Tag Archives: Xbox

It’s been that long

I got alerted to a milestone yesterday on YouTube, you see, last week was the 25th anniversary of System Shock, one of my most beloved games from the past. I still remember the two moments that set the milestones for this game. The first was the PC Format by Future plc. About a month before the release, PC format included the entire first level of the game (medical level). So you got about an hour of gameplay into that game, a month later the game arrived and of course, I had to have that game on day one! I did and that started a tour of around a week getting through the game. Someone was nice enough to stream the game (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IzNzVAxk8E) the stream starts at 10:00. Even now, hearing the intro music still gives me the good shivers. For a game to do that is so rare, it is to some degree scary. I am still awaiting the remastered edition by NightDive Studios. It will be launched a little later than planned (2020) but on all the consoles, so I might get that happy feeling again on all my consoles.

This is the foundation of better than great gaming, the story, the emersion and the control. The game offered all three to a great degree. That part is also important as System Shock 2, a game that came 5 years later had almost all the same controls, the first game was the founding father of RPG games, and control was close to that perfect. Graphics did upgrade by a lot, yet the shock (for me) in this game that the game only sold 170,000 copies, not much for a game this perfect, as such I do hope that the remaster will hand out the multimillion copy achievement sold. When we look at PC Gamer we see: “System Shock smokes. It is the most fully immersive game world I have ever experienced“, as well as “no matter what kind of game you’re looking for, you’ll find something in System Shock to delight you“. Finishing with “unquestionably raises computer gaming to a new level” (at https://web.archive.org/web/20000309153138/http://www.pcgamer.com/reviews/1024.html), I gave the game a similar review and gave it a 95% score when I reviewed it.

From that moment on, I reviewed RPG games using System Shock as the minimum bar, as you might imagine not many games got to that level. It was also the first game where ‘leaning around corners‘ became an option in shooting games. As far as you see the stream and listening to the makers of the game, you get the part how this game became a trendsetter of excellence, even if they do not mention it, it was a labour of love and passion gets to be the deciding driver in any game towards excellence.

Depending on your age, consider the game that you would play again after 10, 20 and 25 years. What titles come to mind? In my view Elite Dangerous (after 35 years), Ultima 4 (after 35 years), System Shock (after 25 years), Ultima 7 (after 25 years), System Shock 2 (after 20 years), and the list goes on, but it is not a long list, games that are dipped in excellence are rare to say the least. Yet I am a gamer, a game junkie and like all other gamers I remain hopeful that another developer gets it right to the largest degree, Ubisoft did that with Assassins Creed 2 (and Brotherhood) then stuffed up to a much larger degree until Assassins Creed Origins was released. That is why the scrutiny of 93%+ games is so essential. Most gamers will take a turn in other direction if it gives them excellence, yet when they leave their comfort zone in gaming, excellence is the only marker that they will accept to make them do so. Games like Mass Effect 2, The Witcher 3, Grand Theft Auto V, Horizon Zero Dawn, all games that relied on near perfection; it is a stage that is seldom reached. And in all this the FX Slogan was key (for me it is) ‘The story is everything‘. Horizon Zero Dawn is perhaps the strongest example. In the beginning I enjoyed the game, yet it was the storyline after the proving that set the stage for me to continue and learn more and more. The origin story of Elisabeth Sobeck and Aloy is absolutely marvellous. Yes, I have seen the rants against the game, rants like ‘Giving up Horizon Zero Dawn‘ (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv_1DzGf_1s). His response ‘I just don’t find it interesting anymore‘. Yes, I do not agree, but it is his view, and his view is valid to him, just when we see this he is still not completing: ‘The War – Chief’s trail‘. Yet the best story parts were still coming up and the game takes it time getting into the story, it is important to show this, because you might have a different love for games, I love stealth games, games with an essential need for stealth, not everyone loves this, I get that. You have to realise that, I might not be the voice for you; I might have other loves in gaming. I was never a lover of GTA5, I admire it for its excellence, but it is not my game, it is however for millions of other gamers.

In this view it is important to find more voices until you find the reviewer that aligns with your fulfilment in gaming. It is easy to find good reviews and for many games a lot will have the same view, but in the 90%+ range you need to find the one voice that is on your level of gaming. It is easy to merely see that The Last of Us was a great game, pretty much everyone will agree, yet Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne? I loved both games; I never got to complete them. With Bloodborne I actually stopped (after a dozen attempts), I still have the game as it shows excellence on many levels and the engine is sublime, but it is also an excellent example for ratings. I would give it 91%, yet others will give it 93%-95% and now we have the review issue. Are their reviews better? They might be, they might be better at playing this game, more important, they might highlight things I missed, because I was not great at this game. Graphics and engines are easy, the subtle parts defining Bloodborne (as well as Dark Souls 3) is another matter. And now you come into the mix thinking it was merely an 85% game as you did not like the game (which is fair enough), finding the right reviewer is important, more important, the one that aligns with your game play and this is where a game like System Shock differs. The game remained playable for a much larger audience. Now we accept that the gaming bar was not as high in 1994 as it is in 2014, yet playability had remained similar over 25 years, it is my view that Bloodborne is a great game, yet, to me, it is not as playable. That small distinction is important when you seek out buying a full priced game that totally rocks your world.

To me the story is a deciding factor, whilst play style is the most important second. That part is visible to many who remember Metroid Prime on GameCube; I still love that game as well. I never got beyond 98% completion, and I would love to play it again getting to 100%, that is because the game is extremely playable with a play style that is set to comfort. We might sneer at the graphic level (compared to the Xbox and Playstation2 in those days), yet Metroid Prime still delivered as an equal and better to anything the other two could offer. That part validates the 97% rating it received. Yet, if it is not your game, would you still regard it as high?

The question is important as System Shock did make that cut, even by those not loving the game style, they were all impressed with the game, it set a new bar of quality, Metroid Prime and Horizon Zero Dawn both did that as well.

