Tag Archives: Sony

Consideration in 3 parts

There are several things playing and I think it is only fair that I jump a little this time around. In the first jump I will take us into the realm of technology. First the hardware where Keith Stuart gives us ‘is it worth a £100 upgrade?‘ This is a valid question, yet in all the issue is not merely the £100, it is more so “Microsoft has always marketed Xbox One X as an elite product for true enthusiasts and that’s exactly what it is“, which is something I cannot agree with. You see, Microsoft has refused to listen to the gamers, the actual gamers for the longest of times and with the Xbox One X, I expect (read: I hope) that they will get the pounding they have so deserved for the longest of times. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/03/xbox-one-x-review-4k-console-gaming-upgrade) gives you some of the goods, but not all of the goods. You see, the £450 with a 1TB drive is a joke, it always has been. The article names a few games and there a few sources re stating that Destiny 2 is 50GB WITHOUT the 4K assets. There is no clear way for me to find a reliable number there, but with the OS also taking a chunk of the hard-drive, which will be 300Mb at least, we are looking at a console where one game takes well over 5% of that drive. Forza 7 will take well over 10% of that system, now with all the reserved spaces and mind you not ALL these games are that big, you are looking at a dozen games at the most and that is in many cases not including the extra space that the 4K libraries need, so when I stated even before the Xbox One came out (the first one) that Microsoft was not giving consideration to their gamers, I was not kidding. With the Sony PS4 (both old and pro) we have the option to switch the drive at our own expense to a 2TB drive and these things are a mere $105, so one extra cost has kept me safe and hassle free for well over 3 years. Microsoft never allowed their gamers that option, which could be seen as another indicator that Microsoft is actually not giving true consideration to the ‘true enthusiasts‘ as they label them. There are additional flaws in the OS that give less consideration that the Xbox 360 did, so there is that to consider too. A console that might be seen as overpriced, overvalued and overdue a real upgrade. There are more issues, but they are for another day, for now we await the over-hyped release in 2 days.

The second part is one where I have to show fairness (which I have always done). The second part is Assassins Creed Origins. Now, it is on my list to get as I was not trusting Ubisoft after all the things they have done in the past, with the additional embargo of any publications of the game until the day before launch, their approach was shoddy and shady at best. In this case it worked against them. I have watched well over a dozen videos with Eurogamer and IGN showing the best sides, but also leaving us with questions. Yet I had a few questions of my own and i think they need to be put into the limelight. You see, I have slammed Guillemot and Ubisoft for the longest time for not doing their job (or better stated, the job they were capable of). For relying on average scripted events and what I still label as ‘bad programming’. This is not the case in ACO (Assassins Creed Origin). Now when we pull away from the 4K events (which are close to breathtaking), we see a game that has been through quite the change and as such should get some praise, praise on several levels.

First are the reviews, they are like mine all opinions, and even though I was relentless to AC ratings in the past, from all that is clearly shown these ratings are lower than expected. I see the game somewhere between 88%-92% rated (the non PC versions), yet most remain below it and Gamespot gives it a 70% rating which I personally believe to be equally unfair. Now, we can be hard on Guillemot on a few levels, but they did get this game decent. We can argue all we like, but the team that made Black Flag made this game in a good way and I believe that this game might not be regarded as a real AC game. Origin is the start of it all and that makes it fair game, but the clarity is that there are elements that we relate to Witcher 3, Far Fry Primal and Destiny. The reality is that elements in this game have been seen before going all the way back to Ultima7 Serpents Isle, so there is no real identity linking it to a certain game. Now, I do see the elements of Witcher 3 and that is not a bad thing, whilst we need to acknowledge that this game is not some Witcher 3 game, it is truly an Assassins Creed game (whether the player is an actual assassin or not). The wildlife is more dangerous and relentless and a lot less forgiving, which is a good thing (more realistic), and it seems that as far as I can observe, the locations are as any AC game has almost always been. Graphically sublime, even if you have no 4K solution at present. Even as I have been reluctant to see this last AC as a great game, it seems that should this be the last AC game, than Ubisoft goes out on a high note, and that should be heralded by nearly all gamers.

The final part is not a game. I am also getting less convinced that this is merely a leak. We could have accepted to the smallest degree that the Panama Papers were a leak, yet the amount of data that was leaked leaves us with the larger question on how stupid a financial adviser needs to be to endanger billions of dollars in revenue. I have gone back into time checking on a dozen corporations only to find that there was a healthy dose of paranoia in each and every one of them. Some were paranoid from the start, some were pushed by IT as they wanted the latest of the latest and pressing the ‘leak’ button seems to have worked each and every time. So whilst we have been in the sunshine with newspapers giving us Panama Papers on a daily basis, I found it particularly interesting to see the revelation of the Paradise Papers. So when I read “the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth”, I am not surprised. I have written about the failing of legislation on a global level for long before the Panama Papers and the Tesco affair. As we are told ‘obtained by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung‘ we are not asking the right questions. Obtained how? Who gave them? You see, earlier this year we saw some mention of certain players, yet again and again the media have seemingly steered clear of certain parts of the evidence and it is time to mention it. In March we saw a few papers mention on how Barclays, RBS and Crédit Agricole had a sort of Tax Haven set-up where they had to pay a mere 2% in taxation. I think that this opened a door to some players. I think that the Paradise papers is not a leak, I personally believe it to be an attack on these three players as well as an attack on a few others too. The BBC is giving us part (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41876939), with the mention of the SIBUR shareholders, we see that there is an issue as the corporations are facing US sanctions, but the individuals Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko are not. They represent a wealth that is roughly 50% of what is Microsoft nowadays. It is making a few people more and more nervous. I personally believe that the Paradise Papers is not a leak it is an American corporate ploy, possibly even with the assistance of Rothschild wealth management (a speculation from my side) to push changes that are a lot more interesting to America. Can I prove this?

That is partially the issue. You see, without the clear data on the leak it might never be proven. it is merely too weird that this happened three times in a row (yes three times, I will let you look deeper into certain places to find the first instance). You see the most interesting part is casually shown at the end of the BBC article. With “a huge batch of leaked documents mostly from offshore law firm Appleby, along with corporate registries in 19 tax jurisdictions, which reveal the financial dealings of politicians, celebrities, corporate giants and business leaders“, this is showing not to be a leak, this is a data gathering by a select few and the combination of large data sets. You see, multiple sources which is clearly seen through the use of ‘mostly‘, and added the ‘19 tax registries‘, shows this to be an event that is precise, it is an act of data gathering and filtering. As such, I see this as a precise strike, more likely than not from financial players who have seen certain bank (Credit Agricole being the most visible one) to grow beyond certain measures and that was not the acceptable mindset of the players who want a different shedding of wealth. This is one of the reasons that I have been keeping tabs on Credit Agricole and that is why they have been in my blog several times. Yet, in all this I did not see the Paradise Papers coming and the clarity we see now, is one where we need to consider who is playing us all, and the media most of all. The Guardian gives us more and more mentions of ‘Tax Avoidance’ and as I mentioned a few days ago. It is not illegal, it is perfectly legal. Most papers will hide behind ’emotional’ parts to cry outrage, but in the end they too are not outspoken on pushing to adapt legislation to change this and to push for clear corporate taxation needs, whilst we see that they are all on the second largest data drain set at 1.4TB. So after the Panama Papers, do you think that banks, especially banks of these kinds, banks that rely on such paths to ensure themselves of a good income. Do you think they would hesitate to invest a few millions into hardware that keeps it secure? No, we see more and more technology, more and more Cloud solutions failing to keep data safe. The BBC gave us in April 2016: “In other words, your data could get lost, wiped, corrupted or stolen“. It seems that not enough people are really listening, happy to embrace the marketing of Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, whilst there is a real concern on safety (for now). Yet, is that how the data was acquired? It is all good and fine to blame a party whilst the data was somewhere else. You see, those IT people (at Appleby’s) would know better, yet when we see the Irish Times (at https://www.irishtimes.com/business/appleby-the-offshore-law-firm-with-a-record-of-compliance-failures-1.3280860), we see “Appleby has transformed itself into a global institution with more than 700 employees across nearly every major tax haven from the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, to the Isle of Man in Europe, Mauritius in Africa and Hong Kong in Asia“, in that there is no doubt in my mind that IT would have had (or needed) a much higher visibility on their security profile. I wonder, if I got to investigate their non-repudiation systems and logs, what failings would I find. I can personally guarantee you that with every passing check-mark in place, we get to see more and more clearly that this was not a leak, I would regard this as a precision strike to shift billions from one place to the other, because just like we saw with he Panama Papers, when the super-rich get nervous, a lot of them can be manipulated a lot easier than ever before and in my mind there is no doubt, in this Rothschild is likely to be the one true victor and the one party who had the most to win.

