Tag Archives: Nintendo Switch

A gaming shift

I am watching on how Google and Apple are starting their stream service. I don’t expect to sign up (no way will I get to Apple), but there is also another side to it all and I am not sure whether we realise this.

I might be outspoken not into Apple Arcade, yet this is largely because I am an android man. I still have my very first iPad, the anonymous one, without camera’s and such and it has done its job for over 8 years. Yes, I have games on it and foremost, the one game I still play is Blockheads, even after all these years. Like Minecraft it is fun escapism playing whilst my mind works out puzzles in the background. On the iPad 1 I also still play Sudoku and a few other games, on Android my life limits me to a few games, Gems of War being the most outspoken one.

The use of problem would be the wrong word, there is no problem, and the limitation that these systems show is the stage of real gaming. The bulk of people might be happy with Candy King, or some equivalent, the bulk might like Pokémon Go, yet is it gaming or connected mini games?

The question is more important than you might think; the question becomes what is real gaming to you? For a lot it is FIFA, NFL, NBA and NHL games and that is fine, for me it will be RPG’s. I consider Minecraft to be a game that I really love playing, yet true gaming is more and we forget the elements that we loved when we go for the short term. The Nintendo Switch makes games truly mobile, yet until I played some of the streaming games to confirm this, they might be the only one that still embraces real gaming on the go. You see, it only hits you when you see (or see again) the cut scene movies of games like God of War 4 and Horizon Zero Dawn to realise the massive journey you took to get to the end. You do not comprehend the journey until you have been on it, and Guerrilla games made more than an effort, it created an origin story so titanic in size and so overwhelming in completeness that you wonder who could ever equal it. The Horizon Zero Dawn (HZD) movie journey is well over 5 hours and that is merely the cut scene and stories that are part of a hundred hours of gameplay. I reckon it can be done sooner, but you might lose out on seeing just how amazing that world was. Santa Monica Studio did the same with God of War 4, it was a story well done and when you get to the end and see the twist [no spoiler given], and you end of merely sitting back in amazement giving yourself a loud ‘What the fuck?‘ Excelling games do that, Bethesda games do not give us that to the degree the previous two did and they still make excellent games. There is a balance in place in high level gaming, there is a balance, yet it seems to be like a seesaw, what one side gets the other loses. We might have all kinds of issues with like of Ubisoft, yet their graphics and stories have always been really good. Yet it is the other side where they lost largely on gameplay. The earlier mentioned two had both right, both gameplay and story, making the seesaw a much larger version than the one Ubisoft, EA and Rockstar Games have.

Don’t think this is a negative thing; we do not always want RPG games. Even now, lacking storyline, I would not be able to resist playing MediEvil again as it comes to PS4, that game was the reason I bought the PSP when it launched in 2005, I loved the game on the first PlayStation and thoroughly enjoyed it again on the PSP. It is the rewarding feeling of gaming you get making you want to play it again, if that did not exist, we would not have 8 versions of Mario Kart, yet they are not the only one offering that game. I still miss the challenge and fun that Wacky Races on the Dreamcast gave us 19 years ago. In equal measure from that same year there was Fur Fighters, also on Dreamcast (the PS2 version was a disaster). So there is more than a storyline in play, the satisfaction of gaming goes in several directions. It is the challenge of gaming that has a few packages, for RPG story is the overwhelming one, yet without challenging gameplay the game falls flat. In shooters and platform games it is more than the challenge, the shooters offer it most often through multiplayer. For Honor is an excellent example, it is below par on single player due to the lack and often repetitive mission gameplay in single player mode, yet the multiplayer mode is an amazing almost unparalleled experience.

This is where we stand in gaming and I fear that both google and Apple will fall short of that. Even as Apple Arcade comes out in 8 days, it seems that the list of 100 games will remain hidden for those same 8 days, yet there is also the challenge, I do believe we will find games we love, but when you consider the Australian price of $8 a month, would you pay that every month just to keep one game you care for? The games are said not to be sold individually and the 100 games might sound nice, yet what happens in month 3? There lies the issue for both Apple and Google, to entice a population not to play games, but to become gamers and I wonder if they can pull it off beyond year 1, that applies to both Apple and Google. Part of it was exactly what I predicted a long time ago two years ago and Beneath a Steel Sky (a 1994 original) was good gaming and with the reduced resources needed, the game would work well on any mobile or system. My issue is not with newly released golden oldies, it is the ability to embrace those playing games and turn them into actual gamers, they are not the same goal and both Google and Apple will have to rely on the growing number of actual gamers to do better than merely survive. Even as we see that Ghost Recon: Breakpoint comes to Google Stadia, so there are larger games coming to cloud based streaming and here we get the initial issue. So far I personally have had at least one hiccup a day on Netflix, even as it was merely a second it was not an issue, yet in gaming it is a much larger issue, it becomes almost literally the death of you. How will you react then? I believe that congestion is going to be a much larger issue until 5G is truly deployed to the largest extent. One could argue that overall at present the Microsoft Game Pass is too good value for the price and at that point is becomes the break on the acceleration for streaming games.
So what is the issue?

I believe that we face a larger lag soon enough, I believe that there is a danger that the increase of high end RPG gaming will take a hit, as people embrace Google and Apple, the development of games will be towards gaming that includes both new systems; and there is where I see the negative impact. Yes, the two earlier mentioned game makers will still make their games, but a whole range of other developers will try to find a solution that includes all systems and I feel that there is a danger to the development of excelling RPG games; it will decrease and that makes me sad.

Still, the streaming world does have its own challenges and that is where we see the benefit, whenever a challenge is met and surpassed games benefit and that is the trade-off that works on our behalf, there us a whole range of games that were originals and most are now forgotten, yet streaming games could bring them back. 7 cities of gold, Sentinel returns, Fur Fighters, Wacky Races, Shadow man, System Shock 2, Millennium 2.2 and this list goes on for a while. Games that will never be forgotten and could also lead to new game innovation. Even later games like MGS4, guns of the patriot showed innovation at the very end of the PS3 life cycle. People like Richard Garriott who innovated RPG gaming via the Ultima series. People like Peter Molyneux who started with Magic Carpet and Dungeon keeper a new age of gaming, they inspired some of the game makers that followed; the past is full of game makers who inspired others. Yet, this is not the end; these games could also inspire the next phase of gaming. I believe that through limitations we see the creation of new options. If there is one lesson learned from the CBM64, then that would be the one. We embrace gaming because we get to a place we did not think would be possible, Ubisoft showed that when they created Assassins Creed 2, we embraced the first one to some degree because of originality, the second one because we never believed it possible. I believe that this is the part we forgot about when Xbox360 went to Xbox One and PS3 when to PS4. Even now as PS5 and Xbox Two are coming, we still see merely a larger version of what was. It is games like Cyberpunk 2077 that will show what would be possible, in the same way that MGS4, guns of the patriot did on PS3.

With Streaming we will see new hurdles and we will meet innovative game designers that will get past that boundary showing us something we never saw coming, that is the stage the true gamer embraces, it goes beyond we thought we could and that is also why we look with eager eyes to Santa Monica Studio who surpassed itself three times over with every God of War release, the same we hope to see with Guerrilla games and a new Eloy story (the ending game ample consideration there), yet in the end we do not merely want to see more, we want to see more and something entirely new. In that regard CD Projekt RED delivered beyond amazing in Witcher 3 and is as far as we can tell, surpassing excellence again with Cyberpunk 2077. These few makers all delivered 90%+ games, games for true gamers.

