Tag Archives: Microsoft

A short sighted Senate?

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

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

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

Why is it not gambling?

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

Am I digressing?

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

The economic setting

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

Are there issues?

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

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

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

Q: You say that we can buy coins directly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Upping the game

Today started with a nice revelation, Microsoft has taken the sales offensive. Even as we were treated to ”Bethesda’s online action role-playing game “Fallout 76” won’t be available on Valve’s Steam platform during beta or when it launches on November“, the story changes when we look at the PC games in the Microsoft store we see: “Pre-order to get access to the Fallout 76 B.E.T.A.“, so it seems that Microsoft is setting the bar really high, in addition for that part the game is equally available on launch day for those who have the Microsoft Game Pass. The Game Pass is $11 a month solution (in Australia); you get no option to buy the pass for a year (as far as I could tell), which is a drag, and you better have the download options (not to mention the storage) before you commit to it, but there is no denying that it is a deal that is way too good to be true. Microsoft even offers a 14 day free trial, which implies that the games are only available to play as long as you are a member (this is speculation!), not unlike the PS Plus setting. The pass has XB1 and Xb360 backward compatible games and it is a HUGE list. It includes a list of the upcoming top games to be released this year makes the Game Pass an essential choice. The Pass at roughly $130 for a year) will include well over $600 of AAA+ top games, yet to be released in 2018. So apart from the download hassle the pass represents hundreds of dollars of saving in this year alone. I personally believe that they messed up some of the visibility and marketing, but that was their choice. The smaller issue is the backward thinking cap of the US, for people outside of the US (Australia for example) games (when bought outright) are roughly 28% more expensive (and that is after I corrected for the exchange rate). There are also ‘shadows’ here. I do not believe it to be, but there are. For example one source gave me “These eleven Xbox Game Pass games are “leaving soon”“, I cannot tell whether they will also be removed if you have added them to your library (so check this when you decide), the second shadow needs to be mentioned as the quote was: “Personally, paying for the Xbox Game Pass program and Xbox Live Gold is quite a monthly cost“, which is ABSOLUTELY BOGUS! The Xbox Live is a service subscription to play multiplayer, so if the Game Pass title has that, then yes, you will need Xbox Live as you always would have needed it. For the simple player part it is not needed, just as the setting is today. In addition ‘quite a monthly cost‘, is silly to say the least, even on a budget, the setting is that you have Xbox live $80 and Game Pass $130, gives us full and complete access to $12,000 worth of games for $210 a year, anyone debating whether that is expensive needs to get their heads examined. Now, there is no way that you will like all games that would be silly. Yet the setting now allows for you to try games at $0 that you would never have bought in the first place, a setting where you can grow the games dimension that you are in. I believe that to be a really great setting. The part not mentioned is of course the downloading time and subscription fees of the internet, even as those prices have been going down, or better stated giving you more download at the same price, it is a cost you need to consider, yet at the setting where you get access to $12,000 in games, which represents more than I have ever bought in a lifetime across the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One together is an astounding part you must remember. If only Microsoft had thought that hard drive issue through in 2012, things would be even better for them. I still see that as the one Achilles heel in all this, yet with the rumoured new Console (Project Scarlett) announced for 2020, we do know that Game Pass is a long term setting of gaming for Microsoft and whatever sets the console will be optimised for the billions that Game Pass will bring in. In all this we might ramble too early on the storage issue, but it is an issue Microsoft knowingly and willingly ignored and in all this ‘the most powerful console in the world‘ is impacted through it. In addition, I have had the longest issue with Microsoft marketing (for various reasons, so as Microsoft states in Windows Central: “Xbox Scarlett hardware will ‘set the benchmark’“, I tend to get nervous, you see, they have no idea (well some idea) on how gaming evolves, yet in the end, we will not know what will be available by 2022, so at that point any console will be merely on par, 14 months after it is bought. I moved to console gaming as the update for a PC in 2002 went overboard. Processor and graphic card showed that you would need $2500-$3000 to be up to date for high end gaming and that got you roughly 24 months at best. So gaming with the additional $200 a month, as well as updating drivers, patching and whatever else needed made me move more and more towards consoles and the Xbox 360 delivered perfectly for almost 8 years (at $700), so the cost of living was set to the games bought not to the additional cost of upgrading the hardware to play games. An awesome setting, Yes there was the one off for the hard drive (from 20 to 120 gigabyte, at $119 at that time), but it was well spend. In the end I bought 2 Xbox 360’s, the second one was essential as I got another red rings of death 75 hours before the release of Fallout New Vegas, so I went: “Eff That!” and got the one with the 250 GB drive and it still works, so apart from a high blood pressure event once, the Xbox 360 was a golden choice for any gamer. I also had the PS3, which had the option to upgrade the drive as the PS4 had, so in all this the entire hard drive issue was out there for 12 years, ignoring that part (as well as always online bullying) angers me, because there was never any need, for none of it.

Why does it matter?

It is a level of orchestration, pushing people into a direction before they are ready (and perhaps they never will be). In this Cambridge Analytica is a larger hurdle then anyone imagined and the gamers are sketchy under the most stable conditions. Hackers, phishers, cheaters and trolls are always around the corner and it is best seen when you investigate ‘League of Legends’, I never played the game, but the amount of messages giving way that the victims of bullying and trolls are worse off than the perpetrators is why there should be an online ‘off’ switch. It is essential because the resources needed are allegedly not used correctly (debatable if that would have been possible), and the systems do not have the settings to protect players. The option to just play offline for a while is perhaps the only pressure valve that works (not on all games though), so when we look at MailGuard and we get it in regards to Office 365 (just one day old): “The cunning thing about this phishing scam is that once the victim has entered their username and password, the fake login page redirects them to a genuine Microsoft website, so they think that nothing is amiss. Meanwhile, the criminals have collected their login credentials and are able to steal their online identity for all kinds of nefarious purposes, like fraud, invoice falsification and malware spamming“, Microsoft needs to realise that they have a larger issue and they cannot fix it (basically no one can). Well it is possible, some of the kids involved have been identified, and by shooting them in the back of the head and leaving a message with the parents to start taking notice of what their kids are doing you get change, although some might find it a bit extreme (an issue that is probably a setting for the eyes of the beholder).

Why the extreme example?

The issue is not merely being online, the issue is that too much is online and even if we wanted to apply Common Cyber Sense all the time, there will be a hiatus and when it comes, it will be at the wrong moment in the wrong place. At present the actual success rate on finding and convicting cyber criminals is less than 2%, it is even less when we realise that not everything gets reported. It is in that atmosphere that game streaming is about to be set to a much larger extent. A setting that is based on mere authentication and not on non-repudiation (uncertain how achievable that is at present). You show me a company that guarantees you 100% safety and I will introduce you to someone who is lying to you. As the gaming industry is a $100 billion plus market, the issue was forever that gaming was low impact (for the most), people had more often than not a physical copy, there were more and more parts that one had to overcome, so for cyber criminals it was not an interesting market. Yet with the upcoming changes to the gaming environment it changes, all is online, all is set on central servers and that is when BlackMailWare and RansomWare will become a much more lucrative business for those targeting gamers. Even when you think it does not happen, what happens when your online account gets scrambled, your passwords changed from the outside and for a mere 0.01 bitcoin you can get it back. Systems like that are already used, some will consider that paying $88 is preferable to waiting and losing scores, statistics and access to files with the logs of hundreds of hours of playing a game. When you see the time some invested on games like Diablo 3, Skyrim, Fallout 4 and now upcoming Fallout 76 you get the optional setting where ransom might be successful. And the setting of ‘always online’ makes the threat to console gamers a lot more realistic. You merely have to google the issues on League of Legends and World of Warcraft to see the impact and it is much larger than some think it is. You think it is simple and an adult thing to live with, yet when Microsoft has to explain that danger 250,000 times to the non-technological mother and father of a 16 year old playing and suddenly losing all access, perhaps being permabanned in the process as well, at that point the game changes quickly.