I can only speculate on a few matters, but in the light of the global financial industry, Bermuda, Nassau, Riyadh and Nevada are the larger tax havens. The two papers are giving loads of limelight to three of them, so where will those people go to next?

The financial industry is correlating more and more to a video game, it is all about the hardware and scripted events. When we know that hardware is not the initial flaw one remains, making the case stronger and stronger that this was not a leak, it was a scripted event, whether made specifically for certain hardware remains to be seen . I wonder if the media will ever truly look deeper into how the data was acquired, I doubt it, because that does not make for a sexy story, making them in my personal view less of a player and more of a tool, the question that remains is: ‘the tool for who?

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The tail of a prophet

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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In case of your death

I was surprised to see a Eurogamer article on the steam account of dead people (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHLFUbU5ceI). The article is interesting and puzzling all at the same time. You see a view that is interesting, mainly because Eurogamer is merely voicing issues that the audience bring to their attention. Now, let’s be fair, the maker Chris Bratt also mentions the bulk of other users of this approach.

It is puzzling because I reckoned that people should have known better. You can leave your physical products behind, but digital products will not transfer. That part has been a clear issue for decades (yes, not years, but decades) it comes with clarity that certain services, especially digital services are services, not goods with a clear setting of ownership. Digital ownership tends to remain with the maker of the product and you the gamer, or user are merely ‘leasing’ that product for the length of your life and in plenty of cases not even that long (read: annual fee).

That is a clear situation in the sight of the worrying owner (the maker) of the product. So in case of software products like Adobe, Microsoft and other players, the digital arena is granting access to, to the person that paid for these services. So when that person dies, the service will be gone, because the service is no longer required for the person who bought it. In my view it is simple and clear, because this is how it has always been. Now that people are actually thinking for the first time on what happens ‘afterwards’, only now are they considering the consequences of their initial forward thinking part to embrace Steam (as a first example). So, even as their might have seemed to be an advantage, having the physical copy will always be better. So now we see that people are catching on. Yet in light of a growing nagging population, do they have a case? You see they purchased a service, not a product, the difference is not what they do, but it is the stage of physicality, the lack of a media carrier. Even then it is not a given that you have any options. The history of software products has had the setting for the longest of time that the purchased products were not transferable. Ashton Tate with dBase 3 and 3 plus (1979) is one of the earlier examples in Software, the bulk of all Microsoft products, although Windows was usually not linked to a person, but a computer. So the phenomenon is not new or unique. So why is it now getting more and more limelight? Well, people are now starting to catch on that their thousands of dollars of games are linked to their identity, to their account and when that is gone, what has been bought is gone too. We can argue on it and also argue on how valid any discussion is on the products that do come with a physical element. What is a given is that as time progresses, the option to own for life a product will fail too. You see, there is a valid case that a product bought is set to the original buyer and no further. The greedy players like Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Ubisoft have been playing with that setting for the longest time. And let’s face it; they do have a point (to some degree). They promised to service your gaming needs, not those of your children and grandchildren. Now, when this is a single player game, a case could be made to transfer the disc to whomever it ends up with, yet there is also a clear case that the services and support are set to the original buyer and without it the game cannot continue. It might be regarded as an open and shut case, but is that truly the case?

We have seen it be done for decades, but was that a legally acceptable reason? I am merely leaving the point of view open to debate. Should a game be allowed to be transferred? Is it fair on the makers of the software products for this to happen? Nowadays we are waiting for the maximised utilisation, the greed driven makers on the minimum option and to some extent the truth tends to be in the middle. This is not because it is fair, but because it is expected. We grew into the expectation of ownership from books and gramophones. Only when the time of digital installation began, only at that point did we see the change towards the expectations that the makers had on ownership and with the age of parchment and gramophones behind us, the consideration of set service terms were not truly on the scale it needed to be. Yet now, with the cloud, with digital ownerships and with downloadable content we are seeing the shift where we are no longer the owner, but the authorised user of the digital product. Now we have the shift that the industry wanted and perhaps in the view of some was entitled to.

In all this we need to realise that the power of creation is not merely remastering of older versions it is the need of revenue for the makers to continue their development and is it fair or unfair to allow for this path? It is at times depending on the point of view that the person has, and n that setting the software industry and the user are unlikely to see thins eye to eye. Some like Sony have the option to link one account to all the devices, so three people could be playing at the same time (each on a different system), some give options for multiple users for a few dollars more and some will try to fetch cash from every user. It is as I personally see it linked to where our expectations are and through history they have been set in favour of the user, now with the cloud and with digital versions that ‘advantage’ is lost to the users and it is largely depending on the others on how they allow us to set this in motion.

Eurogamer is all set towards the need of a champion with references towards Bruce Willis, but is that fair? The best setting is one that Microsoft tried (best for them that is). They wanted to disable the option of pre-owned players and that got buried real fast. Now, I am on the gamer’s side when it comes to a physical product. But in case of Mass Effect, can we truly expect that multiplayer accounts are transferred? Is it fair to continue digital server service ‘ad infinitum’? I personally do not believe that to be fair. Yet in that same push, I think that a physical copy should not be linked to one person, to one owner, but in that as the future comes pushing us, the wrong stance to have. I believe that the intertwining of services, physical and non-physical will stop or enhance the push for limited authorised access.

It is merely my view and perhaps a wrong one, but I am willing to consider that we as users must accept this shift. In this it will become more and more important to have a full physical game. We see the setting of patents in the requirement of manufacturing and physicality, yet now with the cloud and distributed usage (including cloud gaming) we see that every unit is part of the whole, so as such person X with license Y will become part of the whole implying that person X2 with license Y is another entity altogether, I will go one step further that as each player becomes a mere key of the machine, we see that physicality is set in hardware and software and as such, the combination becomes its own dimension, meaning that transfer of ownership becomes a thing of the past. Yet this also spells dangers in other ways, because as non-repudiation becomes a larger issue, any element (like email address) becomes an absolute setting, so that we are in danger of stopping ourselves to move forward with a second email address, a thing we saw with Ubisoft in the past. So once we lose our e-mail address through hackers we could in theory lose whatever we purchased through that medium. Now, most have their own registration system, yet what happens when that depository is lost, damages or altered? That is the part that is not fixed and is unlikely to be properly addressed for some time. It is even more conceivable that our children will in their lifetime see the need and growth of identity implants. Perhaps even more than one and it is at that point that the digital age of ownership takes another leap, perhaps a much larger leap than we have seen in the last 25 years. It opens up whole new ranges of opportunities and dangers. The question will sooner become, which one tips the scales of balance and how will it affect all?