And true gamers like junkies need their 90%+ games to stay alive (to coin a phrase), it does not make other games unwanted, it does not make a game like the crew bad (well it does make it below par), yet it does make us wonder how far that game could have been taken, or perhaps what would be possible when it was upgraded to the max, or perhaps what happens when a 97% game like GTA5 is no longer merely is based in the fictional state of San Andreas, but has the ability to cover the entire USA, how many thousands if not millions more gamers would it attract? Streaming might make that possible, and as such streaming will be here to stay when it becomes a serious piece of work, yet in that when we see the wrongful (not incorrect) quote in the Guardian “Arcade, which was demonstrated during the unveiling of Apple’s latest iPhones on Tuesday, is an attempt to turn the mobile gaming industry on its head and add an extensive new revenue stream to the company’s books” (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/sep/10/apple-arcade-launch-netflix-for-games-will-cost-499-a-month) there is a danger that a lot of people forget what streaming could offer, the question becomes to what degree are either Apple and Google aware that this playground for true gamers is equally open for them to dig into?

In a lot of places we see: “Bethesda Softworks is providing a gaggle of titles for Stadia’s launch later this year: “DOOM 2016,” “Rage 2,” “The Elder Scrolls Online,” and “Wolfenstein: Youngblood.”” which is merely a new place to play games already released, yet the corner of what was not done has not been turned yet and I hope that we will see more than merely more of the same, streaming could potentially open a market and give a game that PC’s and consoles cannot offer. Yet until those are actually released, we will have to wait to see just how rewarding that platform actually is, we will know the initial in a week, but it is the second wave that decides on just how successful these platforms will be, it is where the consoles cannot go, that is when streaming services will prove their worth and their place in the gaming community.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, IT, Science

At the end of a journey

Today is not for the faint of heart, or those who are hindered by emotional parts, today is not merely about gaming, it is about the game. We are currently confronted with a few issues, the first one is given by the Guardian, was for two weeks. My initial issues with ‘Apple Arcade v Google Stadia: which is the future for video games?‘ is a simple stage. Why can’t we have both? I was never anti one or pro the other ever. I was not about Atari ST versus Amiga, I was not about CBM-64 vs Atari 800, I was also not about N64 vs PS1. My issue with Microsoft was their stupidity, as well as their refusal to listen to their gamers, that is the mere reason why the Nintendo Switch is now on par with the total Xbox lifetime sold consoles, it took Nintendo less than 2 years to get there and they got there, the most powerful console is now actively being surpassed by the weakest of the three consoles, that is the impact of stupidity (optionally ignoring Karma was partially a reason too).

So I believe that there is space for both, a case can be made for either console and even as we are most likely to get one of them first, there is a decent case for getting them both down the track. We will have to wait what is in store for us, yet the Google controller clearly looks like something we have seen before. Yet wait; only two days ago we see Microsoft Stupidity strike again. This time in the shape of the Microsoft CFO giving us: ‘Xbox CFO on Google Stadia: “Cloud Won’t Match Local Experience”‘, so thank you Tim Stuart (apparently he is the Xbox CFO), thank you for confirming this, the entire push of Cloud and always online is proven to be a bad choice, as I stated for the last 6 years. Too bad that you never considered the stupidity of your console choices years ago, you might not have become the underdog, defeated by the weakest of all next gen consoles.

I particularly enjoyed the passage (at https://mspoweruser.com/xbox-cfo-on-google-stadia-cloud-wont-match-local-experience/) “Microsoft believes that it will struggle in providing gamers enough content as the company doesn’t have strong ties to Game developers and publishers.“, it is merely a temporary delay at best, you see, when it came to exclusive games, Microsoft was nowhere to be found for almost two years, and when we see on how the magnificent growth through indie developers is seen on the Nintendo Switch (which surprised me too), we see that new players giving free value like (Gems of War) on IOS, android, PS4, XB1 and Switch is showing to be an amazing journey and for those who have all the consoles 500% more joy than ever expected. By having micro transactions, but not pushing them, we see a much larger market that will also benefit Google Stadia, then there is Fallout Shelter and there is a whole range of games that will find a happy audience on the Google Stadia (and its Apple adversary). So when it comes to Microsoft, they gambled and lost, they have remained short sighted as I expected them to be and they (as I personally see it) openly forsake their gamers for illusionary short term goals end their loss against their competitors is not done yet, not by a long shot.

So when I see “In an interview with The Telegraph, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer for Xbox, Mike Nichols said, “Emerging competitors like Google have a cloud infrastructure, a community with YouTube, but they don’t have the content.”” I see a new level of shortsightedness. I see the failing from Mike Nichols. I designed three ideas in gaming in under a week and I am not even the visionary that some are, content can be corrected for; indie developers can make up the difference much faster than the barricades that Microsoft erected long ago.

Google has an optional trump card that none of the others used and as such has the open advantage much sooner than expected. The article has more laughable statements, but let’s move on for now. You see, Techradar had the right idea last week when it gave us ‘Google Stadia may be the first good use for 5G phones‘, the entire setting of 4G ‘Wherever I am’ and 5G ‘whenever I want it’ will find unification in Google Stadia and it will grow close to exponentially soon thereafter. Techradar also gives us: “Google executive Phil Harrison, meanwhile, confirmed that Stadia has already started gaining momentum and that Google received strong support from developers the game streaming platform which in theory solves one of the major concern regarding Stadia“, I do remain critical on the need to measure and keep in check those who are in it for the micro transactions and short term gain for themselves, they are not a joy, they are the Achilles heel of gaming soon enough, but the momentum counts and must not be ignored. Apple Arcade has a larger issue, Apple lost well over 450 billion in value and even as close to 50% of the loss has been regained, Apple cannot afford to be casual, there are 2 billion gamers in the world and if Apple does not play its cards right, they merely become another short term player in a game setting that they might not comprehend. Microsoft didn’t, that much is clear and they got hit and they got hit hard.

The other side

You see, the moment I ‘feared’ has come to town, there have been two games over the last year, two games that changed it all. The first is God of War 4; a game so amazing, so large and so perfect in almost every way that is boggles the mind. Even now, watching the total cut scenes on YouTube is a journey that is close to 6 hours. 6 hours that is a story supporting a game with graphic perfection that was unseen until that day. Now we see ‘Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice‘, a game with graphic and gaming perfection. Both games are PS4 exclusives, both are singular reasons to upgrade to the PS4 pro and both are challenges of the largest degree. It sounds morbid, but at the end of my life, I am finally seeing what should be regarded as the apogee of gaming. Finally I see something that equals and surpasses on what my imagination could perceive, after 40 years of gaming, we are finally getting the games that are the top in its field. Both for the Sony console. That is what Apple and Google are up against, yet they are not. With their solutions they are much more a trump solution for the 1 billion mobile gamers wanting a little more. Nintendo Switch with their docking station is proving the switch between on the road and the large TV screen, both regarded in equal measure on one system and with 5G google can do the same thing, Google Stadia could be a growth system (optionally much more than Apple) in the stage where systems are vying for a billion gamers. So even as Microsoft was (in my personal view) deceptive to hide behind “We’re developing Project xCloud not as a replacement for game consoles, but as a way to provide the same choice and versatility that lovers of music and video enjoy today,” they are eager to avoid the entire online only and pushing us towards their Azure desk. They opened that door and they are now learning that Google is much better in applying that very same portal, another battle lost for Microsoft (and they were never that ready to begin with). A game lost in one generation, what the Xbox360 build form the strong setting of the very first Xbox, the Xbox One pretty much lost and at present they have no options to regain that market any day soon, they wasted too much options on that road.