And it is there where we see the stage for streaming games, for Apple Arcade, Google Stadia and thee we see the links. Apple Arcade shows smooth gaming, but not hi-res gaming. That is not an issue if you consider Metroid Prime, the lowest resolution of the three consoles delivered the best gaming experience of all. You can see this (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q73cHEAwKVw), I found the top 10 interesting, but not overwhelming, of course the number one is like some Zelda clone, with decent graphics, but not great graphics. There are 100 games announced yet there too I wonder if people are willing to pay $5 a month, $60 a year to do this, You can argue if you can find even 3 games you really like, then the money is well spent. So it is a decent idea, the issue I have with the stage is that the solution will be years two and later. However, in a family setting the game changes massively, the cost is per family (up to 5 players) as such $1 per person per month is just too good to pass up.
More important is the fact that the games look amazing on the iPad, so there is that to consider. My larger personal issue is long term. For me it is $8 month (Australia), as such in Australia it gets down to $100 a year. It has good games and the important dig is: no ads, unlimited access to 100+ new games rolling out later this year, as well as download for off-line playing are the catchers that will make people try this. Consider the initial $100 for the entire year, seems a lot, but playing 100 games for the price of one is still a game changer. I am assuming that you can only play for as long as you are a member, but we get the same on consoles, so that should not be the issue.

The arrival of Apple Arcade and Google Stadia is still important, but not for the reason you think. System Shock was important as the game was a true innovator in gaming. These new streaming services are set on a stage where the amounts of gamers imply the revenue for the makers. Even as marketing get you in the beginning, the bulk of gamers will push for games that are TRULY innovative and I have learned and seen that true innovation pushes the envelope of games in general. System Shock, Command and Conquer, Metal Gear Solid, Wolfenstein 3D, Gran Turismo, Warcraft 3, Minecraft, Tombraider, Diablo, Zelda – Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye, Super Mario 64, Half-Life, Doom. These are on a short list of the most innovative games in history and the most important part is that most of them started on systems lacking resources. Systems like the first PlayStation, the Nintendo 64 and the PC-Pentium One. Most mobiles and tablets now surpass what was possible even in those maxed out years. As such, innovation was always about imagination and I love the idea of streaming services as it pushes the need for innovation. I go back to System Shock one and two, yet some might remember Molyneux’s titanic achievement Black and White, a god video game. A game where you influence actions and not control all actions, when you realise that innovation is creation linked to imagination, we start considering the lack of resources required, not the max of resources. In this games and gamers are about finding the right note, the right chord that makes your heart sing. System Shock still does that to me 25 years later (OK, Elite Dangerous does it as well after 35 years).

I still play Blockheads by Dave Frampton after 6 years on my very first iPad, it is basically the only reason I still use my very first iPad for anything else but reading (until I get a new one). I got the game to deal with my Minecraft addiction when I was not at home and I never regretted getting it (oh, and I found the tablet edition of Minecraft not that playable), even today (last night actually) I still play Blockheads.

We might think that innovation fades, as it would over time, but I personally learned that innovation creates a captive audience regardless of time, it is a personal observation and you might not agree, but I also believe that this is the stepping stone for both Apple Arcade and Google Stadia. Consider the re-released consoles. CBM64 mini that gives us: Boulder Dash, Paradroid, Jumpman, Temple of Apshai Trilogy, Uridium, Impossible Mission (1+2), Winter Games and Summer Games II all games that could be upgraded and give a new audience the games they love to play. The CBM 64 brought so much innovation in games with only 64KB available; these games became the foundation for better games as systems upgraded (Atari ST and CBM Amiga). In this Nintendo with their 64 was pushing the envelope even further, Super Mario 64 is just one title, Goldeneye (named after the bond movie) set the bar so high that it was still the most desired game a decade later, even as the Wii relaunched the game, it ended up being inferior to the original, that is the level of excellence we lost out on and in this resources are not the issue, these are games that could easily be streamed and offer gaming perfection.

The list goes on and it would take too long, yet when we consider sources like My Abandonware and other sources (like Amiga Emulators) we see optional chests containing hundreds of titles that are ready to be remade and a lot of it has no IP protection, as such the best programmers can take the great vision and turn it into a cash maker through streaming. I reckon that is what both Google Stadia and Apple Arcade are hoping for, I am uncertain to see a winner at present, but the games that make it will be the deciding factor and even as the games on Apple are not great, they are still off to a good start, I myself hope that the historic database will inspire game makers, and this is a field where both genders can excel, you merely need to remember the name Danielle Bunten Berry (M.U.L.E. and Seven Cities of Gold) to realise that creativity was key, not gender. As such I do hope that we see both genders remain active, even as Danielle Bunten Berry left us in 1998, her games could stay around for much longer, that is the other part of innovation, it has no expiration date; it is almost timeless. If you doubt that, consider her games as well as those by Roberta Williams (King’s quest series). That is actually another part of gaming, there the playing field for genders is almost level as creativity not ego decides on the quality of the game.

As such it might have been that long, but in the end, the timeline was not long enough, I am willing to get into streaming to some degree (Assassins Creed Odyssey might get lag issues) but there are hundreds of games that will never have that issue and the list of games that will hit the spot is a lot larger than anyone ever considered, especially when a good idea (or a great idea) gets upgraded with innovations that were not available when a certain game came out.

Consider the game Command and conquer, optionally a game like Battle for Middle Earth, or even Dungeon Keeper 2. We have gone through those games and finished all the maps; now consider the issues you face when the maps are created procedural, would your strategy still hold up? That question impacts all three games. Often the strategy was in the map design, take that away and the challenge changes by a lot. I believe that ‘It has been that long‘ is a premise that does not really exist in gaming, I truly believe that System Shock will capture the hearts of new gamers, I believe that upgrading innovation that was will give life to other games, even games that were in the 80%-90% and upgrade them by an optional 15%, and be honest, what game maker would not love to be linked to making a 90%+ game? At present Ubisoft is seemingly proud of their 70% games (so are a few other makers mind you), so we can see the essential need of excellence in gaming, the question is who will bring it and with two new players (gaming providers) entering that field, answering those question becomes a lot more important as we (gamers in general) have had our fill of mediocre games.

