so he is laughing to the bank on payday (every month), yet he does have an awful mess to clean up from the previous sceptre wielding bosses, not a job I envy.

You see, these small matters are important. The gap with Nintendo is getting smaller and when you consider that Fortnite was downloaded 2 million times in the last 24 hours, you get to see the issue. These players will play on route to somewhere, it merely takes a view for others not having a Switch to consider one getting one at the earliest option, the Fortnite clans are also growing the Nintendo Switch population and cross play gives these people options to get the Switch. The bad side for Microsoft is that they buy additional games, non-Xbox games and that is where the hurt begins, because any gamer will initially get 3-4 games, so that takes an additional $300 away from both Sony and Microsoft. And that is not all, what kind of an impact do you think 120 million Fallout shelter users can make? You see part of this is that the top 10 of downloaded games has 5-7 titles with well over a million downloads, those numbers rack up. Anyone with a passion for multiplayer gaming will not ignore millions of gamers, especially when it comes to half a dozen games of multi-player capable titles. The numbers start to add up at that point, so when we see such shifts Microsoft really cannot afford the issues seen in the Microsoft store as they are at present and it has been an issue for a long time. Their only positive side is that Sony made pretty much the same mistake from day one, so there is no competitive issue on that side for them.

That brings us to another side, which to some regard shows Microsoft marketing dropping the ball. To be honest, it took me by surprise as well. We got to see a filmclip at the Bethesda show with a very special edition of Skyrim. We all laughed, yet the joke is on us, so as Business Insider (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/skyrim-very-special-edition-amazon-echo-alexa-bethesda-video-2018-6) gives us you can actually download the game for your Echo‘, and with Keegan-Michael Key on the sofa, why would you not think it was comedy? Yet when you look at Amazon (at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D6STSX8), you get the goods. So there is an actual Skyrim Very Special Edition on Amazon. The movie you can watch again (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=FnEW6dX_BmU). When we read: “Fans have since uploaded videos of themselves playing “Skyrim: Very Special Edition.”“, we see that Bethesda marketing is creating waves in several fields on several places and in places where we never thought to look before. So as we keep on seeing ‘the most powerful console in the world‘, there is a much larger need to adjust view and vision. Even as the hardware is slightly too flawed, the Game Pass, which I tend to call: ‘GamerPass’ is something to work with. Anyone who has the intent of buying more than 2 games a year would be crazy not to get it. No matter the congestion, the hardware flaws and other matters. Game Pass is an almost certain game changer for Microsoft, it will give them time to clean up other matters and it will set the stage for more. So why am I not seeing Game Pass on YouTube and on web pages at least once a day? In the last 3 days I have seen nothing from Microsoft. Anthem, Fallout 76, Summerset, Fortnite and a few others, they all got their advertisement minute in (more than once I might add), not Game Pass though. The digital visibility is everything and Microsoft seems to be blindly staring at some surface (pun intended), how will that help Phil Spencer? I might not be pro Microsoft, yet I remain pro-gaming no matter what format it is on. There lies the setting from both EA Access and Game Pass, to give but a simple example.