Google has an additional advantage, the bulk of all gamers have a modern TV, so form that part we see more than the Guardian gave us (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2019/mar/27/apple-arcade-v-google-stadia-which-is-the-future-for-video-games) two weeks ago. With: “streaming would open games up to millions – if not billions – of people who don’t want or can’t afford to buy pricey equipment“, take that consideration with a $59 Chromecast to stream to your TV, at that point a person’s Mobile is going to be the centre for gaming, stream to TV with merely a mobile and a controller. That is the true growth for Google and even those who have a console; it will be enriching to take a turn to the options Google offers, any gamer would want to take that path. As I see the gaming solutions that the CBM-64, the Atari ST and the Amiga offered, a mere high resolution upgrade will make hundreds if not thousands of games, none of them IP protected, all offering the original designers a stream of additional wealth, all there for the taking and all there for the streaming. Some of the most original games, even now still regarded as awesome passing of time, all ready for the next few years. So there we see just how the statement “Microsoft believes that it will struggle in providing gamers enough content as the company doesn’t have strong ties to Game developers and publishers” is not just a weak one, it is one that can be overcome close to overnight, a mere state of denial by what was once great and is optionally now soon forgotten, the mere application of not listening to gamers and keeping the focal point of greed and dependency got them there and now soon to be surpassed not once, but optionally twice. How is that for a lack of vision. Even as I see more solutions that could set a wining stage on the Xbox 360, now it will be the stage that fuels optionally both the Google as well as the Apple solution to gaming.

The games they provide will not equal the two games mentioned or what the PS3 pro offers for now, but as we clearly knew and what Nintendo Switch has proven to us, the most powerful console does not win, the best game does and when we see that, when we see that great gaming has existed for decades, yet some of these titles were forgotten, or better stated not played on current systems, they are not dead, they can be revived in the new gaming world that is introduced by Apple and Google.

So what was three is now set to the stage of 5 and in that stage we know the top  two, yet in the end Microsoft could fall back to 4th position soon enough, when that happens will they finally wake up in Microsoft land, or will we get more marketing and statements that can be laughed at soon thereafter. Gaming is a much more serious business than most realise and those who do not will not last long in that place, so the need to listen to the gamers was always a first, the one part that Microsoft never considered for the longest of times, that is why they are sliding from 2nd to 3rd and soon enough optionally 4th. If I am still around in 2022, I wonder if my words will be shown and proven to be correct. For Microsoft to gain momentum they will require to make massive changes to their way of thinking and with both Google and Apple entering that field, will they change fast enough, and more important, will they finally truly listen to their gaming population?

Time will tell.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, IT, Media, Science

A BAFTA for controllers

Yes, another event is taking place; this time it will be the BAFTA for games that is up for some to grab. The competition has been fierce in the past; I actually did not choose God of War in the Games Awards 2018. I would have given it to Forza Horizons 4, who had blown me away on several fields, even as there was no dispute, it was close, really really close. So as we see the Artistic Achievement mask, God of War wins, not by much as the competition was fierce.

With Audio achievement, God of War wins, it will also win the Music; the soundtrack is overwhelming and amazing. They also have the benefit that AC Origins and Arkham Knight are not on that list; these three are the best soundtracks gaming has ever produced. Bear McCreary, a musician who already earned his stripes with Battlestar Galactica (and several others) is now the one favourite for that mask, as I personally see it.

Yet best game is interesting, with Forza Horizons missing, only God of War remains; in my personal view the others will not make it a nose length fight. Yet all is not lost for Microsoft, with the British game, we see a win that clearly goes to Forza, racing through Britain is just too much fun and too amazing.

I have to pass on debut game; too many are unknown to me, making my voice not a fair one. As Evolving Game, Elite is the one for me. I have skin in the game there, having loved the game since its initial release on the BBC Micro B and my own copy on the CBM 64 (I did not have the BBC Micro B myself). I still remember that day as I had to take a 90 minute train trip to get to the one store in 1985 that had it. When it comes to Family, my view is skewed. I do not think that Pokémon is a family game, it is family friendly, that is true, but true family game implies engagement by all and there I merely see Super Mario Party as the one option, perhaps it is most likely that my view of the Family category is wrong, but perhaps it should not have been given a category that comes across as dubious in its interpretation. As for Game beyond Entertainment, 4 are unknown to me, so I skip that category. The same would apply to Game Design was it not to the fact that God of War is sublime in all ways, so I reckon they will get it. Yet, I am happy to be proven wrong due to a game I had not seen. The same can be said for Game Innovation, yet when it comes to innovation the entire idea of creativity and cardboard to be added to a console and gaming is just so whack that it should win. I never saw the appeal, yet the appeal to see kids fold a piano and then play it making the switch play music is just slightly too strong on the side of magic beating that horse named science. Only Nintendo could ever be that one player who does not know what a box is, and therefore not being hindered by one.

I skip several but then halt at Original Property, which only as it ends up being slightly flawed Subnautica wins. I have been testing it since its early release and it is by far the most immersive (submersive too) and innovative (as well as original) survival game. The fact that it is almost all on water makes it weird, strange and it never stops being weird and challenging.

For me personally the Performer mask should be Christopher Judge as Kratos in God of War his performance of Kratos is iconic, yet the voices: Danielle Bisutti as Freya, Jeremy Davies as The Stranger and Sunny Suljic as Atreus are all worthy nominees. I believe that the voice of Kassandra failed in AC Odyssey, not due to the actress though, which is a shame for her, because all nominees clearly worked their asses off to get the top achievements in the games, this is one part where the software makers can intervene and slightly screw it up, yet in God of War the work on any level remained 5 out of 5 all over the board giving 4 nominees a clear advantage.

As for EE mobile game of the year, there is no way of telling. An audience will vote personal and emotional giving Pokémon go the home field advantage, but in the end it will be anyone’s guess and Fortnite is on that list too, so I wonder if that voice will be impacted by the PC and console gamers, I actually do not know. I am not surprised that I did not elect Red Dead Redemption 2. I was never into Westerns. I do acknowledge that everyone tells me that it is the best single player experience ever, but so was God of War, so was Forza Horizons 4 (if you are a racer). You see, some might hide behind the marketing of ‘the most powerful console in the world‘, yet when the awe is not in the hardware, but in the excellence of game design like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We see it when the least powerful console overwhelms you with graphics, music and gaming experience. When the noise of ‘jing jing’ when you switch on a console does not do it, but your heart flutters when you hear the ‘Yahoo!’ of Mario grabbing another Power moon and your mind races where more can be found. When you get that part, then you also understand why Microsoft ends up having their most powerful console in the world in the number three position of consoles. And it gets to be worse for them soon enough (optionally). When the people at Google realise what makes gamers tick, they might end up being a mere number 4 contending party in 2021. It is the adaptation of a French expression; I think it came from the French revolution. The adapted expression is: ‘Change is valuable it turns the leaders into underdogs’; it is a lesson that Microsoft will just have to learn the hard way. Their unwillingness to listen to gamers is coming at a very steep price and it will look optionally a lot more expensive soon enough.

How does that matter?

It matters as we see the gamers move to other consoles, at times keeping the old console around, but the funds (if they have any) will go towards the games that they are drawn too, Microsoft seemingly forgot about that. They pushed for backwards compatibility so that could ride on the coattails of the Xbox 360 a little while longer, but that too will lose steam and the game awards as well as the gaming Bafta gives us where the need for new games was at, and in that respect God of War truly delivered, the fact that a Sony Exclusive game is a nominee in most categories also gives us a tale of where Microsoft dropped the ball (yet again), and now Google Stadia is just around the corner biting into the multi gamer and streaming services fruit that Microsoft thought they had secured for themselves. I admit that they went about it the right way and anyone into gaming and online not getting a Game Pass is pretty much insane, yet that horse has other jockey’s and Google as the late arrival is about to walk into the ring.

We will be ready with Irish jokes as the awards will be presented by Dara O’Briain on April 4th, so we should hope that Milton Jones walks in to have a bit of a go at Dara on stage, but that is just wishful thinking.

I like game awards as it shows to some extend what games achieved and who were the ones teaching us what gaming can be about. We tend to look at the large games, the large players, yet in that world we might not have noticed Minecraft, a labour of love that became an addiction for millions, for many it still is. In this day and age it seems impossible, but who has played Subnautica? When you look will you suddenly realise that you missed out on something? That is actually the best art of the show, until one award night I had never heard of Threes! That can happen to us all, and for those seeing that one game that makes you buy a console, that is the moment you open another door to multiple worlds.

