Tag Archives: Ubisoft

Upping the game

Today started with a nice revelation, Microsoft has taken the sales offensive. Even as we were treated to ”Bethesda’s online action role-playing game “Fallout 76” won’t be available on Valve’s Steam platform during beta or when it launches on November“, the story changes when we look at the PC games in the Microsoft store we see: “Pre-order to get access to the Fallout 76 B.E.T.A.“, so it seems that Microsoft is setting the bar really high, in addition for that part the game is equally available on launch day for those who have the Microsoft Game Pass. The Game Pass is $11 a month solution (in Australia); you get no option to buy the pass for a year (as far as I could tell), which is a drag, and you better have the download options (not to mention the storage) before you commit to it, but there is no denying that it is a deal that is way too good to be true. Microsoft even offers a 14 day free trial, which implies that the games are only available to play as long as you are a member (this is speculation!), not unlike the PS Plus setting. The pass has XB1 and Xb360 backward compatible games and it is a HUGE list. It includes a list of the upcoming top games to be released this year makes the Game Pass an essential choice. The Pass at roughly $130 for a year) will include well over $600 of AAA+ top games, yet to be released in 2018. So apart from the download hassle the pass represents hundreds of dollars of saving in this year alone. I personally believe that they messed up some of the visibility and marketing, but that was their choice. The smaller issue is the backward thinking cap of the US, for people outside of the US (Australia for example) games (when bought outright) are roughly 28% more expensive (and that is after I corrected for the exchange rate). There are also ‘shadows’ here. I do not believe it to be, but there are. For example one source gave me “These eleven Xbox Game Pass games are “leaving soon”“, I cannot tell whether they will also be removed if you have added them to your library (so check this when you decide), the second shadow needs to be mentioned as the quote was: “Personally, paying for the Xbox Game Pass program and Xbox Live Gold is quite a monthly cost“, which is ABSOLUTELY BOGUS! The Xbox Live is a service subscription to play multiplayer, so if the Game Pass title has that, then yes, you will need Xbox Live as you always would have needed it. For the simple player part it is not needed, just as the setting is today. In addition ‘quite a monthly cost‘, is silly to say the least, even on a budget, the setting is that you have Xbox live $80 and Game Pass $130, gives us full and complete access to $12,000 worth of games for $210 a year, anyone debating whether that is expensive needs to get their heads examined. Now, there is no way that you will like all games that would be silly. Yet the setting now allows for you to try games at $0 that you would never have bought in the first place, a setting where you can grow the games dimension that you are in. I believe that to be a really great setting. The part not mentioned is of course the downloading time and subscription fees of the internet, even as those prices have been going down, or better stated giving you more download at the same price, it is a cost you need to consider, yet at the setting where you get access to $12,000 in games, which represents more than I have ever bought in a lifetime across the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One together is an astounding part you must remember. If only Microsoft had thought that hard drive issue through in 2012, things would be even better for them. I still see that as the one Achilles heel in all this, yet with the rumoured new Console (Project Scarlett) announced for 2020, we do know that Game Pass is a long term setting of gaming for Microsoft and whatever sets the console will be optimised for the billions that Game Pass will bring in. In all this we might ramble too early on the storage issue, but it is an issue Microsoft knowingly and willingly ignored and in all this ‘the most powerful console in the world‘ is impacted through it. In addition, I have had the longest issue with Microsoft marketing (for various reasons, so as Microsoft states in Windows Central: “Xbox Scarlett hardware will ‘set the benchmark’“, I tend to get nervous, you see, they have no idea (well some idea) on how gaming evolves, yet in the end, we will not know what will be available by 2022, so at that point any console will be merely on par, 14 months after it is bought. I moved to console gaming as the update for a PC in 2002 went overboard. Processor and graphic card showed that you would need $2500-$3000 to be up to date for high end gaming and that got you roughly 24 months at best. So gaming with the additional $200 a month, as well as updating drivers, patching and whatever else needed made me move more and more towards consoles and the Xbox 360 delivered perfectly for almost 8 years (at $700), so the cost of living was set to the games bought not to the additional cost of upgrading the hardware to play games. An awesome setting, Yes there was the one off for the hard drive (from 20 to 120 gigabyte, at $119 at that time), but it was well spend. In the end I bought 2 Xbox 360’s, the second one was essential as I got another red rings of death 75 hours before the release of Fallout New Vegas, so I went: “Eff That!” and got the one with the 250 GB drive and it still works, so apart from a high blood pressure event once, the Xbox 360 was a golden choice for any gamer. I also had the PS3, which had the option to upgrade the drive as the PS4 had, so in all this the entire hard drive issue was out there for 12 years, ignoring that part (as well as always online bullying) angers me, because there was never any need, for none of it.

Why does it matter?

It is a level of orchestration, pushing people into a direction before they are ready (and perhaps they never will be). In this Cambridge Analytica is a larger hurdle then anyone imagined and the gamers are sketchy under the most stable conditions. Hackers, phishers, cheaters and trolls are always around the corner and it is best seen when you investigate ‘League of Legends’, I never played the game, but the amount of messages giving way that the victims of bullying and trolls are worse off than the perpetrators is why there should be an online ‘off’ switch. It is essential because the resources needed are allegedly not used correctly (debatable if that would have been possible), and the systems do not have the settings to protect players. The option to just play offline for a while is perhaps the only pressure valve that works (not on all games though), so when we look at MailGuard and we get it in regards to Office 365 (just one day old): “The cunning thing about this phishing scam is that once the victim has entered their username and password, the fake login page redirects them to a genuine Microsoft website, so they think that nothing is amiss. Meanwhile, the criminals have collected their login credentials and are able to steal their online identity for all kinds of nefarious purposes, like fraud, invoice falsification and malware spamming“, Microsoft needs to realise that they have a larger issue and they cannot fix it (basically no one can). Well it is possible, some of the kids involved have been identified, and by shooting them in the back of the head and leaving a message with the parents to start taking notice of what their kids are doing you get change, although some might find it a bit extreme (an issue that is probably a setting for the eyes of the beholder).

Why the extreme example?

The issue is not merely being online, the issue is that too much is online and even if we wanted to apply Common Cyber Sense all the time, there will be a hiatus and when it comes, it will be at the wrong moment in the wrong place. At present the actual success rate on finding and convicting cyber criminals is less than 2%, it is even less when we realise that not everything gets reported. It is in that atmosphere that game streaming is about to be set to a much larger extent. A setting that is based on mere authentication and not on non-repudiation (uncertain how achievable that is at present). You show me a company that guarantees you 100% safety and I will introduce you to someone who is lying to you. As the gaming industry is a $100 billion plus market, the issue was forever that gaming was low impact (for the most), people had more often than not a physical copy, there were more and more parts that one had to overcome, so for cyber criminals it was not an interesting market. Yet with the upcoming changes to the gaming environment it changes, all is online, all is set on central servers and that is when BlackMailWare and RansomWare will become a much more lucrative business for those targeting gamers. Even when you think it does not happen, what happens when your online account gets scrambled, your passwords changed from the outside and for a mere 0.01 bitcoin you can get it back. Systems like that are already used, some will consider that paying $88 is preferable to waiting and losing scores, statistics and access to files with the logs of hundreds of hours of playing a game. When you see the time some invested on games like Diablo 3, Skyrim, Fallout 4 and now upcoming Fallout 76 you get the optional setting where ransom might be successful. And the setting of ‘always online’ makes the threat to console gamers a lot more realistic. You merely have to google the issues on League of Legends and World of Warcraft to see the impact and it is much larger than some think it is. You think it is simple and an adult thing to live with, yet when Microsoft has to explain that danger 250,000 times to the non-technological mother and father of a 16 year old playing and suddenly losing all access, perhaps being permabanned in the process as well, at that point the game changes quickly.

Having a decent non-repudiation solution in place might limit the damage to a larger extent, but that system does not exist for gamers, mere authentication and even when upgrading the issue is not the 100 that do, it is the 15,000,000 who haven’t. this is part of the setting that Microsoft faces and it is facing it on a daily basis with Microsoft 365, where the users are (for the most) adults, so when we get to the console it becomes a different setting. This is why the console evolution is a little more treacherous. When the gamer has the option to remain offline (when needed) he/she has options, when forced online they fall away. Sony got hacked a few times (at least twice), with millions of accounts and the details in the open, the damage was larger than some expected and I reckon that most avoided damage was because the overwhelming amount of gamers had physical copies of the game. So offline gaming was never impacted, merely the multiplayers losing a few days of access.

Now, with Game Pass that would not be an issue and the optional overall damage of $210 (two subscriptions) are easily tended to, in the worst case scenario you pay for it twice and a few weeks later it is either refunded, or you are all paid up for +1 year.

Now, let’s change the setting that the Business insider gave us one month ago. With ‘A desperate hacker tried selling US military files for $150 — only to find no one wanted them‘ (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/hacker-us-military-drone-files-for-sale-2018-7), this seems hilarious, until you consider the following facts, the first one is “The hacker, who is believed to reside in a poverty-stricken country in South America, said his internet connection was slow and that because his bandwidth was limited, he did not download all the files prior to finding a willing buyer“, so it is in a low yield place, the second one is “The hacker also tapped into live footage of surveillance cameras at the US-Mexico border and NASA bases, and an MQ-1 Predator flying over the Gulf of Mexico“, we still have a sense of humour, live camera watching! Yay! Now we add “the vulnerable computers were taken offline, which inadvertently cut off the hacker’s access to the files“, OK, it happens, sometimes a computer has a missed security patch. Now we add ‘a maintenance manual for the MQ-9A Reaper drone, a list of airmen assigned to a Reaper drone unit, manuals on how to suppress improvised explosive devices‘, is seems harmless, right? Yet when you consider that this was a professional setting where the person had access to “documents belonging to a US Air Force service member stationed at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, and documents belonging to another service member believed to be in the US Army“, we see the setting where Military security was circumvented, from a close to powerless place into Military hardware. so when we are confronted with “enough knowledge to realise the potential of a very simple vulnerability and use it consistently“, we see the first part, the second part was given with “The Netgear router vulnerability, which dates back to 2016, allowed hackers to access private files remotely if a user’s password is outdated. Despite several firmware updates and countless news articles on the subject, thousands of routers remain vulnerable“, this is a setting involving adults (one would hope), they cannot get their heads right and you are submitting teenagers and gamers (in a non-professional setting) to those exploitations. Microsoft can market all it can, and to some extent they can fix some parts, but the ‘always online‘ will still be out there and that is where the damage gets to the people.