Even now we see that as we still yearn for Elder Scrolls: Oblivion as well as Skyrim; I stated to Richard Garriott (the man behind the Ultima series) a while go, if we could get the Oblivion/Skyrim engine and create Sosaria to life, we would have a winner that could entice millions of gamers. Skyrim with over 30 million sold is clear evidence of that and the tales of Sosaria were founded on great story-lines and compelling interaction of personal choices and philosophical concepts. The entire Ultima line (story 4 and later) are all about eh seven virtues (Honesty, Justice, Honour, Sacrifice, Compassion, Spirituality and Humility), it would be the foundation of 6 games, each one surpassing the previous one and to see the evolution from isometric to first person would be the game changer for anyone who loved that story-line, in addition, the Elder Scrolls never did concepts to that degree, which is not their flaw, but it could be the strength of any new Ultima IP.

It is in that part where I see System Shock one and two, it was near perfect and it is still ready for a whole new generation of players. Especially when you consider that the original System Shock on floppy (yes there was a floppy version) was a mere 15Mb, and Metroid Prime on GameCube was less than 1.5Gb, whilst Goldeneye was a mere 64Mb, so as you can see size was never the deciding factor.

I believe that 2020 will be an interesting year for games and gamers. I believe that those relying on ridiculous large games and high resource requiring games (like a Core i9-9980XE) will find that their size issue gets thumbed by true playability and innovation setting the stage for much better games after that. Innovation remains a game changer for games and I wonder how much change we get to see in 2021-2022.

 

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From trade war to losses

Huawei remains in the news on an international level. Australia gives us ‘Huawei sheds 100 Australian jobs in the face of 5G ban‘ (ZDNet), ‘Huawei Australia says over half of jobs at threat due to 5G ban‘ (ITnews), and ‘Greece opens up to Huawei’s 5G ambitions‘ (ZDNet). For the most there is some level of balance that is going on. We see messages of reprieve given to the US on Huawei, yet the clear part is that there is no way around Huawei. Just like the 80’s when there was no way around IBM. I still remember those arrogant sales people. Whenever they could not answer a question with any clarity (which was more often than I was ever comfortable with), the response became: ‘Sir, we are IBM‘.

It is not limited to one company, CNN reports (at https://edition.cnn.com/2019/08/23/business/china-tariffs-trade-war/index.html) “The US-China trade war ratcheted up yet again on Friday, with Beijing unveiling a new round of retaliatory tariffs on about $75 billion worth of US goods“, this round will hit “25% for vehicles or 5% on parts, and would take effect on December 15th. The new tariffs will target 5,078 products, including soybeans, coffee, whiskey, seafood and crude oil“, this war was a bad idea for America the moment they started it. Yes, there is an impact on China and there is an impact on Huawei. Yet the world cannot go around Huawei. The non-Chinese players were complacent for well over half a decade and the invoice is due, it is an invoice that a bankrupt America cannot afford at present. Moreover, the stage is now sliding away from the American market more and more. As Europe is seeking Huawei to instigate growth, America grows lag time losing momentum more and more. In Europe the issue is larger because it is not one EU; we are looking at 27 member states. The UK with BT gives us: “The investment bank also noted that the Conservatives have outlined an ambition for the roll out of super-fast fibre broadband across the whole of the UK by 2025 but it is not clear how it will be funded or what the returns will be for BT“, a technology years out of date, too much delays, politicising and now BT, a company that was once regarded as a company at the height of technology (some might remember the 80’s advertisement with Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor Who showing us a piece of fibre optics, transmitting the entire bible in one second), the message of advanced progress was clear. Yet in 2018 we see other messages ‘Why most of the UK doesn’t have True Fibre Optic Broadband‘, the setting is a disappointing one and there is a really nice explanation (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDp9-tSYpU0). The Dutch have KPN, an advantage here is that they managed to put 30% of the British population on 14% of the UK, so they have less distance issues. So even as Reuters gave us last April “Dutch telecom firm Royal KPN NV said on Friday it would select a Western supplier to build its core 5G mobile“, they will be digging a large hole for themselves. No matter who gets chosen, they all lag to a much larger degree the abilities that Huawei offers and that impact will only increase over time.

To see this we need to take you to a little math equation. An innovative technology gives you 10 years. Huawei has at present two innovations and three iterations lined up, which gives them 26 years (iterations gives one a mere 2 year advantage), which almost aligns as reengineering catches up three years annually. This gives us the number that others need to catch up to Huawei, who could in 2020 be technologically already at 2047. At present none of them have any TRUE innovations. As such the iterators will truly catch up in 2028 whilst that stage will be met in 2020 by Huawei. This is the largest danger for all the other players. In 2028 the 5G market will settle and they are all still catching up whilst Huawei rules the 5G on a global scale.

The math was important, because it also meant that I have until 2023 to sell my IP, at that point iterators will have found part of my IP and they can equal it to me by 2025. The math was everything and the math is not looking good for America or Europe. Those who embrace Huawei to some degree will get a much larger advantage. My IP was about pushing momentum and if that goes as I hope, the others will face a much larger setback, in all this a much larger part of cybersecurity will not work, or will merely delay the commerce. When was the last time you saw commerce seeking safety over revenue?

The fact that the Guardian gives us: ‘Apple warns new credit card users over risks of it touching wallets and pockets‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/22/apple-card-wallet-pocket-warning) gives a much larger issue. Even as we laugh on: ““Apple Card completely rethinks everything about the credit card. It represents all the things Apple stands for. Like simplicity, transparency, and privacy,” as the company said when the card was launched. Just don’t put it in your pocket.