Game awards also give rise to new directions, at present more often than not instigated by small indie developers, but pushes like that can be game changers. Even as I contemplated an entirely new direction for changing difficulty levels in a game like Watchdogs 3, I suddenly considered that this path had never been considered ever before (optionally a slight exaggeration), and it could have an educational impact as well. The added value goes towards the replayability that a game has, changing the value of a game and the bank for your buck. Now, we can all agree that not everyone might like it that was and that path is not for every franchise; yet the realisation that no one has ever taken it into that direction is also food for thought, especially when you realise how many games have been published and I have been involved with and around gaming since Mirrorsoft.

And in finality, this is the first year that where it is my feeling that the Gaming awards had a better impact and was appreciated better and more than the academy awards, implying that the ascending star for gaming will continue for some time to come.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, IT, Media

Updates

First of all

So whilst Microsoft is trying to rephrase their weak position through: ‘We are continuing to look at engagement as our key metric for success and are no longer reporting on total console sales‘, yes try to sell that whilst you have been all aggro on boasting boosted numbers for decades. Now that Xbox is about to become the number THREE system, they are running scared. The Nintendo Switch is now at 32 million, which surpasses the previous total number of Xbox One consoles sold, but they are currently allegedly at 41 million consoles sold, which means that there is only a 9 million gap until the most powerful console in the world degrades to the bronze position. Nintendo sold 14 million consoles in the last quarter alone, so that gives light that this is the last quarter with Xbox in the number two position, optionally the last month. Yet, I admit, my expectation of passing Microsoft by January 31st was not met, I was wrong. Yet the total number of consoles sold in the last quarter is still an amazing feat by Nintendo and it also shows that even as I was not correct in the end, my view was a lot better than all the market analysts.

The writing is on the wall.

I personally believe that some analysts have been setting the stage for shorting the stock of Nintendo. The question becomes what the law states. You see, when we look at the definition of shorting stock, the most generic version is: “he or she borrows shares of a company from an existing owner through his brokerage, sells those borrowed shares at the current market price, and pockets the cash“, yet in this case, the premise is not entirely that clear, with ‘he or she borrows‘ we need to consider that shorting the stock was done as a service for a third party, giving rise to the sale at tremendous profits. At present I seem to be wrong, there is no evidence of a setting to allow for a short sell. Yet the predictions that were made last year were so wrong, in so many ways that the overall findings would lead me to this path (there are others too). So is it just me? I would actually agree with this, was it not for the fact that the level of wrongness regarding Nintendo was so profound.

The state last year (Oct 2018) was given with ‘Nintendo Delivers Record Quarter, But Misses Estimates‘, so the stock tumbled a little less than 2%, in all this, whilst within a year the total lifetime sales of the Microsoft Xbox One were completely by 67% at that time, in addition, the software sales were almost globally ruling software top ten lists all over the place. We can argue that the ‘missed estimates’ were so ludicrously unrealistic that the entire matter had to be looked at, now we see the last quarter alone delivered 14 million consoles, which is almost 50% of what Microsoft achieved in sales between 2012 and 2016, four years versus three months, so how were estimations missed?

The puzzlement is supported even further with: “That’s Nintendo’s most profitable Q2 in eight years and a solid increase from the $211 million it booked last year.” It is in that light that I had an issue with the predictions in the last year. From my point of view Nintendo smashed almost every record, yet the stock is not reflecting that, giving rise to a few issues, but as a non-trader and a non-economy educated person, I cannot give the weight to that thought, yet the thought remains.

And now that we are treated to: ‘Nintendo cuts Switch sales forecast despite strong holiday season‘ the matter should be set, yet I am not convinced. Even as we see 14.5 million consoles up to now the last two months are unlikely to give them the 5.5 million consoles they need, they expect to get 2.5 million consoles and that seems achievable. I am not convinced that the 5.5 million consoles cannot be met, merely because Microsoft is on the ropes and there is no marketing, no advertising to reflect that. In this aggressive expansion universe it seems odd that Nintendo is not taking up the gauntlet to that degree.

They drastically improved visibility, especially compared to the WiiU. They have the titles that have a large appeal across the board and the people who do play the Switch love the interactions. In addition the shock news of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 and the fact is that it is exclusively to Nintendo Switch is not merely news, it is equally a shocker to Sony as well, as this was the kind of stuff that Sony needed to prevent from happening. The fans (including me) loved the first one on Xbox 360 and as we see the foundation of the original Gauntlet added to the DC and Marvel Universe, we get a game any comic book fan would love to play and nearly everyone that was one did and loved it. So to get this exclusively to Switch is a dealmaker as well as a record breaker. I doubt that this game will be out in time to get the next quarter sales up to the degree it needs to be upped, but it will soar sales of Nintendo yet again (optionally not in time to make the 20 million marker).

So did Nintendo do it wrong? I am not convinced, they made huge mistakes in the WiiU era and seemingly repaired all those flaws in the Nintendo Switch stage, no matter what estimates were not met, we now see that Nintendo Switch has gotten to 45% mark of the PlayStation 4 lifetime sales in under 2 years which is quite the feat as Microsoft got nowhere near that result, ever!

In second place

This is given to us by the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/31/italy-slips-into-recession-for-third-time-in-a-decade-economy) it is in the setting of the same wall with more writing. It was to be expected as Italy has a whole range of economic anchors and downfalls. Yet I had hoped that Italy would have been able to stagnate their economy; alas they do not get to be that lucky and recession is the result. The problem is that this could also adversely affect France at present. It is (according to the Business Insider) yet at present the recession there is most likely, yet not a certainty. No matter how it wields, the French President will have to make a few committing jumps on several levels and as the stage between the US and the EU is polarising France will be on the side of the French needs, which by the way is not on par with American needs, so the Europeans have that to look forward to in the next 5 weeks. It is also the Italian part where we see failings, the Guardian gives us: “The deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio, the head of the Five Star Movement, said the recession was proof that Europe’s budget rules should be relaxed to allow Italy to stimulate its economy back to growth“, which is the larger mistake. That approach did not work for the ECB and now the EU nations have a 3 trillion Euro anchor around their necks, adding debt will not have any true influence on the economy. the entire spending spree is now to be the anchor that drowns the 27 EU nations sooner rather than later and that is the overbearing part why Brexit was essential, the moment the UK is cut form that, the entire mess evolves too fast for anyone to correct for. The entire mess on four economies, where the one (UK) leaves and two (France and Italy) have merely a recession to offer, which means no options at all leaving it all to Germany who has enough for the ace of spades to be handed to them again and again. Germany avoided recession as it grew by 0.1%, which means that they only defeated the recession on the academic principle. It still means that the German economy is stagnating and that is not a good feeling when you are a German. So whilst we now see a whole parade of blaming the UK on making matters worse through a chaotic Brexit, I merely state that these idiots only have themselves to thank. If they had done something about the lack of transparency at the ECB as well as muzzle Mario Draghi from spending 3 trillion euro’s, money they never had, the situation would not be this dire (as I personally see it). The fact that the Business Insider also reported: (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/europe-economic-gdp-growth-data-heading-to-recession-2019-1) “Junk bonds went through the roof. Total issuance of junk bonds from non-financial companies (rated BBB) went parabolic, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, as more highly rated bonds declined“, it is directly linked to the problem, that market went up by €100,000,000,000 in the last year alone, so this time if there is another meltdown (like 2008) and it happens, Europe will not see the fallout as it happened in Wall Street. No, this time around Europe will be the cause of it all to a much larger extent, so the impact on Europe will be beyond disastrous. Whatever quality of life there is, the Europeans can kiss it goodbye for decades. They could quite likely desire the time of harsh austerity, how is that on forecasting quality of life?