Having a decent non-repudiation solution in place might limit the damage to a larger extent, but that system does not exist for gamers, mere authentication and even when upgrading the issue is not the 100 that do, it is the 15,000,000 who haven’t. this is part of the setting that Microsoft faces and it is facing it on a daily basis with Microsoft 365, where the users are (for the most) adults, so when we get to the console it becomes a different setting. This is why the console evolution is a little more treacherous. When the gamer has the option to remain offline (when needed) he/she has options, when forced online they fall away. Sony got hacked a few times (at least twice), with millions of accounts and the details in the open, the damage was larger than some expected and I reckon that most avoided damage was because the overwhelming amount of gamers had physical copies of the game. So offline gaming was never impacted, merely the multiplayers losing a few days of access.

Now, with Game Pass that would not be an issue and the optional overall damage of $210 (two subscriptions) are easily tended to, in the worst case scenario you pay for it twice and a few weeks later it is either refunded, or you are all paid up for +1 year.

Now, let’s change the setting that the Business insider gave us one month ago. With ‘A desperate hacker tried selling US military files for $150 — only to find no one wanted them‘ (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/hacker-us-military-drone-files-for-sale-2018-7), this seems hilarious, until you consider the following facts, the first one is “The hacker, who is believed to reside in a poverty-stricken country in South America, said his internet connection was slow and that because his bandwidth was limited, he did not download all the files prior to finding a willing buyer“, so it is in a low yield place, the second one is “The hacker also tapped into live footage of surveillance cameras at the US-Mexico border and NASA bases, and an MQ-1 Predator flying over the Gulf of Mexico“, we still have a sense of humour, live camera watching! Yay! Now we add “the vulnerable computers were taken offline, which inadvertently cut off the hacker’s access to the files“, OK, it happens, sometimes a computer has a missed security patch. Now we add ‘a maintenance manual for the MQ-9A Reaper drone, a list of airmen assigned to a Reaper drone unit, manuals on how to suppress improvised explosive devices‘, is seems harmless, right? Yet when you consider that this was a professional setting where the person had access to “documents belonging to a US Air Force service member stationed at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, and documents belonging to another service member believed to be in the US Army“, we see the setting where Military security was circumvented, from a close to powerless place into Military hardware. so when we are confronted with “enough knowledge to realise the potential of a very simple vulnerability and use it consistently“, we see the first part, the second part was given with “The Netgear router vulnerability, which dates back to 2016, allowed hackers to access private files remotely if a user’s password is outdated. Despite several firmware updates and countless news articles on the subject, thousands of routers remain vulnerable“, this is a setting involving adults (one would hope), they cannot get their heads right and you are submitting teenagers and gamers (in a non-professional setting) to those exploitations. Microsoft can market all it can, and to some extent they can fix some parts, but the ‘always online‘ will still be out there and that is where the damage gets to the people.

The prosecution fail rate makes it cool and interesting to go after gamers and the many hours of having to download games will at some point present an opening for hackers, that market is growing and it will hit gamers, there is close to 0% avoiding that.

The question becomes, how ready will Microsoft be? How much resources will be impacted on their customer care and customer service when it hits? The Xbox 360 gave them the red rings of death issue (which went it happened to me was fixed awesomely, it merely took 3-4 weeks), which is acceptable as a new console was shipped to me. The setting when it is in cyberspace, the game changes as a million accounts could be affected. Some hackers will be creative and resort to a low corruption setting (like the dBase virus), some will merely download and wipe, the fact is that even if it is resolved, it will take time to resolve and that is where gamers lose patience really really fast. My setting to buy another console to fix it is one example (I had the funds when it happened), yet what happens when you are in the middle of a Diablo 3 season, which is time restrained and someone ransoms your access? In current setting the damage is partially avoidable; the new Scarlett setting leaves the partial part up for debate. In addition, as the number of people resorting to that path increases, the interest to mess with that part becomes a lot more interesting to Cyber criminals.

In this we need to look at the other side too, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) gives us “cybercrime is costing the Australian economy up to $1 billion annually in direct costs alone“, when we look global, we see Experian with the quote: “Ransomware attacks, data breaches, theft of intellectual property, sales of counterfeit goods and other illicit activities are generating at least $1.5 trillion in annual revenue“, so globally, when gamers are added to that list of victims, how high will that priority be? Do you think that they get prime time consideration, or will the party line become ‘the best and easiest thing to do is to just start again‘, I was told that by Microsoft when my Xbox one profile got somehow damaged in the first year. Now try the setting with access, invested cash and time and tenfold the amount of open targets. From my personal point of view, when there is an Office 365 impacting against the Xbox Red accounts wiped, how many resources will Microsoft have? I am certain that the business customers get first dibs on whatever they need. Now this last part does not count against Microsoft, it is merely the lesser of two high cost evils, it is reality.

Even as Microsoft is showing that it is upping the game on gaming and consoles, it is also upping to optional damage and hardship to gamers. I say optional, because in the first, we have no idea what that red box will be doing, we have no idea what the settings are for near future gaming (in 16 months) and we do not know how certain changes will actually impact the gaming sphere, but Sony has shown us that the dangers are real.

In the end, we see that Microsoft is upping the game when it comes to gaming, there is no denying it, yet how the future will pan out and whether Microsoft has truly upped the game for gamers is still to be determined. That is not a negative thing, because any expectation for the future is merely speculation, yet the dangers to their gamers will increase by a lot and that part remains the question mark in all this. Some could have been prevented by a lot, but Microsoft is clearly steering into a settings where adherence to ‘always online‘ is the setting they demand, one way or the other. Even if the prison has golden bars, it remains a prison and that part needs to be clear. The fact that gamers do not get the choice in the matter is what matters, not only from the cyber threat side. Congestion is a growing concern on a global scale. Even as Bill Morrow, Chief Executive of NBN Co. was idiotic enough to initially blame gamers for the congestion, the truth is that against 4K Netflix and YouTube, gamers are not even a blip on that radar, yet congestion is a present and growing issue, so there is a problem there too. The system is already under pressure and globally 200 million gamers when a large slice of that pie is set to the streaming and virtual copies of games only come into play, congestion will rear its ugly head and those gamers become more than a mere blip. Consider that Bethesda shipped 12 million units to retailers within the first 24 hours of Fallout 4, and consider that a large chunk of these people will immediately download the game on launch day of Fallout 76. so optionally up to 12 million people all downloading a game that is also stated to be 4K, so we are looking to around 100 GB download, that is merely one game title, it will be in a time when there is plenty to download and even now, as we accept that most are physical copies, the truth is that gaming in that way will add to the congestion in a really big way. Most providers are not ready and it will impact the gamers, Netflix users and Stan (the list goes on for a long time) are merely part of all this traffic. I named Bethesda and they are merely one of many players in all this. Microsoft, Ubisoft, Bethesda, and Electronic Arts; all people pushing (or getting pushed) towards the virtual release only side of things down the track.