So when was the last time you went on vacation and you had to take care of all that for a mere Credit Card? What happens when there is damage to the card whilst on a business trip? Oh, and more interesting, what Forbes told us (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/daveywinder/2019/08/10/apples-iphone-faceid-hacked-in-less-than-120-seconds/#1c136a2421bc) with the title ‘Apple’s iPhone FaceID Hacked In Less Than 120 Seconds‘, it is the issue of greed versus Common Cyber Sense and CCS never gets to win, greed dies!

That will show in 5G within the first year and as such there is a lot less taken care of, and it was exactly why I am rubbing my hands, the more desperate they become, the more valued my IP becomes and in the end, my IP pushes commerce and safety in the same IP line. As an android solution I get to thumb my nose against Apple and iOS, it is too iterative to consider. I hope that Google wakes up, so far Huawei might be the only tender and that is just fine by me.

How do these relate?

The pressures that we saw when thatcher decided to stop Fibre, as she saw that BT got an unfair advantage (which is fair enough) too many players try to get part of the cookie for their minimalist services and it directly relates to the US. Their stage of Status Quo as dictated by Wall Street has stopped innovation. The boat that was not rocked was giving Wall Street the managed expected returns they vowed to get. Yet the other side is also a given. We see this as the senior people stayed where they were, stopping innovation too often because they were scared to make the jump, it is the principle that gave Google the growth they had, yet the linked headline (to the smallest degree mind you) ‘Americans Owe $1.6 Trillion In Student Debt – What Will It Take To Solve This Crisis?‘ close to an entire generation was topped to innovate, I grant you that not all are innovators, but the entire innovation cycle was missed. As such highly educated people got menial jobs and went in other directions, a decent amount of them disillusioned. There is a part that gives the concern of affordable higher education, yet there is also the path that those educated and ready were stopped their innovation; each of them stopping 3-7 fellow students to tag along in that innovation path. It is what I call, a non-proven given. It is hard to set a number to this and there are of course other elements (like the economic crash) all set through and connected to the actions of a few on Wall Street, that much we all agree on and whilst that path was set to non-motion, innovation was lost in almost a dozen industries, IT and telecommunication being the most visible ones. Patents are the most visible marker here, but not the only one. That part is making the US scared, not nervous but scared. Over the next 5 years 43 drugs will become generic, the patents expire, 28 of them this year. the world looks at the pharmaceutical patents because of the aging population, yet technology patents expire too and all of those not linked to renewed innovation patents will be collapsing, consider all that was patented from 1985 and 1999, all coming to a close some were just forgotten and not renewed because the technology was surpassed, yet there we forget that original ideas can be reengineered solutions, all up for patenting and that market is well over $100 billion. One consideration is shown (at https://www.dnj.com/story/news/2019/08/22/rutherford-county-jail-hit-lawsuit-over-patent-infringement-stealing-technology-smart-communications/2064500001/) where we get: “Smart Communications accused them infringing upon their patented technology that transformed written mail into an electronic version sent directly to inmates“, I merely wonder how we see that setting when we look at players like Perceptive software, Readsoft and a few other players. Readsoft became part of Lexmark and then Lexmark, the printing and Software Company, agreed Wednesday to be sold to a consortium led by Apex Technology of China and PAG Asia Capital, a private equity firm. Consider the placement of digital transfer, on an international level in the hands of a Chinese consortium. The NY Times took notice (at https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/business/dealbook/lexmark-apex-pag-asia.html), for the most no one else did. They had no grasp of the power that the innovations were that Readsoft had. I worked with the materials; it was next gen software in 2003. Now consider that we think digital almost every moment nowadays, but there are decades of legacy materials out there and not everyone has the budget of the America alphabet group. In 5G that material needs to be digital or it will be lost. All these patents give advantage to the owner and stop others, having to re-engineer their idea again and again, that is direct currency and China has a much larger truckload of them with a later end date, even as Huawei is all innovation, they still need their patents and whatever innovation they launch next, they will need to have the patent in place. It stops all the other making the case that their advantage grows as the others forgot to get a workforce that is innovative in nature (Google is excluded from those losers). The innovator drivers are gaining momentum and over the next three years their advantage gets to grow.

That was always the advantage the innovators have and the iterators are starting to feel the pain. IBM, Microsoft and Apple might market their ‘innovation’ yet marketing it doesn’t make it actual innovation. Perhaps you remember the Verge last March giving us ‘Study confirms AT&T’s fake 5G E network is no faster than Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint 4G‘, marketing versus reality is often disappointing and the iterative technology firms are finding out the hard way that there is no such thing as marketing the reality of shareholders expectations.

We see that part ibn another field as Microsoft Phil Spencer gets to be quoted: “There’s only one new Xbox coming in 2020: ‘We are not working on a streaming-only console,’ says Xbox chief“, yet the end of the article gives us: “given the iterative nature of game consoles and the history of the business, we wouldn’t be surprised to see new versions of Project Scarlett in the coming years – it just sounds like we’ll only see one in 2020“, that is where Business Insider made the massive flaw one week ago. It is a flaw because if that was actually true the Nintendo Switch would exist, iteration would never have led to the Nintendo Switch, and not only is it beating all the records, it is also reducing the Microsoft Xbox One to the number three console. Projections are that Nintendo Switch will get to 50 million consoles sold before the end of the tax year, a lofty promise, yet that too shows the impact of innovation. In 2 years it equaled what Microsoft calls the most powerful console in the world and it took Microsoft 6 years to get there. Clearly power is not all it is cracked up to be. In addition, for the first time in history Sony is worried about how far Nintendo can get. Nintendo never wavered, they never lost their core groups, they merely added to them.

Innovation does that and innovation will push 5G in the same way, it seems that Huawei with its innovation has support all over the world on the impact of innovation and the funny part is that IBM and Microsoft used to be actually innovative, they merely forgot the sweetness of innovation victory, which is sad really. I gave mention to the Wall Street part in the Status Quo, yet they are not the only ones in that game and those who embraced that game held technology and innovation back to a much larger degree than you realise and that loss of momentum is a much larger issue in this trade war than anyone has considered.

