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Games and more

Yes, the E3 is upon us, it is now mere hours away and anyone who is into gaming will be hyped to see what comes. It might be about their franchise, it might be about a maker, or it will be a little more generic. No matter how we slice it the next 4 days will be about that is likely to come, what will be hyped and let’s not forget the giveaways, free DLC codes and optionally the speculated hardware.

What makes the headline?

It is important to see the headline in this, and the headline is Google Stadia. We see several sources giving us information, yet the direct impact is there and it is less positive than one might gather. Let’s look at two quotes, first there is Techradar giving us: “A world in which all you ever have to do to start gaming is open up your browser, select a game and start playing – no lengthy download required. This could soon become a reality if Google’s cloud gaming service, Stadia, delivers on its promises – you’ll be able to go from opening a Chrome tab to playing a 4K, 60fps game, in five seconds, no installation required“, this seems awesome, yet I have been around long enough in this business to notice that when someone states ‘look left’ I also ‘look right’. So when I look to the right, I see PC Gamer giving us ‘Stadia 4K streaming will use up 1TB of data in 65 hours‘ and that is not a good thing. Now, we all accept that gaming takes power and resources, yet 4K gaming in a setting where in some countries that could set you back $1,000 per month is not something you want to consider. Here in Australia (no Google Stadia coming here for now), a person pays (when it is not unlimited) $10 per GB, so that adds up really fast in a non-unlimited contract stage, yet with unlimited there has been noise that above a certain usage the download speed gets throttled, so there could optionally be that risk to consider.

Before we start crying, there is the additional info given with “That works out to around 15.75GB per hour of 4K streaming, 9GB per hour of 1080p, or 4.5GB per hour at 720p“, when you have a 1TB contract, which is a lot, you get 65 hours, 110 hours, or 227 hours of gaming. So options 2 and three should be fine, it is a reality to face that 4K gaming is not immediately available for usage for all, and that is beside the setting whether you have a 4K TV or not.

Gizmodo

Gizmodo was a lot less positive (at https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2019/06/is-stadia-already-screwed/), and when we see: “We have an updated guidance here,” he said. “You actually need 10 Mbps to stream at least 720p, but actually, it could be higher depending on specific details of the kind of network situation or your game. And then to comfortably stream 4K—the best experience—we recommend 35Mbps.” It takes out all the wireless 4G players, they can pretty much forget about it and even in the lowest mode there will be issues, even if you are with a major Australian player like Optus, it is the direct impact of bandwidth and it is likely to remain an issue in the foreseeable future, yet only until you get 5G, at that point speed is no longer an issue, total usage might remain, but that is depending on the providers and no one has any clear information at present which makes sense for now.

The writer gives us: “as long as it’s streaming over a broken internet, it’s fucked” at the very end, which is only a truth for today, and even then it is still only a partial truth. Google has been playing the long game for enough time to know that anyone getting 5G will seriously consider Google Stadia, especially Online players in MMO games. It gets to be even better when you consider the Verge who has the list (at https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/6/18655380/google-stadia-games-list-cloud-streaming-service-e3-2019), It includes the newest games as well as other games like DOOM Eternal, Rage 2, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Final Fantasy XV, Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, NBA 2K, Borderlands 3, Mortal Kombat 11, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Just Dance, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, Trials Rising, and The Crew 2. I believe that to be a decent start of any service. There is a little too much uncertainty on pricing; one source gave me $10 per month for a pro license, which is not outlandish when you consider the game list. In addition Google Stadia has started its own game development studio, headed by Jade Raymond. A well-known producer who has earned her marks at both EA and Ubisoft.

In this regard, I believe it might be seen as a rocky start, but not a fatal one, in the long run Google is now set up to remain a force to be reckoned with. I also disagree with the view that Forbes has. Paul Tassi gives us trivialisation like ‘this offers something like Microsoft’s Game Pass the ability to eat Stadia’s lunch‘, which is true, yet Microsoft never fixed their problems, did they? Not in 6 years, and as he gives us: “While Google is indeed starting to develop its own games in-house, it could take years for those to arrive, and there’s absolutely zero guarantee of their quality when they do“, this is true too, yet the failing of quality by Ubisoft has been noted for years, what has he done about it to illustrate that? And when we saw the lack of Microsoft exclusives last year, the mention of ‘their lengthy roster of must-have exclusives‘ should be regarded as work in progress. That few to none part is easily rectified, and even the PS4 had loads of long delays for some of their games and exclusives, with the Ubisoft Watchdogs the delay was long enough to get your wife pregnant and still not being able to play the game until the child was born, so pot and kettle are both utensils of a similar colour in this setting.

Then we get the last overstated statement with: “but with 200 million consoles sold every year and untold number of gaming PCs“, I wonder how he got those numbers, over 6 years Sony sold 93 million consoles, Microsoft is on that same stage at 41 million at best and Nintendo in 2 years got to 34 million, so his math is in the toilet as well, unless he includes the handhelds which is a skewed finding, still there the 200 milllion a year will not be reached, not even close.

I believe that Google is an early starter in a stage where Microsoft hoped to get their Scarlett (whatever they named it in 2018) system, I am not sure it has a real chance, but I have been wrong before, it might work, Google on the other hand still has a lot to learn and optional plenty of promises to break, time will tell where they go, but there is space to succeed, especially when 5G arrives at homes it is then that Google Stadia truly gets an option to earn its laurels, and it is likely to do so.

There is a part that matters, Paul rightfully asks the question: “it’s hard to know how this actually poses a threat to traditional industry staples like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft“, it does not as such, but Google has the option to grow on the side, the fact that many consoles have online and multiplayer issues (mostly due to the software), we see the setting where this failing falls away (having to download massive patches again and again will not be an issue for the Google Stadia), MS Scarlett might have been the initial option, but Microsoft has issues and they have also been in denial of that to some degree (that is my personal view).

As I stated it will be a rocky start, yet those with a good internet stage and a decent income will have this option there as early adopters. For these people they have no interest in walking into a game shop trying to find a game, Google Stadia, like Netflix lets you browse and try and try and try, until you find something you like. It is optionally the stage where gamers are born and is Google Stadia the worst place to start gaming? For years people started their gaming habit on Facebook and was that such a hi-res 4K solution?