In combination

The EU is in a bad place and it has been reflecting all over the place. You see, last November we were treated to: ‘CPPIB is shorting $750 million worth of EU stock, making it one of the most active short-sellers in Europe, data show‘, more important, it gets an added “Unusual in that Canada’s biggest pension plan also tends to hold ‘rather long-term’ positions“. It seems a perfectly valid place to be in, especially when we see that so far that pattern seems valid. We see the additional “the CPPIB has nearly doubled the number of its disclosed short positions since last year, to 23 from 14. That places CPPIB 14th on the list of the most active short sellers in Europe“, as stated before, I can see the presence, and in this case I cannot explain it (merely because I am not knowledgeable enough to do so). Now, as we see the recession hitting Italy, followed by France soon enough, we might see the reflection on how the gains for the CPPIB could be one of the most profitable ones they have ever had. Even as there is still a little doubt, the firm holding ‘$356.3 billion in assets’, might soon be growing to a half a trillion wealth management colossal. With the positions becoming winners as Talend SA, Wirecard and PostNL falling like a brick in free flight, we see that the CPPIB is lunging forwards through growth (for now).

When we see the impact markets where the fun of wealth comes through the investing towards the gloom of failure, there we see profits soar, profits for those selling short that is. This is not the end or the beginning of the end. As France is setting the stage to move directly into a recession we will see more and more short selling profiteers and as France stumbles, the eyes of all will focus on Greece. Even as we are given ‘Greece moves towards ending austerity with rise in minimum wage‘, it is hard to predict the outcome. It makes perfect sense to do this and when you realise it is significantly less than half of what an Australian would get over that same period. It makes us wonder how the Greeks had been able to keep themselves alive. I personally hope that the view of Alexis Tsipras works out the way he thinks it will, the case is viable, and will it work? Only time will tell at present. Yet it is also a dangerous place. That is seen with: “A glimmer of light emerged on Monday as borrowing costs on 10-year bonds dropped to a four–month low and Tsipras announced that the government would imminently be issuing a five-year bond“, we get the logic of essentially needing to borrow, but Greece is in a much too dangerous place and those bonds could backfire in a terrible way, I believe that the bond issuing was done too early, in a time when there is still too much to lose. In that I actually hope that I am wrong, yet my track record towards predicting these events have been too often on the nose and that worries me to no end.

In this Bloomberg view supports mine (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-07/all-the-risks-besieging-europe-bonds-are-spilling-over-into-2019), the headline ‘All the Risks Besieging Europe Bonds Are Spilling Over Into 2019‘ gives that. Even as the view does not include Greece, the overall risk will be hitting all EU nations (as well as the UK). There are two parts to this, the first opposing me is the view “The risk of spillover from Italy is in our view overestimated,” by Arne Lohmann Rasmussen, head of fixed-income research at Danske Bank A/S. Both that as well as the positivity that he thinks that Spain brings is set on realism, the man is a professional, let’s not forget that. Yet on my side we see: “What happens in Italy is still likely to be felt in its Mediterranean peer, albeit not to the extent of the euro-area debt crisis earlier this decade” this is the Goldman view and I believe t is more accurate, more important the doubt and worrying nature of these investors will make them sketchy and shift happy on a few levels, so when Italy is hit, France will get a beating as will Greece and it will affect Spain too, depending on their economy optionally a lot less and there we get back to the academic non recession of Germany, that 0.1% in the plus, when that gets hit negatively it will escalate the Mediterranean issues by a lot more hitting Spain for certain and hitting the others harder. It is merely my view, yet I believe it to be the correct one. For how much is unknown, I have no idea and I am not willing to guess. We will see a lot more by the end of March. It is at that point where we see what the actual impact will be, at the point the people will decide to either enjoy a little sunshine or make sure that they can avoid the winter of their bank accounts, in Europe these options have become mutually exclusive, an impact that will hit tourism in Greece and Spain in more ways than one. At least the Greek prediction that their tourism will level off in 2019 is decently realistic, which opposes the view: ““2019 will be Greece’s year,” according to DER Touristik, the largest travel company in German-speaking countries” one that is wishful thinking at best.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, Media, Politics

It’s all about the funny, not the money

I made a prediction almost a year ago, and it is still decently on target to being met. I made the prediction in ‘All eyes on Nintendo‘, the article I wrote (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/04/06/all-eyes-on-nintendo/), In April 2018, I made the prediction that Nintendo Switch would become the number two console and they are nearly there, I also stated: “I have no doubt that Nintendo will take that spot, it is merely the fact that, at present, it will not happen before January 2019“. The fact that one third of the entire global lifetime Microsoft Xbox market was equaled in the US alone in 21 months, less than two years. In October we were given by PC Magazine “the latest sales figures from Nintendo confirming its hybrid console has now sold 22.86 million units“, that was almost two months ago and there were three large festivities on approach. And as we add the partial overlap with the 5 month challenge of: “The news comes from an article in Japanese daily newspaper, Kyoto Shimbun, where Furukawa also briefly touched upon Nintendo’s 20 million Switch console sales target for the same time period” we could almost conclude that they hit the mark, yet Microsoft did not sit still and that device is still selling. Still, within 5 weeks we will see whether my prediction holds, it will be a close call to equal total global sales in 24 months, whilst Microsoft has had 6 years to get there. As the gaming shops have playable Nintendo Switch consoles in their store and as we can first hand experience the addictive fun that the Nintendo Switch brings, we see that it does not look good for Microsoft. Some sources are already claiming that the Nintendo Switch is the bestselling console in US history, a bold claim and interesting if it is supported with the right data. Microsoft and their Xbox remains at a steady climb, now at around 40 million in total life time sales, it is almost the same for Sony, but with well over twice that amount sold, It is Nintendo who is shaping the curve with an actual monthly increase for now, even as it is merely 100,000-150,000 more per month, which is twice the monthly amount Microsoft has been selling, they were still catching up to Microsoft. I reckon that close to the end of the year the damage done to Microsoft by Nintendo will be a little more clear, yet I personally saw that in the time that I was in a games shop 3 Switch consoles were sold versus one PlayStation and zero Xbox consoles, yet that was in my particular window and that is not representative, even though it supports the indication given by me 8 months ago.

Even though VG Chartz (at http://www.vgchartz.com/analysis/platform_totals/) gives us a global setting of Xbox One at 41.26 million versus Nintendo Switch at 24.13 million, I believe that the total number of Nintendo should be closer to the 30 million mark. You see, if I am wrong (always a valid consideration), than it implies that the statement from Furukawa gives rise to his goal being off by a decent amount, it will no longer be the case of the Nintendo Switch not being able to meet the 20 million mark, it would lose out to close to 20%, which is a really big deal. In addition, the 20 million mark had been hit in August, so with one additional quarter and the holiday seasons (plural) that the 4 million mark seems too low, yet we will know in a week how the scores ended. Also we saw that over September, VGChartz gave us 900K Nintendo’s versus 400K Microsoft consoles, so in that light, my prediction is eerily on the mark and we might see that even though my call for January 2019 might have been a little too enthusiastic, the numbers are clear, in 2019 Nintendo advances to the second place and Microsoft with its most powerful console has degraded itself to a mere third position.

We can argue that there had been too much damage and Phil Spencer had to get through this moment no matter what, it is clear that as I personally see it, not listening to the gamers was the biggest mistake and accounted to the largest fall. For Microsoft to actually listen, the Nintendo Switch would still be a threat, but not to this degree and it would still be in a situation trying to catch up to the other two, Microsoft merely made it easy for Nintendo and that is not the fault of Phil Spencer. To change this, he has to make a few hop, skips and jumps. Yet overall Microsoft could pull it off, its game pass is a good move and should not be underestimated. In addition, Forza Horizon IV is considered by me as the best game of the year. I believe that God of War deserved to win in many ways, yet oddly enough my vote went to Forza.