The prosecution fail rate makes it cool and interesting to go after gamers and the many hours of having to download games will at some point present an opening for hackers, that market is growing and it will hit gamers, there is close to 0% avoiding that.

The question becomes, how ready will Microsoft be? How much resources will be impacted on their customer care and customer service when it hits? The Xbox 360 gave them the red rings of death issue (which went it happened to me was fixed awesomely, it merely took 3-4 weeks), which is acceptable as a new console was shipped to me. The setting when it is in cyberspace, the game changes as a million accounts could be affected. Some hackers will be creative and resort to a low corruption setting (like the dBase virus), some will merely download and wipe, the fact is that even if it is resolved, it will take time to resolve and that is where gamers lose patience really really fast. My setting to buy another console to fix it is one example (I had the funds when it happened), yet what happens when you are in the middle of a Diablo 3 season, which is time restrained and someone ransoms your access? In current setting the damage is partially avoidable; the new Scarlett setting leaves the partial part up for debate. In addition, as the number of people resorting to that path increases, the interest to mess with that part becomes a lot more interesting to Cyber criminals.

In this we need to look at the other side too, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) gives us “cybercrime is costing the Australian economy up to $1 billion annually in direct costs alone“, when we look global, we see Experian with the quote: “Ransomware attacks, data breaches, theft of intellectual property, sales of counterfeit goods and other illicit activities are generating at least $1.5 trillion in annual revenue“, so globally, when gamers are added to that list of victims, how high will that priority be? Do you think that they get prime time consideration, or will the party line become ‘the best and easiest thing to do is to just start again‘, I was told that by Microsoft when my Xbox one profile got somehow damaged in the first year. Now try the setting with access, invested cash and time and tenfold the amount of open targets. From my personal point of view, when there is an Office 365 impacting against the Xbox Red accounts wiped, how many resources will Microsoft have? I am certain that the business customers get first dibs on whatever they need. Now this last part does not count against Microsoft, it is merely the lesser of two high cost evils, it is reality.

Even as Microsoft is showing that it is upping the game on gaming and consoles, it is also upping to optional damage and hardship to gamers. I say optional, because in the first, we have no idea what that red box will be doing, we have no idea what the settings are for near future gaming (in 16 months) and we do not know how certain changes will actually impact the gaming sphere, but Sony has shown us that the dangers are real.

In the end, we see that Microsoft is upping the game when it comes to gaming, there is no denying it, yet how the future will pan out and whether Microsoft has truly upped the game for gamers is still to be determined. That is not a negative thing, because any expectation for the future is merely speculation, yet the dangers to their gamers will increase by a lot and that part remains the question mark in all this. Some could have been prevented by a lot, but Microsoft is clearly steering into a settings where adherence to ‘always online‘ is the setting they demand, one way or the other. Even if the prison has golden bars, it remains a prison and that part needs to be clear. The fact that gamers do not get the choice in the matter is what matters, not only from the cyber threat side. Congestion is a growing concern on a global scale. Even as Bill Morrow, Chief Executive of NBN Co. was idiotic enough to initially blame gamers for the congestion, the truth is that against 4K Netflix and YouTube, gamers are not even a blip on that radar, yet congestion is a present and growing issue, so there is a problem there too. The system is already under pressure and globally 200 million gamers when a large slice of that pie is set to the streaming and virtual copies of games only come into play, congestion will rear its ugly head and those gamers become more than a mere blip. Consider that Bethesda shipped 12 million units to retailers within the first 24 hours of Fallout 4, and consider that a large chunk of these people will immediately download the game on launch day of Fallout 76. so optionally up to 12 million people all downloading a game that is also stated to be 4K, so we are looking to around 100 GB download, that is merely one game title, it will be in a time when there is plenty to download and even now, as we accept that most are physical copies, the truth is that gaming in that way will add to the congestion in a really big way. Most providers are not ready and it will impact the gamers, Netflix users and Stan (the list goes on for a long time) are merely part of all this traffic. I named Bethesda and they are merely one of many players in all this. Microsoft, Ubisoft, Bethesda, and Electronic Arts; all people pushing (or getting pushed) towards the virtual release only side of things down the track.

Why does this matter now?

One of the big events QuakeCon 2018 starts tomorrow and that will also be the place where more specific information will be given by the actual makers on more than one title by the way. It will be important on how games are moving forward. It is not merely Fallout 76 (one of the biggest titles anticipated) that is in the upper limits of gaming on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation; it would potentially give the direction of where they are going with the Elder Scrolls VI. Merely two Bethesda games that literally has millions of followers, so there is an essential need to take notice of Bethesda for several reasons. This reverts back to Microsoft, because Bethesda games have a huge following on all platforms. It also means that in that setting (set against the rumour that Fallout 76 is online multiplayer only, yet you can play the game alone) any congestion will topple game joy completely. We know that there is enough experience with Elder Scrolls Online, so it is not the setting that Bethesda is going in blind in any of this, but at the same time the gaming dimension is changing at the same time, so that change is impacting in more than one way; that is the push that Microsoft is going for, which is all fine, yet at that that point we will be faced with more outside interference factors and congestion is a real factor, one that players will be confronted with to a much larger degree in the near future.

If Microsoft gets that all right, then it will be picking up momentum in a scary way and at that point the question will be, can Sony match this? I personally love that part, if we see a setting where Sony and Microsoft push each other to new heights is great because in all this, the gamer ALWAYS wins! And over time this push is a realistic one, yet in some places we will optionally see a time where the providers cannot match what the consumers need and that is a new setting for many gamers. In the past we merely accepted what was available, in the new setting you get to play based on what you pay for and that is something we have not been confronted with. Anyone thinking that this will not happen; think again! It might be the selling point for people to switch providers, but there will be a clear setting of borders, borders that set what you can do and that is where we see the overall cost go up, yet to what extent is a clear unknown for now.

 

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The state of the gaming union

We see that there is a lot to rejoice about, yet there is in equal measure the need to take a moment, to stand still and realise that we have come to the crossroads. Some might realise that crossroads aren’t merely places where you take decisions, it is also a place where an 18-wheeler drives over you and that driver will not even notice the minimalized bump in the road that you at that point represent.

For Nintendo the initial ‘bad news’ moment is seen (at https://gamingbolt.com/jefferies-analyst-believes-switch-sales-will-see-a-slowdown-this-year), where we get: “even Jefferies’ Atul Goyal, widely considered to be the most optimistic of all analysts when it comes to Nintendo’s prospects on the market, has slashed his price target for the company by more than 10 percent, attributing his depressed outlook on a concern that Nintendo’s sales for the Switch in 2018 may not meet expectations“, which is an interesting way to put the setting, where we see that in two years, even with diminished sales, it implies that in March 2019, 38 million Nintendo Switch consoles are to be sold. Reconsider the number; by March 2019 Nintendo will crush the total lifetime sales of the Xbox One. So when I hear the utter BS approach on the ‘not the metrics of success‘, I wonder if they actually had an overwhelming presence, if they would be in the same stack of those in denial.

So as Variety gives us (at https://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/xbox-one-sales-1202796674/) the quote “Microsoft reiterated that it still doesn’t share the number of Xbox One sold, but this time explained why, noting that it’s using a different “key metric for success.” “We are continuing to look at engagement as our key metric for success and are no longer reporting on total console sales,” a spokesperson told Variety“, which is nice in a pigs eye. You see it is only 25 years ago when we were drowned in facts like: “The number of licensed users of Windows now totals more than 25 million, making Windows the most popular graphical operating system in the world“. That was nice, we agree that they did some good in those days, or should I say that this does not the reflection of a winner when they are left to announce that ‘the most powerful console in the world‘, is about to become the worst selling one. The fact that they always thought themselves so much better than Nintendo, with what some insiders hinted at was technologically not as powerful (that was a statement on the Nintendo GameCube against the first Xbox). Now that this so called overpowered console is merely number three is what I expected they were heading, the moment the world presentation of the Nintendo Switch was on everyone’s YouTube screen.

