Tag Archives: Playstation

RPG Arms race

Yes, I had not forgotten my promise, so before I start resetting the Saudi Airforce from the American options to either the BAE Typhoon or the Chinese Chengdu J-20, all whilst bagging myself a rather nice (and large) commission, I have a promise to keep. It took me a whilst, yet when Bethesda made the Elder Scrolls, they had the alone stage for Fantasy RPG and they grew it rather nicely, close to perfection. Yet I am no ones second fiddle, as such I thought it would be nice to change the game. In the setting where you are a ranged ‘fighter’, or a stealth type, I decided on the Indonesian blowpipe. It has the benefit of stealth, speed, some distance (not overly large) poison dart options and a few more, as such the blowpipe would be in, there is the Trisula (Indonesian version of the Japanese Sai), the Gollocks, yet they also have swords and spears, so there is a whole range of new weapons giving the RPG lover a new set of discoveries to make in how to best give the realisation of mortality to your enemies. And as I was taking a look at the weapons, I came to the conclusion, that as I spread the power of magic, the same could be done to the weapons. Even as we might like all weapons (some people do), giving them the power of one (agility for the blowpipe) removes strength for the sword and spear. It is a little more natural that way. Stealth still has knives and blades, but that person would be less in other weapons, the other way as well, those adapts and better in swords and spears are lousy in the precision of the blowpipe, they can still use knives for stealth parts, but not much more, the stage to reply is set. As I set the stage of magic and weapons, the third need would be there.
The support of the craft of artisan. The agile are good at pottery, but slow and less able to be the armorer or blacksmith, the blacksmith would be less of an alchemist and pottery person, item can always be bought and the fighter can still be a good alchemist in nearly every way, yet the division pushes a person to become passable and average n all directions, or set towards excellence in one or optionally two directions. Too many RPG’s are about inclusions, the ‘you can be all approach’, yet as I have stated towards Ubisoft for the longest time, a game that states it pleases everyone, in the end will please no one. That setting set a larger stage, a stage where you can reply the game, optionally multiple times and face the stage where you see new things at least twice over, it makes for longer joy in a game. 

And all whilst doing this, I got the inside idea of yet another game, based on a golden oldie. It was done by Melbourne House in 1985, yet not unlike the older version, you have to grow your skills, go to places and unlock abilities and unlock moves. So what happens when the stage is not all, but you get one night to do it, you get 5 hours until the final showdown where you are the challenger, and every time you play the game, the powers are somewhere else, so no running to the 6 points to get the max character, you get a stage where the skills you acquire are the skills you have for the final fight, yet the stage is not who presses the button faster, it is more like Nioh, a tactical challenge, we keep on forgetting that the old games have actual diamonds in the rough (sorry Disney), actual gems that can shine, even now on the PS5 can bring joy to millions of Playstation gamers (as such all ideas are always free for Sony Playstation exclusive games). 

So as I finished the ideas of fighting, artisans and magic, it is time to think of a storyline, a main story where we need to set a new level of adaptability, because if you are in one place in one chosen group, you will not face the same story, so what happens when the main storyline is not one story, but there are 5 for you to find? How to go about that part? I can tell you one thing, that has never been done before, I wonder why not?

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The new setting

I had a partial start on Bethesda’s Elder scrolls, but not one for their Fallout series. You see, you do have the right to sell your IP to a third party (Bethesda to Microsoft) and set the agenda of forcing a million dedicated players into the arms of what I personally see as a disreputable solution for gaming, but I am entitled to create IP free for Sony exclusive solutions that offers the people an alternative. The idea that I am handing out free dedicated IP for Sony developers was probably not in consideration for Microsoft (who paid $8,500,000,000 for Bethesda software), yet the idea of me handing out free lollies was not on their mind either, and PS5 directed IP even less so. 

As such here I am watching Jason Bourne on Netflix whilst my brains is considering a larger stage for a radiated world to survive in. Yes, I can’t just be like any other normal guy enjoying porn, no my mind has to create puzzles and RPG settings, life can never be simple, can it?

Whilst I was starting all that, there was a larger (read: additional) stage I wanted to create. A longer stage. An idea to interact the PS5 with both (read: either) Android or iOS device, creating mini games that give an additional stages to the game. It can all be done on the PS5, but I considered that some games are interesting if an element gets added (for free), so here I am considering my old NBC knowledge the decontamination parts that were not really in the Bethesda games. Yet that part could be a stage in the game, finding the plans, creating the solution and managing it. Even if it is part of the game itself, management parts of that game can be set to automatic (after the elements are set), but if we create management apps, giving the player an added 30% return on doing so, we create interest, the need to participate. 

The game needs an enticing environment, yet we have seen so many games in the US, What if the stage is not there, but the setting is Stockholm? It is relatively close to a lot of places and what if we use that setting to create a haven, not like in other games, but one that requires fresh water, fresh meat and of course a red wire collecting images of the Swedish bikini teams between 1975 and 2175, fair is fair, and if you play a girl, you get to find the collector cards of Swedish fireman and park rangers (fair is fair). We just know (read: assumption) how you ladies want to see images of Alexander Skarsgård and Peter Haber, fair is fair after all. Yet we need more than simple alternatives for snow globes or pip-boys, but the setting is one that needs adjusting. We need more than a race from item to item and that is not by creating places to are to, but by creating a narrative that goes beyond what w expect, that shows the larger stage of the repercussions of radiation, not by taking pieces away from the adventure, but by adding to it, by creating an additional awareness, one the previous games only hinted at. I am not blaming the games, they were and till are fine games, but I want to create something new, not by creating a copy, a copy is second rate, yet if we skate on the fringe, if we add to the narrative we et something new and that is the are for the gamer, that is the race for those who love to play games, to get more, not to merely get more of the same. The difference is distinct and gamers know this, I know this, so we get create more as we create something new, something that differs and is different. 