So in case of your death you might be confronted with the implants of your parents, the implants of peers and siblings. In this the law is actually not ready and it is not as simple as what will happen with your games. Because as the setting is fixed it will be about bank accounts, available funds and set funding of growth and wealth. In all this we will see shifts and we will ponder where the rights of services will be set. In this it will go beyond commercial versus NGO, it will be about the shift that identity enables us to hold and that will shift the movements that we are able to do. It will be a new level of hindrance and perhaps even a step towards global discrimination, because when you realise that the age of implants is already here, consider the impairment that some people will have by allowing these changes to the body and to the external extremities.

For those in IP it is a great time to get involved with block chains and non-repudiation, because the game of games, gaming and software will be changed to much larger degrees than people realise and the initial changes as some realise them to be at present are only the tip of the iceberg.

Enjoy the weekend.

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Questioning Attainment

There has been a little devil in my mind. The simple reason is that in the past, Samsung had hurt me, hurt me bad and I never got over that, so whenever I get a chance to smack them around a little, I tend to take it. So first we have the Terrorist edition of the Samsung phone (aka Galaxy Note 7), and now (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/24/Samsung-tv-buyers-furious-after-software-update-leaves-sets-unusable), we see (as I personally see it), a company that has outgrown its merits, outgrown the shear setting of quality and pushes out as fast as they can, whatever they can. With ‘Samsung TV owners furious after software update leaves sets unusable‘ we see the direct interaction of engineers and software engineers and forget about quality assessment and correctly testing implementations. Samsung is now approaching its ‘use by‘ date like a bad carton of milk. When we see “The Company has told customers it is working to fix the problem but so far, seven days on, nothing has been forthcoming. The problem appears to affect the latest models as owners of older Samsung TVs are not reporting the issue“, we see that the entire issue could have been resolved with the ‘rollback‘ solution. A solution that came into existence in the 80’s, so 30 years onward we see that a company so utterly set to the bottom line and profits that mere safety valves are now no longer considered, or considered and cast aside. What a lovely world we live in. The more important issue is not the TV, but the fact that corporations are almost extremist focused on replicating what the wrong people regard as ‘good idea’s’. So now we are not merely looking at the issue with the television, but the issue we see when the chances are there that a similar error will happen to the new Galaxy range of series 8. So when that happens and your apps will not work for the mere reason of not ‘having the correct licensing agreements in place’, what will you do then? When it hits your $3000 television and an optional $2000 mobile phone? That is $5000 is goods not functioning because the QA team was either asleep, or upper management at Samsung decided that certain steps were not necessary. So how do you feel about spending thousands on such items?

Even as we see the article give us “Samsung is aware of a small number of TVs in the UK (fewer than 200) affected by a firmware update to 2017 MU Series TVs on 17 August. Once this issue was identified the update was switched off and we are now working with each customer to resolve the issue. Any customers affected are encouraged to get in touch with Samsung directly by calling 0330 726 7864“, what it does not state is that the ‘rollback‘ functionality would have resolved it in minutes. In addition, the fact that less than 200 complained, does not mean that it merely affects less than 200. It also calls into question that televisions, now set with ‘licensing’ agreement imply that televisions and providers are making deals behind the curtains and the consumer is not made aware of them, which now implies that the functionality of the television is now skewed and limited to what the makers behind the screens decide they are. Did you sign up for that? How long until they make a deal with console owners? Any excuse that they give on how this is not done is moot and possibly intentionally misrepresented as per their own statement “without having the correct licensing agreements in place“, so how exactly is the licensing agreement cause for “their new TVs would not access the BBC iPlayer“, or in these cases morning TV? Perhaps Samsung is dealing in antonyms? Smart TV, Dumb vision! #JustSaying

So in all this, when we see “buyer to discover that the Korean firm sells TVs that do not have the relevant BBC licence to allow them to operate iPlayer, or other popular apps“, we must be equally aware that it is not just Samsung. It seems like the makers of the BBC iPlayer also have explanations to give to the consumers. And actually (at https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/help/tvlicence) they do. Yet how is this covered? How can we see with “It is a criminal offence to watch live TV on any channel or BBC programmes on iPlayer without a TV Licence. It’s also a criminal offence to possess or control a device which you know or reasonably believe will be used to watch live TV on any channel or BBC programmes on iPlayer without a TV Licence“, so how would that apply outside of the UK? Basically it is not their turf, so as we see the catch here, we need to see that the TV makers and exploiters are trying to hide to some degree in the fog of misrepresented litigation. So in the end it is all about the money and the Television makers are not informing their consumers. You see, when we consider that the BBC is actually informing the people, how many looked (at https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/nov/19/missing-iplayer-Samsung-smart-tv-licence-issue) and with ‘The televisions are supposed to offer access to the BBC’s and other channels’ catch-up services, but a licence issue is turning many customers off’, whilst not informing the readers on the given? When we see: “Unfortunately, Samsung was late in submitting the request for this device to be certified for BBC iPlayer. We work closely with all manufacturers to ensure BBC iPlayer is on as many of their devices as possible“, whilst not informing the readers regarding the entire TV Licensing part. Now, we can slash at Samsung for being late (which is also great fun to do), yet the issue is not merely the move of the not so smart TV, it is about setting the stage of apps in the long run. It seems that both makers of apps and makers of TV’s are facilitating each other, whilst at the same time leaving the consumer in the middle and often in the dark. Which in the finality of the article leaves the retailer in some lurch as neither side of the app and TV hardware provider is submitting (read: allegedly) the needed information to the retailer. So it seems that the Consumer has no real options, no one to blame and no recourse until it is settled. This issue will explode a lot more in 2019 when 5G comes on the market. If you think that licensing is an issue now, wait to see what death-traps we get when home automation comes into play. The market is not ready as Samsung clearly shows and it will disregard all levels of safety valves to merely sell what they can and to do the optional fixing afterwards, which is not what a consumer signs up for and there is the crux of the matter. The two larger issues shown at present shows that Samsung is not ready and it is very likely that they are not the only one. There are additional concerns with Microsoft at present, but not in the case of this article, so I will revisit this issue soon enough.

You see, there are a few issues with Samsung, when we consider the two elements. The BBC player and the TV licensing, how is it enforced and what data could Samsung capture for the assessment that the owner of the TV has a license? We are skating close to too much privacy driven data here and even as I do not claim to know what it is at present, there is nothing stopping the elements in all this (Samsung, BBC and App creator) to start capturing data (for legal compliance reasons) and start their own created databases of privacy driven data. There is no way to avoid that. Consider a console that has a Product license agreement and a Terms of Service, like Sony has. Now we can set that these two documents are linked to the PSN account and that makes perfect sense. So how will this impact Samsung users? This in light of whatever mobile agreement they have in place as well as their TV agreement and other devices? How is it captured and how is the enforcement on either side?

If we consider these elements in support of the consumer who owns the bought television, as well as the maker of the device Samsung for not providing the proper required consumer support? So as we see that the owners of the television which got them the ‘firmware update to 2017 MU Series TVs‘ and the fact that they got no TV to watch for over a week, what do you think will happen when this happens to the first firmware updated to all Galaxy series 8? What happens to Samsung when this issue hits a million plus mobile users? A solution that is three decades old could have prevented such hardship and a television will have plenty of space for a 16GB rollback memory chip, a mobile phone tends to not have that space, so what dangers are the upcoming Samsung consumers placed in?