 

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A sucker is born every minute

It is a nice expression; it is one that those who live by the rules of ‘opportunity knocks‘ rely on. In slow times you need the occasional sucker to infuse the grounded capital with lose change and they are all for it. Then there is the expression of ‘there is a hustle Smurf nearby’, where the experienced player creates a new account to amass gear from inexperienced players and newbies.

It comes down to the status on how something is seen. Some Investopedia page passed in front of me this morning and woke me up instantly. It linked to Barron’s (at https://www.barrons.com/articles/microsoft-stock-videogame-streaming-cloud-xbox-xcloud-51560373000) where we see: ‘Buy Microsoft Stock Because of Its Videogame Opportunity, Analyst Says‘, the entire setting is like a rewrite of the Divine Comedy, as Inferno is all that Microsoft seemingly delivers on a whole (as I personally see it). They went from an innovative system (Xbox 360) to a flawed concept and in the three iterations we see basic shortcomings that have never been fixed over the space of 6 years.

The beginning is already fun to work with: “Microsoft stock will rally because of its strong position in the videogame industry, according to Evercore ISI” No! It does not have a strong position, Microsoft degraded from 2nd to third position, and they could end up fighting over 4th position. The strongest console of the world got surpassed by the weakest one; the Nintendo Switch system surpassed them as they truly comprehend gaming and gamers. They got there in 2 years; it took Microsoft almost 7 years to get to this stage and ending up decently below 50% of the share that Sony has with its PlayStation. Microsoft games survives through marketing and bad decisions, with the optional good decision every once in a while.

The Microsoft stage of pushing for online, whilst basic shortcomings are frustrating gamers more and more, so when we see: “Ultimately, we believe gaming can become the next major narrative as it relates to Microsoft’s long-term growth opportunity” my response is: ‘Not Really, whilst the exclusive range of games is not impressive, the shared stream (Xbox and PS4) are often shown to be PS4 gems, whilst Microsoft is merely nice (with Assassins Creed Origins being a clear exception). The PS exclusive range is still growing and whilst the larger part of Microsoft IP is done through buying software houses, it has been in history the first step towards a more complete level of failing. There are examples all over the world for over 20 years.

Then the final part: “Materne is also optimistic over Microsoft’s cloud gaming offerings, where gamers can stream gameplay over the internet. Its XCloud service is slated for release this fall“, this is not a given. Microsoft decided to stay very quiet on the entire xCloud during its E3 and in addition, it is a soon a more direct competitor to Google Stadia. With the basic failings that Microsoft has shown to have, the audience is willing to take a look at Google Stadia, new brands have that effect, and it will gnaw directly on the Microsoft slice of the gaming cake. Apple is another contender, but there are still questions on that front for now. In short Microsoft got surpassed by Nintendo Switch, it is at less than 50% of the Sony PlayStation stage and it has disappointed gamers too often in their need for online dependency, a side that gamers do not like to relate to at all. There are enough indication that the next project (Project Scarlett) is more likely than not to hold onto the flaws of Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Its mixed media on mentions given in E3 2018, whilst giving less or no clarity on E3 2019, loaded with one liners that are implied to be connected but are regarded to be seen as separate statements show the flaw of Microsoft to a much larger extent. So as we see that ‘Microsoft is the Netflix of gaming‘, whilst not realising that there is more to that, we might go with the quote: “Xbox Game Pass is described as the ‘“Netflix of video games” and lets Xbox and PC users play a range of Xbox One and Xbox 360 games for $9.99 per month. xCloud will essentially be an upgraded version of this pass, and will work on more platforms, so it will likely cost more than $10” (Source: Inverse)

This entire setting only works well if there is enough bandwidth, in this stage the chance of congestion grows close to exponential as there will be no solid large 5G in many places until 2022, This means that it will be select in the US, Europe and outside these two. So as such the market slice will collapse overnight, Google Stadia will have a similar issue. Yet whilst Microsoft is about the marketing Hype and WOW factor, Google has been playing a more cautious long term game; it will pay off for them. All whilst the solid information that is essential was not given at E3 merely hinted at. It implies that Microsoft has not figured out how to best maximise on the revenue (read: an implied stage to exploit gamers). That in itself is the recipe for disaster. It is like the silent ‘always online‘ push that was tried in 2012 and pushed an angry mob straight towards the Sony solution. I personally believe that Microsoft has not learned its lesson yet and will give more disappointment soon enough. that whilst the bulk of the frustration could have been avoided in more than one place and never was, that alone convinces me that Microsoft might be an option, but it will be a risky one, one that is flawed and dangerous to boot, but then some investors like the rough stuff.

Now we get to the part that Investopedia has (at https://www.investopedia.com/microsoft-s-strategy-to-become-the-netflix-for-games-4691138): “One of the things Microsoft has going for them, unlike say Amazon, Verizon and Google, is a popular gaming console and a host of already super popular games, such as the entire series of “Halo” games. At the recent E3 video-game conference in Los Angeles, the company unveiled 60 new blockbuster games for both its console and PC, including “Gears 5,” “Batman: Arkham Knight,” “Cyberpunk 2077,” and “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.”” Now consider that this list of 4 only has one exclusive and for the most 50% of that list has nearly everyone desiring it on PS4 and optionally PS5 as well. The fact that ‘Batman: Arkham Knight‘ is a 2015 game giving rise to some people not doing their homework #JustSaying.

It is true Gears and Halo are Microsoft exclusives and they do have a large following, no one denies this, yet two titles don’t make for a victory (they also have the Excellent Forza IP which was oddly missing in that list).

Yet overall the entire matter of being surpassed by the weakest console is a much larger issue. The matter of change is upon them and their play is to not do this implies that there is a larger online need and the people a shivering back from that stage. They feel a little more powerless. Even as xCloud is all online, the push to completely be there will backfire, if only to be able to game when the internet congests, a part that too many have not considered to the degree it needs to be considered.