That is the challenge, that is the perspective we require, one we have not faced before. It is how I got to think out the Palyar prerogative playing in Amsterdam, that is how I got the previous answer to a new IP, holding an answer to Bethesda and the Elder Scrolls and over the setting of Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, which I came up with in the past. A setting to Watchdogs IV and a few more ideas, all new IP, all in advanced concept stages.

Life tends to be about new settings, for the most it is about adapting to them, for some it is about creating them.

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The moneymakers

Corporate Earth loves moneymakers, they shelf their resources on what makes the most the fastest and that is how businesses run, but what happens when the ruling council is off the ‘Fake it till you make it’ category? That is the question that matters, because the people are now following whomever has the coolest look, whilst quality takes a second turn back. For the most this is nothing new, it happens all over the place. We now have Apple and Google adding up to the next gaming war, whilst Prime Gaming is starting to get noticed. All whilst Forbes gives us ‘There Is A Belong Gaming Area Coming To Your Town’, gaming has become the 100 billion annual industry and in this age everyone wants a bite. Even as we merely accept “Vindex bought Belong Gaming Arenas from London based GAME Digital. Vindex plans to open more than 500 Belong locations in hometowns across America, and another 1,000 locations outside of the U.S. over the next five years” then we get “Esports doesn’t act like a traditional sports business—game developers have a lot to say. In esport, the playing field is the intellectual property, and it’s owned by game developers”, yet how many people realise how powerful the data is that these gaming interfaces collect? It seems all a case of ‘conspiracy theory’, yet consider the following:

Microsoft said it would be unable to launch its game streaming service on iOS due to the restrictions on gaming apps” and “Earlier this week, Microsoft said it would be launching its xCloud gaming service as part of a subscription service called Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on Sept. 15. But the app, which lets users jump into an Xbox game on their smartphone or tablet, will only be available on devices powered by Google’s Android mobile operating system, not Apple’s iOS”. A stage when Microsoft needs to get its own mess under control, they are screaming about making a mess somewhere else. The funding by larger brands is not merely about visibility, it is about getting the largest dat slice, as much as possible and as fast as possible. In an age where it is about branding, the two larger players are about “Microsoft and Facebook have lashed out at Apple for restrictive App Store policies”, there is a reason why people have lost faith in Microsoft and Facebook. I myself removed Facebook from my mobile, why would I want them to cater to my mobile gaming needs. Why would I allow other Facebook junk on my mobile, draining my battery? Similar issues exists with Microsoft, in January 2017 I wrote ‘Taking Xbox to Court?’ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/01/30/taking-xbox-to-court/) and it was ignored by the bulk of people. It was all my imagination, yet the specified bill was not on their side. In 15 days close to 6GB was UPLOADED and the Microsoft Xbox support stated the this was with my provider, really? My Xbox uploads data without my permission and it is the internet provider? How much data is Microsoft about to get access to, how much data will Facebook capture under the seemingly innocent stage of cloud gaming? If data is the new currency gamers are the prime clusters to get, some gamers have a following of thousands and Microsoft and Facebook are screaming murder because they want into the game and a protective Apple is something they can do without. I am not proclaiming that Sony, Apple and Nintendo are innocent, but they are showing themselves to be less guilty, Nintendo and Sony are banking on the fair play approach towards gamers, they expect it to play out in their favour and I believe that this will be the true path. They expect data to be a by-product, not the direct goal, Microsoft and Facebook have (from my personal view) a more direct approach to the benefits of data. In all this Google is not innocent, but their approach was data from the very beginning, from search to linking and to other means, data became the currency that allowed people to have free services, but the truth is that nothing is free. Facebook made the same steps in the beginning, but data took over and now as we see that TikTok is actually getting into the face of Facebook and capturing the margins and more we now see ‘TikTok Begins Doling Out $1 Billion Bonuses To Top Creators As Facebook Tries To Lure Stars’ and it is about to be worse. Even as Google Stadia is in a position to grab a larger margin, Facebook is up in arms to create the larger benefit, because the reality is that cruise liner Facebook is losing more steam and propulsion, the waves of TikTok is adding up and Apple is not Data friendly to the likes of Facebook and Microsoft, in all this the voice of emotional gamers is all that is left to them because they are running out of time and there is a larger stage where Xbox series X will underperform just like its predecessor, and that is the fear Microsoft fears, they are in a stage where they could soon be regarded as powerful as in the age of their first Xbox, they threw that much away and a lack of trust is not helping them any. That is the stage we are looking at, but I have to be. honest, the fight over gamers is one that I never saw coming, not to this degree and even now as I have seen within me the IP of several games, I wonder what these game corporations are doing, because the evidence is all around them, they merely have to open their eyes. So why are they not doing that?

Even as we see that the current situation is not the greatest stage for any business, books, movies and games help in a lockdown, so why are others faltering? I personally see it because they see games as nothing more as a springboard to ‘real cash’, yet games should be about games and about the edge of what is new and innovative, that was proven in the days of the CBM64, CBM Amiga, Atari ST, PC, N-64, Gamecube, Wii, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Xbox360,  PlayStation 1, 2, 3 and 4, and as Apple and Google enter this domain, we will get a new stage, now with 5 players and one would think that this would benefit the gaming dimension, but as I see it, Microsoft is more about Azure and data, making it a universe of 4 (which is fine too) but when gamers catch on, when the Marketing BS comes to a halt, Microsoft will only have themselves to congratulate. Anyone stating that the fight between apple and Google is over, is mistaken. I reckon that this fight will take until 2022 to settle and in the same time Sony and Nintendo will fight for larger domain of the gaming pie, but their worlds only partially overlap, so they will set another fight and they will coexist, in this Google and Apple will slice out a part and they will be more fiercely competitive than Sony and Nintendo ever was (well they were in the age of PlayStation 1 and Nintendo 64). The fight is far from over, but all the gamers out there need to realise that not all the moneymakers out there have the welfare of gamers in mind, merely the data they give rise to. And when the gamers figure that out, some lame excuse from some wannabe executive will no longer hold water, when that happens a lot more will be lost to them. I expect that to become a reality no later than the second half of 2021.