Why does this matter now?

One of the big events QuakeCon 2018 starts tomorrow and that will also be the place where more specific information will be given by the actual makers on more than one title by the way. It will be important on how games are moving forward. It is not merely Fallout 76 (one of the biggest titles anticipated) that is in the upper limits of gaming on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation; it would potentially give the direction of where they are going with the Elder Scrolls VI. Merely two Bethesda games that literally has millions of followers, so there is an essential need to take notice of Bethesda for several reasons. This reverts back to Microsoft, because Bethesda games have a huge following on all platforms. It also means that in that setting (set against the rumour that Fallout 76 is online multiplayer only, yet you can play the game alone) any congestion will topple game joy completely. We know that there is enough experience with Elder Scrolls Online, so it is not the setting that Bethesda is going in blind in any of this, but at the same time the gaming dimension is changing at the same time, so that change is impacting in more than one way; that is the push that Microsoft is going for, which is all fine, yet at that that point we will be faced with more outside interference factors and congestion is a real factor, one that players will be confronted with to a much larger degree in the near future.

If Microsoft gets that all right, then it will be picking up momentum in a scary way and at that point the question will be, can Sony match this? I personally love that part, if we see a setting where Sony and Microsoft push each other to new heights is great because in all this, the gamer ALWAYS wins! And over time this push is a realistic one, yet in some places we will optionally see a time where the providers cannot match what the consumers need and that is a new setting for many gamers. In the past we merely accepted what was available, in the new setting you get to play based on what you pay for and that is something we have not been confronted with. Anyone thinking that this will not happen; think again! It might be the selling point for people to switch providers, but there will be a clear setting of borders, borders that set what you can do and that is where we see the overall cost go up, yet to what extent is a clear unknown for now.

 

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Tabula Rasa

Yes, the Latin name for Clean Slate. It is an expression that we got from the Romans, who used wax tablet to scribe information, they used a metal pen, or a Stylus to write on the wax. In addition, when the slate was done, it was placed near a 50 degrees Celsius hotspot (like in the kitchen, and the wax would melt, so it could be used again, that is where the clean slate comes from. This is not the only part, there is enough evidence that the Syrians were doing this too about 2500 years ago, so Apple did not start it and even now (and 1 trillion dollar value later), they still use over excessive electronics to allow you to work with a clean slate at the touch of a button, no hotspot required.

So, in this trailed and tested environment, why would others try to budge in?

That of course was a question that answers itself in greed. I got my iPad (the very first one) 7 years ago; I still have it, even as it is not starting to buckle, so the end of a 24:7 life cycle has been reached. It helped me past 3 past graduate degrees (including a Master degree), so it earned its ‘moment of recycling‘. Yet, I will be a little sad; it was a faithful companion since day 1.

I paid about $1200, for the first edition, 64 GB cellular and Wi-Fi. that same setting with a much faster processor, higher resolution and increased speed, as well as camera and video options that I did not have in my edition will set me back $799, but with 100% more storage, or $1399, with 400% more storage and additional 4K filming. On my budget it will be the normal iPad, but the full version with 800% storage Pro and the rest at $1699 is still appealing. Still, the $799 is a great option, so sticking with that (and my budget makes it an optional setting. The fact that something so much larger and more powerful is merely 65% of the version I bought gives additional satisfaction.

So in all that, why on earth is Microsoft being half baked? First they screw up their gaming dimension, sticking their heads in the sand, ignoring consumers and proclaiming that they know what they are doing, whilst at this very same debacle, we see first Cnet giving us: ‘The Microsoft Surface Go is a good computer, but a very bad tablet‘, we also get “Windows 10’s tablet interface still stinks, and there aren’t a lot of popular apps that were built for Windows 10 in tablet mode. The iPad still has the best library of tablet apps“, it is something we all should have known, when it comes to apps and the Apple solution has millions of apps as an advantage, a decent amount of them free and very useful. In addition a much larger proportion is all less than $5 each, often it is the pro version of the free app, so you can fit before you commit (like any decent relationship). Then we get “Microsoft’s bookstore lacks a lot of titles, including some on The New York Times’ best-seller list. The Times, The Washington Post and other popular publications are also missing. While I could check any website, scrolling was sometimes too jittery and annoying, especially while holding the tablet with one hand in bed at night“, which implies that there is no beating iBook, a very essential tool, not merely for reading.

In addition there is: “The Surface Go’s bezels are so wide they’re almost comical. While it doesn’t hinder performance, it makes the tablet look dated from the get-go“, giving the implied setting that Microsoft again did not prepare for a serious war, merely a setting where they want to ‘tip their toes into the water‘, I would have thought that the Surface Pro setting should have properly prepared them in all this. And the killer in all this is “Finally, battery life is pretty bad. Microsoft advertises nine or more hours of use, but I never got close to that. I usually saw about four or five hours of use with Chrome and Spotify open“, which was countered with “I could save battery life by using Microsoft’s Edge browser — Windows 10 said Chrome was draining the battery a lot — but I prefer Chrome“, a setting that will be shared by many users, so in all this, the mere battery drain will get people to prefer the iPad, or an alternative over the Surface Go and that is merely on launch week. If there is one giggle around the corner, then it is the setting that this device will make more and more people consider the options that the $400 Chromebooks have. This is exactly what we get to see at eh end of the CNBC review. With: “You should only buy the Surface Go if you need a Windows 10 computer but think the Surface Pro is too big and expensive. I imagine most people don’t fit that profile though. If you need a tablet, go with the iPad. If you need a cheap computer, a Chromebook or cheaper Windows 10 laptop would suit you a lot better“, we see that Microsoft again comes with a device that has all the right marketing, yet in the end, the users will soon learn that a flawed approach is not a near hit, it is merely a miss. So, let’s thank Microsoft for their efforts in giving notice to the new blockbuster ‘Rise of the Chromebook‘, already available in several e-Stores near you and you can find those places with Google Chrome and Internet Explorer, or was that Microsoft Edge?

In the end, the setting becomes the iPad $799, or the Surface Go $838, in all seen there is, as far as I can tell no redeeming feature scoring for Microsoft. Even the ‘if you need a Windows 10 computer‘ does not hold enough water to spend more only to get an indecent amount less. The battery life alone makes it a nonstarter. In the end, the die-hard Microsoft fans will accept it, from all the sources I watched, it does seem to do what it needs to do, it might not do what you prefer it to do (jab at the battery life). Another source gave us that the sound is not great, I am willing to accept that this is slightly more in the ears of the beholder, yet I never heard that complaint from any of the iPads, which is another issue for prospective buyers to consider, which is funny when you consider that some of the Chromebooks (not all mind you), come with: “listening to BBC Radio live via the surprisingly good Bang & Olufsen (B&O) in-built speakers“, I tend to not go high-gear on most PC and tablet things, so I might not have given the B&O serious consideration depending on the price, yet at the $100 difference, not having B&O sound seems just crazy. In that setting, going towards something like the HP Notebook x2 10-p033tu becomes just as exciting, with optionally a much better choice as it comes with the keyboard at that point. Even the not so popular Samsung tablet becomes a decent alternative at this point (and I have never been a fan of Samsung), with options at $329, with a battery that offers 13 hours of video playback it implies to be swimming circles around the Surface Go, all issues that should not have been coming up as a serious alternative for the Surface Go, not from a tablet well over 2 years old.

