Tag Archives: John Lewis

What did you expect?

This all started with an article in the Guardian last December, in the air of ‘it was a day plus one before Santa‘, the title ‘Game shares fall 40% after profit warning‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/dec/23/game-shares-fall-40-percent-after-profit-warning-xbox-one-ps4). You see, none of this should be a surprise to anyone. When we look today we see all these ‘what will come in 2016‘ articles (read: multiple) and that is JUST the Guardian, not even a serious gaming source. Another article kicks of one of its paragraphs with ‘E3 WILL BRING SURPRISES‘ and then it reverts to the mundane “This year, we can expect Nintendo’s new machine and plenty of VR games but, beyond that, little is known. And that’s just how we like it“, if that is so, then why waste space on it in January whilst that event is 22 weeks away. Ignoring the event for no less than 10 weeks would not have been out of place. That article ends with ‘A YEAR OF BIG GAMES‘, where we see the quote “but most exciting for gamers are the big sequels“, with several mentions of games that had been delayed from 2015. What they all forget is an element the mentioned article will give you.

So let us take a look!

The subtitle is as good a place as any to start. It states ‘Gamers failed to buy enough games for new consoles to make up for a steep fall in demand for older formats‘, so how about giving the reality of the games which means the subtitle should have been ‘Game developers fail to deliver quality, they failed in many cases on delivering on time, some delayed until 2017, creating a new level of gaming uncertainty‘ that subtitle would have been on point. Assassins Creed is one of those titles, Unity failed massively, the reason for mentioning it is because Syndicate did not become the success it could have been mainly because of Unity. A game that used to be sold out on special editions is now getting flogged for $50 including art book, statue, extra missions and soundtrack. A game sold at 33% of the initial value, new in box. Yes, I give you right now that Syndicate does not deserve to be regarded as a failure, but it remains a non-success. It still has an amount of glitches and issues that go back all the way to brotherhood, they have never been addressed. Mass NPC issues remain and the list goes on, yet again, the graphics department delivered, sound delivered too. There are in mission issues, yet for the most they did work OK, in a few cases they were actually decently brilliant. Yet in all this the NPC issues rose. For example, I can get attacked and the police does not act. I pull a knife and they all start shooting, even in my own (read: liberated) areas. The fact that they act on me is one thing, the fact that they do not act against my attackers is another thing. It becomes even more a joke when a fellow Rook NPC keeps on pulling his knife against my kidnap target alerting the police who now has a go at me too, all scripted screw ups that were not addressed. Yet overall the latest AC is not a failure, in the same light that I placed the Ubisoft business model in the past, planning for non-failure also means that you will never get an exceptional success. Perhaps Ubisoft will catch on at some point (one would hope, would one not?)

But this is not about Ubisoft, they are just one element in a group of many.

The quote: “However, independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said he was “staggered” by Game’s profit warning after John Lewis boasted of strong sales of computer games earlier this week. “We had just begun to wonder if Game Digital might be a good recovery stock,” he said. The department store said gaming and console sales were up 180% in the week to 19 December, picking them out as one of its Christmas bestsellers“, but based on what was this? Special in house deals with 2 games? Places like EB Games are offering new 1TB consoles with 4 or 5 games that is quite the Christmas pick. Oh and what are the numbers? When you normally sell 10 consoles 180% really does not amount to that much. I would think that Nick Bubb would have done his homework a little more meticulously, or perhaps staggering was a factor after he learned that £2290 is not something that gives price to 180% (I am not saying that I know their sales numbers, but I am asking why no one else is making a clear investigation there). And on what margins are those placed? A £299 console is one thing, one with 3 games at £279 is a good deal for the buyer, but it equally means it is a product without margin for the shops.