None existing example

When printing these ‘credit card funds‘ to buy and enter a code on your console, why do places like Gamestop, JB Hifi, EB Games not have the Game Pass out in front? There seems to be an English version. Why can’t we get a load-n-go Microsoft debit card to use for the Xbox for gamers? All simple implementations of systems that are already in the field, with additional account linking as well as additional download bonuses with every purchase (over a specific amount). If visibility is the essential need of any console, I am confronted with a personal belief that Microsoft Marketing is looking at the wrong surface, the surface of some tablet, not the surface of a 130 billion dollar a year industry. Does Microsoft want to matter or not, that should become the thought on the front of anyone’s mind that has one. I am getting pissed off and angry for the same reason I have been pissed off with Yves Guillemot (he apparently owns Ubisoft) for half a decade. He had an amazing IP and let it go to waste for years. We are starting to see the same thing here and it becomes a much larger field of where Microsoft needs to look. We can agree that to some extent Ubisoft is adjusting its trajectory (last 2 years already), now we see Microsoft starting a similar spiraling downfall (from the gamers point of view). Some things cannot be prevented, but a lot of them can be fixed and change the path for the future. It needs a visionary! The presentation showed that Phil Spencer has vision, but is it enough and will is he fast enough to correct all the previous mistakes (not done by him), that is the part I cannot tell at present. It is also unfair to confront him this strong a mere two days after the E3, but he needs to recognise that the third period is starting and he has 2 goals against him, so he needs to get his star players on the ice and against the teams that are slowing him down, even if it is his own Azure team dragging issues along (a 2014 issue). Now as the game changes, or better stated as Microsoft wants to change the game, they need to be on the ball all the time and that does not seem to be the case (a personal observation). You cannot do this with a static shop 11% the size of an Apple store down the road (less than 100 metres down the road), you do it be creating engagement. You set the stage where everyone can game for an hour and feel the goods, to get the parents involved and show why the Game Pass is the solution, get to the mothers, seeing how AU$120 per year gets them 100 games (valued at an average total of AU$ 7500), and how that value increases year after year, especially on money saved from not buying games.

Get the ‘Consider Game Pass‘ on every digital download card you buy in store, post office and supermarket. Because parents see the ones in the post office and supermarket, these places can start engagement, a path that gives long term visibility. In all honesty, I haven’t seen any of that. Is it merely placement of product? If it is that important, I should see something like that twice a day and not on my console, when I am there, I merely want to start the game I felt like playing.

Oh, and that is not merely my thought, Google has all these free advertising classes on learning to use their products, pretty much stating the same thing. The foundation of digital marketing seems to be missing. So when I get to the start page of a place like JB Hifi (everyone in Australia knows that one), I would care less on seeing ‘Surface Pro‘ every time I get there, There is no mention at all of Game Pass. I can actually search ‘Game Pass’ and I get all kinds of passes and the 19 linked to the Xbox One, not one is about the Game Pass. That is the game! That is how you lose it, by merely not having visibility. Oh, and they are not alone, seeking it on Amazon gives you one option in the ‘Currency & Subscription Cards, Subscription Cards‘ department. It is the 12 months Gold Live subscription. A mere example on how visibility is the key to forward momentum. Sony knows it, Nintendo definitely knows it, and it is time for Microsoft to wake up to the proper digital age. For these examples are all clear pieces of evidence of inverted commerce in the digital age. I’ll let you decide on how many of those corporations stay afloat whilst making a living through applying inverted commerce, if you find one, ask them to send me a postcard.

Was that over the top?

 

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The E3 end is nigh

Yes, we are 24 hours away from the end, the end of the 2018 E3. Now it is time to see how the chances of my earlier predictions are. The biggest player involved is Nintendo. From the very beginning two years ago at that E3, we were shown something new and it was clear that Nintendo had a winner. That one presentation gave us the goods. No matter how we all sliced it, we were not ready for the tsunami of acceptance from players on a global level. I think that not even the big bosses of Nintendo had a clue just what kind of winner they had. So as we saw how sales records got crushed, I saw the issue and the nightmare that Microsoft faced. The most powerful console in the world would be surpassed by the weakest one. My lifetime view of fun over hype got proven correctly against a console with a few hundred million dollars in development. Now we see how far the 26 titles are coming. Nintendo started with giving us the party and group games, all focussed on having fun, as well as a linked new Pokémon games where the game can link to your Pokémon Go mobile games and get across the Pokémon’s caught, it is a game changer. We also saw a game that allows 4v4 multiplayer, so as we are seeing on the more and more Switch abilities, we are shown a path where Nintendo will increase its sales in the near future by a fair bit and of course the free Bethesda games were announced, as well as Wolfenstein 2, Fortnite (another free games), Battle Royale (out now) and a lot more to come some from new developers, some well treasured games from the Nintendo past. So the second issue I expected is actually becoming a reality, Sony will need to up its game. Nintendo will not overtake them, but it will be able to narrow the gap and as the family fun label is very clearly shown, Sony will without a doubt lose some expected revenue towards Nintendo. So instead of people buying 5 PS4 games until the end of the year, they end up selling 4 and Nintendo gets the 5th, which implies a 20% lessened revenue. The fact that the Amazon top 10 included 90% Nintendo Switch games is merely one piece of evidence. Just as we accept that every Xbox lover will get Forza Horizon 4, the Nintendo Switch will have the same with Super Smash bros. As we were shown ‘everyone is here‘, we are looking at every fighter in Super Smash bros history is in the game, so as you start with 10 characters, you will unlock the hundred plus fighters over the course of the game, and it is not done in a dull way. Each character with personalised attacks, and there is no substitute for Snake sneaking up to Pac-man and Kirby. If only Snake knew the deadly opponents he would face here. If there are parents that want to be the cool parents, you better pre-order this game today, because it will definitely be sold out on day one. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the massive amount of stages to fight in, controller options as well as amiibo compatibility, this game releases December 7th, too late for Saint Nicholas and Thanksgiving, but in time for Santa Clause (pun intended).