The attainment we see is the one that could have been secure and Samsung dropped the ball (again) to its consumers. It seems to me that the issue goes beyond Samsung, so we should be seeing a lot more questions handed out to makers of Smart TV’s and how the consumers are protected from such enormous fiasco’s and in addition, when it comes to address the damages that the consumers were set with, how will the courts place the rights of the consumers? Because this issue is a class action in the making, which tends to set everything back for years. It seems that we are missing elements in what should not even be there in the first place.

Issues that could have been prevented in both the design and testing phase of the equation, a failure most visible with Samsung at present as they have become a team that struck out twice, or in my case thrice. We need to ask Samsung, when the consumer will come first, not their accountant and not their CEO, but their customer. I wonder if they will end up having a clear answer, especially as the heir of the Samsung Empire, Lee Jae-yong will be in prison for the next 5 years for bribery and embezzlement. So will this open up the Samsung market to other players? No matter how impressive the Galaxy Note 8 presentation was, it seems that without customer care and proper testing spending a large 4 figure number on a phone and possibly a 2 year chain to a telecom provider, how are we set at ease regarding the need for quality hardware? It seems that Samsung does not have the answer as it can’t even provide a decent functioning Boob Tube.

Such is life, unwarranted attainment tends to not be worth the value of a 10 letter word, you merely have to consider what will be worth your trust and your money, because most of us do not get to spend $1400 twice, more often we don’t even get to spend it once, implying that Samsung is in a lot more problems than most realise and they are likely not alone in this.

 

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Your GCC resume

Qatar remains in the news, some are looking at the $5.9 billion deal in Italian dinghy’s, others look at the cancelled deal to become an American Airlines stake holder and others like me are focussing towards the GCC futures. According to the Defence minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah this setting is not in an increasing danger. The problem is not merely the GCC in itself, it is what you will not see in many newspapers, it is the overhanging impact on OPEC. The news given by Oilprice.com is “All GCC countries depend on stability in the oil and gas markets, which is evident from the recent OPEC deal. A full-fledged confrontation will, without any doubt, put pressure on the current compliance rate of OPEC members to production cuts. Doha will be able to sabotage the current 6+3 production cut agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC members. If Doha decides to join the ranks of Iran and Iraq, OPEC’s future will be in doubt” it is at the very end of the article (at http://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/Clash-Between-Qatar-And-The-Saudis-Could-Threaten-OPEC-Deal.html), yet that in itself is not the bacon maker, or if pork is taboo, it is the lamb to the slaughter. When we see: “The Arab criticism may have been less harsh if U.S. officials would not have put oil on the fire. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis openly warned Qatar that it should change its support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mattis also stated that U.S. president Trump is considering classifying the Brotherhood as an international terrorist organization, which could have a very negative impact on the U.S.-Qatar economic-military cooperation in the coming months“, this reflects right back to the pressures that the American players where trying to establish through pressuring the WTO issues as written yesterday (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/08/02/a-big-tree-in-the-desert/). Another source (Leaprate.com) gives us the links to Iran and re-elected Hassan Rouhani. Here we see “America’s new-found protectionist outlook and open contempt for the JCPOA, has put a question mark against its future, while Iran’s ties with Qatar, currently the subject of embargos by many neighbouring states, is a further concern for investors“, this is the part that most do not get informed about. Partially the US has a valid point as the previous president of Iran was openly waging war towards the US and against the state of Israel. The dangers as I gave them years ago, especially in the light of the nuclear treaties is not how good or how reforming the newly elected President Hassan Rouhani was, it is the issue about the next person, who will get the presidential trophy in 2021 and what happens then? This is the long term worry, most will agree that one extreme leader on the edge of insanity is good enough and keeping that person in North Korea is for now the best place.

Yet, that was not what this is about, when we consider that the JCPOA (also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), we see the given by Ali Akbar Salehi with ““After JCPOA, our oil production has soared from 1 million barrels per day to 3.9 million bpd,” IRNA quoted Salehi as saying on Sunday, two days after the two-year anniversary of the action plan. This marks a success for Iran’s oil-based economy in reclaiming its market share lost over the years of sanctions“, the issue is that this directly opposes OPEC with “All GCC countries depend on stability in the oil and gas markets, which is evident from the recent OPEC deal. A full-fledged confrontation will, without any doubt, put pressure on the current compliance rate of OPEC members to production cuts” for the UAE and Saudi Arabia that is a problem, as Iran has increased its production by nearly 3 million barrels a day, the other players have to decrease even more, which means that they are hurting well $150 million a day or we will see the pressures shift all over the Middle East, which is not good for America (or the UK for that matter), because that impacts what Saudi Arabia can buy, and the monthly $4.5 billion is partially for the hardware delivered and expected before December 2017, so as these sales paths are impacted, we will see a level of hurt all over the weapons of mass consumer requirements market.

So we have valid and greed driven concerns regarding Iran, in this the Qatar issue does not help and the play that the US is making as we see it should not be considered as a beneficial path. No matter how valid the present situation is as we see it given through the Russian Academy of Sciences, Stanislav Ivanov is giving a present truth with “The main line of Tehran’s policy is to get out of sanctions and gradually restore its economic and financial potential“, we do not deny this, yet the past decades was about setting the pressures to Iran as the western nations had to deal with extremism, in addition to the funding that Iran gave Hamas as it kept on attacking the State of Israel, there are ample issues in all this as the strategic setting before 2021 (Iranian general elections) could face the US, Israel and Western Europe with an economic revitalised Iran, which will be pushing the players back to square one if that seat will become the sitting arrangement for another Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which is not out of the question.

When that happens, those with a GCC resume, with or without references to OPEC might wonder where their employability resides. Now, if they have been smitten with a 7 figure annual income, they might not care, yet those without that part for at least 4 years might need to scrape by, having to live on $40K a month for the rest of their lives. I can advise these people that it can be done, if they shed the 4 luxury cars (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Bentley), give up their membership in the Yas Links Golf Club, Almouj Golf and The Majlis, Emirates Golf Club as well as their 4 bedroom apartment in Riyadh and they are already half way there. So how serious is this? Well, it is actually a lot more serious than most people realise. When we consider that the GCC is a realistic target for cyber-attacks and cyber terrorists, Raytheon is setting up technological barriers to thwart to some degree these plans. the issue is not what the presentations give, whilst we do not oppose of attack the stance that CEO Thomas Kennedy has, the quote (source: Raytheon) “It has since reinforced its cybersecurity capacity with the purchase of 14 companies. In 2015, it acquired a company called Forcepoint (previously known as Websense and Raytheon|Websense) to enhance its commercial presence. This is now the world’s second-largest privately-held cybersecurity firm. Raytheon recently secured a five-year, $1bn contract for the US Department of Homeland Security to help defend “.gov” websites from cyber-attacks. Now the goal is to bring that working knowledge to the Gulf” is merely showing a deficit in the technology. Acquisition is a partial solution to any cyber given industry, the given premise to survive is not what can be bought today, but what must be developed for tomorrow. You see the firms that have that focus tend not to be for sale in the first place. Whilst Raytheon’s focus is very valid to catch up, it is much less a solution for those who are arming themselves for tomorrow, their own missile system department can teach them that part. It is not merely about the technology, it is the development of new systems in cloud and non-repudiation that will give the GCC and other gulf places the edge to be ahead of the cyber-attack curve. A partial issue is found with “We have one of the best data-leakage protection systems in the entire cybersecurity field, and we combine this with our insider-threat behaviour system, which detects suspicious activity and ensures IP and data is not compromised“, which might be non-false, yet the events as Sony has seen shows that the reflective comments are from a behind the wave assessment, with HBO being an example as they were hacked a few days ago. The one provider that relies on cyber security as it sells its value through Netflix is now giving Vanity Fair “When Netflix was hacked earlier this year, the cyber-criminals behind the attack demanded a ransom. But there was no such demand in the hack that struck HBO over the weekend, and the sheer amount of compromised data has led some to believe that video footage, internal documents, or e-mails could be leaked next. The premium-cable giant is working with the F.B.I. and cyber-security firm Mandiant to investigate the breach, in which hackers claimed to have stolen 1.5 terabytes’ worth of data“. This is what Raytheon is up against, not some access issue, but stopping the drain of terabytes, basically every part of the GCC removed in mere hours, whilst the cyber minders were in the dark until after the event and the quote that follows (at https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/08/hbo-hack-seven-times-larger-sony) “A traditional business-grade D.S.L. link would take about two weeks at full blast to exfiltrate that much data,” Farsight Security C.E.O. Paul Vixie told T.H.R. “If not for video and sound, a corporation the size of HBO might fit [entirely] in a terabyte, including all the e-mail and spreadsheets ever written or stored.” Another expert added that the entire Library of Congress contains an estimate of 10 terabytes of print material—so it is almost certain that video and/or audio were stolen“, this directly reflects on Raytheon. It is not what we know it is what others have figured out that is the issue. Whether it was through frame leaking, through cloud replication, there are issues that remain non-secure, even as security is at the top of the salespersons mind. There is a need for a new designed system no longer merely on access, but on ‘bio wired’ non-repudiation that is driving the need for evolution and these sales forces have remained in denial as it is something that they cannot offer at present, so they reflect on it as being a non-solution, a non-reality. They stick to the solutions that they can sell now and that is where the GCC finds itself, the lack of visionary evolution of data systems.