Yet the big UK player Game should have known that this issue is a lot more clear, so the statement “Game said a 20% rise in sales of games for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 had not offset a 57% slump in sales of older Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games” is a mere given, something they should have known going into the holiday season. You see, many big titles have been delayed, what was coming before Christmas is now coming in March and in a few cases in April. Big titles have not been the success they were supposed to be and in all this So when another article in the Guardian one day later reports “According to the industry body Ukie, sales of new boxed console games in the UK fell 6.3% in 2014 to £935m, and were overtaken by the 17.6% rise in sales of digital console and PC games to £1.05bn“, we should ask the question that Stuart Dredge might have been trying to hide within the text. The issue is “The Steam Winter Sale has gone live today, Dec. 22nd, and runs until January 4th“, yes ‘in sales of digital console and PC games‘ translates to Steam sales for PC games, a place where games were down by 50%, in several cases even down by 80%, so as many game shops have a non-return or exchange policy for PC games (which does make perfect sense), people are happy to download a few 4GB packages (in some cases not more than 2) and store that on their multi-Terabyte drives and the list included discounted games like Witcher 3, Metal Gear Solid 5 and Just Cause 3. So, when we know this, the ‘staggered’ response by Nick Bubb comes across as extremely insincere. Perhaps he did not do his homework? How can a person in that field not be up to date as to what Steam does and how that impact the shops, you see Steam has done this before, so it can’t have been that unexpected.

In that same issue we have places like Game and EB Games. In some cases they rely on fans who want their new upcoming Dark Souls 3 (the apocalypse edition) and that game will likely sell out in mere minutes, yet the dangers when a shop is losing space to a stack of Charing Cross editions, because the previous version was so bad is in equal measure not that weird a surprise.

There is still one other part that links to this. You see, we all play the way we can, some only play the way that they can afford and Microsoft has been dubious in several actions, the issues now arising from the Windows 10 update give more towards the fear that at the earliest moment Microsoft will close the valve on ‘pre-owned’ games, a side people rely upon because the average working family no longer has a spare £50 for a new game. Hell, most people in London are hard pressed to have £50 for simple things like food, so how is the drop in revenue such a big mystery?

The UK (as well as many other places on this world) have been dealing with a sliding cost of living crises. It has been around for 2 years and too many people are ignoring this fact, in any normal household games will be the first one to vanish from any budget consideration, which gives rise to the growing need of places like Steam, because between no gaming and playing a game 2 years old at £5, people usually tend to know what to do. The interesting side is that many of those games do not need the latest hardware, actually, those steam consoles will support the bulk of those games on high quality settings, so the Nextgen consoles are losing their footing, a fact that someone like Nick Bubb should have been aware of straight of the bat.

Are you still confused?

Open your wallet, consider your bank account (your present balance) and now go to any gaming store and get a new game. How many of you will actually do that? As I see it, 40% cannot afford it, 60% does not want to do this because they either do not care for games (which is fair enough), they have other bills to pay (which is fair enough too), or they are waiting for one of those delayed games, because they can only afford a game 3-4 times a year. These are given situations for well over 80% of the people in the UK, in addition it is a similar size in most of the EEC nations, so why exactly are we surprised on these sliding scales? I cannot answer why many readers are surprised (many might be genuinely surprised), but we should ask a few serious questions when retail gurus like Nick Bubb are absent in comprehension. In that case we should be asking a few other questions.

And games are not out of the woods yet, not for the near immediate future. Yes, most of us will run towards No Man’s Sky the day it is released (in around 22 weeks), but consider how we as gamers (millions of us) find fun and joy in a $20 game named Minecraft, or on the Tablets on a $5 game named Blockheads, how long until the analysts are catching on the hyped inflated games galore for PC and next gen is a massive marketing mesh that is short term, based upon a turnover need from the initial 21 days of release? We will always want games like Skyrim, Fallout 4, GTA, Diablo 3 and a few others, but that list is a lot shorter than those marketeers will admit to and the large players remain in denial. Hoping on a new shooter online where people do nothing more that run and ‘super jump’ on all levels like it was the first version of Unreal Tournament. How long until that gets boring and old? The remake Doom might be the first one that infuses life into that group, a mere original gems in a mountain of too many fake crystals.

Yes, we will see a few games we all want, we will see games that we thought we wanted because as games developers rely on hype, they are equally extremely unwilling to give out review copies until AFTER the game is released, because it would hurt numbers and the press at large (the real one and the gaming press) tends to be too often in need of advertisers to actually do something about it.