Paul Tassi asks good questions and they are real questions that need answering, but he also overlooks (as a hard-core gamer) on something he forgets. When a person wants to do 4K gaming, he needs a console or a PC, when you see the cost of a good 4K system; you have the risk of cardiac pressure issues. With Console, will you go Sony, or Microsoft? The fact that Google is now option 3, but not set in hardware is a choice, an option, one that was not there before. So what is needed? An internet connection and a TV, yes when you look deeper it is a 2 choice system, now with option 3. He is right, there are issues (for now) and I believe that with the arrival of 5G many issues will resolve itself immediately, yet at that point, will Google be standing as a survivor? I believe that with the right games it will and that too is the setting for the E3, how much more support for Stadia will we see. It seems that Ubisoft is on board and so is Bethesda, yet how many more players will commit to Google Stadia? That is where Google Stadia could win making unique or remastered good games. There are dozens who could become Stadia hits, 3 generations of games that are still regarded by some as excellent games, some are even legendary.

We will just have to see and wait how it all unfolds, there is plenty of space for a new player in this game and it also means that some of the other players will have to up the ante to remain a choice with consumers, which is equally a good idea.

Then there is another reason, for well over a year we have seen the stage: “a higher-end Xbox One X replacement as well as a less-expensive entry-level machine“, yet there is a host of issues especially with Microsoft, can the entry model update to high end? If that is not possible will we see any other impact on gaming? Will Microsoft keep their bully to ‘be online’ issues. Will Microsoft force advertisements on their consoles (like with the Xbox One)?

Microsoft has lost so much credibility (as I personally see it), the fact that the correlation between entry model and Google Stadia is so high that plenty might consider Google over Microsoft and I think that they know this. Another issue is how close Microsoft streaming service ProjectXCloud is next to Google Stadia, all issues that will optionally come head to head in the next 4 days. We can lose time reading on speculations or wait, I decide you need to wait and even better watch the live shows on YouTube.

The biggest issue will be on the last day, Nintendo have amazed nearly all with the Switch and all they have done in these two years, now that the larger games are due this year, it will be a sight to see, at the very end one or two little spoilers. It seems that Sony has gotten themselves in a little spot of hot water. Tom’s Hardware (at https://www.tomsguide.com/us/ps5-120hz-ps4-cross-save,news-30268.html) gives us: ‘120Hz Display Support‘, this is really good news if it was not for the fact that most 4K TV’s, even the ones from Sony do not support this speed yet, so yes the PS5 will be a sight to see, when you  get the TV that supports it. Then there is crossover play, so you can continue your ps4 games on ps5 forth and back (switching between consoles so you do not lose anything like friend lists and game saves, this is really good news, and a nice feature to have when you get the console in 2020. I have my mind set on that and do away my Xbox One completely, the one game I bought it for is on Sony as well now so there is no reason to keep it around any further, especially when it options me to remove Microsoft from all considerations, it is not like they have been considerate.

Even as it is about the games, I do hope to see some hardware as well.

See you all on the flip side, and don’t forget to seek the YouTube streams of the E3, missing out is such a drag.

 

 

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Bones and Boobs in gaming

Gaming has two sides, the hardware and the software side, or as some might call it the boobs and bones of gaming. We will look at the boobs later (desert always comes last), yet the bones are another matter. Forbes (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2019/06/04/there-are-tough-times-ahead-for-the-playstation-4-and-xbox-one/#3ca33e3562b4) gives us ‘There Are Tough Times Ahead For The PlayStation 4 And Xbox One‘, I do not really agree, and if so then mostly for the Xbox side, but the man makes a decent point and that is always a good reason to contemplate an article.

Bones

Even as he makes the case, I believe him to be wrong on certain matters. The numbers only partially support him. In case of Microsoft, they had a good run on the Xbox360 and they had decent sales even beyond the Xbox One launch. The reasons was that those with too small a budget decided to pick up a pre-owned console as those prices went down by a lot. Even today, people still buy Xbox 360 games, which is pretty astounding. The premise holds true for the PS3, from day one the PS4 was the child to have and for the next two years there will be plenty of people upgrading from PS4 to PS4 pro as Sony will be dumping the prices for that puppy. The market will slow down, but I believe that Sony has a good foundation to work with, Microsoft a little less so.

Nintendo remains the larger question in this. They are still ascending by leaps and bounds and even now we see in Forbes (three weeks ago actually) ‘The Nintendo Switch Just Topped The PS4’s Lifetime Sales In Japan‘, and that sounds overwhelming, yet the global numbers with PS4 on 97 million and Switch on 35 million gives the equal global sales towards the Xbox, but not the PlayStation. It has only been two years, whilst the other two have been around 7, the Nintendo Switch is still gaining momentum and it is doing so faster than last year. The fact that two of the most enticing (and addictive) games are free helps matters. With Fallout Shelter and Gems of war being great games to play on the Switch, we see a larger appreciation of the console. Nintendo upped the ante by handing all those with an online subscription (less than $40 a year), we see that they all get access to the old games from Donkey Kong, Metroid and Super Mario Bros, with dozens of additional games, all for free for those with the online account. It is one of the most enticing deals you will find in console land. As such the Switch goes on and on and on. That and the pre-owned market makes me oppose the view that Dave Thier has to some degree. the part that is also in debate is “I could even imagine PlayStation 4 sales recovering after the PlayStation 5 comes out and people realize they can still get good use of the old machine, which is likely to see a price-cut“, I believe that he setting is sound, yet I have seen Sony Marketing in action, as such they will cut prices on all options long before the sales recovery issue becomes a real issue for Sony. With exclusive titles like Last of Us 2 (2020), Death Stranding, Sekiro, Ghosts of Tsushima (2020), there is everything to look forward to and besides the fact that there are still plenty of people without a PS4 (or Xbox One for that matter), many of us (including me) still have not upgraded to the PS4pro (a budget issue), for many mainly because we have no 4K TV and that is the big factor (equally so for the Xbox One X), so as Sony starts bundling it’s console with a 4K TV, we might see another rush to upgrade. With several brands (including Sony) offering 55” or larger 4K TV’s for less than $1000 at present, the push for package deals will be very alive at the end of this year pushing the options of additional consoles right up to 2020 at that point the PS5 (and whatever Microsoft has) will become an optional issue. We have seen that many day one people held on to their previous console. I still have the PS3 and Xbox 360; I just never expected that the 360 would be higher regarded than the Xbox One (by me). These are all elements that play a part, as such I partially oppose the view Forbes gave us and I believe to be handing out the correct version (I have been proven correct often enough).

