Tag Archives: Phil Spencer

The tail of a prophet

I spoke on all kinds of matters, and I also gave some upcoming predictions. So, on June 17th of 2017 I predicted: “So by the end of 2018 the console offset ‘Sony:Nintendo:Microsoft’ could end up being ‘13:9:2’. This would show Microsoft on how they truly bet on the wrong marketing horses. So I admit, it is a speculative prediction, yet the sales numbers are not that far off and my expected Nintendo growth is not unrealistic“. It was (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/17/after-the-e3/) where I decided to introduce the audience to some of the massive bungles that upper management at Microsoft is involved in. Now, if they replied (read: if, if is good), it would be along the way of ‘it is not our core business‘, or ‘we have all out vestment set to the Azure solution‘. Yet in that view options like Hadoop are already mentioned on the way out, getting replaced by a new flavour of Big Data. Microsoft has Blockchain as a Service (BaaS), but there the adaption is not on the curve they need it to be, so as we see other places become contenders, we realise that Microsoft is too big to just fall over, but as they wanted to be in the generic ‘let’s be there for everyone‘, I see (a personal believe) that those focusing on one part of a business that they are excelling and they are taking away customers left right and centre. Now, this is not a tidal wave, it is a slow process. Yet, in all, the quote I gave now has a serious side. Only last night did I get the news that the Nintendo Switch has hit the 5 million sales mark Compare this to PlayStation 4 Total Sales: 63.4 million and Xbox One Total Sales: 26.5 million (not entirely accurate as clear numbers are hard to find), both released in November 2013. So in 6 months Nintendo closed the gap by a lot. Nintendo is currently committed to get production up towards 2 million consoles a month and this is showing as some analysts (not the group I have the most faith in) have predicted that by March 2018 Nintendo will be expected to be seen in over 13 million homes. So in one year the Nintendo Switch will close the gap with the Microsoft Xbox. My predictions are still on speed to become a reality, yet the given by December 2018 might not be the case. If Nintendo releases the games they have planned on time, the curve will increase and whilst the Microsoft business analysts will bedazzle the people with Scorpio, 4K gaming and other things, the consumers are starting to realise that the people at Microsoft are less clued in on the gamers needs, a thing I clearly stated for close to 2 years (or was that 3 years) and now my predictions are slowly moving into the sunlight for all to see. At present my 13:9:2 is likely to be 12:5:3 no more than, yet Nintendo remains in 3rd place, which was the larger part that mattered. Still this is based on two players with 6 years and Nintendo with less than 2 years by the end of 2018, so even as consoles would have been sold, the Microsoft growth will stagnate as a larger population from their camp will switch to Nintendo and the family friendly games that Ubisoft produces are not helping the plight of Microsoft in any way.

You see, there are two groups and as Microsoft does not care about one of them, it is that group that will drive the dagger home so to speak. It is my personal believe that Microsoft is ignoring the people who bought one and they are realise that to some degree they ended with a lemon. Now these people are not going to jump to Sony, but with the Nintendo wave and the good pricing of that console they will consider the Switch for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so there is a 95% chance that Nintendo will have a great Christmas on a near global level. You see, the group Microsoft neglected is now showing a dusty Xbox One, these people are not going to Scorpio and depending on their gaming prowess, not only will they advocate non-Microsoft solutions and buy a Switch, they will in theory prevent 2-3 other players getting an Xbox as well. So not only will Microsoft be fighting an uphill battle from the day they launch, their new system will be buried by the sales achievements that Nintendo is bringing to the ‘Just Dance’ floor, which will be a growing and is likely to be a Nintendo dominant dance floor. A nice little positive event (read: impressive achievement) for Ubisoft as well. A game that has hit the 25 million mark is showing to be as successful as the Xbox One console at present ever was. The fact that some Microsoft executives are not contemplating suicide is a small miracle to say the least. Perhaps they should have actually listened to the gaming community and not revere the spreadsheet they adhere to.