This all before you realise that this is a four player battle arena, so the challenge and the hard-core fun is not going to stop any day soon. So Nintendo brought the goods and then some! So even as this is merely one game, it is the one too many were waiting for. Yet it is not the end of the innovations that Nintendo brings. Free Fortnite was a lovely surprise for everyone, yet the addition is that “you can use any standard 3.5 mm headset for online voice chat, which is a feature that no other game offers on the system“, online chat in a team battle is pretty much a dealmaker, so the Nintendo will be for many the system of choice, especially when they are travelling. It seems that from now on, no road trip will be complete without the Nintendo Switch. Yet, Nintendo left us hanging with too little on the 26 games announced, in addition, there were expectations on the new Pokémon game, but that stayed absent, it is not a deal breaker and perhaps they want to wait for the Pikachu and Evee games to have their time in the limelight, it makes marketing sense, yet at times the E3 is not always about making sense. It is the one part that only Phil Spencer and Todd Howard really got right at the E3. In addition we see the upcoming Starlink, a new Ubisoft game that will be an absolute blockbuster. I can tell you about it, but the Verge will do it better (at https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/11/17449232/starlink-ubisoft-preview-ps4-xbox-switch-e3-2018). Here we see “Starlink: Battle for Atlas takes place in a large sci-fi universe, which spans seven explorable planets that you can seamlessly travel between. Each world has its own wildlife and ecosystem, and there are different factions battling among themselves, vying for control“, a kid friendly mix of Star Wars and No Mans Sky. So as we make a balance on the games, it is clear that Nintendo has the gaming goods that equal what PS4 and Xbox One has, yet all these titles are kid friendly and family founded. It might not seem like much, but it is. You see, there is more and more noise from parents regarding ‘game addiction‘, yet more often they worry about the environment they are in. I am not sure whether it actually is, but the perception is there. So as we see the clarity of the family friendly setting that Nintendo has evangelised for the longest of times, parents feel safe with a brand like Nintendo and that will sell, especially as some kids have exhausted their bandwidth on mobiles before 50% of the month is gone, so the math is exceedingly simple that the Nintendo Switch offers a break even point within 6 months, that too is a selling point, and the absence of bloodshed and violence in Nintendo games makes the consideration for parents a lot easier. These two elements will drive Nintendo sales as well, and now with the upcoming games this year alone, seeing a $375 solution that has all the assuring sides that other consoles do not offer (from a parents point of view) implies a stronger growth option for Nintendo. I personally think that the setting of others is not wrong, but comes at a price. Battlefield 5 feels like it is about overwhelming the player with chaos, the Division 2 is about engaging and the Switch games are about fun. I believe that all three are valid paths, but the Nintendo one is too hard to resist. You see, we all want to engage like in the division, enter the overwhelming chaos of Battlefield 5, yet we are often in the mindset that we just want to have some fun. That path is becoming more enticing to many players and they feel like that a lot more often than before. These players will most likely all have a Nintendo Switch on the side, sooner rather than later. This is what makes the Nintendo the stronger player for now and as the engaging levels of Nintendo remains, that interest curve is the Switch will keep on growing. If there are 20 million Switch players out there today, than the chance of 5 million wanting to get Super Smash Brothers is merely a low conservative estimate. That implies an additional quarter of a billion in revenue before the end of 2018. That is nothing to be sneered at and that is also the clear signal from Sony to up their game, because that many gamers will merely increase the sales curve of the Nintendo Switch soon enough. It does not stop there. Business Insider (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/best-buy-listing-hulu-netflix-streaming-nintendo-switch-2018-6), several sources are now on the setting that Netflix and YouTube are heading to the Nintendo Switch as well. It changes the game as the overwhelming amount of apps and free games tend to drive sales as well. Consider Fortnite and Fallout Shelter being free games. Now add Netflix and YouTube and this console is becoming nothing short of irresistible. Nintendo played their cards right and that impact will both Sony and Microsoft, there is no denying it. Nintendo got its homerun and we will see lot more Nintendo Switch systems in almost every corner of our lives, it is utterly unavoidable.