I agree with his slowing down part, but not to the degree he expects it, and the additional factor is not the slowing down, it might be: “New consoles pose question marks for the industry, and people are inclined to wait for answers before making large purchases“. I believe that to be the correct statement, but there was one other factor, it is 4K gaming and that is slow because the larger group of gamers does not have a 4K TV at present, as 4K will be the bees knees this Christmas, we will see a push to a much larger degree and Sony has an advantage over Sony here. It is how I got my PS3 and I never regretted that, especially as that TV was dirt cheap in those days, I expect Sony to do the same caper this year (and other brands as well), which is as I see it the larger stage for the difference between Dave Thier and me, as well as the large purchasing part, there is no ‘wait for answers‘ anymore on 4K TV, as such it optionally prevents a larger slowdown on the consoles and to be honest, you need to see Xbox One 4K with AC Origin to believe just how amazing 4K can be, it blew my socks off let me tell you that; and yes it was on a Xbox One X. Ubisoft & Microsoft actually got that part truly right.

Boobs

Yup, we got there, or as the Bloodhound Gang would state: ‘Hooray for Boobies‘ Yet the software is always a happy place for any gamer, whether it is Minecraft or Spiderman, seeing stuff in 4K is always reason to cheer. So when we look at value how angry do we need to get? When we are confronted with a AAA game (triple A game) we think it will be about quality, but it is not. It merely means that the game comes from a ‘mid-sized or major publisher, typically having higher development and marketing‘ and as I see it, it will be mostly about the marketing. So here comes Ubisoft who as far as I can tell is the only one who truly mangled and downgraded the IP of two franchises, namely Assassins Creed and optionally now Far Cry.

In comes a hard truth: ‘AAA game development has been identified as one environment where crunch time and other working pressures that negatively affect the employees are particularly evident‘, a given that is handed to us by Tweaktown and GamaSutra. In Tweaktown we see: ‘Ex-Ubisoft dev reveals the grim reality‘ with the quote: “it’s more like a mechanized assembly line than a dream job“, this might be a true stage, yet in all this it is not the creators, it is its board of directors as well as their marketing department. Like several software makers, setting a realistic goal is not something either department is any good at; the horrendous Far Cry 5 is clearly evidence of that. I completely disagree with the ratings that IGN (89%) and the 81% that Metacritic gave, I fall in line towards Digital Trends and their 60%. There should be a stage that games like that can no longer be called AAA games when its rating to become this below average. I even have some reservations on the games I traded in for this new version (at $23). Far Cry 5 infuriates me; they really had to do a better job. Not the graphics guys (gals included), graphically Montana is so overwhelmingly amazing that I would be willing to move to Hope County with the next available flight (if there is a decent job there). The story is something I leave in the middle. It is over the top, but there is a side that is actually enticing and you haven’t felt hatred until you are getting a tattoo on your chest by John Seed, the characters (even the over the top ones) are impressive. It is the game play itself that got to me in a massive way. To name just a few:

  1. Planes that touch a tree top dead in their track and in some cases end up on the ground in perfect working order without a scratch.
  2. Like the screaming eagles in Far Cry Primal (one every other minute) the stage comes when planes are there and they are there all the time, I have shot down enough to make a nation go bankrupt, but not for the Seed family, they merely seed more planes (or is that conceive?) And it is not merely me; I found hundreds of posts of gamers irritated by that, it seems that some people at Ubisoft are unwilling to learn.
  3. Spawn, not the Todd McFarlane hero, but the spawning of opponents. In a bunker scene (trying to avoid spoilers), the troops started spawning in front of me, which is a big no-no! This all indicates that the game was either never clearly tested, or the test results were ignored, either way that is an easy 20% degrading on any 89% score, so we are already on 69%. The fact that these issues were never addressed one year down the road implies additional failings on the Ubisoft front.
  4. Ballistics anyone? I love my sniper rifles, it gives me an edge and even in a bunker, the rifle can be a huge advantage, even if you only have 35 bullets to work with (unless you find more ammo). So when that rifle suddenly does not kill with a head shot, but only knock of the helmet, I am speechless. You see, anyone who knows their weapons would know that a helmet is protecting in nature, but the impact of a .50 that travels at 3,029 feet/second giving an impact of 13,350 ft-lbf (foot pound force) does not merely take off the helmet, it rips of the entire head. Now I get and accept that Ubisoft is not giving us that image, but to not see a headshot as an immediate kill is just stupid and silly. That should be 35 instant kills, even in the chest the power alone will crush the chest to death, and no Kevlar thickness in the world will stop that.
  5. The enemy avalanche. I get that throughout the game, it becomes more and more taxing, but the boss fights with wave after wave, where topless people keep running after 5-7 shots is just silly. And it is not 2-3 we get thrown into a stage of dozens and Ubisoft is unable to learn that wave after wave gets to be tedious and actually does not make a game better. Now there is an arcade more and I am not touching it, arcade is arcade and there the rules tend to be slightly different, which is fair enough. Yet in the normal game, Ubisoft makes the same mistakes we saw in Far Cry Primal and Far Cry 4. What was Far Cry 3 has become less and less (as I personally see it).

There is a lot Ubisoft got right too and the extra’s (like the Vaas outfit) and particularly the outfits you get when you have another Ubisoft game is cool, an immediate reward for those who have other Ubisoft games like the Rainbow six outfit is actually really cool to see (I did not have the game so it did not unlock for me), but the effort towards its gamers must be recognised. The bubbleheads (for in the car) if you have certain games is also cool and gives a little extra a fact that has always mattered to gamers.

