Tag Archives: Sinterklaas

The Saint’s parcel

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

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

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

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

Well they didn’t!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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United Nations going overboard

I could not believe my ears when I was watching the news this morning. It actually enraged me. The UN advice is that the Dutch feast of St. Nicholas is racist and should be stopped. I grew up in the Netherlands! As a kid, with other kids we looked forward to St. Nicholas as his companions. His companions were handing out hands filled with candy. Pepper nuts, lollies and chocolade letters. Then St. Nicholas would judge us to be good or bad and we would get a present. They were magical years. Of course, when we get around 10, we knew he was not real. We all bragged that we would on THAT year we would tug his fake beard! But of course, when the moment was there, we all chickened out! In part because we still wanted our present I reckon. I was lucky! My dad was Dutch, my mum was British, so I got two parties! Yay to being young in those days. There is an additional thought, when were too old to receive those presents, we hoped that WE would be chosen to get suited up and sooted up, to play ‘Black Pete’ (Zwarte Piet). Then we were the ones giving out candy, handing over the presents. If this was truly about discrimination, do you think we would be so happy to volunteer?

So why this circus? We never thought of discrimination. St. Nicholas dressed as a bishop, his assistants (sometimes named companions) in moorish outfits from the 16th century. Outfits, that were very like the outfits many (black and caucasians) wore in the 16th century. It was Spanish fashion. So why this circus?

A national feast that has been going on for over close to two centuries? If so, then why is Sana Claus acceptable? Is he not that guy who has slave labour going on, Elvish slaves working an a sweat shop to make all the toys for children all year long? Is the honourable Verene Shepherd a little too hypocritical here? All up in arms about discrimination, but sweatshops and slave labour is OK?

The fun fact is that the Dutch outlawed slave trade HALF A CENTURY before America, how is that for insight? Also, slaves were illegal in the Netherlands, which was never the case in America. Yes, I admit that the Dutch were huge in the slave trade in them ‘good old days‘ of the VOC ‘Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie‘. and guess what, the Dutch were the traders, the Americans needed a product and the Dutch traders supplied. If this angers you, well, fair enough, but remember, this was 360 years ago. If we want to get that ‘historic’, perhaps the honourable Verene Shepherd would like to be slightly less sanctimonious and start a trial case against the current American administration? You see, the original inhabitants were displaced, disowned and retrenched again and again. Breach of contract upon breach of contract. A small (extreme rough) esitmate tells us that the Native American population is due 54,000,000 acres American of agricultural and hunting grounds. If the Chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent would be so kind as to start those proceedings and after that we will consider her plea for abolishing a childrens party, which has forever been all about joy and never about discrimination.

But perhaps this was not about the discrimination and all about ‘the’ party. I had to hear for almost a decade how people from EA, Ocean, Mindscape and a few other bitch about the feast of St. Nicholas. It was not about the feast, but about the timing. You see these boys were all ready for the christmas feast and never for the feast of St. Nicholas, so for a long time small toy firms made decent coin on that time. For the bigger players like Mattel, it never mattered as barbie was timeless (perhaps it still is), but many complained.

So why this much hassle about something that has never been about racism?

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The marks of trade

Even as we look into an abyss of unsettling economic prospects, we notice that many of the gadgets providing entities are still playing the high game for now. The fact of the matter is that even though many places are in recession, some places seem to be getting through and only a few are on the path of former comfort, all of the people are looking at some light point in their life, whether it is for them personally, or for the entire family. However, in the US there are the upcoming Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. A large portion of the world relies on Christmas day with a few places having an added feast of Saint Nicholas. Basically three moments the retail industry relies on these days to stop them from turning into Lemmings and run of the nearest cliff (could be an excellent game).

The following players (some of them) are:

  • Sony is going for the Playstation 4
  • Microsoft is going for the Xbox One
  • Nokia (a Microsoft company) is aiming at the Lumia 1020
  • Apple has a league of ‘new’ options, with all kinds of letters (and/or numbers).

So if these places have trademarks, then are they about protecting their recognisable design or expression. Yet, is that true, or is that what they proclaim they do?

What if their recognisable design becomes:

  • Playstation 4 – An average renewed system where they forgot about harddrive space?
  • XBox One – The place where your privacy truly went lost forever
  • Lumia 1020 – Another model, now with 41Mp camera, but where to store all those pics?
  • iPhone – more of the same and additional ways to run out of battery power before lunch.