Now that the realisation is here (well almost) on their retinas, now they change the metrics. Its fair enough, they are allowed to do this. It is how you present a failure, one that could have been prevented 5 years ago. Now that the second tier of opposition could move against Microsoft, they need to realise that implied settings are up. With the need for new directions, we see that Microsoft now goes into other directions on marketing a new setting. Wired gives us this (at https://www.wired.co.uk/article/xbox-scarlett-game-streaming-xbox-two), with “However, the Project Scarlett rumour suggests that rather than its tried and tested business model of releasing a high-powered console to sit under your TV, the potential successor to the Xbox One will instead be a bespoke unit to stream games from the cloud” we see an optional path that could optionally backfire even more. You see, the shift that is speculated on with: “The prevailing rumour, spotted by Thurrott, is that Microsoft will release both a traditional console for high-end enthusiasts – likely building on the powerful Xbox One X, released in 2017 – as well as a cheaper model that will be streaming-only“, so how long until we see congestion on a new system, whilst the previous developed system is just too shallow? That and the overbearing marketing that every console shows are in equal measure showing to be aggravating to too many gamers at present. So when we see “Although Game Pass titles are downloaded to your local console, it could show Microsoft is developing a server structure to support streaming games to players in future. The Xbox Game Pass payment model would also be easily transferrable to a hypothetical ‘Xbox Cloud’ subscription for owners of the proposed streaming box“, we do see a solution that works from the Microsoft point of view, yet as games get bigger, and when we consider the recent blunder by intellectually challenged Bill Morrow of NBN when we were treated to “Morrow “didn’t ‘blame’ online gamers for congestion on the fixed wireless network”, because the real culprit is “concurrency” (that is, too many users hitting the network at once with bandwidth-hungry applications. Like video streaming. Or gaming), “in addition to higher-than-expected take-up and consumption”“, so he rephrased him blaming the gamers, yet with ‘Like video streaming. Or gaming‘, that whilst the clear evidence was that this was clearly the wrong statement to make. Two replies give us “Online gaming requires hardly any bandwidth ~10+ megabytes per hour. A 720p video file requires ~ 500+ megabytes per hour. One user watching a YouTube video occupies the same bandwidth as ~50 video gamers. The NBN chief might not be suitably qualified for this role.” So as non-qualified as Bill Morrow is expected to be, the second part is “The NBN is unable to cope with current demands, so projected increase in demands points to a crippled system in the near future. Billions wasted and potential destroyed“, this now reflects back on part of the speculated Xbox Johansson, nay Scarlett. You see, when those on a small budget are forced to stream, apart from the internet connection that they might no longer be able to afford, gives us that the Australian NBN congestion is pressured by an expected few millions of Scarlett users. Yup! That should solve it and even as we see an increasing amount of congestion articles pop their heads up; we see Microsoft moving into a cloud set streaming solution. So instead of fixing the flaws they had, they merely push their heads in the sand and give us another path to frustration. So as Network World gives us: “As enterprises accelerate their move to cloud, including the growing trend toward cloud office suites, such as Office 365 and Google Suite, where users expect LAN-like performance, challenges are mounting. According to Microsoft, Office 365 is growing at 43 percent, and as of the end of 2017 was boasting 120 million active users. A 2017 survey by TechValidate noted that despite increasing both firewall and network bandwidth capacity, nearly 70 percent of companies experienced weekly network-related performance issues after deploying Office 365. Gartner’s 2018 Strategic Roadmap for Networking, released earlier this year, noted that nearly all enterprises will need to look beyond MPLS and at re-architecting the WAN to optimize for cloud“, Microsoft is now ready to push as many gamers as possible in the setting where minimum packet settings are stretched to the age of 8-bit gaming. Yes, that was always going to be a good idea. Oh, and if you think that this is harsh, consider those providers taking the cheap way out initially in offering 5G like services on their 4G systems. Yes, these are different systems, yet the WAN is still used to push data across and now add 10 million players all downloading the speculated size of an 85 GB 4K game, so how long until that starts backfiring?

Now, we understand that Microsoft had to act and over time, the cloud would actually be for some a solution, that whilst we need to store the games somewhere, so what happens when up to 30 million Xbox gamers have to download amounts like that on a weekly foundation? How long until the pricing setting of the internet changes? How long until gamers are pushed into a corner on usage? When those gamers actually need the bandwidth of those watching 4K movies via a YouTube solution? This goes a lot wider than merely Australia and the UK, when we look at current congestion in New York, New Jersey, California and Texas, when those points get a setting that is no longer YouTube to gaming as 50:1, now it shifts to 4:1. How long until systems start to buckle?

Lets all be realistic, we do not know what the Xbox Scarlett is exactly, but the setting that the lifespan of the Xbox One X is to be less than 2 years, that is still a setting that is worrying for anyone who bought the Xbox One X this year. In the end, Wired speaks about the ‘genius step’ and gives us “Those who favour a physical collection, lack sufficient internet speeds, or simply want the bragging rights of having an incredibly powerful console can get the latter, while more casual or progressive – depending on how you view it – players can opt for a streaming device with an ever-evolving backend. With Sony and Nintendo investigating streaming, too, it might not only be Microsoft betting its future on the clouds“, we need to realise that the setting of ‘lack sufficient internet speeds‘, is partial denial. It is the setting of congestion that comes with the setting that gamers are likely to face as everyone is downloading the Netflix and subscription fee software solutions. All this did not require the New Xbox Scarlett; it merely required the Xbox One to have decent storage, something many have thrown into the faces of Microsoft. And there is nothing against the Scarlett, over time (2021-2023) that need would have optionally been clear, but in this stage where bandwidth is a bottleneck in many places, now it is about lousy timing, whilst we see the lack of care towards the gaming community by Microsoft. So even as they are in a stage where they look at ‘different metrics‘, the chances of many more future ‘former Microsoft fans‘ are moving to another platform.

In all this Sony has been on a similar step, we saw that with “Sony has been experimenting with cloud gaming through its PlayStation Now service since 2015, which allows players to stream classic and contemporary PlayStation titles to both PS4 and PC“. We see that there is in part a path here, but the setting that we need to see is ‘classic and contemporary PlayStation titles‘, games that tend to not go beyond 5GB, just like the Xbox 360 Games, and it is a perfect and as Microsoft is re-enabling those games on the Xbox ne, their gamers rejoice, no one denies that, yet try that with AC Origin 4K at 105 GB, or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey 4K 110 GB (speculated). Now stream that to all those users. There are no clear sales numbers for AC Origin (over all systems), but it goes into the millions, AC Origin was able to recapture many lost fans and that is likely to press towards even better sales of AC Odyssey. So when those are all cramping the networks, how long will it take to get it all on the systems and more important, is there even space for that game on non-PC systems?

This is the state of gaming. We are faced with more needs, better connection and more bandwidth. Some of it will be felt no later than the end of the year. The question becomes is it mere folly from some?

Is it folly or foiled folly?

With Microsoft that is hard to say, the steps are not outlined, so we need to take care not to rely on rumours until the official unveiling is done. Even the more reliable places (GamesRadar and Wired) are full of speculation and ‘expectations’, which is a dangerous setting to have. Even I am in a dangerous place, because my speculations are based on several settings, but not on the official word from Microsoft (which has been a lot less reliable lately). I personally believe that the hardware and OS fixes could give the Xbox One X at least 2-3 years, whilst we see the optional maturity of GamePass and other streaming solutions. No one denies that these paths will give options and opportunities, but remain sceptical on the setting that is relying on an infrastructure that is showing fatigue and dangers of buckling in several places, angering Microsoft gamers even more, in a time that Microsoft really cannot afford angering their gaming population.

All this is about to be the second round in the console wars, we have seen the equally speculated setting of the PS5, and there are already the speculated articles on how one is better and more optional in versatility then the other. Yet in all this Microsoft never stopped harassing the users, even after it had to back paddle on ‘always online‘, this is a setting that is still fresh in the mind of players, so there is that issue to consider, in addition, all this comes to light AFTER the Nintendo Switch will have surpassed the Xbox One total sales within 2 years, so there is that stinging pain for Microsoft to consider. In addition, the Nintendo Switch hit Sony equally hard, even as Nintendo cannot surpass total sales of the PS4, the monthly sales has set Sony to the number two spot behind Nintendo, so they too need to up their game. Even as we see that the Sony following is massive, the next generation will not be about total consoles, it will be about software sales and at present Nintendo Switch is breaking all the records.

I also predict that there will be a shift in gaming on another level. As we see the records that Fortnite is breaking, we need to realise that the indie developers are going to be a lot larger next time around. We have seen great work from some of them and even as we will not deny that Ubisoft and Bethesda take the lead, the Gran Turismo of outer space (Elite Dangerous) has now surpassed 2.75 million copies sold, in a multi-billion dollar industry that mile stone gets noticed by everyone. Add to that Subnautica, one of the most original RPG survival games this decade, which is now at the 2 million copies market, all three makers realise that as software sales is king in the next round, the indie developers will take a much more central role in gaming than ever before. I still have high hopes for the slightly delayed remastered masterpiece called System Shock. Nightdive is showing to up the ante by a fair bit and even as some have played the game before (close to 100% of all kick-starters), the setting that we forget is that some titles are even grander then the original was, because the remastered edition gets to enjoy 20 decades of gaming evolution, whilst the gamer was unaware of that shift. The same is seen with the new Resident Evil 2, so when it comes to gaming, some of the amazing works in the past are likely to be even more overwhelming in the new jacket, so as consoles are given new opportunity to create engagement, both Sony and Microsoft have forgotten to adhere to those levels of engagement in almost equal measure. There are other opportunities here, but that lies with some of the visionaries that also heeded the calls I made last week, making me correct in all this one additional time.

Even as the future of gaming might be uncomfortable to some degree for one of the players, it seems clear that overall gaming remains gaining forward momentum, that is, unless some will rely on congestion not to become an issue ever, at that point all bets are off.

Yet, for the Switch, their prospects are actually better than ever before, even as some claim that the targets will fall short by 10%, the selling for games in Japan alone surpassed the 5 million mark this year, which is actually excluding all the sales in the eShop, so they are already making quite the leap forward. In equality, Microsoft with GamePass is seeing large gains there too, giving us the clarity that the gaming future will be about the software sales to a much larger extent than ever before.

 

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The academic colour

This goes back to me having a very young age and in those days we had a saying in chess: ‘white begins and black wins‘. It had nothing to do with race, it was that those in reaction have a benefit; we can play whilst considering in response what the opponent is doing. It is a mere tactic, some you win, some you lose, yet overall, I still believe that the one moving first is out on a limb until the game unfolds and as long as the player using black comprehends the moves that are set, that player has an advantage, the size of that advantage is how quickly white picks up on the countermoves by black.

Yet, I made the race connection and here it is: ‘Trump administration moves to rescind Obama-era guidance on race in admissions‘, the Washington Post headline (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/trump-administration-moves-to-rescind-obama-era-guidance-on-race-in-admissions/2018/07/03/78210e9e-7ed8-11e8-bb6b-c1cb691f1402_story.html) gives us a dangerous setting. The issue is the reasoning behind it is what matters. The quote starts us with: “rescind Obama-era guidance to colleges and universities on how they can use race in admissions decisions to promote diversity, according to an administration official“, yet I am not certain whether that is a good setting. You see I have had my share of tertiary education. I was lucky to some extent and I finished with three post graduate degrees, one a Master. I have lived in many places where diversity was the cornerstone of education and I expected that to be the norm, yet we all know that it is not.

If we look at the Pre-Obama era and take the sport players out of the consideration (Football and Basketball), the racial diversity is pretty much non-existent as I see it. Even now, if we look at American education and we take the top 30% we get a really skewed view of ‘educated Americans‘ it is seen even better when we look at the census. We see (at https://www.census.gov/prod/99pubs/99statab/sec04.pdf), the fact of educated people, and even if we realise that the percentages are all going up, the setting that in 1998 that 80% of those with high school were white and merely 50% was black, that is a number that matters, in a diversity given setting, they should be a lot closer together, not 30% apart. The Hispanic community is much closer to the white one, yet still trailing. When we look at the next step, those with 4 years (or more) of college, we see that Caucasians lead with 25%, that against Hispanics at roughly 12% and blacks at 10%, that is a problem, there is no level of equality. Any civilisation that truly embraces diversity and equality can see that these numbers are just wrong, and as such changes, many large changes are essential. Now, we can argue with the Obama setting, or find a way to improve it, not rescind it.