Tweak town gives a lot more, but when I read: “When people realize they’re just one very replaceable person on a massive production chain, you can imagine it impacts their motivation“, I see it and it might impact, but that is an HR problem, not on my watch here, it is an element I care not for at present. There is also: “How do you get the right message to the right people? You can’t communicate everything to everyone, there’s just too much information. There are hundreds of decisions being taken every week. Inevitably, at some point, someone who should have been consulted before making a decision will be forgotten. This creates frustration over time” that is an issue, it is management that is either not there, not properly ready or even worse, it is ignorant. That also gives light to the connection of testing, an issue that Ubisoft has had for at least a decade. The experience that even now in Far cry 5, the event of looting a corpse and switching the weapon they dropped are nearly always overlapping, making a quick grab for ammo impossible and at times even disastrous. An issue not fixed since Far Cry 3. The article (at https://www.tweaktown.com/news/49863/ex-ubisoft-dev-reveals-grim-reality-aaa-games-development/index.html) had a few more items, but it was less important for me in this case. Gamasutra (at https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/282922/AAA_game_dev_lifestyle_is_unwinnable_says_veteran_game_designer_Amy_Hennig.php) gives a few more items, issues like: “There are people who never go home and see their families. They have children who are growing up without seeing them” get a different rating, it is either a lack of time management, or slave labour, one is a choice the other is criminal; you tell me which is which. Yes, I trivialise the issue here, but at some stage you need to recharge and if you decide not to do that, you burn out. It is the quote: “It’s pressure that rolls downhill and piles onto those behind the industry’s biggest releases, forcing them to go above and beyond to meet rapidly approaching deadlines” that hits pay dirt, they either haven’t learned to neuter their marketing department, or the board members have forgotten what realistic time frames are. Either way it tends to stop proper game testing and that is how we get a screwed up product and we have seen that from AC Unity onwards, Ubisoft has had way too many events like that. As such as we see the quote referring to ‘over-expectant publishers‘, the view we see matches mine pretty much flawless. If you cannot control your marketeers with their hype creation, you fall flat and you get the pressures that should have been avoided in the first place. The evidence is there too, for example Project red with Witcher 3 as well as Cyberpunk 2077. There no one is fussed about the 2020 release, we all know that they broke the mould with Witcher 3 and we want to see that again, we the gamers are willing to wait for excellence, mainly because it has become such a rare thing. A 93% rating comes at a price. It is the oldest stage of sales.

You can have something cheap, something fast and something good, but you can only chose two of the three elements, so the product ends up arriving slow, becoming a bad product or an expensive one, which of those three can you live with the best? Of those three the late arrival is the best (my personal view), but as far as Ubisoft goes, they got that choice wrong more than once, because they were unwilling to delay the release late, costing them points all over the place. It is me not liking Odyssey that requires me to quote Samuel Axon who wrote a massive story on ArsTechnica. He ends with: “Odyssey was not a perfect game. But it was the perfect game to win back this series superfan. It’s so good, I want to go back and replay older games in the series—even some of the bad ones—just to examine and appreciate the evolution“, I get his vision yet it is not my view on the game and that is fine. Ubisoft does not need to appease me, it needs to protect its IP and there we might not see eye to eye on the matter. This is fine, I am merely one view and that too needs to be taken into account, Samuel clearly had another view on the take and I accept it because the article (at https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/03/i-played-11-assassins-creed-games-in-11-years-and-odyssey-made-them-all-worth-it) is an absolute must for any Assassins Creed fan.

When I look back, no matter how much we like to stare at the boobies, when they are not the ones (or shape, or size) you hoped to see, the interest fades really fast (unless you are a hungry baby) and that is the core for Ubisoft, the absolute essential part was proper testing and fixing (optionally with a day one patch) is something they seemingly have not been steered towards for too long and it shows. As I see it, they efficiently massacred two IP’s at present; the question becomes what will happen with Watchdogs 3? When we accept (I do) that the second was way better than the first, I fear for the third, because they need to get it right. I only got Far Cry 5 well over a year later when it was sold at a mere 17% of the full price gives rise to what we are willing to pay. When you consider that this was a game with a budget close to $100 million and a rising amount of gamers will no longer consider it at full price, and even as it made $310 million, how much money did Ubisoft in the end miss out on? Going home with $200 more is still good, but what could they have gotten? I wonder if they learn this lesson too late, perhaps it is me and perhaps I expect too much from the gamers of today. I merely chase excellence in gaming, and a game that is created substandard will not ever give a feeling of excellence, which is sad on many levels, especially when someone forked out an 9 figure number.

Just consider that GTA5 made $6 billion so far, Red Dead Redemption had a $725 million opening weekend, and that list goes on, all games that have a 90% score of better. It shows when we see that (according to VGChartz) Far Cry 5 seemingly sold less than 4 million copies, God of war far beyond 11 million, and that is also set toUbisoft being on three systems, whilst God of War was on only one system. I see it as the main difference between a 70% game and a 95% game. A difference of 250% or better in sold copies. I reckon that Ubisoft needs to focus on quality a lot more than they are currently doing and that view is shared by global player on an increasing larger scale endangering Ubisoft initial revenue more and more.

 

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Epee and quarterstaff

It is an old riddle that goes back to the renaissance: ‘What do the Epee and quarterstaff have in common?’ The answer is that they extent reach. The lesson is that everything has its reach and the power remains when you do not exceed the 90% of it until you are either forced, or if you have a 100% certainty of causing a fatal hit. Making the mistake in those days meant certain death. Those days were not about points, it was not about bragging on besting a person, it was kill or be killed, plain and simple. A lesson that is 500 years old and Apple apparently never learned it. So in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/30/apple-iphone-sales-first-quarter-earnings) we see ‘Apple’s iPhone sales fall 17% in first quarter as flagship product struggles‘, what was interesting was: “The company made a profit of $11.6bn – ahead of expectations. But this quarter marked another quarterly decline in profit and revenue as the company struggled to move beyond the iPhone“, even as Apple is in a buyback phase to regain its heralded one trillion dollar company, there are still clouds in the background. It starts with the iPhone, an iPhone Xr 128GB is $1299, the not most powerful version of the iPhone Xs is $2049. Yet the competing Androids are $1499 (Google Pixel 3), $1599 (Huawei P30 pro) and $1699 (Samsung S10), those are all on the same, or in some regards on a more superior level; if we are concerned consumers and we are willing to step down a little we can get decently competitive phones for $449, that is what Apple is up against, you can shout all you want on how refined, elitist and top range your phone is, but the amount of people with that kind of cash available is dwindling down and Apple is realising that buying back stock and take control of the smacking they are about to get is indeed a wise choice, but so far my prediction remains that Apple is heading towards a 30% decline of net value is not unrealistic at all. Then there are the issues on the computer side of apple too. What Digital Trends called ‘Flexgate’ last January is still on the mind of many, and as they gave us the quote: “the stage light effect is caused by flaws with a cabling system that Apple uses to attach each MacBook display to the internals of the laptop. In MacBook models from 2016 and newer, Apple switched to a new flexible and thin ribbon cable, which over a long period of time can face fatigue and eventually tear as the lid is repeatedly opened and closed on the laptop” with additional information (at https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/flexgate-issue-plaguing-some-macbook-pro-owners/) we see that Apple has played the ‘presentation innovation’ card slightly too visible, so now there is a backlash. Then there is bendgate (iPad Pro bending), then we get in addition the May 2018 class-action lawsuit that alleges that Apple has “failed and continues to fail to disclose” problems with its butterfly keyboard. It says Apple’s actions are violating several competition and regulatory laws, including California’s Unfair Competition Law and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The lawsuit is seeking damages for the class, as well as an acknowledgement by Apple that there’s a problem with its keyboard design. This case is not over and done with, because it will be a global problem soon enough, so the steps that Apple has to take will take a massive chunk on their value and profit reporting within the coming year. Al these actions whilst they have plenty more issues coming their way. Now in their defence, the entire Flexgate could have happened to anyone, but proper testing does give light to these dangers, it is interesting to note that IKEA might have a better quality testing department than Apple does, which shows that Scandinavians optionally have a better idea towards exceeding customer service and keeping proper tabs on quality. This all before you realise that Tech Insider reported ‘Apple is squirrelling away money to pay for lawsuits related to its iPhone ‘batterygate’ throttling scandal‘ (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/iphone-batterygate-lawsuits-cause-apple-to-set-aside-money-2019-2) an issue that is still not done with and might not be done with until 2020. So when you see that list costing them optional billions, do you think that my view was unrealistic?