So when Raytheon gives their next presentation and someone at the GCC asks “How can we assure that the Bolero electronic Bills of Lading are not stolen or corrupted?” what happens then? Will that person at GCC need to write his resume tout suite, or will his superiors realise that the question was valid and that this situation is an immediate threat to the GCC members? Because in this day and age where extremists are all about the attack on infrastructures, the Bolero Title Registry, the repository and application that manages the transfer of title of the eBL is a clear weak point. Ones the recipients are scrapped and the cargo gets locked down, the ship will have two issues. The first being that the ownership cannot be transferred, you might think that this could be solved in a few days, and that would be right. The direct consequence is that the transfer of oil stop would cost an additional $578,000 in port charges, twice the amount in addition for pilots and towage fees. And as they are moved around additional costs will be incurred, that is apart from the issue that the delays bring and when a visionary does find the way to reset ownership, the delivery of 1 million barrels comes down to a nice $50 million fee, that optionally went somewhere else.

The one place where cyber security was essential is as given in indications running behind and not catching up; the only way to do that is to get ahead of it all. Now, as stated, this is not an attack on Raytheon, this is merely the direct issue on the business need to set serious cash into evolving the new systems to be ahead of the curve and be in a state where the hackers learn that it is not merely about access, the nice part of adding a new ‘language‘ to the plot is not to delay their invasion, it become to take away their comprehension of what they see (hopefully for longer than short term). You see, I have loved Cisco solutions, but they all talk the same language and their precise documentation have been a real assist on those with no-good intentions, we merely need to ask Google ‘what does a cisco frame look like?‘ and we get so much information, enough for too many to get to the heart of the matter and in the early stages of the internet that was a really good thing, we need to move beyond certain settings and push towards dedicated systems that have additional layers of protection, now that might be a mere delay, yet consider what is being protected. How willing are you to keep data safe? Not merely oil data of ownership, in the age of Netflix whilst hackers are streaming the episodes by the dozen, depriving places like Sony and HBO from valid revenue, revenue they invested in, the game needs to be changed. We have seen the uselessness of some governments as they were facilitating towards the communication sellers on bandwidth; we need to change the game regardless of those players. One way to do that is remove their existence to impact. Google did that to some extent, but not to the extent needed. As we realise that providers are 15 dimes to the dollar, we need to set a different scope, not merely in the cloud, but in the need for dedicated non-repudiation. Only then can we make a first effort to push the boundary towards a safer zone. And perhaps Raytheon will bring that to the table, the fact is that we do not know the player that delivers the need of tomorrow today, we merely know that it will not be Beaker bringing it (a Muppet Show reference). In this the ‘evidence’ can be seen when we realise that Raytheon gives us John D Harris II and his view on how forward thinking Talon laser guided rockets are. Yes John this was really the need for Cyber safety! As we consider the issue beyond point-to-point communication. In addition the $100m development program reads sexy for your bonus, yet the issue is data, both at rest and in transit. There are the issues, not in the rocket man shooting by a member of the UAE air force. So as we moved from certain parts of the GCC, via Iran to other providers, we need to see and comprehend that there are several players, all with their own agenda, a perfectly sound and valid situation, yet when we see that stability is centre in all this, destabilisation will impact both the GCC members, the OPEC members and when the overlap is shown (those in both), we need to realise that Iran and Iraq will not care about the needs of the GCC, they are not part of that, which ties hands of the six GCC players and in that Qatar is the centre of the seesaw that the 6 members prefer to have in some level of balance, yet the issues as we are seeing them escalate will impact all the given needs for all the players having their ‘own’ needs to satisfy. None of that is likely to happen any day soon. We could see the US and both their needs towards JCPOA and the WTO as an opposing issue, one that is not beneficial to the GCC or the Qatar issues as they are playing. I cannot say what the GCC members should do next, but it seems to me resolving some parts and creating a new initial balance is the best way forward. This gets me back to the question phrase yesterday. If each of the 4 members could phrase one issue to resolve by Qatar, what would that be? If Qatar can get the conversation started on that, as merely a first show of good will, yet from my point of view, if they Promise to have a good look at Al-Jazeera and do some immediate reforms there as a first step of good will towards the four opposing parties, it might just be enough to reduce tensions and give time for non-escalations to settle and as such forward momentum in resolving issues will be found. In my view it would leave Qatar in a much better view by all other players and global non players. It will open the doors and perhaps that is a good beginning, merely a good beginning, but more than we have now.

And none of this, none of my views were set to painting any of the players as the bad people, merely a path to find the track towards profit and growth, profit for all the players and economic growth for all of them. In all this the one question that is forming in my mind is that Oman has been the one GCC member that is outside of the equation to some extent, could they be a mediating party in all this? I actually do not know the answer; I am merely voicing the question that I have not seen in the news. You see when you realise that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been the driving force behind Vision 2030, the economic diversification strategy. Is that something that a nation like Oman could see benefits in, when we consider diversification, when we realise that this impacts range of products as well as field of operation. Would it not be interesting how this view could be beneficial to the Middle East as a whole? In all this, as the driving force surpasses boundaries, is that not a field of economic diplomacy to see it grow? To push forward momentum is to find a place and subject of discussion, in my view it would be to find a topic many can agree on, a topic that is always a hard sell in most occasions and it seems to me that oil dependency is always a good option for those realising that it is the only thing they offer, by adding more options, any nation connected is merely opening paths to more stability and more opportunities, especially when these paths can be sold to nations seeking more than oil, which is close to every nation on the planet. Finding a place of stabile growth is the best product any player is ever likely to sell. In this stability is a lot more sexy than quick gain, especially on Wall Street and they are having too often too much to say on that matter. As we need a different language in the cyber world, it is clear that outside of that world a common language is the only solution. The question becomes what language and how to start the conversation, even those setting up their GCC resume right now. That is a fact as it is a resume that they want everyone to read, a comprehensible common ground is the first step in this.