We have one more day of E3 and of course the many deals that all the players are offering during this week. Microsoft has been reducing prices by a lot, so did Sony and some stores are giving up to 75% discount on some titles. So this is a great week to get the 1-2 titles you never wanted to pay full price for. As the E3 ends, we will all await the games we want the most to be released yesterday. For me personally it will be Fallout 76, yet there is a whole range of games that would love to play and Nintendo made the desire for the Switch only greater. So even as the Express leaned on speculation with ‘so expect to see Splinter Cell make an appearance with a brand new gameplay trailer during E3‘ and disappointed its readers by being wrong. They in the end all missed the Elder Scrolls 6 teaser and that is why the E3 is an event not to miss and hypes should be avoided as much as possible. What was a much larger surprise is the amount of effort and push that both Ubisoft and Bethesda gave towards the Nintendo Switch. EA was there, but they were expected, a free Fallout Shelter and Ubisoft with Trials Rising and Starlink were not on everybody’s mind and that is changing perception as well. You merely have to watch the hilarious insanity and consider not playing this game. You will most likely fail. Watch this (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyBsT7a8JZg) and decide for yourself. You can die 1000 deaths and still want more, merely to finish the trial. Redlynx is taking death defying tests to a whole new laughing level.

So whatever system you lean to, whatever game you go through, make sure you have fun doing it. As to the fun in gaming, you merely have to see Devolver Digital (a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4ytFiRVMwg) to see how serious ‘fun‘ should be taken at times.

Have a great day!

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As you are exploited

Today is different, with the E3 a mere week away; it is time for the people to become aware. Now, you will take great offense, especially if you are a drug dealer, a sex slave trader or an employee of Microsoft. You know what, today I do not care, especially if you are part of the third category. The media will not keep you informed of certain matters, so it is time to take the gloves off.

I have had issues with Microfsoft in the past that is no secret. I have clearly stated that they dropped the ball on at least three occassions, yet they have taken it a little further. Soon we might see some patch, or some message that there was a bug and it got fixed, but no company is this incompetent and there have been examples of true incompetancy, especially in politics. Yet this is not about that.