As they give us: “previous class-action suits have resulted in $US450 million judgments against the iPhone maker“, I feel certain that this will not get it done in this case and if they are really really lucky, it might only cost them $45 billion, you forget that the Euro courts are snapping at the heels of Apple as well, 27 nations all with a score of angry customers, we realise that there is always a cost to doing business and there is premium to pay when the limelight is set on what might call ‘intentional deceptive conduct’ and ‘batterygate’ fits that bill and then some. This is not the end; there is also indirect damage to come. This was given by Apple Insider with ‘Latest Facebook-related security breach finds millions of records exposed on Amazon servers‘, there we see (at https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/04/03/latest-facebook-related-security-breach-finds-millions-of-records-exposed-on-amazon-servers) that Apple was connected: “These include data sharing deals with companies like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Sony, plus people being able to look up strangers based on phone numbers submitted for two-factor authentication“, so when we see data-sharing, we think it is only Facebook, but sharing goes in many directions and what did Apple share? the entire ‘people being able to look up strangers based on phone numbers submitted for two-factor authentication‘ implies that Apple optionally has a decent amount to answer for, or perhaps better stated, there is plenty of issues brought to light that the Apple legal teams need to ignore, deny or carefully phrase into another direction, there is only so many fines any company can live with before the larger population bails and if that happens before December 2019 than my prediction of 30% could end up being way too optimistic, but I keep a conservative view on the matters for now. Consider the steps that Apple has been making, their ‘new’ iMac Pro, it is a computer that starts at $7,299, whilst the normal new iMac, a computer that would satisfy 95% of all Apple users is a mere $2,799. Now, I am not opposed to an overpowered computer, but consider the cost of creating it, redesigning parts and making it look more expensive, do the amount of buyers rectify for that? Is the ROI curve not massively overstated and when we realise that, is a company where its marketing is insisting on annual innovation not out of control? What is the price tag of that you reckon? It becomes even more laughable when we consider a review (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YwYZvmYecI) where we see the MacRumors channel giving us at 5:30 that the iMac Pro (2017 model) exports 4K video in 2:44, whilst the normal iMac (2019 model) does the same thing in 2:31, it seems trivial, yet remember that there is a $7,299 versus $2,799 in play and within 2 years the value of $4,500 was lost to the user, as such the life time value of an iMac has pretty much gone into the basement taking out customer loyalty overnight. the last time I looked, looking cool for a year at the price of $4,500 was decently overrated for most people, and it makes for a business case that the iMac pro could be regarded as wasted investment for its consumers soon thereafter (in some places they refer to that as: ‘warranty until you exit the premises‘.

These are some of the issues that Apple is facing and there are a lot more issues (yet most of those are actually trivial). It is there that we return to the Guardian with: ‘the company struggled to move beyond the iPhone‘, that and the 2018 iPad Pro Bendgate issue does not help any and that is where we see that quality assessment has failed miserably. The need to look innovative, lighter and thinner means that testing becomes more and more important. So when the consumer was treated to ‘Apple releases an official statement on reports that some iPad Pros have come bent right out of the box’ on January 2019 with: “Relative to the issue you referenced regarding the new iPad Pro, its unibody design meets or exceeds all of Apple’s high quality standards of design and precision manufacturing.”, and as such the consumer feels duped to say the least. One source also gives us: “Apple claims that the bending can’t exceed more than 400 micron–“the width of fewer than four sheets of paper at most,” which is a “tighter specification for flatness than previous generations,” the note says.

The tech note further states that the antenna splits “may make subtle deviations in flatness more visible only from certain viewing angles that are imperceptible during normal use.”“, whilst the image from MacRumors (at https://www.macrumors.com/guide/ipad-pro-2018-bending-issue/) shows a bending issue close to 1,000% of what they claim, making the issue rise to the surface and also gives a much larger light of additional class actions that might be filed later this year if Apple does not change policy immediately, so is my 30% drop still off? I already gave some visibility to that (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2019/02/24/future-through-the-sub-line/) almost 3 months ago, and I have not noticed any clear loud actions by Apple Marketing to counter the damage that this issue was bringing.

It is not what Apple claims to do, it is the failing on a few levels, the marketing on several product lines and the neglect of services that shows that not only is it struggling to move beyond the iPhone, at present they have very few options left to them in any of the product lines to set any stage of ‘moving beyond’ and that too will suppress growth to a much larger degree, and optionally for a much longer time. All that whilst they should have known when they started the Pro and high priced iPhone series that they are selling to people who demand perfection and high end quality especially at the prices that they are selling it at, at that point your QA department is the most important department you have, not your marketing department.