There is another setting that we see (at https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/p20-578.pdf). It makes no sense to completely chew the report and mull over the entire spectre of data, yet the one that lighted up were those with advanced degrees. 8.2% Black and 12.1 were Caucasian, what was interesting that the Asian group is 21.4% surpassing all others. There is a change and we need to earn what that is, because here we have a shift in success. The numbers seem to add up more evenly (after 20 years) between black and white, yet the shift starts from Associate degree and later, that is where we see the numbers drop. Yet in all, how was this weighted? You see, the counts give us White with 168,420, Black with 25,420, and Asian with 12,331, so a setting so uneven is unsettling, because this implies that if there is weighting that it is too unbalanced. That issues grows even further when we see (at https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-02.pdf), the setting “This report looks at our nation’s changing racial and ethnic diversity. It is part of a series that analyses population and housing data collected from the 2010 Census, and it provides a snapshot of race and Hispanic origin in the United States. Racial and ethnic population group distributions and growth at the national level and at lower levels of geography are presented” is one that I cannot agree with. We see in 2010 223,553,265 (72.4%) white, 38,929,319 (12.6%) black or African American and 14,674,252 (4.8%) is Asian. If we go from the (I admit a wrongful set assumption) that there is equality to some degree, that if we take the black population as part of the white population as comparison, there should be some equality between the educated and the ‘actual’ population (yes, it is shallow, I know), they should be close together, yet they are not, they are 2% apart and when you consider it reflects a total of 200,000 students (roughly rounded), the African Americans lose out on a few thousand completed education seats and that is actually a much larger issues than anyone realises.

I will not tell you what the reason is for the difference, because it takes someone a lot more clever than me to do that, but the data (even when not optimally used) should not add up to this. In equal measure I feel that I need to disagree with Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity. We see: “He said it was appropriate for the administration to ditch policies that had encouraged schools to weigh race and ethnicity in deciding where students would be assigned or admitted. “Students should be able to go to a school without regard to their skin color or what country their ancestors came from,”“, I agree with the premise he states, yet we already see that the African American population are getting short changed for a few thousand higher education seats and we need to find out why that is happening, because if diversity can lead to academic salvation of a nation, we need to change the books and values most held for granted. This is seen in the Teacher Education Quarterly, Fall 2008 in the article by Rita Kohli called: ‘Breaking the Cycle of Racism in the Classroom: Critical Race Reflections from Future Teachers of Color‘, we see on page 178: “Eddie came up to us and asked, “Ms. Wright, I don’t got no lunch money, can I sit in your room and use the computer?” Ms. Wright was a seventh year White teacher who received a lot of respect for the high academic standards that she held students to at this underperforming school. Ms. Wright immediately responded, “I am not going to answer that question until you speak correctly. How can we say that in proper English?” We both looked at Eddie, waiting for him to rephrase his words, but instead he calmly replied, “Maybe not in your house, but in my house that is how we speak correctly.” Ms. Wright and I were both caught off guard and a little speechless, and Eddie just stood there un-phased, waiting for us to let him use the computer“, it is there that we see the reflection on “what I was not conscious of, until Eddie so confidently pointed it out, was that although differences exist in the structure of African American Language (AAL) and Standard American English (SAE), at this school, we were actually teaching a hierarchy of those differences (FairesConklin& Lourie, 1983)“. The article goes on regarding racial issues that are beyond my comprehension, as my life has been very different, yet this one setting where we see that the cards are already set against the African American population in a mere AAL versus SAE setting, these kids have not even made it to high school and they are already at an advantage, I cannot even perceive the disadvantages that the Native Americans face in such a setting. But that small setting can already impact thousands, thousands of students who could be the prospering African American minds that America desperately needs. Let me state it in a simplified way, the mere setting of AAL versus SAE would not prevent any African American becoming the next Mary Frances Berry, Stephen L. Carter, Patricia Hill Collins, Roland G. Fryer, Jr., or Rhonda Vonshay Sharpe. Hell, I’d be happy just to get another James Earl Jones so we get to enjoy a really good movie that is relying on zero special effects.

The issue is that in a true society, race is not the deciding factor. Or as I see it, when we look at the average year of a university we should get a racial setting that approaches the national population. That will never be true, because some are more driven to be successful than others. You merely need to see the Asian graduation numbers to see that some drives are inherent to family values and history. Yet, they should not be as unequal as we currently see them and that is why I am not on the side of Roger Clegg, even as he might be completely correct.

I also need to raise the issue that we see with: “Harvard University’s use of race in admissions has come under scrutiny in a federal lawsuit that alleges the school has discriminated against Asian Americans. Separately, the Justice Department is conducting its own civil rights investigation of Harvard admissions. The university denies wrongdoing and says its methods — weighing race and ethnicity as one factor among many in a review of an applicant’s background and credentials — conform to decades of settled law“. I do not think that there is anything that Harvard is likely to have done wrong, I merely think that the system has stopped working correctly and we need to see if another mould might do the trick in getting it right, yet the setting of ‘weighing race and ethnicity ‘ might be the wrong path. You see, weighing is dangerous, even if we use it to set towards a path of minimum inclusion, which is a good thing, most tend to see it as a reference line to exclusion, which is a lot more dangerous. The old setting that has been going around for the longest time is ‘will that person succeed’, ‘will that person contribute’, ‘will this not be a failure’. The third is important, as it highlights my issue with a place like Ubisoft for the longest of time. To set the stage of something not being a failure is also the stage of creating mediocrity, for those who are not willing to put it all out, they will never create something truly exceptional. In gaming those are the games that are that are scoring 97% or higher. You merely have to look at the track record of Ubisoft to see that I am correct. The next group of upcoming billionaires are not created in Wall Street, they come from the streets and high schools; they figured out on how the next generation of technology (5G) can be harnessed in productive ways, the will start something new, whilst those around them will try to copy and mimic that creativity. We forgot all about the creative arts, the one side that does not rely on AAL versus SAE, it relies on vision and that matters, because vision allows to create that what does not yet exist and growing that group with academic skills is all that matters, giving them the comprehension of tools and concepts is what allows them to link one to the other and that is where trillions are created. I came up with three systems not by pushing the boundaries further, but by inverting the process. We do not need someone who solves the next small clever iteration, we have thousands of that, we optionally need the one solving the puzzle of CELL(150) (or is that CELL(182)?), it cannot be created here, but when you figure out where it could be found, you solve two other puzzles and that is where we need to look.

We don’t need another John Paulson; we need another James Edward Allchin. As data speeds go up, the systems that need to store are becoming the bottle neck in all this, and whilst everyone smiles and points at the cloud, we will see some people losing the plot, and some sales figures will point at the Cisco QoS: Congestion Management Configuration Guide. We will see clever articles on “control congestion by determining the order in which packets are sent out an interface based on priorities assigned to those packets. Congestion management entails the creation of queues“, it all sounds so easy and so logical. Yet the truth is that most have no clue. You see, 3 billion people using the peak of 5G (2024-2027) will impose  levies of congestion on nearly all systems; some cannot even keep up now (a jab at Australia’s NBN). It is very serious matter and even as all the players are in the dark. So, someone, who was into painting night skies would optionally get into astrology and whilst that person decided to paint a starry night outside Lambert Montana, the thought: ‘What if I stored it that way?‘ came to that persons mind and then considered the storage that mother had in the kitchen and things start falling together. It would never have worked in any other way, sometimes the biggest fluke is actually the brainwave that solves a lot more than we ever considered.

Exceptional solutions are not grown or trained, they come from people with vision and growing those people into levels of comprehension towards analytical and critical thinking is what gets the golden eggs that change everything. True wealth is not following or being better, true wealth is being first and pushing the boundaries for everyone else. Mark Zuckerberg might be the clearest example, but he is not the only one. And when we consider that some of the solutions were seen as early as the 70’s with the benefits of VAX/VMS whilst the connection of one with the setting 5D optical data storage and now replace that ‘contact lens’ for a hollow cylinder where the inside writes and the outside reads and you’ll end up with a storage system that offers no less than 250 Petabyte, has a half-life of well over  an eon and is 75,000 times faster than anything found in the Pentagon (at present or in the next decade). You merely need to reset the mind to not adhere to the current rules of any proclaimed captain of industry (especially the self-proclaimed ones). And whilst you laugh on the CP/M part, consider that it was equal to anything else and was merely surpassed by IBM because they relied on business sense and marketing, not on technological advantage. Oh, and whilst you giggle on VAX/VMS, it had full 64-bit addressing around 21 years before Microsoft, it also had version control and decent security at least a decade before Microsoft or their Windows 95 version had a decent setting towards security, so looking back at what the ‘old guys’ offered is never the worst idea.

So when we change the given and make 5G the weakest link in speed, we will finally get to the hardware that will give us a true advantage, although I merely want it so that I can call Sundar Pichai, telling him that the Bristlecone processor is the slowest link in my computer system and I need a quicker chip so that I can enjoy a nice game of Pong, because that is how weirdly warped my sense of humour is at times.