You see, just as the entire Nintendo formula made it an instant winner, that Formula should also be administered to games. So there is me, and I loved the God of War, been a fan since the very first game. I was never a racing fan, I am no Microsoft fan (my reviews show that), yet whenever I see Forza, or better stated FH4, I want to race, the game makes me want to pick up a controller and race, even me as a non-racing fan. That pull is so strong that it is important to acknowledge it. FH4 is a true winner and even as in the scores the God of War was a little higher (and deservingly so), I felt it was important to weigh a game, a game I love to play against a game I want to play at the mere sight of it, FH4 did something remarkable there, that needed to be recognised and that is why I gave it my vote.

FH4 is merely the start, if Microsoft wants to turn the helm around, it needs to make choices it needs to make hard decisions and it has to ACTUALLY start listening to the gamers, if they do not, they are lost and in addition, whatever comes next will receive a lot less consideration than before. For now, for the beginning of 2019 it will be up to Microsoft to find a path to return to that second place, because if they do not, their own marketing will become a joke, proclaiming yourself to be the ‘most powerful console’ is nice, but like the older console names 3DO, it does not pay to pave the road about it, it merely leaves the console in a state like a sepia photograph, remembered fondly for a moment and then forgotten as people move again into the now of things.

The formula was not complex, it was actually quite simple, Nintendo got it and they got it right, Microsoft was able to get almost every element in that equation wrong, which is an achievement, but not a good one.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Gaming

Battle of the giants

The Guardian has released a list of the best games of the year. As a Sony lover, I expected to see god of War and it is there, we also see Microsoft’s Forza Horizon 4, which ought to be there too. I was never a racing fan and still that game blew me away, so there!

We also see games that never were my fancy; Monster Hunter World is not a game I tried as I was disappointed with the grinding that the 3DS version gave. I admit that the graphics on the new consoles looked amazing, yet i felt no need to try. Ni No Kuni 2 is not a surprise and the absence of Bethesda is no surprise. I am quite frankly amazed on how many times Bethesda dropped the ball in this quarter alone. I have no idea what got them hit with the stupid stick this many times. Red Dead Redemption 2 is there too and my only surprise is the remastered Shadow of the Colossus. I actually did not expect it to show up, as I saw Dark Souls Remastered. If we look at those two, they deserve to be there, and even as it hits the mark, they do have the benefit of having a long time to be the original, when we look today, it is much harder to find an original game, as such these two might be regarded as having an unfair advantage.

I also missed titles that should have been there. first there is Spiderman, it is not merely the best Spiderman ever made, it is graphically perfect, it has the clear feel of a Peter Parker adventure and it is true to a Marvel world, as such I expected it to be there, right next to God of war, two games that made Sony to be the Huge success it became in 2018. The Xbox One misses out due to exclusivity, and I am in conflict with myself over Assassin’s Creed Odyssey not being picked, there are reasons it should be there and optional reasons for it not making the cut, yet I feel the balance scale is still on the side of it being there. I believe that in this case the DLC is added reason for it making the grade this time around as well (the cultural DLC of life in Egypt last year was a stroke of genius, you walk through it seeing just how much as a gamer you missed out on, making the replay 150% more satisfying). As a PlayStation lover (an important distinction), I need to side with Keza MacDonald on this one. Her statement: “This game is a beautiful experience. As driving games go, it’s the best I’ve ever played“, in the end, God of War blew me away as well, it was such a rush to see a game propel to the size it did, yet in the end, there is every chance that Forza Horizon 4 might end up being the best game of the year, it will be a title well deserved. In all my opposition to what Microsoft calls ‘good business‘ and their view of gamers, this one they got right, well done Microsoft!

If gaming is perception and presentation, just to call the attention, we need to stop and take another look at Bethesda. Even as the media titles have been ‘protective’ like ‘Bethesda Accidentally Leaked Personal Data of ‘Fallout 76’ Customers Looking for Help‘, as well as ‘Bethesda’s attempt to fix a Fallout 76 blunder leaks angry shoppers’ PID‘, we need to be mindful, accidental or not. Personal data is out there, possible due to an overreaction by Bethesda. Many consider Fallout 76 to be a failure; I am slightly less pessimistic calling it ‘work in progress’. That is the nature of the beast, when you tackle the online gaming, things go pear shaped, not merely because of the dangers of online resources, the mere consideration that 4 eager gamers can ask more of a system than 23,665 programmers can correct for, it is a mere truth of the online stage. And it was my personal feeling that after Tamriel in an online stage, Bethesda would have learned enough to get it much better from day one, they did not!

So it is unlikely that Bethesda is going home with any prices and awards this year (however, there is still Legends, and optionally blades).

Why look at this?

Games are not merely games, when a person buys a game; he or she pays for both an experience, as well as a stage of engagement. It is hard (read: impossible) to merely see AC Odyssey, without going back all the way to Masyaf and the very first Assassins Creed (if you played it as early as then), this is why AC2 and AC brotherhood are still seen as the path of perfection that AC Unity devastated. I got this Ubisoft punishment device (see image), just so I could explain it to the skull of Yves Guillemot as graphically as possible (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).

We have had plenty of reasons to get mad at Ubisoft for a whole range of reasons and now we see a growing group of people angered with Bethesda. I say one optional flop does not make a raging crowd, yet the views, visions and YouTube’s out there say different. As for perception, this game (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWwyhymcDxI) was one of the first 5 games I ever bought (3rd or 4th), I still think fondly of this game, even after 34 years. I got the Broderbund title as it got the IBM joystick award (in those days there was no proper game reviewing). It was an instant success. When you get emerged in a game, your world changes, and you tend to focus on fun and challenge. This is not unique for me; this is for anyone who loves games. Now we can hardly perceive this, yet I still remember the challenge that level 5 was initially. For many, their first console, the first game they truly got involved in, that title they will carry in their hearts for the longest of times, they will judge other games by that game. For many it will be on all systems, others will judge it per system (which is fairer anyway). So the new gamers will hold a light to any new game, comparing it to FHIV, AC Odyssey, Super Mario Odyssey, and Red Dead Redemption 2. That is the nature of the beast and when we find the developer lacking, they will get slapped around by these gamers (poor poor Yves Guillemot). Yet when a developer gets it right, when they deliver beyond the over marketed title (like AC Origin) they also get the benefit of powerful acknowledgement (as they are entitled to that too). For me (in the Mario universe) it started with Super Mario 64, and until we got Super Mario Sunshine, it had the crown, even later as we saw Wii and WiiU, Super Mario Sunshine still ruled and now we see the optional crown going to Super Mario Odyssey (I only played the demo so far).

So when we see this, when we realise that best game of the year is also smitten with what they made before, we see a difference, another measurement. So in that light, I do hope that the rumours of Samus Aran and her trilogy for Nintendo Switch will be true. So far in 14 years no one ever surpassed the fun and challenge value that Metroid Prime delivered and I loved Metroid Prime 2: Echoes to that same degree. So to get that on Switch will up the ante for any game developer. The fun, the challenge and getting to the conclusion of the challenge is everything to the gamer, Nintendo has forever understood that part of gaming to a much better degree than any other developer (Bethesda had a good grasp of comprehending people on the past).

So when we see that the reality is that we will optionally be able to replay those titles via the Nintendo Switch Virtual Console, we see that Nintendo has a long term future as well, as these titles can capture the older hearts, as well as new players giving them a lot more bang for the buck. Nintendo rules these waves, we see this with the latest addition Super Smash Bros (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWo9wfsnj7M). It is Super Smash Bros that gives the main dish as a desert. When we realise that the impression of fun is not merely looking good, it is about getting it right, it is in this view that looking perfect will always lose against getting it right.