 

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Sources of negativity

We are all binomial in origin, we like yes/no, we dislike yes/no, we hate yes/no and we love yes/no, yet most of us hide this in long winded excuses of reasoning, we all do that (including me). I partially hate Microsoft for what they did, for how they destroyed something that was pretty fabulous, I am upset with Ubisoft or how they squandered excellent IP and hid into the woodworks and made a quick buck, destroying the IP they created in the meantime. And as such as I was looking online for a few more tidbits as we approach the demise of Xbox, I came across a few items that puzzled me. 

I love Bethesda, I do not love all their products, which is fine. I am no lover of Rage, but others are, and that is fine. On the other hand I love Fallout, but was never a fan of Fallout 76 and that is fine too. I prefer my games not online and single player. Still, I accept that this is a pathBethesda went on, we all have growing curves and there is a collection of people (a large one) who do like Fallout 76. Perhaps the evolution of Fallout 76 will turn into Fallout 176, Fallout 276 and whatever comes and I will like it at some point, but the barricade that is out there is not one that Bethesda created. In another story we see the interaction, ‘Call of Duty: Warzone console players are turning off crossplay to escape PC cheaters’ it is merely one reason why I hate online play, I do not really hate it because I loved online Mass Effect 3, I was addicted to it, but the world has enough cheaters, when I game I want to get away from that and play on a level playing field, as such I focus on single player only, and in that my taste goes wide. 

As time went by I must have invested tens of thousands of dollars in console gaming, I agree when people say that it is wasted money, but that was my choice, I had a good job, my last ‘true’ vacation was in 1998, so when I get home I need escapism and puzzles, or challenges all at the same time and the consoles provide. It got me to the first issue on consoles, the pricing YouTubes are a little redundant and obsolete when you realise the origin.

When I look back, I started with the VIC-20, then the CBM64 ($1349) with disk drive. Overtime I evolved my systems. CBM Amiga ($700), Atari ST ($700) and there was the PC to use (I’ll get to that soon). As a gamer and reviewer I had made some waves, as such the Sega Dreamcast was free (christmas present from Sega), the Sony Playstation (I forgot what I paid for it, but it was less than the N4) The Nintendo 64 ($699) and after that I pushed towards the Sony PSX-II ($899). It was followed by the Nintendo Gamecube, a machine I loved. After that there was a small lull, I got the Xbox at the end of its lifetime for free with my mobile and it brought a few highpoints. We are now getting close to the time where everything changed. I was happy with my Xbox, the controller was a little bulky, but I have large hands, so it was a blessing in disguise. I played several of the games and Time Splitters 3 was an awesome trip, so good that I got it completed to 98% in hard mode. Then Microsoft upped the game, the Xbox360 came and I truly loved it, it was close to perfect in many ways, the 20GB drive was a little small, but you could upgrade it to a 120GB and within a year I did. Gaming life was close to perfect. I mentioned Time Splitters and it matters, there was the clear claim of backward compatibility and I fell for it, yet soon thereafter I learned the hard way that it was not and I never got Time Splitters 3 to 100%, the first annoyance was created. In all honesty, it is close to one defect in its life cycle. I too received the red rings of death and Microsoft replaced it, as such I was 3 weeks without my 360, but that was not an issue, the replacement was faster, the resolution was clearly better and gaming was at an all time high. Microsoft was a clear player in all this. The next step was the PSX3, Sony had always been great but I was not drawn to the third version, I was actually still enjoying the PSX2 (as well as the GameCube). So it was a nice relief when I bought a new TV and the PSX3 was part of this as a bonus, to be honest, I was not drawn to the PSX3, I did love the games I played on it, but overall, until Metal Gear Solid IV, games of the patriot arrived, I was not madly gaming it. As such, when it did the shift was starting to happen. 

Before that time the Xbox360 had 70% of my time, the GameCube 20% and 10% was for the PSX3. MGSIV was the first game to attack that pattern. Sony would give us more games on that system that impacted the consoles.As Sony got more adapt in exclusive games, the PSX3 would consume time: God of War 3, Infamous(1 and 2), Ratchet and Clank, Beyond two Souls, Gran Turismo and the end there was the Last of Us, Sony was reacquiring the timeline. Even as I had Oblivion and Mass Effect 3 on my Xbox, the timeline had shifted to 40% X360, 40% PSX3 and 20% Gamecube. Sony was back through great games, just like it did before and Xbox was not to blame. In all this I did not mention PC Gaming and that was on purpose, from 1989 onwards my PC was for gaming and I had more often than not the best of the best. A soundblaster card? I had it and when the first games came needing the better processor I had that system. Unreal Tournament, Black an White, System Shock(1 and 2), Wing Commander (1,2,3), Red Alert, Populous, Ultima, the list goes on, it was when Thief came that I ‘woke up’, I had a really good Diamond card yet Thief forced me to upgrade to the Diamond Viper 2 (no regrets) and the realisation set in (around 2003). Gaming is about the graphics card, sound, storage and the processor and at that point a graphics card was $600, the soundcard $500, and storage came as is. As such a console was a lot cheaper and my need for gaming was fulfilled. Only two years later a high end graphics card was $999 and as such console gaming was becoming increasingly cheap.

This all matters, when we are confronted with the pricing of the Xbox One X and the PS5, we forget that what came before was a lot more expensie and offers less, it was also the time that we started to realise that we need increasingly more space, the Xbox360 and the PSX3 already taught us that, as such the faults in the Xbox were more than merely stupid. Sony solved it by letting people selecting a larger drive and replacing the old drive, Microsoft had not caught on and would not catch on for the entire life cycle of the Xbox One, it is only now that they are seeing the light and their other flaws (always online) are showing that they are no longer to be the trustworthy system and trust is everything here. 