#RealtimeIsJustTooSlow

 

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The E3 end is nigh

Yes, we are 24 hours away from the end, the end of the 2018 E3. Now it is time to see how the chances of my earlier predictions are. The biggest player involved is Nintendo. From the very beginning two years ago at that E3, we were shown something new and it was clear that Nintendo had a winner. That one presentation gave us the goods. No matter how we all sliced it, we were not ready for the tsunami of acceptance from players on a global level. I think that not even the big bosses of Nintendo had a clue just what kind of winner they had. So as we saw how sales records got crushed, I saw the issue and the nightmare that Microsoft faced. The most powerful console in the world would be surpassed by the weakest one. My lifetime view of fun over hype got proven correctly against a console with a few hundred million dollars in development. Now we see how far the 26 titles are coming. Nintendo started with giving us the party and group games, all focussed on having fun, as well as a linked new Pokémon games where the game can link to your Pokémon Go mobile games and get across the Pokémon’s caught, it is a game changer. We also saw a game that allows 4v4 multiplayer, so as we are seeing on the more and more Switch abilities, we are shown a path where Nintendo will increase its sales in the near future by a fair bit and of course the free Bethesda games were announced, as well as Wolfenstein 2, Fortnite (another free games), Battle Royale (out now) and a lot more to come some from new developers, some well treasured games from the Nintendo past. So the second issue I expected is actually becoming a reality, Sony will need to up its game. Nintendo will not overtake them, but it will be able to narrow the gap and as the family fun label is very clearly shown, Sony will without a doubt lose some expected revenue towards Nintendo. So instead of people buying 5 PS4 games until the end of the year, they end up selling 4 and Nintendo gets the 5th, which implies a 20% lessened revenue. The fact that the Amazon top 10 included 90% Nintendo Switch games is merely one piece of evidence. Just as we accept that every Xbox lover will get Forza Horizon 4, the Nintendo Switch will have the same with Super Smash bros. As we were shown ‘everyone is here‘, we are looking at every fighter in Super Smash bros history is in the game, so as you start with 10 characters, you will unlock the hundred plus fighters over the course of the game, and it is not done in a dull way. Each character with personalised attacks, and there is no substitute for Snake sneaking up to Pac-man and Kirby. If only Snake knew the deadly opponents he would face here. If there are parents that want to be the cool parents, you better pre-order this game today, because it will definitely be sold out on day one. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the massive amount of stages to fight in, controller options as well as amiibo compatibility, this game releases December 7th, too late for Saint Nicholas and Thanksgiving, but in time for Santa Clause (pun intended).

This all before you realise that this is a four player battle arena, so the challenge and the hard-core fun is not going to stop any day soon. So Nintendo brought the goods and then some! So even as this is merely one game, it is the one too many were waiting for. Yet it is not the end of the innovations that Nintendo brings. Free Fortnite was a lovely surprise for everyone, yet the addition is that “you can use any standard 3.5 mm headset for online voice chat, which is a feature that no other game offers on the system“, online chat in a team battle is pretty much a dealmaker, so the Nintendo will be for many the system of choice, especially when they are travelling. It seems that from now on, no road trip will be complete without the Nintendo Switch. Yet, Nintendo left us hanging with too little on the 26 games announced, in addition, there were expectations on the new Pokémon game, but that stayed absent, it is not a deal breaker and perhaps they want to wait for the Pikachu and Evee games to have their time in the limelight, it makes marketing sense, yet at times the E3 is not always about making sense. It is the one part that only Phil Spencer and Todd Howard really got right at the E3. In addition we see the upcoming Starlink, a new Ubisoft game that will be an absolute blockbuster. I can tell you about it, but the Verge will do it better (at https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/11/17449232/starlink-ubisoft-preview-ps4-xbox-switch-e3-2018). Here we see “Starlink: Battle for Atlas takes place in a large sci-fi universe, which spans seven explorable planets that you can seamlessly travel between. Each world has its own wildlife and ecosystem, and there are different factions battling among themselves, vying for control“, a kid friendly mix of Star Wars and No Mans Sky. So as we make a balance on the games, it is clear that Nintendo has the gaming goods that equal what PS4 and Xbox One has, yet all these titles are kid friendly and family founded. It might not seem like much, but it is. You see, there is more and more noise from parents regarding ‘game addiction‘, yet more often they worry about the environment they are in. I am not sure whether it actually is, but the perception is there. So as we see the clarity of the family friendly setting that Nintendo has evangelised for the longest of times, parents feel safe with a brand like Nintendo and that will sell, especially as some kids have exhausted their bandwidth on mobiles before 50% of the month is gone, so the math is exceedingly simple that the Nintendo Switch offers a break even point within 6 months, that too is a selling point, and the absence of bloodshed and violence in Nintendo games makes the consideration for parents a lot easier. These two elements will drive Nintendo sales as well, and now with the upcoming games this year alone, seeing a $375 solution that has all the assuring sides that other consoles do not offer (from a parents point of view) implies a stronger growth option for Nintendo. I personally think that the setting of others is not wrong, but comes at a price. Battlefield 5 feels like it is about overwhelming the player with chaos, the Division 2 is about engaging and the Switch games are about fun. I believe that all three are valid paths, but the Nintendo one is too hard to resist. You see, we all want to engage like in the division, enter the overwhelming chaos of Battlefield 5, yet we are often in the mindset that we just want to have some fun. That path is becoming more enticing to many players and they feel like that a lot more often than before. These players will most likely all have a Nintendo Switch on the side, sooner rather than later. This is what makes the Nintendo the stronger player for now and as the engaging levels of Nintendo remains, that interest curve is the Switch will keep on growing. If there are 20 million Switch players out there today, than the chance of 5 million wanting to get Super Smash Brothers is merely a low conservative estimate. That implies an additional quarter of a billion in revenue before the end of 2018. That is nothing to be sneered at and that is also the clear signal from Sony to up their game, because that many gamers will merely increase the sales curve of the Nintendo Switch soon enough. It does not stop there. Business Insider (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/best-buy-listing-hulu-netflix-streaming-nintendo-switch-2018-6), several sources are now on the setting that Netflix and YouTube are heading to the Nintendo Switch as well. It changes the game as the overwhelming amount of apps and free games tend to drive sales as well. Consider Fortnite and Fallout Shelter being free games. Now add Netflix and YouTube and this console is becoming nothing short of irresistible. Nintendo played their cards right and that impact will both Sony and Microsoft, there is no denying it. Nintendo got its homerun and we will see lot more Nintendo Switch systems in almost every corner of our lives, it is utterly unavoidable.

We have one more day of E3 and of course the many deals that all the players are offering during this week. Microsoft has been reducing prices by a lot, so did Sony and some stores are giving up to 75% discount on some titles. So this is a great week to get the 1-2 titles you never wanted to pay full price for. As the E3 ends, we will all await the games we want the most to be released yesterday. For me personally it will be Fallout 76, yet there is a whole range of games that would love to play and Nintendo made the desire for the Switch only greater. So even as the Express leaned on speculation with ‘so expect to see Splinter Cell make an appearance with a brand new gameplay trailer during E3‘ and disappointed its readers by being wrong. They in the end all missed the Elder Scrolls 6 teaser and that is why the E3 is an event not to miss and hypes should be avoided as much as possible. What was a much larger surprise is the amount of effort and push that both Ubisoft and Bethesda gave towards the Nintendo Switch. EA was there, but they were expected, a free Fallout Shelter and Ubisoft with Trials Rising and Starlink were not on everybody’s mind and that is changing perception as well. You merely have to watch the hilarious insanity and consider not playing this game. You will most likely fail. Watch this (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyBsT7a8JZg) and decide for yourself. You can die 1000 deaths and still want more, merely to finish the trial. Redlynx is taking death defying tests to a whole new laughing level.

So whatever system you lean to, whatever game you go through, make sure you have fun doing it. As to the fun in gaming, you merely have to see Devolver Digital (a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4ytFiRVMwg) to see how serious ‘fun‘ should be taken at times.

Have a great day!

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Where we are in gaming

So the E3 is almost done. I saw the EA bit, I was blown away by Bethesda where they ended the presentation with 13.2 seconds announcing the Elder Scrolls VI. A mere teaser, but what a teaser, the crowd went insane on the spot (me included). I reckon that it will be a 2019 release and we will hear a lot more after the release of Fallout 76 later this year. When it comes to Fallout 76 it will be a lot bigger than ever before. It allows for single play, friends play and multiplay. That is merely the first part, the second part is that Fallout 76 is announced to be 4 times the size of Fallout 4, so any Bethesda fan expecting to be well rested by Christmas better start buying stocks and options in Red Bull, as they will need it and lots of it.

There was a lot more announced, most importantly the setting of a new free game, called Blades, an elder scrolls version of Fallout shelter, a very different one, Bethesda went one step further where the game is fully playable in portrait and landscape mode, the view on the game made me desire an immediate update to my mobile (which is falling apart anyway). In addition, Fallout Shelter became available at that point for both PS4 and Nintendo Switch. So Bethesda is not sitting still and a lot of it at no cost at all, showing a level of gamer care that we have not seen to this level before. Bethesda blew us away with the upcoming DLC’s, updates and new games. After that it was time for Microsoft. I have had issues with Microsoft and they are still growing, yet the presentation given was really good. Phil Spencer knows his shit and that of many other players in this field. He knows what it is about and as we saw all kinds of ‘world premieres’, it relied to some degree on both Bethesda and Ubisoft to give some of the goods, but that was not all. I stated it before, I am not a racing fan, but Forza 7 blew me away, it was astounding to see, so I was not ready for what happened next. If Forza 7 is set at as a 90%-91% game, the upcoming Forza Horizons 4 is getting us straight to the 100% mark. They really outdid themselves there. It is set in historical England, all of England and if you think that Forza 7 had the goods, seeing seasons and weather set into the driving, seeing every place go through the 4 seasons, you will see something totally unique and there is no doubt that if it holds up on the Xbox One X on 4K and 60fps, you are in for a treat, even a non-racing fan like me can see that this is something totally new. There were also announcements on gaming houses and developers bought as well as some of the indie developers who are showing excellent products. Phil Spencer is making waves; he is not out of the woods as he has to clean up the mess of two predecessors, so he has his work cut out for him. There was also a less nice part. They did in many cases give not any release date, merely ‘pre-order it at the Microsoft store‘. I personally believe that this is the Microsoft path, a path that was dangerous and I accused them for not being in consideration of gamers. There was more. You see, Microsoft is moving to take the shops out of the equation. They were doing it to some extent (poorly I might add), yet now when we consider Gamerpass “Xbox Game Pass launched back in June, and provides access to more than 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 games for $10.95 per month“, before you think that this is a lot, consider that you get access to 100 games, with the announced NEW games, we got that it will include the next Halo, Gears of War, and Forza on launch day. So that is a massive teaser, yet I am also scared of the intentions of Microsoft. I have seen this before. You see, TechAU gave away the speculated goods with “selling games is no longer an option. With console hard drive storage sizes increasing to 1-2TB, its possible we need to rethink game ownership completely. The big question will be the games available. If they’re all games from 6-12 months ago, it may still be seen as a good opportunity to play a bunch of games you meant to buy, but never got around to it“, if only it was true, because they already dropped the ball twice on that one. You see, I saw a similar play in the late 80’s by The Evergreen Group, they had government backing and undercut the competition for years, after that when the bulk was gone, the prices went back up and they were close to the only player remaining. It seems that Microsoft is on a similar path and when we saw the Faststart part I got a second jolt of worry, with the stating that they used machine learning to see how gamers play. This implies the profiling of all players, so when exactly did you as a gamer agree to that? You see, when this becomes personalised, it is not about the average player, this is about you as the individual player and I personally believe that the push ‘to pre-order at the Microsoft store‘ is not merely marketing, it is about pushing for online only and take the shops out of the equation. It makes sense from a business point of view, yet you end up with the only IP, the ones they allow you to have, for whatever time you end up having it. I never signed up for that, and even if we love the offering they give for now. When the shops can no longer support this theory, what happens then? How will you feel in 5 years when your IP is based on a monthly rental? It is a dangerous part and for now you think it does not matter, but it does, you see the earlier quote ‘With console hard drive storage sizes increasing to 1-2TB‘, yet the Xbox One X is merely 1TB, so there is that already, then we realise that the 1 TB merely gets you 800 GB (OS and other spaces reserved), so now we see that the previous Gears of War was 103.12 GB, implies that with one game installed, you are down to less than 70%, now add Halo 5: Guardians (97.53GB) and Forza 7 (100GB). So, only 3 games and 50% of the total drive space is gone (those mentioned games were the largest ones).