It is that distinction is also important when you look towards the best game of 2018, even as a PlayStation fan (a bias that is forever important), we see that Spiderman PS4 got it right, Forza Horizon 4 merely got it right better. So Microsoft on a game type that I am not really a fan of; justly wins with a title by getting it right the best. Even as God of War was perfect, exceeded everything they made before, we might compare it to why Super Smash Bros got 94%, yet in the end, the game that blew us away more will take the cake and candles in all of this. FHIV might never be in my collection as the One versus One X is just to distinct here (for now), yet the fact that whenever I see FHIV, I get the desire to race, as a non-racer, that impression is extremely distinct; it is why my vote went that way. To capture the heart of a player that has another game style is an achievement that we all seem to forget. Just like Super Smash Bros has the ability to get all kinds of people to pick up the game and play against as many people as possible, we see the impact of excellence in gaming through fun and the joy of getting there. Nintendo mastered that ability a long time ago and whenever we see any other game getting there, we rejoice.

Far Cry Primal got close and then dropped the ball by being ‘predetermined’. Far Cry 5 never got there by offering everything and becoming nothing at all, the God of War got there through the people who knew the originals, giving us a new track, another path in almost perfect graphics and with a rating of 94% they did excel, set that against the 92% of Forza Horizon 4 and in my state of mind, there would be no contest, game over for Microsoft Studios, yet that was not the case, challenge and fun, they merely got it slightly better. Even as we see that they got Best Racing Game and Xbox Game of the Year (which was not really that much of a challenge this time around), they are still on track to get Ultimate Game of the Year, Best Sports/Racing Game and Best Audio Design, it is my personal opinion that they would optionally lose the third one and anyone who has heard the soundtrack of God of War is likely to agree with me. As I see it, Forza Horizon 4 gets to be the Ultimate Game of the Year; at least that is how I personally would vote.

The annual award is a battle of giants, some excelled for a long time, some excelled in every way and some merely competed to some extent. What is important in not merely who wins, and who gets nominated, we see that the winners will impact what we see in upcoming 2020 games and that is important to realise.

As we will anticipate on the coming of the Trilogy on Switch, some might wonder why. It is not merely the FPS part, it is open (to some extent), it is a challenge and it is an adventure, even in 2002 when it was released, even with the more ‘advanced’ graphics that the Xbox and the PlayStation 2 had, they could not touch Metroid Prime and its 97% rating. That small disc, holding a mere part of a DVD blew away all competition and with Metroid Prime 2: Echoes at 92% it did so again, and those who loved gaming want to get that feeling again. That is the impact that fun coated in challenge, or is that challenge coated in fun? Whichever way it is presented it creates gamers and it creates desire within a gamer. The ultimate game of the year can impact that future of where we will look next, what we will try next, even if it is not our cup of tea. When it hits the mark we will all order a pot of it, not merely a cup. That is one part that the game makers understand, and they are eager to get into the sweet spot of gamers there.

Should you think that gamers are selfish, think again! Digital trends reported less than 2 weeks ago: “Grandma Shirley — had left expressing her doubts at living to see The Elder Scrolls VI, a petition was created on Change.org to have her immortalized in the game“, gamers care to this extent, especially when they share a connection to a game, so I think that Bethesda needs to be truly stupid to not consider this, and to be honest Bethesda has been overly considerate in the past, not for personal gain or marketing, their actions regarding Erik West (Eric the Slayer), and there are more examples. Bethesda has forever been trying and aiming to get it right and to a larger extent, they have, so I was puzzled on how they got Fallout 76 so wrong. I merely cover it with ‘a work in progress‘, which in light of the approach is probably as correct as it gets (for now).

Gaming is for me not some state, or an escape. It is a world you become a part of, not replacing reality, but having it on the side. Making it part of the 24 hours a day you have, not replacing the 24 hours you should live in. Some choose sports, some choose a passion (or passion itself) and some hike, trail and be out in the open. Gamers do the gaming thing and when developers get that mindset right, the games will propel in excellence, it is a lesson Nintendo learned early on and they are still able to surprise us. In this Bethesda and Nintendo are optionally more alike. They both got it wrong (WiiU/Fallout76), yet as Nintendo Switch is now the golden mark of excellence, we might get the same from Bethesda (with whichever titles comes next) and that too is gaming, when the challenge is met and we get that satisfying feeling of a new challenge and we look forward to every second that comes next. That ‘Oh Yeah!‘ moment (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB8BLMMVFLg) when you see that they are got it right. Gaming has had plenty of these, which is why developers are getting additional chances. Witcher 3, Mass Effect 2, Diablo 3, Skyrim, Metroid Prime, GTA5, the Last of Us, Golden Eye, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The list goes on and will remain growing after tomorrow, because any developer that flops now (Far Cry) will optionally be able to hit it out of the park at a later stage (Far Cry 3) and that is gaming too, to be there and live through the successes, even after a massive failure (AC Unity anyone?)

Gamers can afford to wait as there are plenty of players offering the next golden egg, or is that the next golden eye? And with results like God of War, Forza Horizon 4, Ni no Kuni 2, and Subnautica I personally believe that the future of gaming is in good hands. No matter who gets to be called the ultimate game of 2018. There has been 45 years between Pong (1972) and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017), it was never about who had the best graphics (Minecraft 2011 is evidence of that), any category can win, any style can win (Rock Band 3 2010) and it opens us optionally to playful directions we might never have considered on day one of that game (Limbo 2010).

Personally I love the yearly gaming awards for reasons mentioned earlier, but for the most, for me it is about to consider a game that stood out in one way and merely missed out on that game initially having something to look forward to, which in my clearest case was Far Cry 3, the previous versions were not up to standard and therefor I never considered it, which gave me in the end more joy than I bargained for, exceeding expectations can end up being that rewarding.

It will be Monday morning in 60 hours, so try to take a moment and play a game this weekend, even if it is for merely an hour and it is something as simple (and highly addictive) as Minecraft.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Media

The Saint’s parcel

Today it is December 5th, in the Netherlands that means it is St Nicholas day. It is the Dutch version of Santa Claus, but with a difference. The story goes back to the Greek bishop of Myra, what is now known as Turkey (270-340 AD). Saint Nicholas is the patron Saint of children and the day preceding his birthday (6th December) it is the evening of presents and all the kids (until a certain age) will receive a present.

As you might imagine the week before all this, things can get really hectic, especially in the toy stores, on a global scale when we see Thanksgiving, St. Nicholas and Christmas, the numbers given to us by power retail ‘Cyber Monday Breaks Record, Becomes “Biggest Sales Day Ever”‘, these numbers makes sense as moments like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other deal moments with discount sales is what people look for globally so that they can show their kids that there are happy times, even if it is just for a day or two. Variety gives us (at https://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/nintendo-switch-sales-holiday-sales-figures-1203038569/) even more. With their headline ‘Nintendo Sold $250 Million in Products from Black Friday to Cyber Monday in U.S.‘, they are showing a setting that is awesome.