We see at present more and more news in both camps. One showing that Microsoft is more and more successful for the Scorpio, some show that Microsoft remains stagnant and are now setting $50 price drops and one source gives us “Only 13% Of Hardcore Gamers Plan On Buying An Xbox Scorpio“, which is a number I feel uncomfortable with as I expect that number to be at least twice as high. Yet between the expected buyer and the actual buyer there will be a gap and the results of Nintendo show that gap to likely be widening on a nearly daily basis. In other news, a few months ago we saw (at https://mspoweruser.com/project-scorpio-fails-impress-american-gamers-according-nielsen/) the title “Project Scorpio fails to impress American gamers according to Nielsen“. This fact is a lot more interesting were it not for one given part. When we consider the quote “Phil Spencer has to prove to gamers that they need to upgrade. The only way to do this is to show mind-blowing graphical upgrades and flood the internet and television with advertisements of the device” we need to wonder about the job Nielsen has in this. You see, ‘mind-blowing graphical upgrades‘ might seem nice, but in the end it is about good gaming and that has not been delivered by many games, not to the degree it needed to be. In the second, the part ‘flood the internet and television‘ might be to appease their other customers, but it does nothing for the gamers, only the badly informed consumers and that market has shifted a lot. It has shifted because people bought the WiiU and some of them are now hurting by the Xbox One, not in the smallest part because of unwanted and non-consensual uploads by the Xbox One into the Azure cloud. We are becoming more and more data savvy and the Microsoft helpdesk telling me (read: they really did) that this lies solely with the internet provider is a party line so stupid, it makes me want to vomit. So from the side of Microsoft, we see their hardware, their policies and their shortcomings, they sold out the gamer three times in a row with one console. that and the ignored part by Nielsen on how much of a blasting success the Switch was gives us more and more light that properly informing an audience is a loaded canon to say the least.

Now, I am willing to say that my data is not completely up to scrap. When we consider that several sources who give clear Sony sales records need to guess and get other data sources to compile the Microsoft numbers. The fact that Microsoft has been remiss (or pushing dates of publishing numbers) is one tactic to keep the diminishing group of Scorpio pre orders in the dark. The first set will be immediately sold out, that was never in question, but the three subsequent pushes are the ones that are in play. The war for Christmas is on and even as I have illusions regarding Nintendo winning that, there will be loads of Ps4pro’s and Scorpios on the list of plenty of kids. The A$650 might seem nice, but in the end, as people realise that storage remains an issue, having the A$675 2TB edition would have been the smarter move. Oh wait, that one does not exist because Microsoft did not consider the gamer in any of this, just their Teraflop speech laced with 4K resolution. That evidence is shown by Microsoft when we see “While Forza Motorsport 7 hasn’t been released yet and it won’t be out until October 3rd, the official Microsoft Windows store has listed the download size for the game and it is a gigantic 100 GB” (source: gearnuke.com), a factor I mentioned before, so as the 1TB drive loses around 300Mb for the operating system and store parts and so on, the gamer soon realises that there will only be space for 7 games in 4K. So how long was Microsoft going to hide that disaster? When you have to reinstall 3 games within 6 months and get the patches, how long until you get to be in an aggravated state of irritation? A clear issue that the Xbox One had and even as Microsoft had the ability to diffuse the situation, they decided to not do anything, which is another battle they lost to Sony and one that might drive more gamers towards the additional Nintendo pile of those who want to enjoy a game. This now also fuels the previous blog on digital rights (one that Euro gamer made me start after their video), because in that setting a physical copy on disc becomes more and more important to every gamer. Yet this is not all, it is the largest factor in gaming that is now starting to push the envelope to the degree that Microsoft will not be happy about. With the announcement of ‘a Nintendo Switch version for Fear Effect Sedna‘ just today will be coming to Switch pushes the bar as Microsoft is losing their exclusive range of games faster and faster. This is a known bar that both Sony and Microsoft pushed as much as possible, now that some iconic titles are also coming to Switch; the results will have an impact on all consoles (it will impact Sony to a much lesser extent). Even as I personally believe that some titles will not make a person not buy a game, but could push a gamer to get the Nintendo Switch on the side. This action results in more and more hazard points for the continuation of Microsoft consoles as a growing group of people are now cancelling pre-orders. Now, that is not an entirely accurate statement. Let me give you the ‘down low‘ on it. Last month has given more and more forums the issue where people came with the same issue “my Xbox One X pre-order was cancelled for no explainable reason by Target“. There seems to be a separate play going on. Some players never cancelled their pre-order, it seems that some players who wanted to make quick solid revenue are now confronted that their infrastructure cannot deal with the sudden ‘need’ of thousands of players and their systems seem to be unable to keep score to coin a phrase. So here Microsoft is wrongfully set in a bad light as other systems cannot deal with the infrastructure of some consumer chains and Target does not seem to be the only one. I believe that there are people having second thoughts, which will always happen. I believe that the ‘converted’ curve of Microsoft is a lot lower when we consider actual ‘converted’ gamers. So there are those numbers to consider as well. The backup in all this is that as cancellations happen, sales numbers might regionally shift and this is happening in the height of Thanksgiving and Christmas, so there will be a larger lash back to consider in January, but that will be a story for another day.