It is the direct visibility when you extent beyond your reach, you get hammered down and you get hammered down hard, in the renaissance that apple individual would not be defeated, that person would merely be dead and forgotten, I hope that this is the lessons that apple takes to heart because the treasures of 5G are looming and Apple might be out in the cold soon enough. I reckon that the $4.5 billion payment to Qualcomm is making that obvious and clear to all, which is news that was released only hours ago with: “As pointed out by Axios, Qualcomm will record $4.5 to $4.7 billion in revenue from the Apple settlement, which includes a “cash payment from Apple and the release of related liabilities.”” (Source: MacRumors).

Apple still has a long way to go to get back on top, I wonder if they ever will.

 

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Lifting the veil

Keith Stuart (the Guardian) gave the first reliable light less than 8 hours ago when he treats us to: ‘PlayStation 5: Sony gives the first details of its next generation console‘. We see a lot of digital techno babble (for the non-technical readers), what is important in first light is a positive and a negative. The positive is seen with “a custom graphics processor based on the forthcoming AMD Navi family, which will be capable of real-time ray tracing“, implying that the new PS5 is only inches behind today’s top graphics cards and on part what the PC could maximise in 2020, that is indeed a graphical leap that has not been seen before. Then we see “an eight-core CPU based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen processors“. This is good in a number of ways but let’s not blindly focus on the 8 cores. In the end gaming is about good games. What does seem to be implied is that Ubisoft has a unique option at present, it could get ahead of the crowd with a massive leap if they do their homework and if they focus on the result and not listen to whatever idiot is the voice of the shareholders and/or marketing, because that will end them right quick.

They have the option for a truly new Watchdog and optionally a few more of their franchises, but only if they focus, the next AAA rated at 65% could end them if they lose focus; the fans have become weary of Ubisoft and what they market and subsequently not produce. A similar stage is there for Bethesda, even as they have a lot more credibility. They have the products, but they need to have a much better QA team. They will not survive a second Fallout 76 that much is showing to be the gospel of gaming. When we see the specs of the PS5 we cannot even imagine what FromSoftware will be able to pull off, but we cannot wait to see. There are more players, especially with the implied God of War 5, even if they merely get an equal to god of War 4, people will sleep in front of gaming shops to get the game at first light, and so far we know that these makers always surpassed the previous versions, so we cannot wait.

Yet this gets us to the other place, the one negative one. You see, we might hype behind “a solid state drive“, yet the ugly truth is that space is expensive in solid state mode. Even as the current price of $975 for a 4TB drive is a lot and that price will be 30% down in 2020, the truth remains that 2TB will not cut it and we do hope that Sony is not stupid enough to follow the short-sighted path that Microsoft is on, they are now merely console number three and optionally before 2021 a number 4 out of 5. We get that we might start at 1-2TB, yet as long as the space is there to upgrade to 4TB the fans will be OK with it, selling that item short is the most dangerous path one could be on and 3mm makes all the difference. Even as Microsoft Marketing is trying to launch hypes around Xbox Two, they have already lost the faith of so many gamers that the stage now is set to them trying to repair damage in the first year of console release; this is totally difference form both Nintendo and Sony who are now steaming ahead at full throttle. Even as we get the Sci-Fi versions of what the Xbox Two might be, too many people are no longer willing to trust Microsoft at present and that is hurting them at the starting bell for a lot more than they are willing to admit to. I only they had actually listened to the gamers, we are not willing to trust them with their words: ‘We listened to gamer and this is what we came up with‘, they will bully always online, they will bully their Microsoft Azure needs. This is the consequence of doing what shareholders tell you and disregard the customer, it is a failed model and I have seen the fallout of that for well over two decades in the field.

So whilst others need to worry about the market share they lose against Nintendo and Google Stadia (optionally against Apple too), Sony has decided on the path that gamers desire and with one optional flaw they are on track to surpass themselves. It gets to be even larger if initial social media plans come to fruition, yet there is no evidence that this is in any way happening. what is interesting is that the winning path of Sony is pushed to a much higher level whilst Microsoft is still clinging to “Securely store player data, dynamically scale your gaming experiences to more than 50 regions, and save money as your game grows with Azure” and even as some give us: “Google may have stolen the show at this year’s Game Developer Conference with its Stadia cloud gaming reveal, but Microsoft is hard at work on its own service, xCloud, that it’s already testing now. At a GDC developer session yesterday, Microsoft representatives from the xCloud team gave us a little more detail into how games designed for Xbox consoles will translate over to mobile devices, where players might be used to either a Bluetooth controller or on-screen touch controls“, some need to see a reality, not only are they outgunned against Google (Stadia), the fact that the fact that I do not accept any Xbox game to be played on a mere 6” mobile, we now see that the entire concept of ‘gaming’ is seemingly slightly alien to Microsoft. This is all about stored player data; this is about data and facilitating for the capture of it.

Do you really think that I could ever enjoy Forza Horizons IV on a 6″ screen? That game is the reason why people buy a 75″ 4K TV in the first place. So not only is Microsoft failing its gamers, their own marketing department is failing both. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of games that play nicely on a Mobile, some games can be played at any place and screen (Fallout Shelter, Gems of War), but the premise to make it all go to a mobile display is almost insulting to the people who went all out and created Forza Horizons IV for the big 4K screens.

This matters!

This matters as it shows the people that both Sony and Nintendo have been on the right track all along, the Nintendo sales figures show that, the head start of Sony shows it and now the top two will vie for their audience and even as Sony is ahead, it cannot relax one moment, Nintendo is too good at what they do and it is what the gamers want, Sony knows that too.

for now we see the PS5 for what it is, an optional beauty to replace our PS4 with, the fact that it is still a year away (optionally 17 months) is not something we are sorry about. The PS4 gives loads of entertainment to all its users and is highly likely to do so until the PS4 hands over the baton to the PS5, that is how it works and even then the PS4 will keep gamers happy for the longest of times, just like the Nintendo GameCube did whilst people were buying the Nintendo Wii in force. For that too is gaming, it is like our favourite pair of shoes or wallet, we hang onto it a little longer than we should, we grew attached to the device that brought so much joy, something Nintendo accepted and Sony forgot just a little too easy.