More important it is their e-commerce sales of games that is partially taking the cake with the statement: “The Nintendo Switch is now the best-selling Nintendo console in U.S. history for that five-day period, surpassing even Wii system sales, the company announced Wednesday.” Even as we see “Nintendo’s overall goal for the financial year of 38 million units sold, though analysts are still predicting it will fall just short, hitting about 35 million“, yet in all that the analysts are eager to avoid the one setting that matters, in under two years the Nintendo Switch is about to equal the lifetime sales of the Xbox One, a number that is very impressive as the Xbox One had 300% of the time frame to get to this point. And overall the entire Microsoft issue is expected to hit a few more bumps in the road. Software was the key in all this and Nintendo does comprehend quality software. The curve is changing for the better for Nintendo as their demo stations are all over game shops like EB Games. Parents can see how amazing it looks and as the kids are having a go at playing kart and playing Mario Odyssey, we see (as I saw) that the parents are getting a smile on their faces. It is a family friendly system, where violence is limited to a paint gun with a colour. And as we see the greats (Diablo 3) added to the Switch, we see an amazing list of games titles we see a system that is more and more overwhelming when it comes to quality gaming. A game setting where quality is not the silly notion of high level graphics, no! Quality gaming is the level of fun you get out of it and Nintendo is turning heads around and for the first time in history Sony is starting to get worried as the setting now is that this year Switch surpassed the Sony PlayStation. Now that does not means that Sony is number two, they have well over 250% in number of consoles in the field, yet the fact that Nintendo is closing the gap slightly and surpassing Microsoft has never been seen before in the age of gaming. I loved my GameCube (I still miss Mario Sunshine even today), I loved the games I had and when I saw that the Wii was backward compatible I did not hesitate, yet the Switch is showing to be up to the challenge of equalling this in quality gaming. In this we see that Nintendo is getting it right and even as I questioned the stupidity of analysts with their ‘predicting it will fall just short‘, I believe that their entire setting is bogus. Nintendo has the goods and is showing it has equaled the challenge gaining on the larger advantage that Sony has and surpassing what was once the great Microsoft console and the most powerful console? It might be, yet when it offers a mere 25% of the family fun, I wonder what some people choose.

Now, we do not state that the Xbox cannot deliver the goods, yet we have always known that Nintendo was a family and younger player system. Now that we can be on the road, play on TV (via dock) and have access to some of the most addictive games (Diablo 3, Mario Kart, Skyrim, Minecraft, Rocket league) and so many more titles we need to wonder what the others did wrong.

Well they didn’t!

They made a choice and they continued on that path, Microsoft thought what it had to compete with Sony and they did not end up doing that, they soured their own milk from the very beginning in policy and hardware, they refused to listen to their gamers and they are still losing traction in the process. Even as some corrections and some really good ideas have been launched (Game Pass), they have too much to catch on. Nintendo remained on the family fun and family friendly path and they merely gained speed, and within a year they pushed for a speed that would surpass Sony annual sales and they seemed to have done it in 2018 (the official numbers are not out yet). However the consoles and the quarter of a billion in online store sales in under a month is now showing to become the monster truck of revenue. So as I personally sneer at “Nintendo stock hit a five year high of $58.45 a share this year, only to shed more than 40 percent of its value this month, with a year-low of $33.90“, I see clear numbers that do not support the actions and recommendations of these analysts. The titles Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2 represent 40 million copies sold. This implies that every Nintendo Switch has at least one of these games and that is an amazing result. Now set this against a company like Ubisoft (as a mere example) with Assassin’s Creed, 100 million copies over 11 titles on 3+ systems, Far Cry, 25 million copies over 6 titles on 3+ systems and Watch Dogs with 2 titles on 3 systems, 10 million copies sold. These are all decent games and when compared to four titles on one system, we start seeing the first part where the others seem to be getting it wrong. That is the comparison that some analysts do not seem to grasp. In addition, the close to flawless results against other titles on other consoles show and we have not even started with the millions of players playing Pokemon on Nintendo handheld systems.

On the day of Saint Nicholas we look at these kids and we see the overwhelming need and desire for gaming, consoles and handhelds. For the next 4 weeks it will be about that group and I predict that Nintendo will be looking at another half a billion if the previous record is anything to go by. It is likely that Boxing Day sales will add to that revenue surpassing my prediction. Clever grandparents adding an optional $30 gift card for their grand-kids to get several games cheap on boxing day sales, adding even more to the Nintendo profit coffer.

Even Forbes gave me the thumbs up (virtually that is). They had the top purchase mention with Nintendo as one of the titles and the PS4 as the most talked about, no mention on Microsoft. Even as Apple got a few mentions, the words ‘Microsoft’, ‘Surface’ and ‘Xbox’ were absent in that view (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbes-finds/2018/11/12/5-best-headphones-under-100/#47cb25aa5239), in addition the aggressive discount that the Nintendo gives with their Switch plus Mario Kart in the Netherlands is seeing its own fair share of mentions. If the feast of Saint Nicholas has one drawback then I would think it is the longer absence of board games. Playing a game like monopoly whilst unwrapping a present whenever one player passes go was heaps fun. There was the tension which name was drawn and as present by present was opened; whilst we played monopoly and had hot chocolate milk (it is cold in the Netherlands in December) was a level of fun I still miss.

Yet, we must not forget the hardship either, and there is a lot of that and a lot more coming; in the last year over 50,000 children died in Yemen from hardship, disease and famine. I expect that in 2019 we will see that the 2018 numbers will surpass the passing of 100,000 children. The children are too young to face what other children have to go through in other places, yet we adults cannot afford to do that. If I had to forego my optional Nintendo Switch for one child in Yemen to have a decent meal, I will end up not playing a Nintendo Switch for some time to come, even as the child still dies and I merely prevented it from dying on an empty stomach, I would do so. Even as the peace talks are being held, I fear for the lack of progress, as this is not in the interest of Iran. It is still progressing on arming Houthi; it is still facilitating via Hezbollah and the children are merely in the way there. From my point of view Europe is enabling it as they want their nuclear accord, an accord that is not likely to be the value of printed paper, the Iranian missile tests can be considered proof in this. In this part Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is actually in a very dangerous place. Even as he is with an ally, as the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, we see that the danger is twofold. As more and more US politicians are seemingly ‘bashing’ Saudi Arabia, yet they seem to ignore the danger that Hezbollah is there, we see the start of imbalance, and as this imbalance continues, so do the events in Yemen killing even more children. The hollow words like ‘Iran has praised Yemeni peace talks scheduled to take place soon‘, they want their version in charge in Yemen, not the elected one and they are willing to let millions of kids die to get that done. So whilst the US gives us “The United States has displayed pieces of what it says were Iranian weapons deployed to militants in Yemen and Afghanistan“, whilst at the same time US politicians are unbalancing their allied commitment to Saudi Arabia, we see that in the end it is a political stalemate with the lives of all the Yemeni children in the balance and there is no reasonable chance that the children there will get a better deal out of it.

So as we see the independent giving us the goods and the stage of truth last week with: ‘US struggles to find footing on Yemen, as Iran increases influence‘, we see (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-yemen-civil-war-iran-influence-saudi-arabia-bombing-trump-weapons-houthis-rebels-a8661546.html) that the US and mostly its politicians seem to have lost their perception on the larger game. the quote “The US Senate, angered in part by the White House response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on Wednesday voted in a surprise move to advance a bill that would cut American participation in the Yemen conflict“, the emotions towards a previously unknown journalist (and ignoring all those imprisoned and dead journalists in Turkey) is setting the stage of enabling the Iran agenda. Vetoed or not, it will up the pressure on Saudi Arabia and in all this, the populist pressure is one that historically has turned anti Saudi more often than not, increasing the larger issues towards Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in other directions as well.

In all this does America even know who their allies and enemies are? The question is more important than you think, as we see on the feast of Saint Nicholas that millions of children in Yemen are abandoned. So what did this have to do with games?

When you watch your child play some Call of Duty game and you realise that it is not Battleground 5, it is not Call of Duty, or Fortnite, but it is the game ‘Holy Defense’, created by Hezbollah to let gamers and players kill ISIS members. When we are treated to: “Hezbollah has developed a 3-D computer game to capture the minds of its youth, while showing them a good time.” When you see your children play this free downloaded game in Europe and America, how much safer was the Nintendo Switch with their family values to begin with?

I agree that this is not a fair remark for Sony and Microsoft and they are not part of this in any way, but when it comes to First Person Shooters, can parents even tell the difference anymore? And when it is getting to close to the factual truth, can they even perceive how many children are getting killed in the process whilst Yemen is facing delay after delay? Should that not be the central issue on the day of the patron saint of children?

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, Media, Military, Politics