This is what you can find within the hour, so in all this, the Surface Go is not only less competitive, it is merely latching on whatever it can for visibility, that is no way for a product to distinguish itself, a system that is nothing more than the runt of the litter. So, as a tablet, it is not merely in no way a decent alternative to the iPad, there are a few other choices that would make an equal if not a better alternative at this point. All this, whilst only a week ago, the website Mashable gave us: ‘Save up to 30% on Chromebooks from Samsung, Acer, ASUS, and Google‘, now I get that this is temporary, yet at this point (using Google Ads for example), Microsoft could have bid on that specific page and get students across to consider the Surface go at the ‘match price of the week‘, an opportunity Microsoft did not go for (seemingly), so whilst we are drowning in Windows Central reviews on almost every digital channel, we see Microsoft in the wrong places, or perhaps better stated, not in the right places. Missing on loads of opportunities, especially when you realise that most universities with the Spring (AUS) / or Autumn (Europe) semesters are only 5 weeks away, so whomever needs stuff, now is the time that they are getting it.

These are the days where starting with a clean slate (new data device) is important, especially in your new education, in all this the settings that I am noticing give me the distinct feeling that Microsoft has not been very serious in cornering a market, and from my point of view that is the second time where they are forgoing a serious market share on anything. I just cannot work out why someone allows for that not once, but twice in a row, it is (again, merely from my point of view) not the setting of opportunities missed, they are the setting of market shares lost and once lost, regaining them is not really an option, unless they do something so essentially ground breaking that everyone takes notice, a scenario that has not knocked on the doors of Microsoft since Windows XP.

 

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Playing the player

It happens, we sometimes meet those players who have it all, and they also have the ego and naive approach, so basically stupidity in a neatly wrapped package. This is not about one of these people, this is about someone who got to be smart about it and even as my psyche is slightly vexed and upset on the game played, I have to admire the fact on someone making close to half a billion playing it. We get to the Australian Financial Review (at https://www.afr.com/business/banking-and-finance/hedge-funds/nintendo-trader-who-made-a-massive-short-bet-against-the-games-maker-revealed-20180730-h13cmo). the title gives the goods with ‘Nintendo trader who’s made a $540 million bet against the games maker revealed‘, the quote “Gabriel Plotkin, head of New York hedge fund Melvin Capital Management, has accumulated a $US400 million ($540 million) short bet against the Japanese game maker, according to regulatory filings” and in normal cases this is not an issue, the market is all about ups downs, I get that (I might not agree).

It is also part of the problem here. You see, the Nintendo Switch has been breaking records since the start and whilst it is about to push Microsoft down into a third position, it is equally breaking several other records. It has surpassed the historic global sales of the first Xbox, the GameCube, the Wii U the PS Vita, as well as the Nintendo 64. It is unlikely to surpass the Original Nintendo Entertainment System (over 61 million) for at least another year, but we see that the Switch has surpassed most of its own lifetime sales except for one console and 4 handhelds. It has done that great in less than two years. With the additional revenue from the software which is also breaking new records, one would think that there is no stopping Nintendo, so when I reported on the issue that I had with the Analyst making those brash announcements on being short by 10%, I was not sure on who is riding the ‘expected sales’ talk and why expectations are so high, were they inflated to be artificially high?

Well, it seems to me that someone made a truckload of money on the work of others. I am honestly unsure how to feel about that. I think I have to accept that this is how the Wall Street game is played; I merely accept that I do not have to like it.

So when I see “Nintendo will report first quarter earnings on Tuesday after the market close. Analysts estimate revenue will rise 21 per cent from a year earlier, while operating profit will jump 58 percent“, I wonder how that game was played. You see, two days ago, I wrote ‘The state of the gaming union‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/07/29/the-state-of-the-gaming-union/), and when I was confronted with “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 came from https://gamingbolt.com/jefferies-analyst-believes-switch-sales-will-see-a-slowdown-this-year. This is an issue I have raised before. Not in regards to Nintendo, or gaming though. So how come that we see, and merely take for granted the words of an analyst giving us ‘missed target for the company by more than 10 percent‘, that whilst we see the records broken and the forecast is: “revenue will rise 21 per cent from a year earlier, while operating profit will jump 58 percent“, at what point was there any validity on slashing the stock price? Is there an interaction between analysts like Atul Goyal and Hedge funds managers like Gabriel Plotkin?

Am I the only one asking that question?

If it was a bubble and someone shorted on that seeing the bubble is bursting like in the Big Short, I say ‘Yay!’ to the one doing it, or better those making money of stupid people deciding to make bubbles and hypes. People making money from stupid people relying on greed is a nice thing, it is like instant karma watching a Cobra seeing a nice snack, only realising too late that it is a Mongoose and the snake ends up not having any dinner and becoming a meal himself. Yet in this case, we need to accept that Wall Street seems to have its own view on natural selection and that the price of getting mentioned there is that you are merely the next meal for some. Still, when it is a faltering Microsoft, an error full of Facebook, Equifax breaches, they all happen and they will therefor take a few additional hits. In light of all Nintendo issues, apart from one solvable issue, the Switch has been doing stellar and now the issue rises more and more that what analysts predict is almost like selling fairy tales and in that setting pragmatism and realism will never ever win. This makes me wonder on the checks and balances on forecast analysts.

I might be jealous that Gabriel Plotkin made close to half a billion, but the setting does not make sense. Many who are actually in this field might laugh out loud, and that is fine. Still, logic no longer applies here, 3+3 is no longer 6 and that offends my logical way of thinking. Apart from me having been pro-Nintendo for the better part of two decades, the math does not add up on the Nintendo Switch. Consider the parts

  1. At Amazon recently, the top 10 sales chart for games was 90% for Nintendo
  2. Nintendo Switch is still breaking records, still on a firm route to be the second largest next gen console, surpassing another player, which it had not been able to do since they entered the market.
  3. Seven Switch games published by Nintendo have sold over 1 million copies each. And “Super Mario Odyssey” has sold nearly 10 million copies. For a system this short on the market, these are stellar achievements. In addition “Super Mario Odyssey” is bought by almost 60% of those owning a Switch that is nothing short of exceptional, it might not have been in the old days where everyone with a PlayStation had Tomb Raider, especially with the large game market nowadays, but it is still quite the achievement.

When we see the demand for Nintendo Switch continuing, the sales racking up and the records that are currently being broken, how unrealistic were the forecasts from analysts? That is where my mind is at. So whilst we saw the 10% drop given two days ago, where was the reality there? That is what makes the issue for me, so when we see someone walking away with half a billion at the expense of Nintendo, the question becomes

Was the Market played, were both played and how was this play possible?

My mind tends to go towards the inside job equation. I cannot say that this is an accusation, mainly because I do not know or comprehend that market. Yet, I do know games and consoles and in all this, the setting of Nintendo does not add up. So whatever Melvin Capital Management and Gabriel Plotkin did to make this play out the way they have shown that they are really intelligent, no one denies that. Yet, in light that Nintendo got slammed because of this, in light of all the gains they have made does not add up for one iota.

Yes, many graduate from the London School of Economics will have a laughing field day on this, I get that, but the sentiment form me stands, the numbers do not add up because the forecast is set in a too unrealistic way from my point of view and that is where the people behind the screens create turmoil that seems unacceptable to me.