 

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How weird are these two?

I got confronted with the weirdest article in the Independent today, the article was 4 days old, but then, I do not frequent that paper so often, hence, I initially missed it. The article (at http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/gaming/playstation-plus-price-date-details-sony-online-play-latest-expensive-cost-rise-hike-a7864351.html) gives us: “It’s about to get a lot more expensive to play PlayStation online“, which is an exaggeration to say the least. Now, for the longest time, the PlayStation plus has remained the same (as far as I remember), yet now we see a rate rise. The amount it rises with is £10 per year of £1 per month. It equates to 16% monthly, or 25% annually, yet the percentage increase is wrong, because it is £6.99 per month (new price), which comes to £83.88 per year, yet the full annual is a mere £49.99, which is only 59% of the monthly price on 12 months, so overall it remains a really good deal. So, as he whines on that event and how you can cancel the subscription. He also forgot to mention the fact that those with PlayStation Plus get 7 free games a month to play with, 3 PS4 games, 2 PS3 games and 2 Vita games, and the one subscription covers ALL three devices. Is it not interesting how that part got overlooked? The additional fact worth mentioning is that the list from June 2010 onwards has offered in total 493 games, 25 games had 90%+ ratings, which included games like Mass Effect (2+3), Bioshock Infinite, Batman Arkham City, Journey, Far Cry 3, God of War and a few others, So as we see the list offered, the £1 a month, or £10 a year does not add up to too much, when it amounts to 84 free games a year, which gets us an ‘enormous’ £0.11 increase per game (which makes it £0.59 per game in total) and in addition the access to multiplayer gaming, which we set at £0 for this exercise. So when Andrew Griffin writes that it is all about to get ‘a lot more expensive‘, I wonder if he has any clue on the gaming industry at all. Now, we know that there is hardship all over and that people can afford less and less, yet the option to get games at £0.59 per game remains a really good deal. In addition, you get them for the three devices without needing separate subscriptions. So I feel that Sony has always offered a really good deal for the gamers. Now, we might not always get the greatest games, yet 100+ titles had a higher than 80% rating and 25 games in addition had 90% or higher rating, so the people are getting really good games and they get a lot more than Microsoft offers and much better titles. The one part that the article does offer the reader is that if you try to renew the subscription now, you can get it for the ‘old’ price which is a pretty sweet deal, so you can delay the price increase for a year. In light of all this, not only is the description ‘a lot more expensive‘ a joke to say the least, the fact that the increase will not start until August 31st is also a clean option to quickly get the renewal now whilst the games are a mere £0.47 per game.

So when I see the title part ‘As Sony makes it more expensive to play online‘ I do wonder where he got his insights. Factual he might be right, yet in the day and age where the price of a PlayStation Plus videogame is set at less than a 1 pint bottle of Tesco Organic British Whole Milk, the entire setting of ‘a lot more expensive‘ should keep you on the floor laughing for some time to come.

From my point of view my response to the Independent is ‘Bad form, Independent, bad form!’

Second place issue

The second issue shown is one that was given to us in both the World Finance site as well as the Wall Street Journal. The issue given is “America’s young men are increasingly giving up on work in order to slay virtual aliens and fight videogame wars, new research suggests”, which is more than merely a laughable joke. The original source US National Bureau of Economic Research, the part that calls out might be “Academics from Princeton University, the University of Chicago and the University of Rochester say there’s ample evidence that since 2000, men who would otherwise be working are instead being drawn into immersive virtual worlds….”, yet what is this based on? You see, the data past 2008, a date many will remember, saw the Youth unemployment rate rise from 10% to 19%, after the beginning of 2011 those numbers have been declining steadily down to 9%, so the unemployment rate for the youth is now close on par with 1968, when it was the lowest in US History and only slightly better than 2003 which was the lowest at that point for close to 30 years. So when we consider those facts, it seems that the makers are giving us what some would regard a hatchet job. My title for that might be slightly too crass; yet when we see “Since 2004, time-use data show that younger men distinctly shifted their leisure to video gaming and other recreational computer activities. We propose a framework to answer whether improved leisure technology played a role in reducing younger men’s labor supply”, so how idiotic is such a notion when we consider the 2004 and 2008 meltdowns that thrashed the economy in several ways, in that same timeline, US unemployment (all) was set to 10% in 2008, with a steady decline that follows roughly the same downward trend to a little over 4% at present, now we might agree, that whilst unemployed those youthful individuals would divert towards videogames it is a path that is still better than heading towards the streets trying to be gainfully and criminally active.

In this the quote used by world finance “While eight percent of younger men were not in work in 2000, this number rose to 15 percent in 2016”, is more than inaccurate, according to worldfinance.com it is an outright lie. Governing.com gives us some extra information that is actually useful. Their quote (at http://www.governing.com/gov-data/economy-finance/youth-employment-unemployment-rate-data-by-state.html) is “The employment-to-population ratio for younger workers had only recovered about halfway for its recession-era decline as of early 2017. Youth employment rates have returned to pre-recession averages in just four states”, which seems to fit the other sources. This is what could be regarded as something that pisses me off. With ‘Leisure Luxuries and the Labor Supply of Young Men’ by Mark Aguiar, Mark Bils, Kerwin Kofi Charles and Erik Hurst, I have a hard time just giving it too much consideration. The paper has additional flaws, the consideration that we see on page 4 with “We further exclude full-time students who are less than age 25” which is a chunk of undergrads and post grads that work at least part time to be able to afford food and other small issues like books. So the numbers are already skewed, in addition some sources give us that 80% of the full time students work part time, which marketwatch.com gives us, which was part of a Citigroup study. The UK has numbers on 1 out of 7 students work and study full time, this might not be reflective of US students, yet it should be to some extent reflective of students in some of the US metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco where the cost of living remains a rising burden. It is in section 6 on page 31 when my laughter explodes. The issue given “we can use time allocation data to infer the rate of technological progress for gaming and computer leisure since the early 2000s”, this a given? With two recessions and the non-working youth being a historic high in 2010, surpassing the recession of the early 80’s is more than just an issue, with numbers showing a steady decrease since then, the job market starting to open, whilst outliers have a stronger impact. In 2017 retail shed 60,000 jobs in the US, whilst Wal-Mart and Amazon seem to be in a strategic battle of realigning jobs towards online presence, all elements that impact the job market. So as jobs get realigned through strategy, where do the jobs end up? What will those people do when they are not working? The information Forbes gives us on this is even scarier when it reflects the need for consumer appeal via transferred initiatives. In all this, the paper does give some interesting premises, yet relies on certain parts, which are I light of the two recessions a little too much of a stretch, yet the fact on how the formulas were used is actually quite interesting. Another flaw is seen on page 32, now this is the flaw as I personally see it regarding the data as showed, yet without the actual questionnaire on view, there is a flaw in both the results and the way that I see it might be, so we need to be aware of that.

With “We stratify by three groups: younger men who spent zero time on computer leisure the prior day, those who spent 2 hours or less, and those who spent more than 2 hours”, the flaw is the ‘when’, I would spend well over 2 hours playing after a full day work, so when we consider the working population with or without full time study, we see that the graph is flawed. Even the other way round, part time students with a full time job, they could fall into the 2 hour plus gaming bracket. It is that flaw that calls even more doubt into question regarding this paper. A final ‘consideration’ needs to be given when I take a look at the ‘Leisure Engel Curve’. Here I also must admit that I will give doubt to my own thought as I might not have comprehended that part completely (apart from the formula), you see, they do state “With the leisure Engel curves, we can link shifts in time spent across activities to an implied change in the marginal utility of total leisure”, yet does this part correct for any hype (read: diversion through peer and social group pressure)? I doubt that very much, as evidence I call for the Pokémon Go wave that started in July 2016, which is clearly computer leisure (read: mobile gaming leisure), yet the paper has not taken mobile gaming in any of it and sets gaming as a static given, yet this wave suddenly pushed 60 million people to a hyped community in the same group as other gamers, whilst mobile gamers can be set into any part of an idle time setting (like travel time), this disjoints the entire exercise as I see it and gives a larger (read accelerated) gaming community in a shifted setting according to the settings as given, yet not corrected for any version of the definition of what constitutes a gamer.