So as my tail is considering the tale of a console that was designed not fore gamers, but for players. Microsoft needs to sit down and make some clear considerations on where they went wrong and how they moved from second place to a possible degradation to initially position three, all because three factors that could have been directly avoided were ignored for (as I personally see it) other business needs.

A harsh situation that again, as I personally see it, is all the doing of Microsoft self and they only have themselves to blame, a market shift in merely 2 years. I wonder who they’ll blame when the numbers become crystal clear at the end of the next financial year. Perhaps it will give us a new console in 2018, the Microsoft EOFYbox, free with every Microsoft Surface Pro IV.

 

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Approaching death of Scorpio

Do you remember the day when gamers were all looking forward towards the initial presentation of the Xbox One? Perhaps you do, perhaps not, what became the issue is that the person, who disappeared soon thereafter was talking about mandatory online presence, news of no longer getting second hand games also came to light and the gamers shouted in outrage. The changes Microsoft had to make were not small, the business managers of Microsoft at that point actually got scared and the consequence was that Sony became the undebated ruler of the next generation console.

Sony made a few errors, but they were small and some have been rectified. For the Xbox One it is an entirely different matter. They have gone to some extent from bad to worse and there are decent indicators that Scorpio will continue on that downward spiral.

The article in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/27/project-scorpio-xbox-chief-microsoft-plans-console) gives some highlights, especially on the speculation of native 4K gaming, yet in other uncertain terms other elements are not addressed.

Since the Xbox 360 the gamers lost the ability to play offline, with the option to keep their achievements. Now there is a cumbersome need to change settings. Sony had the same issue, but has rectified this, although the gamer needs to click two additional times, offline achievements can be viewed. Microsoft has been unwilling to reset to the Xbox 360 options in that regard. More important, the issue seen only a few months ago shows that Microsoft without consent has been uploading massive chunks of data into their Azure cloud. Within one week I lost 50% of my monthly bandwidth allowance ($60 damage). The press has not looked at this at all, the press remains silent on non-consensual uploads and the Microsoft helpdesk plainly blamed my ISP for this (what a load of rubbish). In that frame, my less diplomatic view would be that Microsoft has become a data lady of ill repute.

The fact that Microsoft remains silent on storage is equally a failure. They should have figured out that some gamers have much higher needs and we should agree that this is not for everyone, the option that gamers would want to get a larger hard-drive from day one (even if they have to personally upgrade like it is the case with the PS3/PS4), the fact that Microsoft remains pushy towards clouds and mineable data is a large issue, especially as this constitutes backwater thinking on the part of the developer. Lessons that Microsoft could have seen and learned from Sony 5 years ago, and with 4K gaming, you better believe these patches will continue to grow into several gigabytes per game. In comparison, I have as per this morning 4 patches waiting requiring 29GB storage, do you think that will get less on 4K? You only need to look at a few Ubisoft games (specifically the size of their patches) to realise that the storage requirement will grow faster and faster. A 2TB drive will not satisfy the need of the gamer, let alone a 1TB drive. Microsoft as ben aiming for data control too soon and to stringently, an error that could be the death of Scorpio, in that regard Death on Release date is not that far fetched at present.

In addition, we read that Phil Spencer makes the biggest blooper of all. The quote: “it may be possible for some teams to add extra gameplay content only accessible to Scorpio owners”. So those who recently bought an Xbox One or Xbox One S will face a system renewal within a year. So not only is he resetting gamer needs, he is basically downgrading the current generation console from a gamers point of view, because gamers want 100% of the game they play, not some restriction. In this he gives extra ammunition to Sony, so he might get a nice Christmas hamper from Kaz Hirai himself.

In all this the article is a good read, not just for fans of the Microsoft console, but more or the competitors (read: Sony) for the elements that have not been raised or discussed. The fact that the console OS requires more than half a dozen upgrades and improvement, just to get back to the decent levels of the Xbox 360 is one issue, the idea that we might see a mandatory push to Azure is also a danger that Phil needs to put to rest real quick, because a large group of gamers are not in places where unlimited bandwidth is an option, and that is in the better locations. When Microsoft learns the hard way that 7 US states and chunks of Japan and Europe wont facilitate those data needs, they will need to adjust their scope again and again. This whilst the gamers get to suffer limitations and outages for a console that will be pricey to say the least.