So when I see this tyrade of options and systems and whether I (and many other gamers) are willing to pay only $500 or are willing to pay $550, I wonder if these people realise that they are continuing a consumer base that goes into pillions and they have spent a massive amount of money. Microsoft is also making the mistake to hunt towards the most powerful systems whilst good games is where it is at, so where are the great games?  This is where Ubisoft comes into the mix, exclusive or not they went from great game maker to mediocre game maker and you merely have to look at the exclusive sony titles to realise that. Whilst the creation of titles gave them 90+% games, we now see that 80%+ is the best they can muster and for the most pushed deadlines and marketing promises that cannot be kept are the cause. The lack of proper testing is another matter where they failed and it impacts the choices of consoles we have, because whether we want to accept it or now, Ubisoft is a big deal in console gaming and as they fail, the exclusives are where it is at and there Sony wins, it is a landslide win. To get the greatest games we need Microsoft and Ubisoft to get back to the top or we need someone to replace them, it is that simple.

Players like Bethesda, Capcom and others help, yet the more the merrier (in the high end gaming cycle) and we are all starved for good games and the consoles are a driving force.

Let’s hope that this gaming force is driven to the max at the highest peaks for years to come by as many players as possible, for in that setting the gamer truly wins, no matter who tops the bill.

 

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And the laurels go to

It is that time of the year, with 13 days to go and no new titles in sight it is time to look at what I consider to be the best games of 2019. This year I particularly look at value, graphics, sound and gameplay still matter, yet in the past value was underrated, in my mind the re-release of Tomb Raider is still the cause of this, a game that is truly a Tomb Raider game, yet way too short, the graphics the sound it was all sublime, yet I am not paying $99 for a game I finish in under 10 hours in hard mode, that is just not on. The makers made a massive miscalculation there, whilst the feel of the game was great. As such value needs to be a massive factor nowadays, it is also the reason why I never touched any of the sequels.

Resident Evil 2 (Remake)

I had a few issues with adding this title, I played the original on the (very first) Sony Playstation, as such I wondered whether it should be allowed to go in, yet the changes in the game, setting up barricades, having limited resources and the fact that you always need to look behind you made a jittery boy out of me, I believe that some puzzles were easier (to get into), but the overall need in the game makes it a Resident Evil Plus edition, it rips your nerves whilst you play, and I personally advise you not to play that in a dark room, especially if you brothers and sisters in the house playing a game of let’s give that player a heart attack, you will piss your pants (believe me you will). The atmosphere is coming with an attached level of graphics and decent music, the sounds are amazing (or awful pending on your point of stress). Capcom outdid itself when it decided to re-release the original Resident Evil 2, you can play as either Clair Redfield or Leon Kennedy and they are basically two games, there are some changes and the two issues that bothered me the most is limit of ammo and managing your inventory, which by the way is the central issue in survival, so it works out nicely for all you survival fans. Considering that this is a remake of a 20 year old game made me realise how perfect the makers had the game in the old days and I never appreciated it to that degree, even as I gave it one of the highest scores in those days. Resident Evil 2 (remake) is pretty much a must on every PS4 (pro), if you like the genre, if not keeping it around to give your dad a try into gaming (and a heart attack) is a solid second reason. 

Sekiro: Shadows die twice

I had a go when it came out and I loved it, yet budget reasons made me leave it off my ownership list, now that the game has been made a GOTY title it becomes an uppassable need to own, the graphics are great yet it feels very non-western, crouch walking in the shrubs gives it stealth and the setting where we attack from behind also gives the edge to the fight, I like the entire stealth part, yet the idea that I was 50% above the shrubs whilst no guard saw me was a little unsettling, the game is actually more than that, the gameplay is very much intuitive and makes for a much better experience, there is also the feeling that I missed a few things on every level IO played and comparing that to time played gives rise that value is well set. The fights themselves from the very first level give rise to a larger stage where the button mashers will not live long, not even after the second attempt make the game more testing and keeps it closer to a Bloodbyrne experience, but let me tell you now not to compare them, the same with Nioh, they are all set around a tactical approach and Sekiro fits in there nicel, so those who loved any of those games will see a fight style they love, you are at times (quite often) attacked, and even whilst you can not avoid them, you can dodge them and you will have to if you want to stay alive, the game relies on counter attacks and second actions to give you the upper hand, a stage I found refreshing compared to Nioh and Bloodborne, Sekiro feels more tactical that way, the choices you make have impact, the considerate and cautious fighter tends to win, seeking out WHEN you make your move is important and Sekiro has gone to great lengths to make it close to utterly perfect, so good luck finding some AI flaw and exploit it. Breaking the oppositions posture and position tend to be winning choices and there are several bosses, all very different in how they attack, each a puzzle in its own right. Oh and it’s important not to lose your focus in this game, I did so once (my phone rang), that one second was enough to get killed, Sekiro is unforgiving that way and for me that was half the appeal. This game is near perfect and one hell of a journey (as far as I got). 

The outer worlds

I am in my heart an RPG lover, I never made any secret of that and this game delivers. I am not making any attempt to hide my discomfort regarding that one person who made a 12 minute YouTube on how to get the game done in that time, any person who sees that as a solution is not really an RPG lover, it is like running all over No Man’s Sky, a real RPG lover looks at where he is and takes in the views he /she is offered and the Outer Worlds does not disappoint, I personally believe that too many views are colour tainted or look too non-terran for the impact and that is a little sad, but in the story it all makes sense. I did like the steampunk feel the game had, it was fun to be in that world (too many RPG’s stay away from the steampunk vibe). The game has humour, good looks and decent ploys in the game, there are often more than two actions you can take and even as you forget option number three, it could be the one placing you in best position. Important is that this comes from the makers of Fallout: New Vegas and their fingers are on the button often, you see and feel that yet what you often forget is that this is not a main development house, a B-level maker that is giving you a AAA game that is much better than a house like Ubisoft has given us in the last few years. That part matters, because when we see graphics, value, sound, music and gameplay, we see that Outer Worlds passed a test unlike any, I regard it as a beautiful game, I personally like the fact that the game adjusts and appreciates the stealthy player (me) and there were some nice benefits there, overall the Outer worlds is a good game for RPG fanatics and actually a decent game for those who never dabbled in RPG, the learning curve is good that way and the game seems to like all kinds of gameplay. 