Even as we can admire the formulated exercise, we need to concern that the raw data is not reliable as such and that there are additional issues that the data model and the questionnaires and requested data cannot correct for. In addition when we see the models, there seems to be no consideration for idle time and/or transit time and the consideration of handheld devices or smartphones which calls for even more questions on the gaming environment.

No matter how clever some will think the paper looks like, from the stage as I see it, there are too many unknowns or unanswered question marks and in reflection the conclusion and some of the media statements are not in line of the reality of the recessions the people lived through.

That is merely my setting where $0.02=C(1+r)^t

 

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Drop the Mike, Ashley!

Welcome to the issues on a man that I do not know. This is not the most straight-forward of starts, yet the man who has been valued more than once and that verdict is several thousand stacks of £1,000,000. The man who owns Newcastle United, which means he gets the swanky seat in the stadium. Now, we can understand that this man founded Sports Direct. When you get enthusiastic about sports, you can bet that it will be part of your life. There is no denying it and as it became a good success, I would state ‘good for him’. Yet, the focus on him started in an entirely different way. It started with him getting in on the videogame action by getting a near 26% stake in the franchise ‘Game‘. That brand did not go well here in Australia, yet I always found it to be a decent store and the people working there knew their games and consoles. I have seen them in the UK as well and a similar feeling remained on that experience. Here it did not go well as they were up against EB Games (who grew aggressively at that time) and JB Hifi that was an established chain of quality stores, so they had a murder competition, they did not make it (for the most). Yet all this is now in play when I read “Mike Ashley swoops on video games retailer after profit warning forced by shortage of Nintendo Switch consoles“, this is a weird issue. We get ‘profit warning‘ in regards to a situation of shortage. Basically the story becomes, we are short on revenue/profit because we can’t get any more consoles, they are sold out, and everyone wants one! Which at present is pretty much the truth of the desire of people and their need for the Nintendo Switch, it is actually THAT amazing.

The result was “Game shares rose by more than 15% to 28p on the news, and later traded at 26.5p (up 9.3%), giving it a market value of £47m“, apart from the 28p not sounding like that impressive, it is the end result of +9.3% that is staggering. You see, I have issues with the entire part where ‘profit warnings‘ are labelled in the way they were. You see, the entire mess (as reported) gives no clue on the actual situation (well, the one as I personally see it), I do not care how people quantify one way or the other; it is the addressing of profit warnings.

I offer in evidence the following pieces

Part 1, Sony (at http://www.playstationlifestyle.net/2017/01/03/uk-2016-sales-chart-2016-game-sales-down-13-infinite-warfare-the-2-best-selling-game-of-the-year/) gives us ‘UK Sales Chart: 2016 Game Sales Down 13%, Infinite Warfare the #2 Best-Selling Game of the Year‘. In this we see: “The major titles of 2016 also disappointed when compared to 2015’s, with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (the second biggest title of 2016) lagging 31.5% behind Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. In other comparisons, Watch Dogs 2 fell just short of the 500,000 copies Assassin’s Creed Syndicate sold in 2015, Steep performed worse than Rainbow Six Siege, Gears of War 4 couldn’t reach the heights of Halo 5, and Final Fantasy XV was outsold by Just Cause 3.” For those who do not talk games, let me boil it down to the first item is that overall less games were bought. In my personal view, the overall quality of games was not great. Even as Watchdogs 2 was a good step up from the previous game, yet many gamers felt too burned by the first game. I believe that the second game was good, it has online and offline options and people were not forced to go online here. Regarding the other title, I am not a fan of Call of Duty, I know many are. the fact that a game like that became ‘the’ game is not entirely on the fact on how good their Infinite Warfare was, it is more that the other games were way below the line. The fact that the last four larger releases this year alone could be bought for 50% down, including the special editions with figurines is also a changing trend. People are less willing to just shell out the cash for games, reviews are more competitive and even though there are really good reviewers, there are a lot more really bad reviewers and they tend to get plenty of exposure. Yet in the end, the games were for a larger extent not up to snuff. The reviewers ‘deserve’ extra attention as some are more and more about the larger players, whilst some of the true gems have been largely ignored by plenty of people. Nioh is perhaps one of the most visible ones. Like Infinite warfare it is a specific game. I actually like this game, but I loathe the challenge it contains at times (they are really hard games). Some saw that is was some Dark Souls games and plenty of people ran for the hills as this is a game for actual gamers, not for wannabe’s. In my view there are several similarities, yet the only thing that the game Nioh truly has in common with Dark Souls III was its graphical excellence.

So here we see two elements that would push any revenue down.

Part 2, Pushsquare. At http://www.pushsquare.com/news/2017/01/ps4_physical_game_sales_increase_as_uk_industry_suffers_blow, we see more confirmation: “Overall sales down 13.4 per cent“, the mere subtitle and the direct impact that matters, less sales overall, this is not entirely correct, but I will get to that in a moment. The next quote is, as I personally see it wrong, but still essential. With “Bethesda’s Dishonored 2, for example, couldn’t come close to matching the success of Fallout 4, while Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XV somehow failed to outsell Just Cause 3.” My issue is that no matter how you slice it, Dishonored 2 is a little bit of a niche game, more intent for those who love stealth gaming (me being one), it is graphically superb, the game is a little steampunk in a very good way, but for the most, it is highly original and exquisite in quality. It is not fair to compare it to a game that has millions of followers and has been revered since its original release (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC) on 11/11/11, the date that some will carry with them for all time. An established success that was bought on the console be new players as well as nearly everyone who had the previous version. The game is good for months of gameplay, so a game that sells itself due to 5 years of raving reports. The second is equally unfair. I myself was never a FF fan, but I have always admired the originality and scope of the stories and the near perfection each game brought. Even I am surprised that Just Cause 3 outsold it, perhaps merely because of the over the top explosions and things you can do with the game? I cannot tell what the exact reason is, yet the second part implies that the gamers are diversifying in different directions, changing the gaming requirement. It is almost like there is a new generation taking over the baton of gaming and it has different tastes.

Yet he best is left for last, in part 3 we see Retail Week

The mention (at https://www.retail-week.com/sectors/entertainment/game-issues-profit-warning-as-uk-sales-falter/7022184.article), where we see “The specialist retailer, which posted a slump in its interim profits in March, said anticipated supply in the UK of the latest Nintendo console had failed to meet expectations, negatively impacting overall sales“, is a first issue. In this the mention ‘anticipated supply‘ beckons the question, so did you order enough or not? As the experts, you should have seen the impact it would make. The E3 and other events clearly showed that Nintendo was blowing both others out of the water. In addition we see “alongside ongoing poor sales of Xbox and PlayStation devices“, now we can argue about Xbox for several reasons, so let’s take this out of the equation, the PlayStation part gives the issue. Overall sales of the PS4 and PS4pro are still up by a decent amount, so it now becomes a shifting focus, but I will get to that soon.