All issues that have been known in advance if those at the top had done their homework. Now, we should realize that the console will not be here for some time to come, but at this point, if the hardware specs are not upgraded (like the laughable 1TB drive), getting enough consoles sold by the end of the year will be a stretch and I reckon that within 4 months the gamers will face limitations they have never experienced before, which will push the console down in sales faster and harder. All elements that could have been avoided 2 years before launch. When we consider that the better games will require 50GB-100GB of data space, the idea that a 1TB drive with an operating system would only have space for 5-8 games could be the most laughable part yet. In that regard, those who love their RPG games (Witcher 3, Fallout, Skyrim) could see a special marketing deal of the Scorpio console with 5 games because that is all the console has space for. I agree that this is me being mean, but Microsoft has been warned by gamers more than once. The fact that we have enough evidence that they will not learn or listen is a mere consideration to drop the Scorpio from your wish list until such time comes that they clearly clean up their act and please their customers, not the need of others business groups to keep certain power users on a monitored online presence. This is how I see it, and this is what you need to consider before you waste too many of your hard earned coins on an announced console that comes with too many limitations even before the system ships on day one.

Oh, and the news (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/27/xbox-chief-netflix-video-games-episodes-subscription-downloads-phil-spencer),  how much bandwith and storage will that require? Not to mention upgraded Netflix on 4K, that poor 1TB storage system will unlikely make it past the second month. Yes, Scorpio might sound revolutionary, but not for the gamer.

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A lesson learned late

We all have this, we stump our heads into a wall, some in ignorance, some through stubbornness, ideologically and the last group through determination. I am one of these four. As I bring the bad news first, I need to talk about myself. I got an extension on a test which might not be a massive one in points, but I am in a state where every point counts! Hoping to save up to 15 points on a test 44 pages long. My little big horn is a ‘Memorandum of Detailed Opinion‘. I still have 30 hours of work actual to go and I had to restart as I was turning my ‘Other Applicable Revocation Issues’ into a mesh of Titanic distraught and the deep dark feeling when you are at the top of a truly high building (like the Hancock building) and you see the street 100 flights down, that one step through the glass looks suddenly so appealing, such dread! I feel a little better, especially as I started fresh again, things are slowly adding up, connections are now coming to life. the smallest issue I had initially was a part in section 40 of the Patents Act 1990disclose the best method known to the applicant of performing the invention‘, this and a personal believe that my professor was intertwining ‘best method’ with the mathematical approach to describing Cantonese had an impact too. Yet those feelings were all between my own ears. You see, this is the first subject ever in history, where I got confronted with the limitation of my thinking. This has never happened before! We all face the music that we do not get something, but in most cases someone explains, someone aides or you find a supporting document that helps you. We all have that. No, I mean that feeling you get when your life depends on the next conversation and the one part you were not told is that everyone speaks Aramaic, that level of non-comprehension!

Yet, I also feel stronger today, because the light suddenly came on and I am starting to put it together. I took longer than I expected and if I had not been confronted with bad news last week that stress would not have stopped me from completing my assignment. Getting told you need to find another apartment tends to do that to a person whilst his exam just started. So as I finished my notes for tonight, prepping to get loads done tomorrow, I had to write this. You see, this intersects with something I read yesterday on my mobile, I believe.

That part was about Xbox boss Phil Spencer. Microsoft has always been about ideology and ignorance, so to call this part ideological ignorance is not too big a leap. Spencer stated that he was not interested in beating Sony, he was interested in gaining customers, as many as possible. In my view, his predecessors ‘messed’ it all up. I reckon not intentionally. In my view Microsoft was convinced that the TPP would have been in effect now and the steps initially made towards the XB1 would have been massively exploitative, with the law allowing them to destroy certain markets (the preowned game market for one). This all took a step back towards a streaming enterprise that did not quite make it off the floor. The 2013 promise of a 300,000 servers for gamers in one cloud. The quote is in light of the backwards compatibility claim a little hilarious: “Microsoft’s Don Mattrick stated “If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards”” (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/05/24/spin-dryers-by-microsoft/). Even then I claimed how stupid the 500 GB thought was. Sony made the same mistake, but with the Sony version a person can update when he/she is ready, the XB1 does not allow for that. In that same article I chewed on some of the presented facts: “Their on-line system is now getting grown from the initial 15,000 servers now that Xbox 360 uses, to 300,000 servers from the moment the next Xbox is launched. It is a 2,000% growth in data collection and over 200,000% storage capacity. If foundations of business are set to return-on-investment, then ask yourself why a gaming system requires that level of growth“, a question that was never answered, but with the TPP, the streaming and the data requirements, it was about the gamer, it was how he/she could best be exploited. That was the view that my mind saw and so far I have been proven correct in almost every way. The next quote supports all this “In all honesty Microsoft Marketing did state that there will be pre-owned possibilities, yet they have not officially stated how this EXACTLY will play out, so we await clarity by Microsoft“, consider that part, if the TPP would have been in effect that part would have costed gamers dearly, so in all this, we can speculate that Don Mattrick was no more than the bearer of bad news and his career took a massive tumble. Now we get Phil Spencer and how this is about gamers. A 2 year stretch that now demands a 145 degree course adjustment. The weird thing is that if the decision makers realised their audience in the era of Xbox and Xbox 360, they should have known what gamers wanted, and adjusting that with their own view of exploitation is a misplaced view to say the least.