We are a week away from the E3 and all players are leaking hints and innuendo at nearly every corner in town. Gamespot is giving us: “E3 2018 Xbox One Rumors“, Polygon is giving us: “we expect to see Microsoft to use E3 to reveal new features and expand ongoing programs to further bridge the divide between Xbox and Windows PC gaming” and the list goes on. Yet none of them are zooming in on the exploitation of gamers, gamers that are now advertising coin for Microsoft. We see very little of that. It is my personal view that the Xbox One series now offer 30% less than the Xbox360. Whilst Sony is enjoying “PS4 hardware sales in April were more than Xbox One and Switch combined“, as far as we can tell mainly due to the release of God of War, in addition, some sources in give us that for April 2018, The Switch sold 171,000, the Xbox One sold 132,000 giving the raise that the Switch needs to counter Microsoft and surpass their total numbers. In addition, Forbes gave us 4 days ago “nine out of 10 belong to Switch“, the tenth game is a PS4 game. In the entire Amazon Top 10 Microsoft with their Xbox One does not show up at all. And now we get the big bang. The Pokémon Franchise is giving the players a lot more, you see with “What happens when your mobile Pokémon game gets more than 800 million downloads, and then you release two companion titles for Switch that let users sync their progress between both platforms? You’re going to sell a ridiculous amount of hardware.” This is the one thing that Sony cannot counter either. A Pokémon hype that allows those players to go on playing outside of their mobile range, by doing the Switch. Neither party counted on that and move it will impact both, optionally reducing the Microsoft Xbox total sales to number three no later than thanksgiving. A bold move that is about to push Nintendo forward in a way we had not predicted and that is the reality the gamers get to see at the E3. You can read that part all (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2018/05/30/nintendo-switch-games-are-dominating-amazons-best-sellers-list), including a few small facts that I have not mentioned yet. Now we get to the overwhelming part.

How do you like to get exploited by Microsoft? That is the question on my mind yesterday when (not for the first time), I got their marketing machine all over my console.

Now normally I do not care, you can try to ignore it, but when the functionality of a console is severed, you cannot ignore it. So normally I get the direct view of my console desktop, the parts in red are advertisement, Microsoft added that, and the sponsored one is expected to be paid advertisement, so Microsoft is gaining an optional $3 million a day (that is if they charge $0.10 per user). So they optionally gain $3 million by using our desktop without permission (intentional speculation). The issue is that suddenly my games page with pinned games was gone, instead of the functional part I usually have, I got something that is usually not there.

 

I got the third screen, which you can see is useless for 75%, the second screen was gone. Now, any user can tell that I could click on the ‘my games & apps‘, scroll to the game I wanted to play, but that is not what I paid for, was it? I merely wanted to start the game I was playing earlier that week, so the only way to get my pinned games screen to appear was to restart the computer. This is harassment! This is not a bug, this is Microsoft telling me and harassing me to take notice of the Xbox One X and to get Microsoft gold. This is intent! It reflects directly to a piece in the Computer World from 2016. The article (at https://www.computerworld.com/article/3101947/microsoft-windows/more-forced-advertising-creeps-into-windows-10-pro.html) gives us: “When the Anniversary Update rolls out on Aug. 2, Windows 10 Pro users will no longer be able to turn off certain kinds of advertising. That presents a real concern for admins, who will not be able to keep Microsoft from pushing the likes of Candy Crush Soda Saga onto their domain-joined Pro machines. It’s also a frightening concern for anyone who paid for Pro’s GPEdit feature“, and with “Microsoft recently announced it will be able to push live tiles for the likes of Photoshop Express onto any Windows 10 PC, unless it’s an Enterprise or Education version. Starting Aug. 2, you won’t be able to block them”, we now see implied that Microsoft can now push advertisement on children with or without parental control. Is that why you buy a console for your child, or for yourself for that matter, to watch advertisements?

Now, the issue is not merely your child getting exposed to advertisers, the issue is that my second screen was just casually not available until I rebooted the system, that is as screwed up as it gets, I do not believe it to be a bug, I believe it to be the intentional push from Microsoft to “Buy a newer Xbox and get Xbox Gold whilst you are busy!” I did not sign up for any of that. As the system is flawed and architecturally unsound, spending another dollar on it is just too ill advised an action.