For now I will end with the quote “The group continues to actively implement its UK action plan, encompassing improved supplier arrangements, enhancements to the customer experience, further operational progress including cost reduction programmes and disciplined cash management“, yet will not address it yet. Let’s take a look at three more elements.

The first is from the Business Insider which gives us “Sony sold 10 million PlayStation 4 consoles between early May 2016 and December 6, 2016. That puts sales in the neighbourhood of over 1 million sold every month, which keeps it locked in as the fastest-selling PlayStation console of all-time

The second is again from PlayStation Lifestyle with “Taking a deeper look at software last year in the UK, Games Industry points out that nearly 80% of all boxed games sold last year were either on PS4 or Xbox One (up from 66% in 2015)

The last is G24/7 where we see (at https://www.vg247.com/2016/11/14/ps4-console-sales-have-tripled-in-the-uk-following-the-launch-of-the-ps4-pro/) “Sony’s PS4 Pro launched at the end of last week and has had quite the impact on PS4 console sales. According to MCVUK, PS4 sales for the week ending Saturday, November 12, were up 204%. 65% of the total PS4 sales last week were for the PS4 Pro, while the final sales figure for all PS4 consoles was 44% higher than those for the Xbox One.

Now we put the whole together!

We know that sales were massive end of year 2016, especially with a new console and Christmas coming up, all that makes sense. We can also clearly see that overall, the consoles represent the bulk of all game sales. This partially makes sense because that is what we see as flagships in pretty much any gaming store, PC owners have a lot more options to buy in other places and at times a lot cheaper and there is Steam to consider, so that part remains an unknown and as such a much lesser impact to these stores (apart from the selling of steam credit). The fact that the PS4 is surpassing the previous consoles, is debatable (PS2 sold over three times the amount in its life time), yet the overall market trend is that games should be on par and were up by a fair bit last year. So when we go back to the initial start with “Video game retailers have been particularly badly affected by the broader shift away from the high street in recent years, with developers moving to increase their own profit margins selling games as direct downloads“, which we get from the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/172c3ba1-e880-35e8-9273-957e325cd7f4?mhq5j=e3).

In this there is debate, yet he part no one touches on is how the expectations were set, what they were weighed on and on the given image that sales were down, which had been an upcoming known for close to 2 quarters of a year. The part that the Financial Times gives us is that direct downloads are playing more of a role nowadays. It actually impacts the industry in 2 ways. Apart from buying directly, the additional issue is that consoles have a premium service; most gamers take that because of online gaming and the fact that both systems offer at least 2 free games a month. Microsoft was initially really bad with that (lousy games or games everyone had), they are still not great, yet this month it includes Lego pirates of the Caribbean, which is actually a nice and decent game (and not a large download in console terms). Sony beats Microsoft here hands down with titles like Until Dawn and Life is Strange. In all this both offer decent free games, with a bonus for Sony people as their account will also enable them to get free games for their Vita handheld, all that for around £50 per year, the premium service sells itself to both consoles without any difficulty. All elements that shows the impact of a bad year of games, not consoles, the overall quality of games gives rise to people deciding to just download an average game instead. The interesting part that even as Ubisoft lagged in a few ways, the one game what was awesome in many ways, ‘For Honor’ actually did not do that well, which is a mixed signal that multiplayer games are wanted, yet without a strong one player side, it tends to not make the cut in a top 10, which would be unfairly devastating on the makers I think. All elements that the analysts in this case should have known and realised and as such, when we see ‘would not meet expectations‘, my question becomes: “the expectations of whom and on what foundations?” Now we get to the part I skipped.

With “The group continues to actively implement its UK action plan, encompassing improved supplier arrangements, enhancements to the customer experience, further operational progress including cost reduction programmes and disciplined cash management” I wonder what we are being served.

  • Did they call short because they did not keep an eye on running costs, what arrangements would be needed with suppliers? Were they not up to scrap?
  • Even more customer experience? Were the current settings and anticipations of the competitor not up to scrap?
  • Disciplined cash management? Is cash not managed correctly?

The feedback we got from Game, directly below the image of a sort of smiley ‘Game CEO Martyn Gibbs on the merits of in-store gaming arenas‘ is one that leaves us with the thoughts that Game is going down because they are not on the ball of the game, and the game is passing them by? So in all this Mike Ashley merely flying in to pick up a bargain? In this he better realise fast that Game has an issue and more than one potential issue in play, he also needs to realise that the Games market is a shifty one and in the years before the publishers see clear to push a bigger load to online sales in the next 5 years (depending on where you live), we better consider that top games is a market in motion and it is likely to see a shift that Microsoft and Adobe made some time ago on PC’s, it is not a change that gamers are currently happy with, but it is one that the next generations of consoles will likely face, the game shop is seen as the middle man and they are trying to cut it out to maximise it for their own need to please whatever stakeholders they report on. It is early days now, but in 5 years it won’t be.

In the aftermath we actually need to look where I normally do not go. It is the Telegraph, in this case the business section, where (at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/06/30/game-warns-profits-will-substantially-expectations/) we see the generic parts like “following its third profit warning“, we know that Christmas was weak (to some extent), yet in equality when you consider the previous information, the issue is not entirely just ‘weak Christmas‘, it is merely a much stronger competition to some extent and the fact that the cost of living in metropolitan UK seems to be ignored by analysts and those who speculate on how it would (read: should) be. The issue that is stronger is “The shares nosedived to just 21p on the back of the profit warning, valuing the business at £35.6m only two years after it was floated at 200p a share by US hedge fund Elliott Advisors” as well as “Elliott cashed in £101m at the time of Game’s stock market listing by selling a stake and made a further £59m by dumping a further 10pc of its stake just three months afterwards, despite agreeing to a lock-up period of six months” which now also implies that Game got played and not in such a nice way. Yet the bulk of all the sources do not give any clarity of the part that Elliott Advisors was playing, even the Financial Times steered clear of that part. In this, I am now also questioning the setting as given to Game and its senior management. Even as CNBC is giving the notion that Paul Singer, CEO of Elliott Management is just the best invention since Frozen Yoghurt (if we are to believe places like Forbes, CNBC and the Wall Street Journal), I wonder what price we can see the UK pay for getting played to the extent it is getting by the US Hedge market, in that regard should we allow for any US company coming in under false pretences and flood the market so that they can drain the profit quickly and walk away? It seems to me that they tried that in the Netherlands with Akzo Nobel, which had the great benefit of Elliott Management failing (for now), but it shows the extent that as a shareholder Elliott Management will go to get their profit, it seems to me that Game was not nearly as lucky and the fact that the different levels of publications left that side seemingly in the dark corners of ‘them not printing that part‘ is also upsetting (to me even more upsetting is the part that the Telegraph actually did get that info out). The fact that Game has been seemingly under exploitative attack does not diminish the issues as given by some of the publishers by the quotes, Game got caught out, which under the current size and the possible level of possible losses is a dangerous place to be in.

In all this, I am aware of things, but not as much as a person like Mike Ashley would be, so is this his triumph with Game, should we see this as a mere quick victory to see if he can get more out of this than Paul Singer’s place did, or is it an actual rescue and grow attempt? I am not implying one or the other, but as you see the presented evidence, there are a few issues with Game and I believe as such they were set up as the weak runt in the market, whether this will happen twice in a row is something I have no way of telling and I am not implying anything wrong, immoral or illegal. The entire mess is not completely shown by some players and that is what seems to be the actual issue. I remain in an attempt to be protective of the places that feed my need for gaming and there is a positive in having a diverse and competitive market. It guarantees to some degree I get the best games at the sharpest price, which is what every gamer wants, there is no exceptions to that rule.

 

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