In this, the funny part is that Yahoo Finance actually gave me something that I do not agree with, but the phrasing is actually important here. With ‘Massive Short Bet Against Nintendo After Shares Drop‘, we see (at https://finance.yahoo.com/news/sac-alum-plotkin-makes-massive-050808098.html). the quote “There’s a new villain in the world of Nintendo Co. Gabriel Plotkin, head of New York hedge fund Melvin Capital Management, has accumulated a $375 million short bet against the Japanese game maker, according to regulatory filings. The former star trader at SAC Capital Advisors accounted for as much as 7 percent of Nintendo’s daily volume in recent weeks, contributing to stock declines since May that have stunned analysts” starts funny, because I am not certain if Gabriel Plotkin is a (or even ‘the’) villain, or the new Warrio. You see the part that we see is ‘contributing to stock declines since May that have stunned analysts‘, that was not the case, analysts started the 10% drop that started it all, the question is whether this was an intentional play to decrease the value of Nintendo, and if there was intent, do any of those analysts have any connections to Microsoft? If there is a villain Microsoft is a much more likely one than the facilitator Gabriel Plotkin seems to be.

the other quote that seems to be important here is: “Many analysts were bewildered when shares began dropping sharply in May, leading to the biggest gap in a decade between brokerage targets and the actual stock price. Goyal called the declines “shocking” at the time“, the quote seems to be in opposition to “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“, which I commented on two days ago. Something made him slash the prices, so there was no shock. Now we get to the part on how Atul Goyal got from one place to the other. Did Gabriel Plotkin play Atul Goyal, or did they play the market together?

I might not have noticed if they had played Microsoft with their bungles on the Xbox and Surface fields, I might not have noticed on the PlayStation reaching certain levels of saturation, or even IBM, who got the ‘tits up’ claim from the Register. There would be an impact, especially with the ‘troubling storage underperformance‘ that their cloud had. Yet in opposition the Nintendo setting did not add up and I wonder if it ever will add up, unless certain analysts are proven to have set the stage of (intentional or not) creating an anticipation bubble that was too unrealistic. That was merely my view and I believe that I am not the only one having certain questions in all this.

Merely ask yourself on how stock drops 10%, that whilst operating profits are set to be jumping 58 percent in the last year alone and more profits are clearly in the sights of all who see what Nintendo is doing, creating, as well as achieving.

#SwitchIsLife (or so they allegedly say at Nintendo)

 

 

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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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Trusting Anti-trust cases?

Today will be about Jennifer Rankin and her article ‘Google fined £3.8bn by EU over Android antitrust violations’. First off, it is a good article, she did absolutely nothing wrong (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jul/18/google-faces-record-multibillion-fine-from-eu-over-android). We get the goods (not all mind you) but a clear picture and that is what I like, a clear picture to work with.

Right off the bat we start with “Google has been hit with a landmark €4.34bn (£3.8bn) fine by the European Union over “serious illegal behaviour” to secure the dominance of its search engine on mobile phones“. Interesting setting as there are Android based phones and IOS (Apple brand X phones). The android systems ALL have full access to Google. As for the search engine, there are two elements. The first the engine for searching itself, which is in android, giving us an open source setting and (at https://searchcode.com/), you can take a look yourself, now you will still need the skills to program, but that is a discussion for another day. The second part is to find stuff, which requires the PageRank. Now we have an issue, because (as the Americans say): ‘that shit is patented!‘ plain and simple. Whilst Microsoft and IBM were belittling Google in 1999 (heard it myself in the UK) Google was working and growing in what is now defined as ‘the development of the Android mobile operating system, the Google Chrome web browser, and Chrome OS, a lightweight operating system based on the Chrome browser‘, it took 5 years for them to get serious traction and whilst they grew, the other two were marketing their BS on every level whilst trusting in VP and players who actually did not know any of their shit, people relying on PowerPoint presentations, bullet points and hype expressions. Now we get the first part that matters: “The European commission imposed the record penalty after finding that the US tech firm required smartphone manufacturers to pre-install Google’s search and browser apps on devices using its Android operating system, which is used on 80% of all phones“. This is the first part. You see, there is a merely a partial truth and it is largely incomplete. Any mobile smartphone needs an OS. So we have Apple with IOS, there is or was) Blackberry, Microsoft and Google with Android. The rest was either not willing or eager to play on any serious level. They all had this: ‘it is much better going for larger systems‘. Even the larger players ignored the power of Mobile and Smartphones for too long. That evidence is seen with NBC where we see “In a farewell post on LinkedIn, Microsoft’s former head of Windows, Terry Myerson, explained why Microsoft failed in the smartphone business“, (at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/29/why-microsoft-failed-in-phones.html). The quote: “It comes down to two problems: Underestimating Android’s business model, and building on an older technical platform that wasn’t quite ready for the job“. So in two mere dimensions we see the acknowledgment of large corporations set in a place of short sighted expectations whilst using a narrow minded business model. That is apart from the issues that Windows Mobile had, I wanted to add that list of issues, but I calculated that this section would be no less than 6000 words, with the additional issues on Windows 10 mobile adding a serious amount of words to the 6000 words required. Blackberry did not survive the times either. It had a good platform, but ultimately too expensive for most businesses. It is still going on, but not in the same way it was. Blackberry was not flawed, it focused on specific groups and those groups, those who choose Blackberry will love it forever, it merely could not hold up the settings there were, I reckon that the 2008 crash wiped well over 35% of their customer base instantly, a setting that many corporations tend to see as a fatal blow, Blackberry was no exception. So 50% of the ‘larger’ players are already gone, none of it had anything to do with Google, or with the patented parts. So I would love to scrutinise the Danish Margrethe Vestager (without resorting to Denmark and Hamlet). It starts with: “Google has used its Android mobile phone operating system “to cement its dominance as a search engine”, preventing rivals from innovating and competing “and this is illegal under EU antitrust rules”” No! They did not! We see the clear admission from Terry Myerson giving us ‘building on an older technical platform that wasn’t quite ready for the job‘, knowing that already sets one of the two outside of the consideration. I have given the audience evidence again and again on how stupidity rules at Microsoft. The Surface and Xbox platforms are two distinctive places where this is visible. Both have a narrow minded setting, both are short sighted and even the business approach to grow the customer base failed to do its job. Reuters gave us that last year with ‘Microsoft Surface devices fail on reliability: Consumer Reports‘, an overpriced system that cannot even get close to 80% of what Apple could do with its very first iPad in 2011. In addition Reuters gives us: “The non-profit publication surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found that an estimated 25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices would be presented with “problems by the end of the second year of ownership,” according to a study published on Thursday“, how can any device with a 25% failure issue be in the market in the first place, and it is very connected, as this is the mobile industry, the mobile industry is more than merely a mobile phone, all connected devices that rely on mobile technology (Wi-Fi or cellular) are part of that failure. The Reuters article (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-microsoft-surface-idUSKBN1AQ1EP) we also get “According to the Consumer Reports survey responses, the Microsoft devices were found to freeze, unexpectedly shut down or have issues with their touchscreens, Beilinson said. Altogether, the reliability issues made Microsoft a statistical outlier compared with other brands. Apple Inc. had the most reliable devices, Beilinson said“, so how many corporations should be considered when they are the outlier in a negative way? #JustAsking

It is time to look at article 101 (antitrust) (at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:12008E101&from=EN). Here we see:

  1. The following shall be prohibited as incompatible with the internal market: all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which may affect trade between Member States and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market, and in particular those which:
    (a) directly or indirectly fix purchase or selling prices or any other trading conditions; (not charging for a service is a right anyone has)
    (b) limit or control production, markets, technical development, or investment; (impeding your own technical development, intentional or not is merely your own visionary stupidity)
    (c) share markets or sources of supply;
    (d) apply dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage; (nope, the non-patented part of android is open to anyone)
    (e) make the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

The first issue is that the Page rank which is part of this is patented, so there is already a setting of exclusion. The fact that the others are 10 year late to the party is equally evidence that there is a wrongful conviction here. The setting that they are all scared with the coming of 5G, whilst Apple and Google are the ONLY ONES who will be decently ready, both ending up with a massive market share. We see at this point the third failure of Microsoft. You see, it was not merely the two that Terry Myerson stated at CNBC, the ‘Underestimating Android’s business model‘, as well as the ‘an older technical platform that wasn’t ready for the job‘, it is to some extent the ‘25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices‘ failing, they are all connected to overlapping user groups making the damage even larger. The Xbox debacle that showed a bullying setting of ‘always online’ as well as storage shortage issues (a killer in the mobile devices), their bullying setting of pushing people online is equally part of the failure. It was the fourth part that truly took Microsoft out of the race. Google (as I personally see it) looked at roughly 1.7 million university students and looked at where the future was pointing. They saw where the future was heading and they build on that long term view. Just look at the Gmail storage, the YouTube facilitation, and to openness of their business suite apps, just a few examples. Over 3 years I have only two parts where I missed Microsoft Office a little, over 3 years that is nothing. That in a setting where Microsoft went into the ‘greed’ setting it becomes a lot more funny, especially when we see students having to get by a few dollars a day, yet Microsoft has a $199 version for these students, yes it will be cloud, secure (so they say) and update cost free, a subscription service. Google merely states $0, on the cloud. You tell me what students want! The issues are linked, because Microsoft had been actively growing the anti-Microsoft feelings for almost a decade. I understand that Microsoft has a business model and ‘free software’ is an issue for them, they have a right to be like hat. Google understood that the poor students who hardly can keep a budget now, are going to be the executives of tomorrow, those people then are executives now and they all embrace Google (well, most of them anyway). There was no force, there was no (how did that Danish lady put it?) ‘Restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market‘, many went to iPhone and IOS and Google is fine with that. No, the issue is that the other players are confronted with the stupidity of the previous post holders and that is an issue now, it links together.

By not realising the future 15 years ago, the present is close to unobtainable for them. I watched how I saw again and again how some of them went by ‘We are now working on the new technology surpassing the others‘ again and again (and not delivering). You merely need to find the history of ‘SPSS Data entry for Windows‘ and realise that this was an excellent way to lose 6000 businesses, and close to 35,000 users (relabeling it ‘form design software’ was never a solution). Microsoft went in that same direction and now they are close to side lined from the next technology by their own stupidity. No resources, no ‘know-how’ and no vision, yet Google is the big bad wolf here!

This is the underlying story that links it all and some companies are merely indicative, but they overall went the same direction. So where we see ‘preventing rivals from innovating and competing‘, I see that this was not the case, they merely went a greed driven path (OK, I admit, I should say ‘revenue driven path’), whilst actual new technology is all about innovation and never about iteration. Microsoft, after IBM the larger player feeling left out has shown us on several fields that innovation is merely marketing, not actively pursuing issues and with a ‘25% failure issue’ setting in the Surface department, I believe that their flaws are clearly shown. It becomes more of a farce when we see “Vestager added: “The vast majority of users simply take what comes with their device and don’t download competing apps.”“, users want what works; we are not interesting in a $199 fee for apps that they we get for free, ask any student. There are apparently 207 million higher education students globally, ask them! In addition, that mere setting where we see the onus of the user, to not look for more is punishing a company because the users are lazy? Since when can we convict Google for not installing in the second degree, because the user was lazy?

In many situations there are no competing apps, not of any quality that is and when you look in the Google play, we see that the users are allowed to set the tone. I will be the first to agree, that there are issues and that there might have been a case to some extent. Microsoft faced that years ago when it was still in the delusional setting that they had the better browser. Now we see a different picture. Now we are faced with IBM that put everything on Watson (not sure if that was a good idea), but it can facilitate to the larger degree in every direction, including the third parties banking on 5G, IBM is eager to oblige. Microsoft has nowhere to go, they burned down their options and as they screwed up again and again, it has nothing left but to sulk like a little child. Just consider the upcoming Microsoft Surface Go, for people with budgets. Now consider the News we are given: “With a starting price of $469, the Apple iPad (with Wi-Fi connectivity only) is the winner on affordability”, “The consumer/education version is priced at $599 and will run Windows 10 Home in S mode – which only allows apps that are available in the Windows store”, all this, for a system not out yet, and the Australian Financial Review (at https://www.afr.com/technology/mobiles-and-tablets/will-the-surface-go-boldly-where-other-tablets-cannot-20180713-h12n71) gives us: “Why has Microsoft just released a tablet at a time when almost everyone is buying smartphones and almost no one is buying tablets? Sales of tablets such as Apple’s iPad have been in steep decline since 2015, a decline that shows no signs of reversing in the next four or five years, analysts say”, so in that setting another optional failure is introduced. That whilst I saw it coming, just as the short sighted failures that are part what now with giggles is called the ‘most powerful console on the market’ (The Xbox One X), that is the company that is connected to all this.

That part can be found in a few places. In this case I give you the New York Post where (at https://nypost.com/2015/04/15/microsoft-the-big-winner-in-google-antitrust-lawsuit/) we see “While Google CEO Larry Page took his lumps with the suit, Microsoft, very quietly, came out the big winner, sources said. “Microsoft complained a lot,” said a source with direct knowledge of the situation. “Microsoft definitely counselled the [EC], suggesting it made sense to send Google a statement of objections so Google would be forced to produce documents” showing its search-result recipe, another source said”, this was a joke 3 years in the making. I hope that I can turn that joke on these losers as they have diminished consumer trust in their narrow minded way (not to mention short sighted ways).

Even when we turn this in another direction through the Register two month ago (at https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/21/antitrust_google_us_government/), where we see ‘On 20th anniversary of Microsoft antitrust, US Treasury Sec calls for Google monopoly probe‘, I am not arguing how right or wrong it is. I am merely pointing out that Google went in a direction that was long term, whilst all the others went into the short term path that was demanded from their board of directors, who for the most could not read a spreadsheet properly because the bullet points were missing (their optional opposition to the NRA perhaps?). That was the setting and those with vision are dumbfounded and they got hurt through the inadequacy of stupid people.