So as I see myself ignorant and determined, I also see Microsoft as ideologically ignorant. Ideological in their pursuit of maximising profit any way they can and ignorant to consider that gamers would take this lying down. Microsoft now set at less than 40% of what Sony has, losing the market share the 360 had grown, how stupid is that? The big issue is still that Mettrick and Spencer leave the feeling of being no more than puppets on a string, jumping to the needs of the decision makers behind the screens of Microsoft. Their strings to be cut at a moment’s notice. It is the second failing compared to Sony. Yet, in all this I must admit that Sony is likely to work in similar ways, but in a much better setting as their focus has been the gamer for 4 iterations of their console. That does account for something.

I feel that I learned my lesson late, hopefully not too late and the next two weeks will be about work 24%, study 48% and the rest is about trying to get sleep, food and an apartment. I feel strengthened as my eyes open towards the issues I could not solve for almost 10 days. I also feel better as Microsoft seems oblivious towards the gain they lost whilst they should have known better, in that respect Gamespot (who was source to most of the Microsoft information) should also have known better and as they seem to hide behind the PS4 vs XB1 console war, they have done too little regarding the investigation on the business decisions that did hurt a contending console and forced it towards a gloomier place. We can all admit that backwards compatibility will gain them momentum, yet in the end it will be about good games and yes, Microsoft has done a decent job, but with the lost field, decent will not hack it.

So I end this article with a personal message to Phil Spencer. Phil, I am not blaming you (which would be unfair), I am not having a go at you (which would be too easy), yet I will do your job for you this one instance. There is a game coming, it is nowhere near ready at present, but it is getting there. It is for PC and it has the option of becoming every bit as addictive as Minecraft currently is. So another masterpiece by an indie developer! The game is called Heat Signature as it shows massive promise. This game could propel the XB1 even further. The quirkiness and the connected options for multiplayer could be next thing people desire. The single player part is showing real promise. So instead of waiting and having to shell out another 2 billion for a game Microsoft didn’t create, so how about getting in front of a repetitive timeline for a change?

Heat Signature (heatsig.com) is able to be uniquely placed next to Elite Dangerous, Eve Online, Star Citizen and No Mans Sky. It can exist next to all of them and will be as entertaining to all those who play the other mentioned titles. I suggest that you keep your eye on @HeatSig (Twitter address) and feel free not heeding my word (I have only been wrong 4 times in the last 30 years when it comes to gaming), so I am due another failure. Yet the stats go hugely my way and as such I predict that Heat Signature, a Tom Francis production which was, as I remember it a Johnny Chiodini discovery evolve into a true contender for being the next big thing (as an indie developer title).

In all this, am I too ideological when it comes to gaming? That is a fair question and I must ask this from myself if I want to remain connected to a field I have been involved in since 1983. I believe so and games like Fallout 4 show my view to be a good one. In equal part Elite Dangerous shows that true passion for a game can last decades (something Blizzard also proved with the Diablo series) and in all this Ubisoft squandered it and Microsoft rejected their view only to get bitten on their sitting area really hard. The future belongs to the believers, because faith has always been the most pure and natural driving force. It got me my law degree it got me to the final stage of my MIP and it can get anyone to their place of achievement. Greed is never an achievement! Will Microsoft learn from their mistakes? That remains dubious because the puppeteers behind the screens remain an unknown. I do believe that illuminating them could shed light on the problem and truly propel the world of gamers forward as the onslaught of counterproductive acts end up getting terminated with extreme prejudice. EA has 7 months left to learn their lesson and not fall into the traps with Mass Effect Andromeda, traps that Ubisoft seems to be unable to avoid. Still, if they are unable to do that, John Oliver will be able to have a little fun here too.

 

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