 

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Updates

First of all

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

The writing is on the wall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In second place

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

In combination

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

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

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

 

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The impact of insanity

This is not going to be a nice article, it will not be positive and it will not be one you might like to read. It is not on how Nintendo is growing evermore, how people can remain happy playing Mario Kart. We heard all the negativity in the past, and now (4 days ago) we get: ‘Nintendo’s Bold Switch Sales Target Could Be Achievable After All‘, the news that I predicted over a year ago, which did not become a reality, I predicted that the Microsoft Xbox One life time sales would be surpassed by Nintendo by an expected end of January 2019 was not met. It seems that I am off by 8 weeks. So, under two years the total lifetime’s sales mark, the mark that took Microsoft with their most powerful console in the world got slammed, crushed and obliterated by Nintendo in two years. Some say it is insane, I merely see it as the opposition of the need for actual fun that will trump looking cool every single time. It goes further when we realise that 15 of the 20 highest selling games in Japan are all Nintendo Switch games. The game is changing and even Sony is worried for the first time ever. Now, we know that for the life cycle of Sony, the PS4 will remain to be in first place, but the fact that Sony is worried is unheard of. It matters because after the PS4, there will be a PS5 and Sony needs to up the game by a decent amount. Not essentially in hardware, they need to get their game up in software. An issue they never had before, not since the very first PlayStation. It is all set to the stage of IP and Sony knows that this will be a hard time for all things Sony. If that was not enough, the fact that Smash Bros surpassed 5 million copies in global sales in one week is also a milestone that Nintendo loves, yet never expected to this degree, fun is everything, it is a life marker for all of us and it is out in the open.

In opposition we need to look where fun is not found, where fun does not make it. It is the stage of Yemen, when in Jordan the talks are breaking down regarding the Yemeni conflict. With the quote: “Negotiations between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebel representatives broke down in Jordan’s capital, Amman, with the Yemeni government accusing the Houthis of providing a fake list of prisoners“, it might be true, it might not. It is dependent on the right data, the right intelligence. So with: ‘Yemen’s warring sides fail to reach agreement on prisoner swap‘ (at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/yemens-war-agreement-reached-prisoner-swap-deal-jordan-190119164117438.html) we see the escalation returning. The matter becomes increasingly worse when we consider the SF Chronicle (at https://www.sfchronicle.com/world/article/Fuel-from-Iran-used-to-finance-rebels-in-Yemen-13547149.php). Here we see nothing new. The headline: ‘Fuel from Iran used to finance rebels in Yemen, UN panel finds‘. We knew for the longest time that Iran had been financing and supporting the mess in Yemen, many European papers stayed out of it all as there is an important issue revolving the Iranian Nuclear deal, a joke on paper and not worth the paper it was printed on, which was my personal opinion. So I gave my support to the side of Saudi Arabia in all this for several reasons, the fact that Iran was guilty of too many transgressions and no one was willing to openly step up to the mark. Today I am changing that game by adding my own insanity. Even as the UN recognises certain steps, the inaction of too many is appalling and I am making a massive dangerous alteration, because I can no longer sit on the sides. As we were introduced to: “The latest report said a small number of companies inside and outside Yemen operated as front companies using false documentation. The panel said it found that the fuel was loaded from Iranian ports and “the revenue from the sale of this fuel was used to finance the Houthi war effort.”” It is now my turn to wake up the others.

I made a second mention in ‘The Elephant Room‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/10/23/the-elephant-room/) where I devised a method to take the Iranian navy out of the equation and it might optionally work on the USS Zumwalt as well (that ship to too ugly and expensive to be allowed to exist). The idea came from a famous Dutch bank robber named Aage M (70’s). He robbed banks in the most novel way with a thermionic lance. He went straight through the concrete (next to the door) and looted the place. I altered the device concept (see image). Now it should work on vessels too. One ring of Magnesium, the flotation device is pure oxygen, pushing the Magnesium ring against the hull, when ignite, the heat will keep the flame going on under water (at 2200C mind you), the flotation device will push against the bottom of the boat melting the hull in that location, making a rather large hole, when the end is reached the C4 ring explodes and totally screws the inner hull six degrees from Sunday. The nice part is that the device would require no more than an estimated $100K-$150K. At that point the hole will totally change the floating principle of that much steel (with less displaced water).

If my idea was correct, the Iranians could lose their Sahand, Moje and Alvand class frigates. In addition, when properly timed, it could in addition take Dryabany base Mahshahr out of the equation. It would not defeat Iran, I have no delusions in that regard, but when Iran suddenly has such a bitter pill to swallow, the idea that one civilian achieved that, if successful it would force them to become a lot more civil. Their funding of Hezbollah and the funding of the Houthi would hopefully end forever, especially when their own turf is no longer safe. The idea is not perfect, I have a few parts in the deployment device (stealth based) that are not adding up, but the waters there work in my advantage, which is nice but not good enough. You see, until you are willing to commit, it is merely a thought, a flight full and fantasy founded one, yet not realistic.

If a snow globe gave me the idea for the meltdown of a (Iranian) nuclear reactor (as well as both the Wasp and Piranha valves), what could the mind perceive at the sight of a dough mixer?

IP is not merely about applied innovation, it is a path to create something new and that was exactly what I did, even as my mind feels more comfortable designing stories and games, a sidestep to hardware is never far away, I was able to prove that a few times over. So as the US Navy is given: “American taxpayers have bought a fleet of three warships—at a cost of $8 billion each!—that are still looking for a mission. Not only that: the ships are missing their key weapon, and Congress—which rarely rebukes the Navy—recently ordered the service to strike the two that have been delivered to the fleet from its roster of combat-ready ships“, I had the opposing idea at no more than $150K. How is that for warfare extremes?

When we are shown “The vessels represent a case study of a program run without adult leadership. Its contractors and admirals were blinded by ambition that had little to do with providing the fleet with enough hulls to patrol the world’s oceans, but everything to do with maritime hubris that didn’t pan out. “They just started putting all sorts of requirements on the ship without really understanding the cost implications,”“, a military apparatus that has no concept of reality and the US taxpayer is down 24 billion with nothing to show for it, my idea would have costed them $6 million, and now I will add it to the world of public Domain for null cost. I still have a few 5G implementation ideas to go through, so I am not shy if idea’s. Those ideas include a new keyboard. Even as we see all those fancy new keyboards, they are all surrounding the same tiring idea, they call them novel but they are anything from novel. I got the idea when I remembered the time when we were not devoted to our remote control. I suddenly thought back to my old 1988 colour TV and it gave me an idea of a very different keyboard, a keyboard where it is about the key itself and that gave me a new implementation of what could be truly a new keyboard, one that might look odd and many might not like it but at least it is in a direction that we have not been in ever, when did you last see a device that did that?