Until 5G and 5G speeds are commonplace, the gamer will be confronted with ISP’s that will react towards congestion through bandwidth throttling, when that happens, you do not want to be in a multiplayer game like Fortnite losing your connection, any promise that this will not happen is bogus from the very start. It is still a tool used, even within the last 24 hours we see throttling in combination with ISP’s all over the world, because it is a tool they need to minimise congestion. The moment throttling hits, the game is quite literally over for these players. So how often does this need to happen for people to trade in their xCloud (and optional Google Stadia) solution?

When that crystalizes in front of you, what will the losses be? I believe that there is a clear future for this kind of gaming, no one denies that, yet until there is a much stronger 5G presence, I am not sure how it will actually properly work (outside of a staged test phase). And for now that stage is for the larger global gaming population 2-3 years away.

 

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At the end of a journey

Today is not for the faint of heart, or those who are hindered by emotional parts, today is not merely about gaming, it is about the game. We are currently confronted with a few issues, the first one is given by the Guardian, was for two weeks. My initial issues with ‘Apple Arcade v Google Stadia: which is the future for video games?‘ is a simple stage. Why can’t we have both? I was never anti one or pro the other ever. I was not about Atari ST versus Amiga, I was not about CBM-64 vs Atari 800, I was also not about N64 vs PS1. My issue with Microsoft was their stupidity, as well as their refusal to listen to their gamers, that is the mere reason why the Nintendo Switch is now on par with the total Xbox lifetime sold consoles, it took Nintendo less than 2 years to get there and they got there, the most powerful console is now actively being surpassed by the weakest of the three consoles, that is the impact of stupidity (optionally ignoring Karma was partially a reason too).

So I believe that there is space for both, a case can be made for either console and even as we are most likely to get one of them first, there is a decent case for getting them both down the track. We will have to wait what is in store for us, yet the Google controller clearly looks like something we have seen before. Yet wait; only two days ago we see Microsoft Stupidity strike again. This time in the shape of the Microsoft CFO giving us: ‘Xbox CFO on Google Stadia: “Cloud Won’t Match Local Experience”‘, so thank you Tim Stuart (apparently he is the Xbox CFO), thank you for confirming this, the entire push of Cloud and always online is proven to be a bad choice, as I stated for the last 6 years. Too bad that you never considered the stupidity of your console choices years ago, you might not have become the underdog, defeated by the weakest of all next gen consoles.

I particularly enjoyed the passage (at https://mspoweruser.com/xbox-cfo-on-google-stadia-cloud-wont-match-local-experience/) “Microsoft believes that it will struggle in providing gamers enough content as the company doesn’t have strong ties to Game developers and publishers.“, it is merely a temporary delay at best, you see, when it came to exclusive games, Microsoft was nowhere to be found for almost two years, and when we see on how the magnificent growth through indie developers is seen on the Nintendo Switch (which surprised me too), we see that new players giving free value like (Gems of War) on IOS, android, PS4, XB1 and Switch is showing to be an amazing journey and for those who have all the consoles 500% more joy than ever expected. By having micro transactions, but not pushing them, we see a much larger market that will also benefit Google Stadia, then there is Fallout Shelter and there is a whole range of games that will find a happy audience on the Google Stadia (and its Apple adversary). So when it comes to Microsoft, they gambled and lost, they have remained short sighted as I expected them to be and they (as I personally see it) openly forsake their gamers for illusionary short term goals end their loss against their competitors is not done yet, not by a long shot.

So when I see “In an interview with The Telegraph, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer for Xbox, Mike Nichols said, “Emerging competitors like Google have a cloud infrastructure, a community with YouTube, but they don’t have the content.”” I see a new level of shortsightedness. I see the failing from Mike Nichols. I designed three ideas in gaming in under a week and I am not even the visionary that some are, content can be corrected for; indie developers can make up the difference much faster than the barricades that Microsoft erected long ago.

Google has an optional trump card that none of the others used and as such has the open advantage much sooner than expected. The article has more laughable statements, but let’s move on for now. You see, Techradar had the right idea last week when it gave us ‘Google Stadia may be the first good use for 5G phones‘, the entire setting of 4G ‘Wherever I am’ and 5G ‘whenever I want it’ will find unification in Google Stadia and it will grow close to exponentially soon thereafter. Techradar also gives us: “Google executive Phil Harrison, meanwhile, confirmed that Stadia has already started gaining momentum and that Google received strong support from developers the game streaming platform which in theory solves one of the major concern regarding Stadia“, I do remain critical on the need to measure and keep in check those who are in it for the micro transactions and short term gain for themselves, they are not a joy, they are the Achilles heel of gaming soon enough, but the momentum counts and must not be ignored. Apple Arcade has a larger issue, Apple lost well over 450 billion in value and even as close to 50% of the loss has been regained, Apple cannot afford to be casual, there are 2 billion gamers in the world and if Apple does not play its cards right, they merely become another short term player in a game setting that they might not comprehend. Microsoft didn’t, that much is clear and they got hit and they got hit hard.

The other side

You see, the moment I ‘feared’ has come to town, there have been two games over the last year, two games that changed it all. The first is God of War 4; a game so amazing, so large and so perfect in almost every way that is boggles the mind. Even now, watching the total cut scenes on YouTube is a journey that is close to 6 hours. 6 hours that is a story supporting a game with graphic perfection that was unseen until that day. Now we see ‘Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice‘, a game with graphic and gaming perfection. Both games are PS4 exclusives, both are singular reasons to upgrade to the PS4 pro and both are challenges of the largest degree. It sounds morbid, but at the end of my life, I am finally seeing what should be regarded as the apogee of gaming. Finally I see something that equals and surpasses on what my imagination could perceive, after 40 years of gaming, we are finally getting the games that are the top in its field. Both for the Sony console. That is what Apple and Google are up against, yet they are not. With their solutions they are much more a trump solution for the 1 billion mobile gamers wanting a little more. Nintendo Switch with their docking station is proving the switch between on the road and the large TV screen, both regarded in equal measure on one system and with 5G google can do the same thing, Google Stadia could be a growth system (optionally much more than Apple) in the stage where systems are vying for a billion gamers. So even as Microsoft was (in my personal view) deceptive to hide behind “We’re developing Project xCloud not as a replacement for game consoles, but as a way to provide the same choice and versatility that lovers of music and video enjoy today,” they are eager to avoid the entire online only and pushing us towards their Azure desk. They opened that door and they are now learning that Google is much better in applying that very same portal, another battle lost for Microsoft (and they were never that ready to begin with). A game lost in one generation, what the Xbox360 build form the strong setting of the very first Xbox, the Xbox One pretty much lost and at present they have no options to regain that market any day soon, they wasted too much options on that road.