Those are the three titles for 2019 hat I found worthy of being a game of the year, I will say here that I have not looked at Death Stranding yet (budget), and there are a few more titles out there, as some papers give you a list of 20, I personally do not regard some as they were either not on console, or I merely looked past them, these three titles are well above board and well above gaming standards to stand out. Even when we look at last year we see a small drop in new titles, I get that, there is every chance that the large houses are focussing on the two new consoles, apart from Ubisoft releasing such a disappointing game, a AAA releases an actual bad game, the 40% rating that it got is a specific one, yet there was also a 3/10 and metacritic had a mere 55/100, Ubisoft had dropped the ball to THAT degree. The fact that this game is supposed to have actual DLC is laughingly inappropriate, it shows that there is a new wave of gaming required and I hope that some of the Indie developers take up that challenge. 

Nintendo has always been the odd duck out, yet they gave us two/three games that should be in this list. 

Pokemon Sword/Shield

Pokemon Shield/Sword are the first two. For anyone that has played a Pokemon game there is a joy of changes and adaptations coming their way, the Switch was pretty much maximised for that experience. using the switch to lob balls at the Pokemon, the graphics look larger and the 3D view we see make for a much larger experience and all that whilst the game did not change its core. Now as we see the pokemons in the grass and the environment, we can avoid random fights, we see what is coming our way and we can search for the specific Pokemon in the location, a massive plus, the entire region you see in 3D is still a lot larger than before, so we have more to travel, the fights are like the Gamecube Colosseum had, which is really nice, all that and new pokemons too? Yup, so there is a lot to look forward to, the entire experience made it more fun to play, the initial feeling that we get when we try another Pokemon game (like Ruby in 3DS) was not here, the look and the game was different enough to feel invigorated to play this game, from the very beginning this feeling comes across the experienced pokemon player, so there is that to look forward too. I found the overall look and feel comforting and there is no beating the value of a Pokemon game, even as some might be able to finish the game in 30-40 hours, we see that these people are running to the finish line missing the point that every Pokemon game has had since I started on the Gameboy Advance (sapphire), the game has more than a mere quest and missing out on any side quest because it is not the main quest means that you limit your options and miss approximately 40% of the game. I was especially surprised on the amount of Pokemon’s I had never seen before. Yet another point of consideration to get either of these games. In light of all the enhancements that this game has, it is an absolute must for anyone with a Switch.

Luigi Mansion 3

Another must for the Switch players (and my persoal favourite of the year) and here Nintendo does not (has never) disappointed its players when it comes to sequels, here humour takes a large limelight in this game and even if it does not play in a mansion (its a hotel), even as I missed the second game, I did get the original one the Gamecube and this game is a lot (really a lot) larger, as well as a much larger combination of puzzles and other options once you use a person named Gooigi, the man is too much of a scaredy cat to be a ghostbuster and still this game is the best ghostbusting game I ever saw, the approach to humour in this game is often practical and is without a doubt a setting where this could be the funniest game that Nintendo ever released (crazy bunnies eat your heart out). It is without any doubt in my ghost stricken heart that this is an absolute must for any Switch owner, and I almost forgot about the graphics, they are good, above good. It is like playing a pixar animation game, the switch outdoes an Xbox in no uncertain ways, each floor having a theme look on it and the game took it to a new level, basically a level you have never seen before in this kind of game. In addition the setting where it does not take you to THE next floor, but from level one you go to level 5 for example gives it a nonlinear feel and there is more to find, so like the Mario odyssey game you will revisit places. If there is one part that I missed is the option to upgrade my vacuum ghost sucker. Overall this is an amazing achievement every time I think of this game I want to run home to play it for an hour or so, that level of addiction in gaming is one I have not felt for a long time and needs to be accentuated as well. Nintendo still knows what makes us gamers tick and they show it.

There are two sides to all this, there was no intent, let’s be clear about this, yet the titles I illuminated on consoles have two PS exclusives and the Nintendo exclusives are there too, with this in mind, we see that Microsoft seemingly stayed away from all this, now there might be a clear reason as they are now in the final year before their next console comes out and there is every chance that they want to rule it (which is fair enough) and whether that is the actual reason is not for me to say, but it seems that 2019 was ruled by Nintendo and Sony, which is partially sad and partially just the way it seems to be. Yet overall 2019 was not a great year for gaming, yes there were 5 great games, there was also Jedi: Fallen order and Call of Duty Modern Warfare, which is an alternative that kicks Breakpoints ass. I did no consider either as best game yet they are not bad games and worth consideration, especially when you are a Star Wars fan. I found 2019 to be a little disappointing when it comes to gaming, I accept it as the two new consoles are now a year away and it implies that both Sony and Microsoft are taking the new consoles serious, which implies that release day games on either should be interesting. 

What was your choice in gaming in 2019?

 

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What I experience versus how it is seen

That is a fair issue in gaming, we experience gaming in a different set of parameters and that is how is has been like forever, yet I believe that the constraints of this tug of war has met its end. Gaming is now experienced in a whole range of different slots (online gaming, mobile gaming, console gaming, pc gaming) that people are seeking a red line, there are those who were there before and those who are here now and they both what to get a finality in gaming.