So whist the brand (Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Sony) have the one story, their products are getting different labels, and it is likely that the junior marketeers as stated ‘Junior’ seem to be not on par with HQ as it goes for the mission of the brand, and drop the ball all over as it comes to the product. When I see the trade shows, as I saw the stories and the way they try to hype the concept, I do wonder whether some of these ‘soldiers’ are on proper par with the concepts of trademark and long term damage that they seem to invoke.

So let us go over these ‘Trademarks’ in that order.

Playstation 4 – This is the one system I have decent levels of faith in. It’s initially weaknesses has been dealt with. The too small hard drive can now be upgraded. Mind you the 500 Gb should last a while, however, as 500Gb to 1 Tb is a mere $25 extra, so I wonder why 500Gb was chosen. If you spend an additional $100, you can upgrade immediately to 2Tb. I agree it is overkill, however upgrading once at start could prevent a 1-2 day loss down the line. I did it with my PS3 and never regretted it. ‘Sony, where storage was left at Kennard’s!’

XBox One – There have been loads of messages about online all the time, or even once a day. This has now been ‘removed’ as an issue as Microsoft no longer requires it. You see, it is so much better to get these people connected with a carrot then with a shotgun, so now the console comes with a free digital copy of FIFA 14. Which still needs to be downloaded! Whether this is only once, or the start to get people online in a sneakier way is yours to debate or conclude. Gamers for the most (the multi-player group) need to be online; the rest could be if the game is good. Many of the issues are about digital privacy fears. Some are realistic, some are speculated rumours, but a large portion is just absurd conspiracy theory. There was a rumour that deliveries were down, but this was denied by two sources. So in case you heard the 1 million less consoles on launch day, be sure to check your sources. I personally believe that the invasion of privacy was the biggest blast this trademark took. The additional issue of online once a day did not help, especially knowing how irritating broadband has been in plenty of places outside of the US. It would be nice to just dump this on Don Mattrick, yet I feel that this was not just his call and those above him should start taking a long hard look at the population of gamers. Calling this an ‘entertainment system’ instead of a ‘gaming console’ might seem nice and claiming that it will make you win the war is also nice, but the reality is that this multi-billion dollar market is all about gamers, not knowing that population will turn out to be ultimately fatal to the Microsoft XB-1 brand, no matter what else it can do.

Lumia 1020 – This is a new contraption. It has two sides. One, it is really fun to use (I tried it) and the camera abilities blew me away. Yet, the other side is that it is linked to Microsoft and they will have a few issues to deal with down the line (not just that weird OS). The device itself is no longer a Nokia device, or not in the traditional sense. Nokia was always the number one brand for me and it lost appeal as it was too slow moving into the smart phone world. They are coming back strong, but a 2 Gb ram when you have a 41Mp camera? Seems a little short sighted. So, they added a free 7 Gb SkyDrive option. Oh, wait? Is that not the place from Microsoft who gave their access to the NSA? So what about your privacy, not to mention the data usage price?

As you see, we are getting more and more towards the new Microsoft Trademark ‘Microsoft, because privacy is just an illusion!’ Is that fair? Not sure! You see, in the end I do not care whether the NSA gets access to my data. My worry is that overall, cyber criminals have more resources and abilities then we see at federal places. You know those small, massively underfunded places where they try to stop cybercrime (read FBI). The fact that the NSA gets access means that there is external access, which means that criminals get to have a go too. To that part I do object.

iPhone – the device that truly revolutionised smartphone and mobile usage is now going towards mobile phones in the same way Russia showed diversity for the S-300 (22 letters added over 30 years). Apple seems to forget to truly move their battery forward and in other fields of smartphones the iPhone is no longer regarded as the heralded winner. The device wants to be too much of everything and ends up coming up short in many of the fields they are in. So will the new Apple Trademark read ‘Apple – Master of none, drowning in some?’

There are plenty more devices out and about for the expensive festive season, yet it seems to me that some of the players entered that field by using spokespeople with a golf handicap equalling their IQ, or is that the other way round? When the digital world is entering the field where more and more possible ‘new’ consumers are updated through the net, it seems that their marketing and party lines need to get a massive overhaul and it should all get a much better mentor system then it currently seems to have.


They might be seen as great assets, yet when those trademarks get assigned by the audience (example: Vodafail, because Vodafone just doesn’t connect) and it gives your brand itself a twist moving its customers towards to competition, you know you have problems coming (and many of these from your own board of directors).


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