So when I see the mention of space for 12 games, I wonder how correct it is. Now consider the announced games like Fallout 76, the Division 2, Beyond Good and Evil 2 and wonder what will be left. People will wake up much to soon as they have to reorganise their console drives, way too early in 2018. Consider, not just the games, but the patches as well. Now you start seeing the dangers you as a gamer face. The moment that 120 million gamers start working in an online setting (PS4, XB1 and Switch), how long until the telecom bandwidth prices go up? How affordable will gaming remain? For now it looks great, but the bandwidth fountain will be soured, the impact is not short term when it hits, and the impact will be too great to consider for now and the Telco companies have not even considered the dangers, only their option towards optional revenue. There is supporting evidence. In Australia, its fun loving product called NBN had 27,000 complaints last year alone. If the old setting for every complaints 5 people did not bother, we see a much larger issue. With issues like outage and slow data speeds one number (source: ABC) gives us that at present the growth of 160% of complaints ‘equated to 1 per cent of the activated premises‘, how is that to sit in whilst downloading 100 Gb for your Xbox One X, and that is merely Australia. In places like London in full setting congestion will be a normal thing to worry about. So when we see “Julie Waites said her 85-year-old mother Patricia Alexander has been without a working phone at her Redcliffe home, north of Brisbane, since June when the NBN was connected in the area“, which we see 4 months after the event, there is a much larger issue and Microsoft did not consider the global field, an error they made a few times before and that is the setting that gamers face, So when your achievements are gone because for too long there was an internet issue, consider where your hard earned achievements went off to. I am certain that it is not all Microsoft’s fault, but its short sighted actions in the past are now showing to become the drag regarding gaming.

The one part that Microsoft does care about is its connections to places like Bethesda and Ubisoft, who in their presentation show to be much larger players. We get that this is merely beta and engine stuff, but the presentation of the Division 2 rocked, I am not sure how the Crew 2 will do, but it looked awesome, in addition the EA games looked as sweet as sport games can get on the Xbox One, so they have the goods. Phil Spencer is making waves and he is showing changes, but how trusting will this audience remain to be after a mere two incidents where gaming was not possible due to reasons not in the hands of Microsoft? Their support division stated last year that the uploaded data from my console (not by me, were all the responsibility of the internet provider), are you kidding me? Yet the games do look good, there is no denying that, yet their infrastructure might be the Achilles heel that they face in the coming year. There was also time for the upcoming AC game called Odyssey. It is very similar to the look of Origin in looks. Graphically it is stunning. The view also shows that AC is changing; it has a much larger political impact in the story line and the changes you can make. It is a lot more RPG based than ever before, which as an RPG lover is very much appreciated and with the choice of a male or a female player is also a change for good, unlike AC Syndicate the choice will be for the duration of the game, making it a much larger replayable challenge. The demo shows that there definitely are changes, some are likely gamer requests, the rest seems to be a change to make the game more appealing regarding the play style you choose, but that part is speculation from my side. I would want to be cautious, yet they truly took the game to the next level with AC Origin, which makes me give them the benefit of the doubt. The setting that Ubisoft brings is much stronger than last year, so it could end up being a stellar year for Ubisoft. When we get to Sony, I become a little cautious. Yet even as we saw it in the previous presentation, instead of merely presenting titles, having live music on stage, the music from the games was a really nice touch. I do not know about you the gamer, yet I have been more and more connected to the music as the quality of it has been on the rise, so seeing the performances was well appreciated. It might have started as early as ACII and Oblivion, now we see that good music is a much larger requirement in any game. A much darker the Last of Us 2 (if that was even possible) sets the stage for what is to come. Yet, even as we see awesome presentations of what is to come, I have to admit that Microsoft did have a better presentation. Sony is also playing the ‘store’ setting with PlayStation Store for bonus options. The games are overwhelming and those are merely the exclusive titles. When we consider all that Ubisoft and Square Enix bring to the table, it shows to be a great year for all the PlayStation owners. Yet, the overwhelming advantage that they have over Microsoft is not as much as you would think. The question becomes how heavy the overbearing advantage that the Last of Us 2, Ghost of Tsushima and Spiderman have, yet when set opposite Forza Horizon 4, Halo Infinite and Sea of Thieves I wonder if it remains a large advantage. Sony has more to offer yet the overwhelming exclusive benefit is not really there. So when we look at a new Resident Evil, actually a remade version of Resident Evil 2, we remain happy for the ‘unhealthy’ life diminishing gaming treats that are offered; both consoles will be offering gaming goods we all desire. There is no doubt that gaming revenue will go through the roof and it seems that we are in a setting where games are not just on the rise, the predictions are that they will grow the market in nearly every direction, and we still have to hear from Nintendo, you see that one is important for both Microsoft and Sony. There is little doubt that they will surpass the Xbox One in total sales, yet now it becomes the setting where they might be able to pull this off as early as thanksgiving, a setting Microsoft is not ready for, the ‘most powerful console‘ will optionally get surpassed by the weakest one as Microsoft has not kept its AAA game for close to two years. Three simple changes could have prevented that, yet the view and setting of always online, GamerPass and storage destroyed it, the mere consideration of infrastructure was missed by Americans focused on local (US) infrastructure and forgetting that the optional 92.3% of the desired customer base lives outside of the USA. The simplest of considerations missed, how is that as a hilarious setting? Oh and getting back to the Sony presentation, if you thought God of War surpassed your expectations, it seems (from the demo) that Spiderman is likely to equal if not surpass that event, so there is one issue that the others will have to deal with, the PlayStation players (Xbox One players too) will just have to wait and be overwhelmed with the number of excellent games coming their way before Christmas, because for both of them the list seems to be the largest list ever. I am posting this now and perhaps update a few Nintendo settings, as there are several revelations coming. GeekWire gives us in all this “Microsoft’s Xbox One still faces an uphill climb vs. Sony and Nintendo“, yet the article (at https://www.geekwire.com/2018/e3-2018-analysis-microsofts-xbox-one-still-faces-uphill-climb-vs-sony-nintendo/) misses out. You see, even if we are to agree with “Microsoft has effectively made its own console irrelevant, because even with the Windows Anywhere initiative, there’s no particular reason for a dedicated enthusiast to own an “Xbone” if you already have a PC. There are certainly advantages, such as ease of use, simplicity of play, and couch gaming, but the same money you spend on the Xbox could be going to tune up your computer so you can play the same games in a higher resolution“, we see the truth, but a wrong one. You see ‘the same money you spend on the Xbox could be going to tune up your computer“, is not correct. We need to consider “you can find a large number of 3840×2160-resolution displays in the $300 to $500 range“, as well as “For a better 4K experience, look to the $450 GeForce GTX 1070 Ti, $500 GeForce GTX 1080, and $500 Radeon RX Vega 64, though the Radeon card is still suffering from limited availability and inflated prices. These cards still won’t hit a consistent 60 fps at 4K resolution in the most strenuous modern games“, so you are down for a lot more than the price of the Xbox One X and still not get the promised 60fps that the Xbox One X delivers. And that is before you realise that a TV tends to be 4 times the size of a PC display. The biggest issue that has not been resolved is the mere stupidity of 6mm of space, that allows for a 3TB Seagate BarraCuda, it would have diminished most other issues, now merely evolve the operating system requiring people to be online all the time and Microsoft would have created an optional winning situation. It should not impact the need (or desire) for GamerPass and it would change the curve of obstruction by well over 70% overnight, all that when you consider that there is a $65 difference for 300% storage, something that the 4K community needs. Phil Spencer has one hell of a fight coming his way and if he can counter the Microsoft stupidity shown up to now, he could potentially turn the upcoming number three position around in 2019, making Microsoft a contender again at some point, yet if the short-sighted board of Microsoft is not willing to adhere to some views, they will lose a lot more than just the loss of a few hundred millions of console development, they might lose a large customer population forever, because gamers hold a grudge like no other and if it was not merely the cost of the console, the fact that the games they bought might overtake the total amount spend by close to 3:1, and once gone they will never ever return. That is the stage we see now and even as there is a lot of improvement, where it matter no changes were made. So even as we should all acknowledge that Phil Spencer is a large change for the better, Microsoft needs to do more. They have the benefit that Sony gave a good show, yet not as good as Microsoft. Perhaps the live presentations are the E3 part we all desire, the demos and previews were all great on both systems. In that regard Ubisoft and Bethesda both brought their homerun at the E3 and they are well deserved ones. As both deliver to both consoles there were no losses on either side, only wins for both sides, yet that leaves the small devil in my brain considering the question. If Fallout76 is 4 times the size of Fallout 4 which (according to Eurogamer) ‘required 100GB install sizes as a minimum‘ for 4K. So how much more will Fallout 76 need? It is in that light that we need to look with a 1TB drive, something I saw coming 5 years ago. So now, whomever buys a 1TB system will soon (too soon) stop being happy. That is one of the fights Phil Spencer will face soon enough, an issue that could have been prevented 6 years ago. It is so cool to see all these games coming, whilst we see a storage system supporting merely part of what comes and that is before we see the network congestion as a few million people try to update their game and get access to the networking facilities. It was an issue that haunted Ubisoft with the initial Division in 2016. When we saw ‘I’m still at work, had to stay overtime and I’m really salty because I might not even play today because of all this server downtime‘, I merely stated that they could have seen that one coming a mile away. Ubisoft upgraded everything and I do not expect to see this in the Division 2, yet consider that it is not merely one game. Consider every gamer getting issues when they want to access Gears 5 and Halo Infinite on launch day. That is the issue we could see coming and in all honesty, in most cases it will not even be the fault of Microsoft at all. The evidence was seen in Australia merely a week ago when ABC treated us to “NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow suggested that “gamers predominantly” were to blame for the congestion across the National Broadband Network. He later clarified that he wasn’t blaming gamers for congestion, but reiterated that they are “heavy users”“, that is the reality setting, where Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Destiny 2, two games are 49% of the average hourly bandwidth usage, now add Fallout 76, Gears 5, the Division 2, EA Access and Microsoft GamerPass. You still think I am kidding? And that is merely Australia, now add London congestion and when we consider some news sources give us: “London, Singapore, Paris and New York taking top spots when we consider internet congestion“, I reckon that Europe has issues to a much larger extent. When we consider in addition that the Deutsche Welle gave us last January “A new report has found that only a small fraction of German users get the internet speeds that providers promise“, as well as “the problem is only getting worse“. That is the setting Microsoft is starting to push for and the gamers will not be enjoying the dangers that this will bring. Certain high level non thinkers at Microsoft are making this happen and now Phil Spencer will be faced with the mess that needs cleaning up. The part that many have been ignoring and it will hit Microsoft a lot harder, especially when it wants to move away from uphill battles, a sign that we cannot ignore and whilst the plan might be valid in 4-6 years, the shortage that the hardware and infrastructure gives at present will not be solved any day soon and that is counting against Microsoft. The impact will hit Nintendo as well, but not nearly as hard. The evidence is out there, yet some analysts seem to have taken it out of the equation. Is that not an interesting view that many ignored?