It makes sense, but not to all the gamers in the land. I came from the very beginning. The CBM VIC-20 and the Kempston controllers; there had been a gradual increase to all our controllers and until the first console era (Xbox/PSX2/GC) the stage was set, now we get a whole range of controllers, all set to a stage of someone, and the controllers have been used to gain the upper hand. Luckily the difference between Xbox and PS4 is not huge, so overall we keep abreast of any ‘new’ developments. Now we are getting haptic controllers, which will be a new sensation for some, but the issue is that we need to experience gaming in a real news sense and there the plot fumbles and dies.

Now that we are facing 6 iterations of gaming, it becomes more and more essential to embrace a form of gaming, as gaming is going to enhance our lives and how we interact with the systems we play. Let’s take a look at the options:

  1. Forza Horizon
  2. Tombraider
  3. Minecraft

3 games, three very different games and just these three will benefit differently from whatever controller is out there. Forza the car simulator will need haptic for counter steering, but in the end is is still a controller, Tombraider needs haptic for its bow, yet it is still a person going through mazes, and in Minecraft we get to chop and bow enemies. Yet these games can be played on an of the 6 systems, so how can those systems endure next to one another?

It is a setting what we are getting confronted with when we get headlines like ‘Here’s Why PS 5 With Haptic Feedback Tech Will Change Gaming‘, there is no setting that will get the same on a Microsoft Xbox, and it is not expected to be. Even if Microsoft gives it a different name, they will be around and we get an entire market streak that is befuddled and stated towards misrepresenting what people face. To give you already the go ahead, ASUS gives us “Oh, and the haptics are fantastic. The phone has two vibration motors that deliver excellent feedback during gaming and everyday tasks“, so we get haptics with our mobile gaming as well!

Beyond that Microsoft and Sony give the talk like we expect them to, yet in an age that now include Apple, Google, both streaming and dedicated gaming, as well as Nintendo, what should be there, is not. Instead of finding the differences that make gamers play on different systems, we see a push to make the systems all compatible, so that they all can give us Fallout shelter and Gems of War so it can be equaled on all 6 consoles, with no difference.

Why?

In the next games like Cyberpunk, System Shock, we could get the entire division in another way, when we ADD HARDWARE. When we do not the system takes over, but to set the stage in a field where our mobiles become our virtual keeper, or have an upgraded model that has such a feature, that is not in the plans, and it is so directly essential to create a new awareness of hardware and options.

And the past has been facilitating towards these boundaries, yet neither Sony, nor Microsoft has been considering this jump ever. How weird is that?

Console gaming

Console gaming has not met any changes since the beginning, when we consider the games on the PSX2 versus PSX4, Xbox VS Xbox One X we see a range of software but that is it, where has been the upgraded gameplay? Merely games that merely needed more resources? That has been the setting for al video games at present, and that is now the one element that will stop the next wave. Yet we all want the new powerful console, and for the most we will not care if we go from PS4 to PS5 or from Xbox One X to Xbox Two Ultimate. I merely believe that the one increasing game play to set to PS4/Xbox One X to or PS5/Xbox Two AND install a direct setting to the mobile (depending on game) had an advantage.

And it is not new! Going back to the GameCube, those with a GameCube had the option to link both their GameCube and their Gameboy advance with a cable, in certain games the Gameboy became the mini map, and it is interesting that in an age with apps and blue toots this connection has not been explored more. It goes on beyond the game itself, the gaming center has not been evolved and considered in some social media foundation, it is like they all were waiting for Facebook to take the lead in a world where they wanted to be the only player. A gaming center could be the surrounding world were people would look for like-minded fans, we see that in Google YouTube every day, I wonder if the new consoles set the world in gaming experts, gaming explainers and players. This need is essential for the next gaming world, merely for the reason that gaming is a stage of evolution, at present it stopped evolving and that is a bad sign.

We still have a year ahead of ourselves, I wonder if this year will show a new year of gaming, a new beginning of gaming. I hope it will be so and I hope that the larger players will up the ante towards gaming; it is the only way to up the game.

 

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It’s been that long

I got alerted to a milestone yesterday on YouTube, you see, last week was the 25th anniversary of System Shock, one of my most beloved games from the past. I still remember the two moments that set the milestones for this game. The first was the PC Format by Future plc. About a month before the release, PC format included the entire first level of the game (medical level). So you got about an hour of gameplay into that game, a month later the game arrived and of course, I had to have that game on day one! I did and that started a tour of around a week getting through the game. Someone was nice enough to stream the game (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IzNzVAxk8E) the stream starts at 10:00. Even now, hearing the intro music still gives me the good shivers. For a game to do that is so rare, it is to some degree scary. I am still awaiting the remastered edition by NightDive Studios. It will be launched a little later than planned (2020) but on all the consoles, so I might get that happy feeling again on all my consoles.

This is the foundation of better than great gaming, the story, the emersion and the control. The game offered all three to a great degree. That part is also important as System Shock 2, a game that came 5 years later had almost all the same controls, the first game was the founding father of RPG games, and control was close to that perfect. Graphics did upgrade by a lot, yet the shock (for me) in this game that the game only sold 170,000 copies, not much for a game this perfect, as such I do hope that the remaster will hand out the multimillion copy achievement sold. When we look at PC Gamer we see: “System Shock smokes. It is the most fully immersive game world I have ever experienced“, as well as “no matter what kind of game you’re looking for, you’ll find something in System Shock to delight you“. Finishing with “unquestionably raises computer gaming to a new level” (at https://web.archive.org/web/20000309153138/http://www.pcgamer.com/reviews/1024.html), I gave the game a similar review and gave it a 95% score when I reviewed it.

From that moment on, I reviewed RPG games using System Shock as the minimum bar, as you might imagine not many games got to that level. It was also the first game where ‘leaning around corners‘ became an option in shooting games. As far as you see the stream and listening to the makers of the game, you get the part how this game became a trendsetter of excellence, even if they do not mention it, it was a labour of love and passion gets to be the deciding driver in any game towards excellence.