Finally we get back to Ubisoft, but now for very different reasons. You see, they are offering something called a ‘humble bundle’, which one place stated costed $1. I cannot verify this, but the offer (regardless of price) includes:

  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist ($10 or more)
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier ($10 or more)
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction
  • Beta access to The Division

One source implies that the price is open, but if you paid a few bucks more (like $11) you got a few additional beauties. I was never a Rainbow Six fan, but a huge Splinter cell fan and even only those games at $11 is an impressive deal, so when you consider this, when you see that PC gamers are offered a steamy steam life with excellent not so new games, in a price range that most people could afford, how is the 40% drop in shares of Game still a mystery?

The gaming world is in an uproar, because they did not tap the vein of quality when they should, they did not press forward for true non-annual innovation when they could, leaving marketing to make the call on hype, instead of truly addressing their fan base needs. An expensive mistake that has led to the downfall of the biggest players (EA and Ubisoft), gamers are realising more and more that indie developers will bring what they desire, a great gaming experience; and only now is the press at large considering that the need of advertisement revenue and the need of their readers base is not aligned, the question becomes how will this be addressed?

I do know that when the press is relying on a ‘staggered’ Nick Bubb for gaming, too many people might be looking in the wrong direction.

 

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The orchestration has engaged

It is nice when the world falls apart, when you look at the abyss in front of you softly stating: ‘It cannot get any worse!’, then you feel a foot pressing against the lower spine of your back as you lose your balance and fall down. The last thing you hear is ‘Guess again!’

This is how certain news events felt the last few days. I am not referring to the McCain family, who states that the press has not learned anything, post-Leveson. Was anyone surprised?

My issue is with Andy Street at the John Lewis department store (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/03/john-lewis-boss-andy-street-says-france-finished). In light of Tesco, I wonder what drives this person. Yes, we all know that John Lewis is upper class shopping, yet is that reason for whatever you think? Apart from your freedom of speech, which I will not hinder, my question becomes, in light of your remark “He told the gathering of entrepreneurs that the award was “made of plastic and is frankly revolting”“, so not only are you a snob, the element grace is just not within you. Fair enough! Yet, consider that as you got recognised with an award, you should consider the 3 G’s, “Be Gracious, Be grateful, Get off!” (Thanks Paul Hogan for that jewel!)

I am all for freedom of speech, but I am also in favour of accountability. So when I read this: “Street advised his audience: “If you’ve got investments in French businesses, get them out quickly.” The eurozone’s second largest economy is struggling for growth under President François Hollande and the country’s finance minister admitted last month that it will overshoot the EU’s 3% budget deficit target this year. The French economy has been hampered by low growth and poor tax receipts in recent years“, I wonder how often Mr Street got hit with the silly stick in the hours before he spoke these words.

The second issue I see is also from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/02/warren-buffet-tesco-huge-mistake), this is an entirely different matter. We all make mistakes, so when a billionaire admits to this with the headline ‘Warren Buffett: ‘Tesco was a huge mistake’‘, it is not that big a deal initially, but then I went to think it through. Why is there such a massive overreaction in regards to Tesco? Yes, the profit was overstated; however, Tesco made over ONE BILLION! Can we please wake up now? In a year where most nations are doing worse than zero per cent, in a time when the straps are on so that we recheck every dime we spend. Tesco made over a Billion. Yes, I saw the statements ‘too big to fail‘, but in this instance I do not agree. In the case of the Dutch SNS Reaal, that place LOST a Billion, Tesco MADE a billion, so can we please wake up and not overreact?

So, when the response comes, ‘Well Lawrence, you seem to be overreacting here a little above average’, my response would be ‘darn right!’

You see, the initial events, of Blackrock moving out, whilst this is a drop on a plate, is what I personally see as a form of orchestration, a few big wigs who seem to be hoping on massive write offs for Tesco. There is something so darkly unethical about such actions, that these greed driven profiteers would endanger the incomes of tens of thousands just to get a nice dividend. This is what it looks like, am I right?