Google has an additional advantage, the bulk of all gamers have a modern TV, so form that part we see more than the Guardian gave us (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2019/mar/27/apple-arcade-v-google-stadia-which-is-the-future-for-video-games) two weeks ago. With: “streaming would open games up to millions – if not billions – of people who don’t want or can’t afford to buy pricey equipment“, take that consideration with a $59 Chromecast to stream to your TV, at that point a person’s Mobile is going to be the centre for gaming, stream to TV with merely a mobile and a controller. That is the true growth for Google and even those who have a console; it will be enriching to take a turn to the options Google offers, any gamer would want to take that path. As I see the gaming solutions that the CBM-64, the Atari ST and the Amiga offered, a mere high resolution upgrade will make hundreds if not thousands of games, none of them IP protected, all offering the original designers a stream of additional wealth, all there for the taking and all there for the streaming. Some of the most original games, even now still regarded as awesome passing of time, all ready for the next few years. So there we see just how the statement “Microsoft believes that it will struggle in providing gamers enough content as the company doesn’t have strong ties to Game developers and publishers” is not just a weak one, it is one that can be overcome close to overnight, a mere state of denial by what was once great and is optionally now soon forgotten, the mere application of not listening to gamers and keeping the focal point of greed and dependency got them there and now soon to be surpassed not once, but optionally twice. How is that for a lack of vision. Even as I see more solutions that could set a wining stage on the Xbox 360, now it will be the stage that fuels optionally both the Google as well as the Apple solution to gaming.

The games they provide will not equal the two games mentioned or what the PS3 pro offers for now, but as we clearly knew and what Nintendo Switch has proven to us, the most powerful console does not win, the best game does and when we see that, when we see that great gaming has existed for decades, yet some of these titles were forgotten, or better stated not played on current systems, they are not dead, they can be revived in the new gaming world that is introduced by Apple and Google.

So what was three is now set to the stage of 5 and in that stage we know the top  two, yet in the end Microsoft could fall back to 4th position soon enough, when that happens will they finally wake up in Microsoft land, or will we get more marketing and statements that can be laughed at soon thereafter. Gaming is a much more serious business than most realise and those who do not will not last long in that place, so the need to listen to the gamers was always a first, the one part that Microsoft never considered for the longest of times, that is why they are sliding from 2nd to 3rd and soon enough optionally 4th. If I am still around in 2022, I wonder if my words will be shown and proven to be correct. For Microsoft to gain momentum they will require to make massive changes to their way of thinking and with both Google and Apple entering that field, will they change fast enough, and more important, will they finally truly listen to their gaming population?

Time will tell.

 

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A BAFTA for controllers

Yes, another event is taking place; this time it will be the BAFTA for games that is up for some to grab. The competition has been fierce in the past; I actually did not choose God of War in the Games Awards 2018. I would have given it to Forza Horizons 4, who had blown me away on several fields, even as there was no dispute, it was close, really really close. So as we see the Artistic Achievement mask, God of War wins, not by much as the competition was fierce.

With Audio achievement, God of War wins, it will also win the Music; the soundtrack is overwhelming and amazing. They also have the benefit that AC Origins and Arkham Knight are not on that list; these three are the best soundtracks gaming has ever produced. Bear McCreary, a musician who already earned his stripes with Battlestar Galactica (and several others) is now the one favourite for that mask, as I personally see it.

Yet best game is interesting, with Forza Horizons missing, only God of War remains; in my personal view the others will not make it a nose length fight. Yet all is not lost for Microsoft, with the British game, we see a win that clearly goes to Forza, racing through Britain is just too much fun and too amazing.

I have to pass on debut game; too many are unknown to me, making my voice not a fair one. As Evolving Game, Elite is the one for me. I have skin in the game there, having loved the game since its initial release on the BBC Micro B and my own copy on the CBM 64 (I did not have the BBC Micro B myself). I still remember that day as I had to take a 90 minute train trip to get to the one store in 1985 that had it. When it comes to Family, my view is skewed. I do not think that Pokémon is a family game, it is family friendly, that is true, but true family game implies engagement by all and there I merely see Super Mario Party as the one option, perhaps it is most likely that my view of the Family category is wrong, but perhaps it should not have been given a category that comes across as dubious in its interpretation. As for Game beyond Entertainment, 4 are unknown to me, so I skip that category. The same would apply to Game Design was it not to the fact that God of War is sublime in all ways, so I reckon they will get it. Yet, I am happy to be proven wrong due to a game I had not seen. The same can be said for Game Innovation, yet when it comes to innovation the entire idea of creativity and cardboard to be added to a console and gaming is just so whack that it should win. I never saw the appeal, yet the appeal to see kids fold a piano and then play it making the switch play music is just slightly too strong on the side of magic beating that horse named science. Only Nintendo could ever be that one player who does not know what a box is, and therefore not being hindered by one.

I skip several but then halt at Original Property, which only as it ends up being slightly flawed Subnautica wins. I have been testing it since its early release and it is by far the most immersive (submersive too) and innovative (as well as original) survival game. The fact that it is almost all on water makes it weird, strange and it never stops being weird and challenging.