And the bad news does not end there for Microsoft. If sources are to be believed, we see “It looks like Epic Games’ battle royale spectacular Fortnite is coming to Nintendo Switch. A leak posted on 4Chan’s video games board Thursday night, which suggested the game would appear at the E3 conference alongside eight other games, came just before more reports emerged Friday that the game would receive a port to the Nintendo hybrid console“, it is not that bad for Sony, yet, the optional leap in revenue and consoles sold is going to be a lot higher than anyone imagined, it will be the first time that Sony needs to up their game by a fair amount. Even as we see that the exclusive games for the PlayStation console is off the wall, the effort of growth by Nintendo is not to be underestimated. This comes in sharp contrast that we see (at https://www.extremetech.com/gaming/269049-even-the-xbox-one-x-cant-stop-microsofts-console-sales-slide). The issue is that Microsoft will not release official consoles sold anymore (not a great surprise), yet, if we are to believe the quote “implies Microsoft’s total Xbox One X shipments were extremely poor in 2017 — around 5 million units, compared with roughly 20 million units for the PS4 Pro“, so that implies that the most powerful console in the world merely appealed to 1 out of 5 people upgrading, or buying a new next generation console. Things are considerably worse than anyone expected, perhaps the advertisement on your console is to pay for the multiplayer server bills (and its electricity) that Microsoft faces every month? (Slight punch below the belt)

Whatever the reasoning of all the ball fumbles that we have seen from 5 months before the first Xbox One was launched, the entire mess is just getting bigger and unless we see true new exclusive games and true innovation coming from Microsoft, it is my personal view that when it comes to gaming, Microsoft is pretty much done for. Even now there are a few issues rising, yet I prefer to wait until the actual news is released as I do not want to kick a game below the belt before verifiable facts are set to the net and media.

Yet when we go back to the issue that truly angered me, I wonder why Microsoft is this stupid. it is almost like they want us the switch away from them. How can a storage weakness remain unattended for 6 years? Sony solved it on day one of the PS3 and that solution was maintained throughout the PS4 and PS4 pro, the additional issue is that the difference was a mere $15, so that should not have been an issue either. If there is one thing that speaks for Microsoft than it is Forza 7, it is exquisite in many ways, and Microsoft should tend to the needs of those fans as much as possible if they do not want to see this group switch to F1 2017 on PS4, or Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo Switch.

I think for the most, Microsoft brought all the woe onto itself, and they have no reason to break down in tears or complain about the gamers, the fact that Nintendo surpassed the expectations in what fun was and Sony brought us how awesomeness can be surpassed (God of War) is just the beginning in a race that Microsoft has no valid reason to win for any other reason to end up with the wooden spoon. There is now enough evidence and visual proof that my predictions will not be wrong, the E3 has leaked so much information that the setting is now reduced to a mere exercise. Still, there is a side we are missing out on and that is the part that still matters, the indie developers could tilt towards Microsoft a little, yet the damage has been done, with advertisements and lack of gamer care (as I personally see it).

I reckon we all hope that Microsoft gets a homerun at the E3, yet there is now enough evidence that this is not likely the case, especially in light of the astounding results Nintendo gets to show (making Sony more than a little nervous) and the fact that so far, the Sony exclusives are making people buy or upgrade their PS4, is rising, especially as some Spiderman YouTube videos on the PS4 have now surpassed 32 million views, that against God of War having only had 19 million views and crushing all sales predictions. Let’s be fair, one does not guarantee the other, but the interest has not waned over a year, implying that this game will be out of stock for the better part of a month when it is released in September. All options Microsoft missed out on, to some degree. As stated, there is no way that any gamer loving games would not be impacted by Forza 7, it will set a new standard that is hard to equal and time will tell if that will be proven to be true.

Until then Microsoft has so many things to fix and merely a week to prove that they can fix things, because 4 days later, after the E3 the people will decide and for now it does not look good for Microsoft.