So the Danish party was already active then. What is an issue is Jeremy Stoppelman, he had vision with Yelp, even as he did not understand certain markets (miscalculated is a better word), he had faith in his product, which I applaud. it worked for a while, yet I see that bad choices (unfortunate choices is a better setting) impacted it all, so even as Yelp failed to meet expectations, if it survives and gets 5G traction, it will be ahead of others a decent amount, it turned down Google who wanted them when the going was good and he would have had a strong place if he had taken that part, but it was his decision and I applaud him for it. Yelp and Turnstyle Analytics would have an optional strong 5G setting if it had kept international operations and grow the data the way they had, it will not be easy now for them, but I digress. With: “Mnuchin’s comments on Google came after a special 60 Minutes episode that focused in part on the company and its effective search monopoly. That segment was notable for the inclusion of two people: EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager and Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman“, yet all parties have their ‘its effective search monopoly‘, what they are not telling us is that they had a vision that everyone would come with a future need and they got Stanford University to create the algorithm that got patented. All the other players remained dumb to the future. And then we get the one gem I expected: “Also, the EU announced it was launching a probe of Google’s Android operating system to see if its agreements with cellular phone makers was hurting rivals. While Microsoft likely does not care much about search preference, “the investigation throws sand in the gears of Google’s innovation,” the former FTC official said“, so there it is ‘agreements with cellular phone makers was hurting rivals‘, phone makers had options, Apple had its own system and there are NO non-Apple IOS phones. Interesting that this does not make that cut is it? An open system was offered and the alternative Microsoft (rejected because it was not up to the job), Blackberry (is only after the collapse that it became an option to others), we see that Google has an open option, yet they are the boogeymen. So we get two elements, a partially failed entrepreneur (only in part) and a limelight seeking politician. The power of the google Appeal is found in a simple statement: “Her staff ran through over a billion Google searches and found that Google was knowingly manipulating its search algorithms to promote its own products and push competitors far down the ranking“, that evidence must be shown in court and get scrutinised! You see, the timeline for a billion searches can only partially be automated and those results can be used by Google as evidence against Margrethe Vestager as well. The evidence of ‘manipulating its search algorithms‘ will be equally a discussion point putting EVERY intern and assistant of Margrethe Vestager in the witness box, no exception. A setting that I personally see as the EC has close to no chance of winning. Even as I saw the algorithm in my University classes for an assignment, I am decently certain that I did not see the whole 100% of all elements of the algorithm, one element out of place and that is as I (again: personally) see it the crushing of the EC case, the appeal will be won by Google.

The fact that Microsoft was part of this in several ways from 2015 onwards and likely before that is more than enough for me to consider the premise that trusting antitrust is not always a good thing. I do agree that antitrust should exist, yet it should be clear that this is not a handle for the narrow minded, the short sighted, the greedy and the stupid to use because they could not get their shit together. They should reread Chapter 11 of their favourite pornographic work, whether that text comes in 50 shades of mixing several combinations of white and black. A colourless equation in a setting where colour was the only part that the global users demanded, listening to them would have been a first requirement. It is the setting, which gets me to the final image.

An interesting to set the stage, because if Microsoft was a marketing firm, they would be reduced to merely being a spammer, look at the first screen of your Xbox One (X optional) for that part, also all the parts people have to go through in Windows 10 (https://www.windowscentral.com/how-remove-advertising-windows-10), so in the end, the advisors have their own games to play (quite literally at some point). The Independent was kind enough to give us this with: “In the meantime, we probably ought to do our bit to help her by making a little more use of Google’s rivals, such as Microsoft’s Bing, which is a perfectly serviceable search engine“, it is seen at (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/google-eu-fine-margrethe-vestager-android-search-microsoft-bing-silicon-valley-mobile-phones-a8453486.html)

Just ‘Bing’ “UK Law firms”, to get a UK law firm and immediately I see 10 law firms (page top view), 50% Australian ones (3 of those advertised), so if Bing cannot give me what I am looking for, why should I even consider them? With the term “Dutch Lawyers” I get 25% fulfilling the search. I can go on for a while, but I think the case of the doubt regarding ‘a perfectly serviceable search engine’ and the case on how it isn’t one has been made. I did not need to go far. Oh, and if you do have a sense of humour, try “Microsoft guilty” (with brackets), to see Bing give you “We didn’t find any results for “Microsoft guilty””, whilst Chrome giving us an immediate 8 results, with the quotes on these links. So when it comes to censoring (or is that just their flawed algorithm), we can soon see that there is an optional setting where Margrethe Vestager could be seen as a tool for Microsoft (as they might have been ‘searching’ for optional solutions), it might not be a fair setting, yet the entirety of the Antitrust case is seen by me in that way. Microsoft and a few others need time to catch up, being stupid merely gets you at the back of the line (which is where all future opportunities are lost), they need time and they are using the EC to try to catch up. My sense of giggling will be found the moment the appeal is won by Google; we are likely to see a tsunami of ‘carefully phrased denials from European political players trying to avoid the limelight’.

Oh, and whilst we are at it, when we see ‘placing them at a competitive disadvantage‘, that in light of Huawei surpassing Apple (source: the Verge). With: “Huawei has surpassed Apple as the world’s second largest smartphone brand. Sales have overtaken Apple for the first time”, Margrethe Vestager will call it ‘proving her point’, yet the truth is that Huawei went for the affordable option, a side Apple has not considered in decades, whilst in addition, the decline of Samsung and the growth of Huawei reinforces that it was about affordability for the longest of times, those losing market shares are their own worst enemy, because the wrong people are setting the price, I added enough evidence of that for the longest of times. This all in a setting where we see that even as Huawei realises that Europe is the key, the others are isolating themselves even more. Soon enough it will no longer be about Google and Android, it will become on non-American mobile players gaining the upper hand  over all the others, I wonder what anti-trust case will be filed at that point.

#PriceDiscriminationAnyone?

 

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They did what?

Newsweek is bringing out the news, news that had me rattled. The story (at https://www.newsweek.com/saudi-arabia-bans-47-popular-video-games-general-commission-audio-visual-1028013) gives us ‘Saudi Arabia bans 47 popular video games including ‘Assassins Creed,’ ‘Deadpool’ And ‘Final Fantasy’‘. For a moment I could not fathom why video games would be banned. Now, even as Deadpool is unlikely to be my choice of game ever. It does have a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ approach to gaming, which gives it a positive flair. Yet overall, even as I loved the movies, I never read the comic books, so there is a gap there and I reckon that the comic book fans are most likely the ones who would want the game.

So, I was intrigued to learn what the reasons were. The article merely gives me “The kingdom’s General Commission for Audio-Visual Media said Monday that 47 games will be banned for violating rules and regulations“, pretty much all the media gives the same setting some of them give other titles, even though as far as I could tell, none gave the full list. All of them set the stage that the game ‘Blue Whale Challenge‘ is the starting point for the decision involved. Now, I do get the fact that censorship remains strong in Saudi Arabia, the fact that this is the first year that the cinemas are open, the movies are still all to be screened before allowed in the cinema.

The National (at https://www.thenational.ae/world/gcc/after-suicide-in-saudi-arabia-parents-urged-to-do-more-to-curb-gaming-effects-1.746328) had another side in all this. Here we see one of the Saudi fathers in question giving us: “A Saudi father has blamed the suicide of his 12-year-old son on an online game that he said “broke the spirit” of his child. But therapists and gaming experts say the onus is on parents to step in“, I feel sorry for the loss of that father and the other parents. Yet in this part, even as a gamer and gaming expert for decades, I do not agree with the response. Yes, parents need to step in at time, yet the setting given against that father is unrealistic. You see, for a large portion of the world, gaming is life. Let me explain that, so that you do not get the wrong idea. Our lives are bettered through social interaction, at times we also need our own space to unwind, to relax and let the brain work things out. Gaming allows for all that. The multiplayer games allow friends and schoolmates to compete and sometimes cooperate in games like Fortnite and online RPG’s. By ourselves we can escape our place for a little while and seek comfort elsewhere. I myself can lose myself for hours in Minecraft by myself and feel really awesome after an hour or so, games have that ability. The nice part of Minecraft is that you can play it at times without even thinking, a version of virtual Lego that allows you to create, explore as well as destroy spiders and skeletons. Now with the ocean world addition the game just become more than twice the size it already was. It is great to game at times. All these games are positive reinforcements, no matter what the game is. You might be scared of every corner in Bloodborne; you might see the cliffs and not know the next move like a Tomb Raider should, or sneak through the corridors removing the henchmen of the Arkham Knight. None of them are negative against you and for the most they are positive parts. Even in Assassins Creed where you are correcting great injustice through killing mind you. You are one against an army! It is a challenge and at times even more. The cultural references and the additional scenes in Assassins Creed Origin were overwhelming, making it a learning experience as well.