So we are moving forward in gaming, no one denies that, but overall, some cards (like always online) were played much too early and it will cost one player a hell of a lot more than they bargained for.

 

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The gaming E-War is here

The console operators are seeing the light. Even as it comes with some speculation from the writers (me included), we need to try and take a few things towards proper proportions. It is a sign of certain events and Microsoft is dropping the ball again. The CNet news (at https://www.cnet.com/news/xbox-big-fun-deals-e3-week-starts-june-7/) gives us “Microsoft’s big E3 sale on Xbox consoles, games starts June 7“, where we see “Save 50 percent or more on season passes, expansions and DLC and other add-ons“, which sounds good, yet in opposition, some claim that as Microsoft has nothing really new to report (more correctly, much too little to report), they want to maximise sales now hoping to prevent people to move away from the Xbox. I do not completely agree. Even as the setting of no new games is not completely incorrect, the most expected new games tend to not get out in the first month after the E3 (they rarely do), so Microsoft trying to use the E3 to cash in on revenue is perfectly sound and business minded. Out with the old and in with the new as some might say. Yet, Microsoft has been dropping the ball again and again and as more and more people are experiencing the blatant stupidity on the way Microsoft deals with achievements and now we see that these scores are too often unstable (I witnessed this myself), we see that there is a flaw in the system and it is growing, in addition, I found a flaw in several games where achievements were never recognised, implying that the flaw is a lot larger and had been going on for more than just a month or so. The one massive hit that the Xbox360 created is now being nullified, because greed made Microsoft set what I refer to ‘the harassment policy’ of ‘always online‘, this is now backfiring, because it potentially drives people to the PlayStation, who fixed that approach 1-2 years ago (some might prefer the Nintendo Switch). Nintendo needs to fix their one year calendar issue fast before it starts biting them (if they have fixed it, you have my apologies).

Sony is not sitting still either as Cnet reports (at https://www.cnet.com/news/sony-isnt-waiting-for-e3-2018-will-reveal-3-playstation-games-early/), with the quote “Starting Wednesday, June 6, the company will spoil one announcement each and every day for five days in a row. Sony is being tight-lipped about the details, but those announcements will include [censored]“. Yet getting back to Microsoft, they do need and should get recognition for “Up to 75% off select games including Monster Hunter: World, Sea of Thieves and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds“. I admit that a game like monster hunter is an acquired taste, yet 75% off from a 95% rated game like Monster Hunter is just amazing and that game alone is worth buying the Xbox One X for. I only saw the PlayStation edition, yet the impression was as jaw dropping as seeing the 4K edition of AC Origin, so not seriously considering that game at 75% discount is just folly.

The issue is mainly what Microsoft is aiming for (and optionally not telling the gamers). They never made any secret of their desire for the cloud, I have nothing against the cloud, yet when I play games in single player mode, there is no real reason for the cloud (there really is not). So when I see that Microsoft bought GitHub for a little less than 10 billion, we should seriously consider that this is affecting the Xbox One in the future, there is no way around it. Even as we see the Financial Times and the quotes of optional consideration “Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation,” a claim from CEO Satya Nadella. He can make all the claims he like, yet when we consider that this is a setting of constant updates, upgrades and revisions, we see the possible setting where a gamer faces the hardship that the Oracles DBM’s faced between versions 5 and 7. A possible nearly daily setting of checking libraries, updates and implementations to installed games. Yes, that is the real deal a gamer wants when he/she gets home! (Reminder: the previous part was highly speculative)

As we get presentations from the marketeers, those who brought us ‘the most powerful console on the market‘, they are likely to bring slogans in the future like ‘games that are many times larger than the media can currently hold‘, or perhaps ‘games with the option of bringing additions down the track without charge‘, or my favourite ‘games growing on every level, including smarter enemies‘. All this requires updates and upgrades, yet the basic flaw on the Xbox needing extra drives, extra hardware and power points, whilst increasing the amount of downloads with every month such a system is running is not what we signed up for, because at that point getting a gaming PC is probably the better solution. A business setting aimed at people who wanted to have fun. This is exactly the setting that puts the AU$450 PS4, AU$525 and AU$450 Nintendo Switch on the front of the mind of every gamer soon enough.

The elemental flaw that the system holds is becoming an issue for some and when (or if) they decide to push to the cloud to that extent the issues I give will only grow. Now, I will state that in a multiplayer environment, a GitHub setting has the potential to be ground breaking and my making fun with the slogans I gave in Orange, could be the true devastating settings that will form an entirely new domain in multiplayer gaming. Yet we are not there yet and we will not be there yet for some time to come. Even as Ubisoft is getting better and they did truly push the edge with AC Origin, you only have to think back to The Division, the outages and connection issues. The moment that this hits your console for single player that is the moment when you learned the lesson too late. In similar view we can state that the lessons that we learned with Ubisoft Unity, what I call clearly bad testing and perhaps a marketing push to get the game out too early ‘to satisfy shareholders‘, whilst gamers paid AU$99 for a game needing a ‘mere’ patch, which was stated in the media in 2014 as: “The fourth patch for Assassin’s Creed: Unity arrived yesterday as a sizable 6.7 GB download. At least, that’s the case for non-Xbox One players; some players using the Microsoft console are facing 40 GB downloads for the patch“. Think of that nightmare hitting your console in the future, and with the cloud the issues actually becomes more dangerous as patches were not properly synched and tested. That was the fourth, and that was before 4K gaming became the 4K option on consoles, which would have made the Unity download a speculated 80GB, over 10% of the available space of an empty Xbox One. Now, you must consider that such patches would be enormous on the PS4 pro as well, that whilst Microsoft could have prevented 40% of the issues of the issues we are faced well over a year ago, now consider how you want your gamer life to be. Do you still feel happy at present?

Oh, and Sony is not out of the woods either, even as some are really happy with the PS4Pro, it must be clearly stated that there are enough issues with frame rates on several games, all requiring their own patch, which is not a great setting for Sony to face. Even as the new games are more than likely up to scrap and previously released games like Witcher 3 are still getting patches and upgrades, the fact that God of war had issues was not a great start; the game looked amazing on either system. Still, when it comes to fun, it seems that Nintendo has the jump on both Sony and Microsoft. The Splatoon 2 weapons update (lots more weapons) is just one of the setting that will entice the Nintendo fans not put away their copy of Splatoon 2 any day soon. In addition, Amazon implied that Fallout 76 will be coming to the Nintendo switch, which is a new setting for both Sony and Microsoft. For those imagining that this is a non-issue because of the graphics need to play Metroid Prime on a GameCube and watch it being twice the value that Halo one and two gave on an Xbox (with their much higher resolution graphics). The mistaking belief that high-res graphics are the solution to everything clearly has never seen how innovative gaming on a Nintendo outperforms ‘cool looking images‘ every single time. Now that Bethesda is seeing the light, we could be in for a new age of Vault-Tec exploration, but that is merely my speculated view. That being said, the moment we see Metroid Prime 1 and 2, as well as Pikmin and Mario Sunshine on Switch that will be the day that both my Xbox One and Ps4 will be gathering dust for weeks. These games are that much more fun. I just do hope that it will not overlap with the release of some PS4 games I have been waiting for (like Spiderman), because that in equal measure implies that I need to forgo on hours of essentially needed sleep. Mother Nature tends to be a bitch when it boils down to natural needed solutions (I personally do not belief in a red bull life to play games).

So as we are in the last 4 days before the E3 begins, we are more and more confronted with speculations and anticipation. Cnet was good enough to focus on released facts, which is awesome at present. Yet we are all awaiting the news. That being said, the leaks this year has been a lot larger and revealed information has been on overload too. It might be the first sign that the E3 events could be winding down. There had been noise on the grapevine a few weeks ago, yet I was not certain how reliable that information was. The leaks and pre-release information does imply that E3 is no longer the great secret basket to wait for as it was in previous years. We will know soon, so keep on gaming and no matter which console your heart belongs to, make sure you have fun gaming!