That remains to be seen, but overall the fight is not done yet. Tesco is not sitting still and the new Tablet as it launched just now could be another incentive, especially if we consider where Tesco could also be active. If this is the budget option, with Tesco Mobile in the Netherlands, This gem could find many happy homes during the Dutch Sain Nicholas feast (which is on December 5th), in additional to the Christmas celebrations, as many Dutch do both instances. Tesco is not done by a long shot and the activities that we see give me the impression that several actions do not seem to be about ‘cutting losses’, but as stated on many occasions that I am not an economist.

So, when I see this article http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/billionaire-mike-ashley-bets-on-tesco-bounce-back-30616710.html, where Mike Ashley, who owns Newcastle United takes a 43 million pound share believing that Tesco Shares will bounce back, I say “well done Mate!”, two thumbs up for this man. Now, let’s be honest, as this man seems to be a millionaire a thousand times over, 43 million will not seem like a big dent in his wallet, but the fact that this man is willing to enter more cash then I will ever make (even if I grow to the ripe old age of 14645), the entered amount will boggle my mind for some time to come.

This is one of the two parts where disbelieve is still on the front of my mind. Let’s be clear, I get the entire write off, loss of share value, yet the actual occurrence, especially with a billion in profits is too strong to be just a jittery action from the market. The fact that Blackrock moved out to this extent is still an issue. It left me with two options, either they know something Dave Lewis has not been told yet, or they wanted a curve so that they can make a sweet deal down the track. Let’s not forget that the value write off is just on paper, it is like a virtual event. Blackrock did not hand over these billions in gold or actual cash; we are seeing the fallout of virtual value (as I see it). And this all gets me to the final quote, which was also in the Warren Buffet article and had been mentioned in earlier articles. “UK fund manager Neil Woodford – who decided to sell his stake in Tesco in 2012 after its first profit warning – said last week it could be a long time before any of the British supermarkets became good investment prospects again“. Why?

You see, if he sold his shares earlier, fair enough. Yes, we see that Sainsbury is lowering expectations and shares have fallen there too. I think that all supermarkets will have to change their entire approach. We see that places like Aldi and Lidl are growing, especially in Australia where Aldi is now more and more a common sight, yet over here Woolworths and Coles remain. The same applies to England, in the end people need food, so these places will remain locations where food is bought and yes, as Tesco mobile remains competitive, people will come for that options too. All that is a given, so why such a massive overreaction?

This is at the heart of my foundation for suspected orchestration. If you are in the UK, then take a look at the papers and the degree that they are looking at Pricewaterhouse Coopers. They did the auditing for Tesco, so why is not every reporter looking at PwC and seeing what links might be there, which is not an accusation, but consider all the redigesting we see on several papers, they all mention PwC in a casual way, when they have been auditing Tesco for some time. Only the Times (at http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/banking/article4214689.ece) had done so, yet the full article is not available to me as I am not a subscriber (one of the reasons why I stick to the Guardian).

There are two more quotes the first is “Shorting Tesco has been a profitable bet” and “Traders gamble on falling share prices by borrowing equities from other investors and selling them in the hope of later buying them back cheaper – known as shorting” The latter quote comes from http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2772107/Dont-shred-thing-new-Tesco-chief-warns-staff.html, so it is a way to make money, even though it seems unethical, the act is not, but one could call it questionable. This is the one moment where I need to ask the one question in regards to the given scenario. Let me first add the following quote “Lewis’s ‘no shredding’ order will be seen as a sign that he is determined to get to the bottom of the problem.  It also indicates that the group fears the errors – whether or not deliberate – may extend deep into the company“, as well as “Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Mike Dennis said: ‘A discrepancy of this size suggests this is not just the behaviour of a few individuals, but behaviour instilled by the senior management team“, which is where I was all along. Is this the case and if that part was known to 1-2 insiders, could this be the reason for certain action? What if Blackrock dumped its part to cause a stronger downfall, so that they can buy it again later with a much more interesting profit curve, which makes up for a lot more than the small loss they had, what happens then?

All valid questions, I just wonder if those who have actual answers are willing to give them, because it looks like a slippery slope of massive proportions. As this happens to the one place that feeds a nation, how will the people react should evidence of intentional tampering ever be shown?

Then how angry will the people get?

 

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