 

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The red lights of death

It has been one year, one year since the doors opened to the consumers to become the owner of the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo has been a true gaming company that has focussed on gaming since the beginning of time. Even as we loved their journey and whilst we globally disliked the WiiU; that what followed is a machine that has been embraced by pretty much every gamer young and old. The numbers are giving a picture, one that is not yet complete, yet Nintendo has had one year, Sony and Microsoft have both had 6 years and the numbers are actually quite scary. The analytical site Statistica (at https://www.statista.com/statistics/687059/nintendo-switch-unit-sales-worldwide/) gives us that after a year, the Switch has now surpassed 14 million consoles sold, in one year it is close to 45% of the Xbox One lifetime sales over 6 years, and the Nintendo is still rising its sales numbers. Another source (VGChartz, at http://www.vgchartz.com/article/272742/ps4-vs-xbox-one-vs-switch-global-lifetime-salesjanuary-2018/) gives us more, the monthly numbers are that Nintendo has close to 225% of what Microsoft is doing and it is getting close to nipping the Sony sales numbers at the heels. Even as the PlayStation 4 is now set to 75 million gamers, the achievement of Nintendo is noticed. It is noticed to the extent that in the market share, the PlayStation 4 managed to achieve 48 percent. The Nintendo Switch accounted for 37 percent of the consoles sold, and the Xbox One 15 percent. So even as the total numbers are not yet equalled, Nintendo has defeated the Microsoft market share by well over 2:1, I predicted that Nintendo would surpass the total sales numbers, but the fact that the Microsoft share numbers would be outdone 2:1 in just one year is a little more positive than even I imagined.

So if the Xbox360 users might remember the red lights of death, we can now say that for Microsoft as a gaming provider, they too are now facing the red lights of death, because at present Microsoft will be surpassed by Nintendo well before December 2019, even Sony who is still ahead by 400K systems per month is feeling some pressure growing. As I stated in the past, Microsoft can pretend whatever they want to in the business world, gamers demand results and excellence and in that regard, both the Xbox One and Xbox One X have faltered the gamer at large. Did they actually think that hiding behind ‘the most powerful console‘ would help them? That system can store no more than at most 50% of a Nintendo Switch? Who were they kidding?

Forbes had a go at Microsoft on more than one occasion and their views are not good, even as they ‘hide’ it with ‘rough’ time, with “Sony is coming out swinging next year with games like Spider-Man, God of War, The Last of Us Part 2, Death Stranding, Days Gone and more. Exclusives remain Sony’s most important advantage over Microsoft, and the company’s 2018 line-up is one of its strongest yet” we see the first part, the second part was given by Forbes a month later with “I can’t really get into specifics because Microsoft no longer shares sales information on Xbox One consoles, but common estimates put it at about half of what the PS4 has sold, maybe around 30-35 million units. The Xbox One is not a failure, I don’t think anyone but Sony die-hards would say that, as we are miles past something like the scant 13 million sales of the Wii U, but it is clear that if we had to pick an odd man out in this current climate, it’s Microsoft“. Forbes is partially right. I see it in two parts; the first one is that the Xbox offers merely 80% of what the Xbox360 offered, which is a really bad thing. What is more important is that Microsoft refused to listen to the gamers and when they pretend that they did, they still harassed gamers to do what Microsoft wanted against the express desire of the gamer, so how long was that EVER going to work? Some took the $150 loss and traded in for the PS4Pro, others (like me) left to old Xbox to gather dust and played and enjoyed their PS4 and some their Switch on the side too. One console they could not keep up with, the other has surpassed them in market share and will within the next year also surpass their total console sales.

In this the only losers will be the independent game designers who will now have to see if Sony and Nintendo offer a better deal. Two of the most amazing ones have been Astroneer and Subnautica. Astroneer would be a great Switch addition and Subnautica might make it, If they can get this playable on Switch too, it is a long shot, but it would be a unique experience to say the least. And that also triggers another part. As independent designers are now looking if their game can be ported, Microsoft will be losing out in all three fields, meaning that the red lights of death for Microsoft in gaming would soon be heralded. That is the consequence of not listening to gamers and selling short what gamers need. You see, all that Microsoft Azure pep talk sounds nice, but there they have rough competition, to bank in that direction whilst short selling a $125 billion market was perhaps one of the most stupid acts that Microsoft could have tried, they tried and they are getting fried!