The line between genius and insanity is a lot thinner and a lot more blurry than most people are comfortable with considering. This does include the novel idea that I am not a genius, I am merely a closet case insane person, yet my willingness to measure myself against other settings slightly removes that option form the table. I could also put the entire Trump administration against myself as I see that they are willing to push hundreds of thousands of people into hunger and destitute merely to get a wall build, one that has no hope of actually being a success mind you, but there you have it.

In addition, in my view I am not stating that the Saudi involvement here is all innocence; the alleged airstrike a mere hour ago would be ample proof of that. From my point of view, the delaying tactics from the Houthi forces have now met with the end of patience and the Saudi’s have had enough. Can we judge? I have to say, not at present but a lot will depend on how the entire mess is presented soon enough and will the media give us an honest non biased brief? I truly do not know, I hope we will know tomorrow. Yet, that is not the end of it all.

You see, we have not seen the levels in America regarding polarisation since before the McCarthy Administration and it is having a global impact (and that is before the Chinese elements are added to the equation). I personally see it as a larger political failure in America. The entire ‘Russian interference’ part has been dragged out for the longest time, yet what is there?

When we accept Wired (a reliable source) we get: “The Mueller indictment permanently demolishes the idea that the scale of the Russian campaign was not significant enough to have any impact on the American public. We are no longer talking about approximately $100,000 (paid in rubles, no less) of advertising grudgingly disclosed by Facebook, but tens of millions of dollars spent over several years to build a broad, sophisticated system that can influence American opinion“, I do not doubt this, branding, marketing and awareness programs all work in a similar matter. Most do not invest that much, but the larger players (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Huawei, Apple and Google) have all used similar methods to give rise to what they offer and sell. So why would that be different for an election? A place of position is just that, a place of position and that place also gives rise to other profits when properly used. We see that in Europe as talks prolong with Iran and Turkey to get a standing, they are at that point in a place of power and removing them from such a place is what would enable progress. So that is where we see the tactics evolve, but in America there seems to be no evolving tactics at all, it is all emotions and media, hoping to get a resolution. So when we see (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/model-apologizes-in-claim-of-russia-election-interference/2019/01/19/f919f22c-1c08-11e9-b8e6-567190c2fd08_story.html), the stage of ‘Model in Russian court apologizes for US election claim‘, where we see: “A Belarusian model and self-styled sex instructor who last year claimed to have evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election said Saturday that she apologizes to a Russian tycoon for the claim and won’t say more about the matter“.

This leads us to: ‘A Russian Sex Instructor makes the headlines in the Washington Post? Are you fucking kidding me?‘ In this we get the stage where Anastasia Vashukevich (aka Lady Sex Education) and Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska (Mr Billionaire) and also CEO of Basic Element, he is worth well over 4 billion dollars and they are both getting way more visibility. Now, with Oleg we get that someone this rich and successful would be taking the headlines in all this, yet the American way of just pasting any claim without proper vetting of facts is now a much larger issue, especially as the vetting of facts and the exposure of certain players (like Iran, Turkey and Hezbollah) was been faltering in many ways. So even as we find a little giggle value in the accusation and there might be a case where Oleg has at least the funds and means to influence an election, yet with the US in such an economic state, it might be just a lot more beneficial to invest a mere 2% and grow his businesses in Europe and over the Middle East, that is the common sense thing to do.

You see, that is where we need to look, especially as the perceived escalations all over the Middle East continues. We can laugh and state that Americans are all taking ‘crazy pills’ but that is not the whole truth, that path only works with massive levels of facilitation and that is where the mystery starts. One source gives us an uncomfortable re-enactment. WE are given: “Yesterday’s Pre-WW II Germany is Today’s U.S.A. I remember as a child sitting in history class and watching the videos of the horrors of Nazi Germany. All of the kids asked the same question “how could the people let this happen?” We had both a school system and parents who were adamant about ensuring that we were aware of what occurred, how so many ignored the problems, and then later how so many supported what became the Nazi regime. All of what happened then is the same that is happening now. Fascism has familiar characteristics and the only difference is we have more technology to deliver them today. The desperate and the stupid are easily brainwashed and since they lack critical thinking, they will believe anything.

I believe that this is not the whole truth. I believe that there is a level above the middle level and below the higher echelons that is desperately depending on the current financial status quo to continue, with Wall Street calling the shots. That time is over and many are afraid, we can see the elements in play. Those in Europe connected to the ECB, praying that some Turkey deal is possible, hoping that some Iranian Nuclear deal will turn the economy around. It is too late for that, but they will not listen to common sense. The USS Zumwalt is only one of several examples where there is orchestration, not one, but a dozen orchestras all playing at the same time, all implying chaos, but it is not that simple. Those with blinders, only seeing and hearing one small part hears that one orchestra, the rest think it is merely noise, merely awareness of whatever comes next, but there is no next, there is no continuation, minus 20 trillion should be evidence of that, yet the people will not listen. That same stage is seen in Yemen. Even when we accept a part of it, the part that there are still allegedly 600,000 mines out there, when we accept only 50% of that number. When we do the math and we realise that the conflict started 4 years ago, we need to realise that it required 200 mines a day to be placed, 200 mines a day, every day. How many resources does that take? Now consider that Yemen never ever had this amount of resources (especially the mines), now we get to that part that matters: ‘Just how deeply was Iran involved from the very start?

That is the important part, because for 4 years most nations did NOTHING! And that is where we see the insanity of inaction, and let’s not forget, I am only taking on 50% of that claim, at the true expected numbers, this stage is a nightmare and we all let it happen. Yemen will be a death zone for many years to come, the impact of mines will continue for many years and whatever progress we think we make there is seemingly fiction, so as I decided to add to the fiction by placing the hardship on the transgressor Iran, I feel that I am doing the right thing. At least I am doing something, which is more than we can state from the media and their inaction.

The impact of insanity is doing nothing and hoping it will resolve itself, that stage was never a real one and that has been proven since long before WW1 was going to be a reality. The impact of insanity is a real one and it is a highly physical impact as well, we remain in denial, we remain in denial in a time where denial is not merely unrealistic, it is a choice where we merely harm ourselves in the short term as well, how is that healthy?

 

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It’s all about the funny, not the money

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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