 

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Be not stupid

There is an article in the Guardian. Now, we all agree that anyone has their own views, that has been a given for the longest of times, and those reading my blog know that I have a different view at times, yet for the most, I remained neutral and non-attacking to those with a different view, that’s how I roll.

Today is different, the article “‘Easy trap to fall into’: why video-game loot boxes need regulation” by Mattha Busby (@MatthaBusby) got to me. It is time for people to realise that when you are over 18, you are responsible for your actions. So I have, pretty much, no patience with any American, Reddit user or not, who gives us “a Reddit user who claims to have spent $10,000“. If you are that stupid, you should not be allowed to play video games.

The Setting

To comprehend my anger, you need to realise the setting we see here. You see, loot boxes are not new. This goes all the way back to 1991 when Richard Garfield created Magic, the gathering. I was not really on board in the beginning, but I played the game. The issues connect when you realise how the product was sold. There was a starter kit (which we call the basic game) it will have enough cards to start playing the game as well as the essential cards you need to play it. To get ahead in the game you need to get boosters. Here is where it gets interesting. Dozens of games are working on the principle that Richard Garfield founded. A booster would have 9-13 cards (depending on the game), It would have 1 (read: One) rare card (or better), 3 uncommon cards and the rest would be common cards. I had several of these games I played and in the end (after 20 boosters) it was merely about collecting the rare cards if you wanted a complete set. Some would not care about it and they could play the game. So this is not a new thing, so if you truly spend $10,000 you should not complain. If you have the money it is not an issue, if you did not, you are too stupid for words. In games it is not new either. Mass Effect 3, the best multiplayer game ever (my personal view) had loot boxes as well, I am pretty sure that they were the first. Yes, you could buy them, with money, or with Microsoft credit points. The third option was that you could gather points whilst playing (at the cost of $0) and use these gained points to buy loot boxes, the solution most people used. Over time you would end up with sensational goods to truly slice and dice the opponents, all gained through play time, no extra cash required.

So when I see places like Venture beat (and the Guardian of course) state issues like: “some people, policymakers, and regulators — including the gaming authorities in Belgium and Netherlands — that those card packs have are gambling“. I see these statements as moronic and I regard them as statements of false presentation. You see, that is not what it is about! When you see the attached picture, you see that these cards are sold EVERYWHERE. The issue is that the CCG card games are sold in the shops, which means that revenue is TAXED. The online sales are not and now, policymakers are all up in arms because they lost out on a non-taxable ‘$1.25 billion during its last quarter even without releasing a major new game‘, that is the real issue and they are now all acting in falsehood. So, when I see “I am currently $15,800 in debt. My wife no longer trusts me. My kids, who ask me why I am playing Final Fantasy all the time, will never understand how I selfishly spent money I should have been using for their activities“, as well as “he became addicted to buying in-game perks, which he later described as ‘digital garbage’“. I merely see people without discipline, without proper control. So without any regard for diplomacy I will call them junkies, plain and simple. Junkies who have no idea just how stupid they are. And, since when do we adjust policy for junkies? Since when are the 99% who hold themselves all plenty accountable, have the proper discipline to not overspend and some (like me) never considered loot boxes in a game like Shadow of War, now being held to account, to lessened gaming impact by junkies? Can anyone answer me this?

Now, we need to take into consideration one or two things. Are the FIFA18 loot boxes set in a similar light? That is the one place where (seemingly) FIFA is in the wrong. You see I have been searching to get any info on what is in a FIFA loot box, but there is no information given. I believe that this lack is actually an issue, yet that could be resolved in 24 hours if Electronic Arts would dedicate 1 page (considering it brings them $1.25 billion a quarter) on what is to be found in a loot box (Rare, Uncommon, Common). The second part that I cannot answer (because I am not a soccer fan) is whether the game allows loot boxes to be earned through playing and finally. Can the game be played without loot boxes? It seems like such a small alteration to make and especially when we see the fuss that is being made now. Some additional facts can be seen in Rolling Stone Magazine of all places (at https://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/features/loot-boxes-never-ending-games-and-always-paying-players-w511655). So now that we get a fuss from several nations, nations that have been all open and accepting on games like The Decipher CCG games Star Trek and Star Wars, Magic the Gathering, The Lord of the Rings, My Little Pony, Harry Potter, Pokémon, and that list goes on for some time. In that regard, they are all gambling and in my view, I feel certain that these so called politicians and lime light seekers will do absolutely NOTHING to get anything done because the cards are subject to VAT and the online stuff is lost taxable revenue. That is what I personally see as the foundation of a corrupt administration.

You see, the fact is that it is not gambling. You buy something that is in 3 categories, Rare, Uncommon and Common, you ALWAYS get this in a setting of 1 rare, 3 uncommon and 5 common, which card you get is not a given, it is random, but they will always get that setting. Let’s for example state that the loot box is $7, you get one $3 card, three $1 cards and five $0.20 cards, so how is that gambling? For Electronic Arts, until they update the website to give a precise definition might be in waters that are a little warmer, but that can be fixed by the end of the day. Perhaps they do have such a page, but Google did not find it.

In addition, Venture Beat gave us (at https://venturebeat.com/2018/05/08/ea-ceo-were-pushing-forward-with-loot-boxes-in-face-of-regulation/) “EA will have to convince policymakers around the world that it is doing enough and that its mechanics are not the same as the kinds of games you’d find in a casino“, which is easy as these policymakers did absolutely nothing to stop CCG’s like Pokémon and My Little Pony (truly games for minors), so we can stat that this was never about the loot box, it was about missed taxable revenue, a side that all the articles seemed to have left in the dark.

The Guardian has one additional gem. With: “A bill introduced in Minnesota last month would prohibit the sale of video games with loot boxes to under-18s and require a severe warning: “This game contains a gambling-like mechanism that may promote the development of a gaming disorder that increases the risk of harmful mental or physical health effects, and may expose the user to significant financial risk.”” Here I am in the middle. I think that Americans are not that bright at times, a point of view supported with the image of paper cups with the text ‘Caution Hot’ to avoid liability if some idiot burns their mouth; we know that sanity is out of the window. Yet the idea that there should be a loot box warning is perhaps not the worst idea. I think that EA could get ahead of the curve by clearly stating in a readable font size that ‘no loot boxes are needed to play the game‘, which is actually a more apt statement (and a true one) for Shadow of War, with FIFA18, I do not know. You see, this is a changed venue, when you can add a world player to your team the equation changes. Yet, does it make it more or less enjoyable? If I play NHL with my Capitals team and I get to add Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretsky my chances to get the Stanley cup go up, yet is that a real win or is that cheating? That is of course the other side, the side that the game maker Ubisoft enabled in their Assassins Creed series. you could unlock weapons and gear for a mere $4, they clearly stated that the player would be able to unlock the options during the game, yet some people are not really gamers, mere players with a short attention span and they want the hardware upfront. Enter the Civil war with an Uzi and a Remington, to merely coin a setting. Are they gamers, or are they cheaters? It is a fair question and there is no real answer. Some say that the game allowed them to do this, which is fair and some say, you need to earn the kills you make. We can go to it from any direction, yet when we are confronted with mere junkies going on with spending $15,800, adding to a $69 game, we are confronted with people so stupid, it makes me wonder how he got his wife pregnant in the first place. If the given debt $15,800 is true then there should be a paper trail. In that regard I am all for the fact that there should be a spending limit of perhaps $500 a month, a random number but the fact that there is a limit to spend is not the worst idea. In the end, you have to pay for the stuff, so have a barrier at that point could have imposed a limit on the spending. In addition, we can point at the quote “how I selfishly spent money I should have been using for their activities” and how that is the response of any junk to make, ‘Oh! I am so sorry‘, especially after the junk got his/her fix.

The Guardian gives in addition an actual interesting side: “Hawaiian congressman Chris Lee said “are specifically designed to exploit and manipulate the addictive nature of human psychology”“, it is a fair point to make. Are ‘game completionists’ OCD people? Can the loot box be a vessel of wrongdoing? It might, yet that still does not make it gambling or illegal, which gets us to the Minnesota setting of a warning on the box. It is an interesting option and I think that most game makers would not oppose that, because you basically are not keeping loot boxes a secret and that might be a fair call to make, as long as we are not going overboard with messages like: “This game is a digital product, it requires a working computer to install and operate“, because at that point we have gone overboard again. This as a nice contrast against: “In the Netherlands, meanwhile, lawmakers have said that at least four popular games contravene its gambling laws because items gleaned from loot box can be assigned value when they are traded in marketplaces“, which is another issue. you see when you realise that “you can’t sell any digital content that you aren’t authorized to sell” and as we also saw in Venture Beat ““While we forbid the transfer of items and in-game currency outside of the games, we also actively seek to eliminate that where it’s going on in an illegal environment,”“, we see a first part where we can leave it to the Dutch to cater to criminals on any average working day, making the lawmakers (from my personal point of view slightly short sighted).

So, in the end Mattha had a decent article, yet the foundation (the CCG games) which were the creators of the founding concept were left outside the basket of consideration, which is a large booboo, especially when we realise that they are still for sale in all these complaining countries and that in that very same regard these games are not considered gambling, which sets the stage that this was never about gambling, but several desperate EU nations, as well as the US mind you, that they are all realising that loot boxes are billions of close to non-taxable revenues. That is where the issue holds and even as I do not disagree with the honourable men from both Hawaii and Minnesota, the larger group of policy players are all about the money (and the linked limelight), an issue equally left in the dark. There is one issue against Electronic Arts, yet they can fix that before the virtual ink on the web page has dried, so that issue is non-existent as well soon enough.

It’s all in the game and this discussion will definitely be part of the E3 2018, it has reached too many governments not to do so. I reckon that on E3 Day Zero, EA and Ubisoft need to sit down in a quiet room with cold drinks and talk loot box tactics, in that regard they should invite Richard Garfield into their meeting as an executive consultant. He might give them a few pointers to up the profit whilst remaining totally fair to the gamers, a win-win for all I say! Well, not for the politicians and policy makers, but who cares about them? For those who do care about those people, I have a bridge for sale with a lovely view of Balmain Sydney, going cheap today only!

 

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