Even now, as we saw only a week ago (at https://www.windowscentral.com/new-xbox-one-preview-build-spring-update), on how there are improvements, we see “As with any pre-release update, expect bugs – a lot of them. Current known issues include black screens, update errors and various issues across the Xbox One experience. These will soon clear up in forthcoming builds, though caution should be taken, especially when installing on your daily driver“, so apart from non-stop updates, the fact that the largest console is 1TB, how much space will be wasted in that regard? In that side there is one issue that both Sony and Microsoft share, or is it? With ‘Fortnite’s new 60fps mode is the real deal‘ (at http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2018-fortnites-new-patch-really-does-deliver-60fps), where we see “Now, we’ve seen a range of ‘performance’ modes in the past that target 60fps on Sony and Microsoft’s enhanced consoles, but generally, they fail to deliver. The good news here is that Epic’s work is the real deal – and it’s by no means exclusive to the more powerful consoles, with owners of the standard models getting an equally impressive boost“, so both PS4pro and Xbox One X have issues and as the most powerful system cannot deliver at present as implied by multiple parties, the issue remains why that was not properly addressed before launch? That is still a dangerous subject as several games (example Forza: Horizon) do promise to deliver 60fps, so there is still an issue there. Still as the Switch is showing more and more games that get a much larger appreciation than other consoles tend to have for titles give even more rise to the Switch, which Nintendo will see as a handsome extra to the setting as given at present.

So in how much death danger is Microsoft?

That is the whole picture and until the 12th-14th June 2018, when the E3 will explode in our faces there will be no way to tell. The Microsoft marketing engine will continue to boast and boost what it can, but the E3 will be the first true test where Microsoft is and if they have any serious intentions to listen to the gamers and please their needs to the minimum, which is at present essential for their survival, Sony learned that lesson in 2017 and their adjusted views are back on the positive side for the most (they had less issues to deal with), in addition, the new exclusive game line-up that Sony has for this year is much stronger than before, so they are likely to rule the show. Although, there is no saying what Bethesda hits us with and they are on all systems, so Microsoft will have a benefit there. I also predict that they will be more and more dependent on Ubisoft stealing the show (whilst including the Xbox One X as much as possible) , more than ever before, so there will be information coming from several sides in all this and that should not be ignored.

The one thing that is at present almost a given, that is that the tickets to the Nintendo E3 show might be the hottest tickets in town because whatever they bat out of the park is also the size of the market share that Microsoft could lose to Nintendo, a side they never had to fear before. The game of gaming changed and Microsoft missed at least two exits from that road to nowhere. The E3 which is of course still rumours for the most as it is 12 weeks away is still an issue as it also rumoured to include a new Pokémon, Kirby, Yoshi and Metroid Prime 4 on Switch, whilst the Xbox One has 3 titles at present (no exclusives rumoured or announced) but does include the long awaited Cyberpunk 2077 by the makers that gave us Witcher 3, so there is that to desire. Bethesda had a teaser with references to Elder scrolls, Fallout and Doom, so there is more behind that whilst Sony might be stealing the show in regards to exclusives and it includes a conformed The Last of Us Part II, so there is enough to see that the Xbox might need to be placed in the ICU sooner than thought. Yet, in that last part, it will be at least another 5-7 weeks until there is a stronger confirmed list of games and gamers. The one part that is missing for now is the list of indie developers, because they can actually change the landscape by a lot, so I wonder what we will see. what is now clear and what is being shown by data, by the evidence out in the field is that Microsoft has lost the benefits they had and unless there is a massive overhaul and a large course adjustment by the Microsoft board of directors it is not impossible that the E3 2019 is one that will happen without Microsoft, or with them not getting noticed at all. I wonder which they think will be worse, but hey, they have ‘the most powerful console’, so this speculation might just be me with no chance of this becoming a reality, or will it?

 

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