Tag Archives: Variety

Cursed by choice

It is a setting some will remember, some fondly, some less so. It is a state where you have too much options. Let me try to explain this, for example, your iPod you find after a year and you see hundreds of songs you have not heard for some time, but you cannot decide, or perhaps a choice of 5 RPG games and you have select one to play. The inability to seek between good options if you want.

It is a setting the reflects on to situations. The first is the one, the only, the musk (Elon to insiders). BBC reports “Tesla’s share price surged about 14% in New York following the news it was being added to the index. Given Mr Musk’s 20% stake in Tesla his net worth rose to $117.5bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His wealth has jumped $90bn this year as Tesla’s share price has continued to rise”, I look at the setting differently, some say he has the Midas gene, he can anything he touches to gold, I reckon like Steve Jobs and a few others, he has the ability to turn generic outliers into commercial successes. We can go from the fact he knows what is useful, we can go with he knows where to push, who to push and how much to push. We can look at it in different ways, but in basic “Tesla’s share price surged about 14% in New York following the news it was being added to the index. Given Mr Musk’s 20% stake in Tesla his net worth rose to $117.5bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His wealth has jumped $90bn this year as Tesla’s share price has continued to rise”, and that is before he realises (perhaps he already knows) that he is optionally sitting on an additional $1.2 trillion (meaning $1,200 billion) and the wired has seemingly no caught on, I had a few ideas in support of that, but the IP is already his, so why bother, he will figure it out. And that is before he goes to space, there he might make a few coins more. 

It is one setting and the opposing view is seen when we look at the lovely youthful youngling known as Taylor Swift. That BBC view (at https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-54969396) gives us “Writing on Twitter Swift said it was “the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge””, here we want to answer in anger, yet the article also gives us “Swift signed a deal with record label Big Machine in 2004 granting them ownership of the master recordings to her first six albums in exchange for a cash advance to kick-start her career”, as such if there is no clause with a mandatory first option to buy back, I wonder if Scooter Braun did anything wrong. The news gives us that she signed over ownership on her first 6 albums, so I understand that she is not happy, but did Scooter do anything wrong? She is not the first, I learned a lot later in life that Paul McCartney has lost ownership of Beatles songs. I actually never knew that. And he is not alone, as such, and especially as we know and have seen that Taylor is very intelligent, why she learned her lesson the hard way. As one is cursed by many options, the other one was forced by a lack of options. The most dangerous part in all this is doing something expecting them to act in another, when we see “US entertainment magazine Variety first reported on Monday that Braun had sold the rights – known as masters – to an investment fund. It said the deal is thought to be worth more than $300 million (£227m)”, I wonder how much the songs were bought for, as such still, one third of a billion is a whole lot of money, I would not sell my IP for that (I would set it to a percentage of the patent value), yet overall I could be tempted. And there is a setting switch, it is about awareness, how many people in the music industry have a real grasp of IP and what it is worth nowadays. Games, movie, TV series, they are all in need of music and there is so much one can compose, it was perhaps one of Ubisoft most brilliant moments in all this, get well known songs or well known artists to support the IP, Imagine Dragons is perhaps one of the more known artists, it propelled the game, not merely the graphics, the music was a large part of it and Ubisoft was exceedingly clever there, they might not own the IP, but they knew a good deal when it was there and musicians need to catch up, especially in this age of Netflix and streaming. Now this is not an attack on Taylor Swift, this might have been her only option, yet the stage remains, what kind of legal advice did she get? I do not know, I am merely asking. So when I see (according to the BBC) “When his company, Ithaca Holdings, paid $300m to acquire Swift’s former record label last year, Swift saw it as an act of aggression that “stripped me of my life’s work”. She accused Braun – who also manages Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato – of “incessant, manipulative bullying”” we see a lot of emotion, but the stage is did Scooter Braun do anything wrong or illegal? We might say immoral and unethical but neither is a crime according to law and that is the setting we need to see and perhaps Taylor should have appealed to Elon Musk who has well over 3,000 times what she apparently needed, it is merely food for thought, although, I reckon that Elon gets a dozen of these attempts to contact an hour, and optionally when he figures out where his optional missing $1.2T is even more.

Such is life!
There are two groups cursed by choice, one group has too many, the other has (far) too few. Which one do you belong in? And what makes you think that you are in one or the other, because that contemplation tends to be a solution in itself at times.

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The Saint’s parcel

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

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

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

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

Well they didn’t!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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