In the darkness there are monsters

Yes, there are monsters too; in this case it is one person. It is Philipp Budeikin. The information on him is sketchy to an extent. He is a former psychology student who was expelled from his university for reasons I have not found yet. According to his own claims he invented the game in 2013. In more than one source we (BBC was one of them) he gives it to the press that his intention was to cleanse society by pushing persons to suicide whom he deemed as having no value, they were he referred to as “biological waste”. This is new; this is the first time where someone with psychological skills was out to make children destroy their own life. The game known as the ‘Blue Whale Challenge‘, the game allegedly instructs challengers to participate in a series of strange and disturbing challenges. These can include live streaming self-harm and staying up late to watch horror movies (source: The New Arab). The challenges are stated to grow increasingly extreme, until they are reportedly instructed to kill themselves as part of the 50th and final challenge. Apart from any person doing that, or being willing to do that. The fact that someone is willing to go this path (I refer to the game maker) is just weird and insane. In addition, the fact that this person was intentionally and knowingly targeting vulnerable people and the fact he is merely facing 3 years in jail is equally an issue. I will be the first one to sign any petition to ban this game for life on a global scale. This is not about the freedom of expression; this is not about freedom of speech. This is about protecting children! I have seen weird games in my lifetime. The most offensive game I saw was on the Commodore-64 in the late 80’s. It was a game called ‘Paki bang’, an offensive game where you have to shoot Pakistani’s. You got 1 point for every Pakistani you shot and -1000 for every Caucasian. It was offensive and I walked away within a minute, a game with absolutely no redeeming values, little did I know how bad could turn to worse. In my life, the setting where children are intentionally targeted by someone with psychological skills is just too unnatural; the setting clearly makes Philipp Budeikin “biological waste”, as he states the value himself. I do like and agree with the response that we see in The National. With “Omar Sharif, owner of Geeky Lizard, a gaming community and store in Dubai states: “But it’s the job of parents to make sure that kids are engaging in healthy online habits”“, I believe that to be a truth, online has many positive sides, but it has negative sides too. Parents need to be aware what their children are up to, it might not make sense at times to parents, but there is a difference between kids shouting at their friends in competition and collaboration in a game, against the setting that they are given a challenge to physically and emotionally harming themselves. We can argue that children do not always realise this, but the setting of protecting ourselves form harm is coded in our DNA, we tend to not act in self harm, the fact that ‘Blue Whale Challenge‘ is stripping away these defences is an issue and the ‘defence’ given by some with “But therapists and gaming experts say the onus is on parents to step in” is not one that I can agree with. The fact that this ‘Blue Whale Challenge‘ is not hunted down on every server by government and hackers alike is much larger issue. This setting is so unnatural that parents would not have been ready. We all should have stepped up and made sure that any server having this software got hacked and all its data removed any way possible.

In the end, the Saudi government will need to make another ruling here, it might not be immediate, but in the long run it is perhaps essential to consider the reason for any games banned other than ‘Blue Whale Challenge‘. In the end, we need to realise that Saudi Arabia has strict rules on what is allowed and the event that caused the death of two children was the one step that caused a clamp down on certain matters. Saudi Arabia has a sovereign right here. Gamers might not like it, but it is a reality. Even as we might not agree with the verdict on nearly all but one game getting the “Saudi Arabia today banned dozens of video games that it says lead children to harm themselves” label of non-approval.

Time will tell on how things evolve, in the end, we need to realise that it is a list of 47, whilst most consoles have hundreds of titles that were not banned, let’s make sure that we do not forget that part of the equation either.

In other gaming news

The predictions I have given in the past regarding Butterfingers Microsoft versus Eagerly Innovating Nintendo is taking a stronger turn, unofficial numbers (and not from a reliable source I must add) have implied the setting that Nintendo has now approached the 2/3rd marker. It is about to pass (or has just passed) the line where since the release of the Nintendo Switch (March 2017) now equaled two thirds of all the Microsoft Xbox One sold in its life cycle (since November 2013). In less than 18 months it has reached the speculated 2/3rd marker (It is hard to be precise as Microsoft is no longer releasing total consoles sold). It might be because the ‘most powerful console in the world‘ is getting surpassed by the weakest one, but that would be speculation on my side. I see it as the price for being short sighted and narrow minded, not to mention the inability to listen to their customers. 3 elements that became the alleged cause on a lessened revenue path for ‘the most powerful console in the world’.

That moment is still important, it is the clear message that it is all about playing the game and Microsoft has not been doing that. Even as Forbes gave us merely 4 days ago “Microsoft continues to surprise us with strong support for backwards compatibility and an equally remarkable offering with its subscription Xbox Games Pass as it quickly becomes the Netflix of video games” (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2018/07/14/xbox-one-vs-ps4-vs-nintendo-switch-the-state-of-the-console-wars-in-2018/#21fbe2571a8e), yet it is interesting that Forbes seems to be so protective of Microsoft, ignoring that the ‘the Netflix of video games‘ does so with a massively inferior storage system. It talks hard against Sony (validly I might add), and acknowledges the ‘Nintendo has had a remarkable resurgence‘ with the added ‘but investors are still spooked about the system‘, is that not interesting on how soft Forbes is on Microsoft? so as we get ‘will investors ever give Nintendo a break?‘, which might be a valid statement, yet it is not properly set in the dimension against the Microsoft failures (four times over), as well as ‘and will Sony stop being such sore winners?‘, which is a fair call, yet the question is how many are truly hurt by no cross playing? In the past it was never an option and we all wanted it, Sony might not be ready on a few levels, but the Sony remark is still valid, correct and acceptable, so why be so soft on Microsoft, because they are getting a beating from Nintendo? I do not recall such sentimental considerations when Microsoft Word took WordPerfect to an abattoir and gutted it completely. It was not about consideration then, so why is it now?

I am still uncertain whether Nintendo Switch will surpass Microsoft before New Year’s evening this year. The delay of 2-3 big titles are largely the cause of that, yet in light of the amount of games released, there is good cause for joy around Christmas time for Nintendo. At that point it does not really matter whether the Xbox One life cycle sales gets surpassed no sooner than Q1 2019. What matters is that gamers get to play games, perhaps it will wake up the board of directors of Microsoft to rethink their choices on all the times that they fumbled the ball, because one fumble was enough to end a console in the past (with the exception of the Sega Dreamcast, they lost because Sony was willing to be the marketeer with deadly intent). Or perhaps the fact that Microsoft advertises in Forbes? I might be speculating on the three steps on a certain Wi-Fi enabled print ad, but that does not take away the setting that we see the valid existence of ‘its subscription Xbox Games Pass‘. For me that setting comes across as someone telling a leprechaun to go screw an elephant, to which the leprechaun responds: ‘with what?

Having a small drive tends to be not so memorable. #PunIntended

 

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