Depending on your age, consider the game that you would play again after 10, 20 and 25 years. What titles come to mind? In my view Elite Dangerous (after 35 years), Ultima 4 (after 35 years), System Shock (after 25 years), Ultima 7 (after 25 years), System Shock 2 (after 20 years), and the list goes on, but it is not a long list, games that are dipped in excellence are rare to say the least. Yet I am a gamer, a game junkie and like all other gamers I remain hopeful that another developer gets it right to the largest degree, Ubisoft did that with Assassins Creed 2 (and Brotherhood) then stuffed up to a much larger degree until Assassins Creed Origins was released. That is why the scrutiny of 93%+ games is so essential. Most gamers will take a turn in other direction if it gives them excellence, yet when they leave their comfort zone in gaming, excellence is the only marker that they will accept to make them do so. Games like Mass Effect 2, The Witcher 3, Grand Theft Auto V, Horizon Zero Dawn, all games that relied on near perfection; it is a stage that is seldom reached. And in all this the FX Slogan was key (for me it is) ‘The story is everything‘. Horizon Zero Dawn is perhaps the strongest example. In the beginning I enjoyed the game, yet it was the storyline after the proving that set the stage for me to continue and learn more and more. The origin story of Elisabeth Sobeck and Aloy is absolutely marvellous. Yes, I have seen the rants against the game, rants like ‘Giving up Horizon Zero Dawn‘ (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv_1DzGf_1s). His response ‘I just don’t find it interesting anymore‘. Yes, I do not agree, but it is his view, and his view is valid to him, just when we see this he is still not completing: ‘The War – Chief’s trail‘. Yet the best story parts were still coming up and the game takes it time getting into the story, it is important to show this, because you might have a different love for games, I love stealth games, games with an essential need for stealth, not everyone loves this, I get that. You have to realise that, I might not be the voice for you; I might have other loves in gaming. I was never a lover of GTA5, I admire it for its excellence, but it is not my game, it is however for millions of other gamers.

In this view it is important to find more voices until you find the reviewer that aligns with your fulfilment in gaming. It is easy to find good reviews and for many games a lot will have the same view, but in the 90%+ range you need to find the one voice that is on your level of gaming. It is easy to merely see that The Last of Us was a great game, pretty much everyone will agree, yet Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne? I loved both games; I never got to complete them. With Bloodborne I actually stopped (after a dozen attempts), I still have the game as it shows excellence on many levels and the engine is sublime, but it is also an excellent example for ratings. I would give it 91%, yet others will give it 93%-95% and now we have the review issue. Are their reviews better? They might be, they might be better at playing this game, more important, they might highlight things I missed, because I was not great at this game. Graphics and engines are easy, the subtle parts defining Bloodborne (as well as Dark Souls 3) is another matter. And now you come into the mix thinking it was merely an 85% game as you did not like the game (which is fair enough), finding the right reviewer is important, more important, the one that aligns with your game play and this is where a game like System Shock differs. The game remained playable for a much larger audience. Now we accept that the gaming bar was not as high in 1994 as it is in 2014, yet playability had remained similar over 25 years, it is my view that Bloodborne is a great game, yet, to me, it is not as playable. That small distinction is important when you seek out buying a full priced game that totally rocks your world.

To me the story is a deciding factor, whilst play style is the most important second. That part is visible to many who remember Metroid Prime on GameCube; I still love that game as well. I never got beyond 98% completion, and I would love to play it again getting to 100%, that is because the game is extremely playable with a play style that is set to comfort. We might sneer at the graphic level (compared to the Xbox and Playstation2 in those days), yet Metroid Prime still delivered as an equal and better to anything the other two could offer. That part validates the 97% rating it received. Yet, if it is not your game, would you still regard it as high?

The question is important as System Shock did make that cut, even by those not loving the game style, they were all impressed with the game, it set a new bar of quality, Metroid Prime and Horizon Zero Dawn both did that as well.

And it is there where we see the stage for streaming games, for Apple Arcade, Google Stadia and thee we see the links. Apple Arcade shows smooth gaming, but not hi-res gaming. That is not an issue if you consider Metroid Prime, the lowest resolution of the three consoles delivered the best gaming experience of all. You can see this (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q73cHEAwKVw), I found the top 10 interesting, but not overwhelming, of course the number one is like some Zelda clone, with decent graphics, but not great graphics. There are 100 games announced yet there too I wonder if people are willing to pay $5 a month, $60 a year to do this, You can argue if you can find even 3 games you really like, then the money is well spent. So it is a decent idea, the issue I have with the stage is that the solution will be years two and later. However, in a family setting the game changes massively, the cost is per family (up to 5 players) as such $1 per person per month is just too good to pass up.
More important is the fact that the games look amazing on the iPad, so there is that to consider. My larger personal issue is long term. For me it is $8 month (Australia), as such in Australia it gets down to $100 a year. It has good games and the important dig is: no ads, unlimited access to 100+ new games rolling out later this year, as well as download for off-line playing are the catchers that will make people try this. Consider the initial $100 for the entire year, seems a lot, but playing 100 games for the price of one is still a game changer. I am assuming that you can only play for as long as you are a member, but we get the same on consoles, so that should not be the issue.

The arrival of Apple Arcade and Google Stadia is still important, but not for the reason you think. System Shock was important as the game was a true innovator in gaming. These new streaming services are set on a stage where the amounts of gamers imply the revenue for the makers. Even as marketing get you in the beginning, the bulk of gamers will push for games that are TRULY innovative and I have learned and seen that true innovation pushes the envelope of games in general. System Shock, Command and Conquer, Metal Gear Solid, Wolfenstein 3D, Gran Turismo, Warcraft 3, Minecraft, Tombraider, Diablo, Zelda – Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye, Super Mario 64, Half-Life, Doom. These are on a short list of the most innovative games in history and the most important part is that most of them started on systems lacking resources. Systems like the first PlayStation, the Nintendo 64 and the PC-Pentium One. Most mobiles and tablets now surpass what was possible even in those maxed out years. As such, innovation was always about imagination and I love the idea of streaming services as it pushes the need for innovation. I go back to System Shock one and two, yet some might remember Molyneux’s titanic achievement Black and White, a god video game. A game where you influence actions and not control all actions, when you realise that innovation is creation linked to imagination, we start considering the lack of resources required, not the max of resources. In this games and gamers are about finding the right note, the right chord that makes your heart sing. System Shock still does that to me 25 years later (OK, Elite Dangerous does it as well after 35 years).

I still play Blockheads by Dave Frampton after 6 years on my very first iPad, it is basically the only reason I still use my very first iPad for anything else but reading (until I get a new one). I got the game to deal with my Minecraft addiction when I was not at home and I never regretted getting it (oh, and I found the tablet edition of Minecraft not that playable), even today (last night actually) I still play Blockheads.

We might think that innovation fades, as it would over time, but I personally learned that innovation creates a captive audience regardless of time, it is a personal observation and you might not agree, but I also believe that this is the stepping stone for both Apple Arcade and Google Stadia. Consider the re-released consoles. CBM64 mini that gives us: Boulder Dash, Paradroid, Jumpman, Temple of Apshai Trilogy, Uridium, Impossible Mission (1+2), Winter Games and Summer Games II all games that could be upgraded and give a new audience the games they love to play. The CBM 64 brought so much innovation in games with only 64KB available; these games became the foundation for better games as systems upgraded (Atari ST and CBM Amiga). In this Nintendo with their 64 was pushing the envelope even further, Super Mario 64 is just one title, Goldeneye (named after the bond movie) set the bar so high that it was still the most desired game a decade later, even as the Wii relaunched the game, it ended up being inferior to the original, that is the level of excellence we lost out on and in this resources are not the issue, these are games that could easily be streamed and offer gaming perfection.

The list goes on and it would take too long, yet when we consider sources like My Abandonware and other sources (like Amiga Emulators) we see optional chests containing hundreds of titles that are ready to be remade and a lot of it has no IP protection, as such the best programmers can take the great vision and turn it into a cash maker through streaming. I reckon that is what both Google Stadia and Apple Arcade are hoping for, I am uncertain to see a winner at present, but the games that make it will be the deciding factor and even as the games on Apple are not great, they are still off to a good start, I myself hope that the historic database will inspire game makers, and this is a field where both genders can excel, you merely need to remember the name Danielle Bunten Berry (M.U.L.E. and Seven Cities of Gold) to realise that creativity was key, not gender. As such I do hope that we see both genders remain active, even as Danielle Bunten Berry left us in 1998, her games could stay around for much longer, that is the other part of innovation, it has no expiration date; it is almost timeless. If you doubt that, consider her games as well as those by Roberta Williams (King’s quest series). That is actually another part of gaming, there the playing field for genders is almost level as creativity not ego decides on the quality of the game.

As such it might have been that long, but in the end, the timeline was not long enough, I am willing to get into streaming to some degree (Assassins Creed Odyssey might get lag issues) but there are hundreds of games that will never have that issue and the list of games that will hit the spot is a lot larger than anyone ever considered, especially when a good idea (or a great idea) gets upgraded with innovations that were not available when a certain game came out.

Consider the game Command and conquer, optionally a game like Battle for Middle Earth, or even Dungeon Keeper 2. We have gone through those games and finished all the maps; now consider the issues you face when the maps are created procedural, would your strategy still hold up? That question impacts all three games. Often the strategy was in the map design, take that away and the challenge changes by a lot. I believe that ‘It has been that long‘ is a premise that does not really exist in gaming, I truly believe that System Shock will capture the hearts of new gamers, I believe that upgrading innovation that was will give life to other games, even games that were in the 80%-90% and upgrade them by an optional 15%, and be honest, what game maker would not love to be linked to making a 90%+ game? At present Ubisoft is seemingly proud of their 70% games (so are a few other makers mind you), so we can see the essential need of excellence in gaming, the question is who will bring it and with two new players (gaming providers) entering that field, answering those question becomes a lot more important as we (gamers in general) have had our fill of mediocre games.

Even now we see that as we still yearn for Elder Scrolls: Oblivion as well as Skyrim; I stated to Richard Garriott (the man behind the Ultima series) a while go, if we could get the Oblivion/Skyrim engine and create Sosaria to life, we would have a winner that could entice millions of gamers. Skyrim with over 30 million sold is clear evidence of that and the tales of Sosaria were founded on great story-lines and compelling interaction of personal choices and philosophical concepts. The entire Ultima line (story 4 and later) are all about eh seven virtues (Honesty, Justice, Honour, Sacrifice, Compassion, Spirituality and Humility), it would be the foundation of 6 games, each one surpassing the previous one and to see the evolution from isometric to first person would be the game changer for anyone who loved that story-line, in addition, the Elder Scrolls never did concepts to that degree, which is not their flaw, but it could be the strength of any new Ultima IP.

It is in that part where I see System Shock one and two, it was near perfect and it is still ready for a whole new generation of players. Especially when you consider that the original System Shock on floppy (yes there was a floppy version) was a mere 15Mb, and Metroid Prime on GameCube was less than 1.5Gb, whilst Goldeneye was a mere 64Mb, so as you can see size was never the deciding factor.

I believe that 2020 will be an interesting year for games and gamers. I believe that those relying on ridiculous large games and high resource requiring games (like a Core i9-9980XE) will find that their size issue gets thumbed by true playability and innovation setting the stage for much better games after that. Innovation remains a game changer for games and I wonder how much change we get to see in 2021-2022.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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