For me personally the Performer mask should be Christopher Judge as Kratos in God of War his performance of Kratos is iconic, yet the voices: Danielle Bisutti as Freya, Jeremy Davies as The Stranger and Sunny Suljic as Atreus are all worthy nominees. I believe that the voice of Kassandra failed in AC Odyssey, not due to the actress though, which is a shame for her, because all nominees clearly worked their asses off to get the top achievements in the games, this is one part where the software makers can intervene and slightly screw it up, yet in God of War the work on any level remained 5 out of 5 all over the board giving 4 nominees a clear advantage.

As for EE mobile game of the year, there is no way of telling. An audience will vote personal and emotional giving Pokémon go the home field advantage, but in the end it will be anyone’s guess and Fortnite is on that list too, so I wonder if that voice will be impacted by the PC and console gamers, I actually do not know. I am not surprised that I did not elect Red Dead Redemption 2. I was never into Westerns. I do acknowledge that everyone tells me that it is the best single player experience ever, but so was God of War, so was Forza Horizons 4 (if you are a racer). You see, some might hide behind the marketing of ‘the most powerful console in the world‘, yet when the awe is not in the hardware, but in the excellence of game design like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We see it when the least powerful console overwhelms you with graphics, music and gaming experience. When the noise of ‘jing jing’ when you switch on a console does not do it, but your heart flutters when you hear the ‘Yahoo!’ of Mario grabbing another Power moon and your mind races where more can be found. When you get that part, then you also understand why Microsoft ends up having their most powerful console in the world in the number three position of consoles. And it gets to be worse for them soon enough (optionally). When the people at Google realise what makes gamers tick, they might end up being a mere number 4 contending party in 2021. It is the adaptation of a French expression; I think it came from the French revolution. The adapted expression is: ‘Change is valuable it turns the leaders into underdogs’; it is a lesson that Microsoft will just have to learn the hard way. Their unwillingness to listen to gamers is coming at a very steep price and it will look optionally a lot more expensive soon enough.

How does that matter?

It matters as we see the gamers move to other consoles, at times keeping the old console around, but the funds (if they have any) will go towards the games that they are drawn too, Microsoft seemingly forgot about that. They pushed for backwards compatibility so that could ride on the coattails of the Xbox 360 a little while longer, but that too will lose steam and the game awards as well as the gaming Bafta gives us where the need for new games was at, and in that respect God of War truly delivered, the fact that a Sony Exclusive game is a nominee in most categories also gives us a tale of where Microsoft dropped the ball (yet again), and now Google Stadia is just around the corner biting into the multi gamer and streaming services fruit that Microsoft thought they had secured for themselves. I admit that they went about it the right way and anyone into gaming and online not getting a Game Pass is pretty much insane, yet that horse has other jockey’s and Google as the late arrival is about to walk into the ring.

We will be ready with Irish jokes as the awards will be presented by Dara O’Briain on April 4th, so we should hope that Milton Jones walks in to have a bit of a go at Dara on stage, but that is just wishful thinking.

I like game awards as it shows to some extend what games achieved and who were the ones teaching us what gaming can be about. We tend to look at the large games, the large players, yet in that world we might not have noticed Minecraft, a labour of love that became an addiction for millions, for many it still is. In this day and age it seems impossible, but who has played Subnautica? When you look will you suddenly realise that you missed out on something? That is actually the best art of the show, until one award night I had never heard of Threes! That can happen to us all, and for those seeing that one game that makes you buy a console, that is the moment you open another door to multiple worlds.

Game awards also give rise to new directions, at present more often than not instigated by small indie developers, but pushes like that can be game changers. Even as I contemplated an entirely new direction for changing difficulty levels in a game like Watchdogs 3, I suddenly considered that this path had never been considered ever before (optionally a slight exaggeration), and it could have an educational impact as well. The added value goes towards the replayability that a game has, changing the value of a game and the bank for your buck. Now, we can all agree that not everyone might like it that was and that path is not for every franchise; yet the realisation that no one has ever taken it into that direction is also food for thought, especially when you realise how many games have been published and I have been involved with and around gaming since Mirrorsoft.

And in finality, this is the first year that where it is my feeling that the Gaming awards had a better impact and was appreciated better and more than the academy awards, implying that the ascending star for gaming will continue for some time to come.

 

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Dark Friday

There was an article last Friday. I knew it was bogus from my point of view, so I waited until the end of that event (actually this is the last day). It starts with the sub line, which gives us ‘Brands, activists and charities are questioning the annual consumer feeding frenzy‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/23/has-the-backlash-to-black-friday-already-started), it was the undertone that made me wonder and even as I knew it was from my point of view a bogus article, I waited to see how it unfurled. And behold, hallelujah, someone states the stupid part and my case is won. It is seen with: “The whole Black Friday thing is fake and customers are getting wise to it,” said FatFace boss Anthony Thompson. “Bigger brands and retailers should look very hard at what they are doing. They are damaging the high streets and local independent traders who can’t compete with these fake promotions and customers are getting ripped off.”” I am certain that Anthony is a driven ideologist towards his own brand and we cannot fault him for that. You see clothing, shoes and other temporary items dread these sales moments as it undermines their bottom dollar, they need their margins and for them Black Friday is a problem, yet it is not something fake. It has become something real, it always was real, yet now it impacts people to a much larger degree. I remember last year, I got Assassins Creed Origin with statue for well over 55% off. What was $199 was offered at that point for a mere $85, so that was a real saving. There was more at that point, and I got one or two additional things. I believe it was Nioh, with season pass and all extra’s for $24, a bargain if ever there was one. this year my budget is strapped, so I have to forego Black Sunday this year around, which is a shame, because getting yourself a nice Christmas present 4 weeks early with 50% or more off is a huge deal. That is also the impact of Black Friday; it is close to Christmas for all those people doing their Christmas shopping early. A Xbox One S for $299 (+ games) is a real deal and those who have the old Xbox, it is also a nice step up and that is beside the point that the slimline Colgate white One S is actually really pretty to see, there is no denying that. Loads of places give 20% of TV’s, Camera’s and laptops, so at that point getting the device that is on its last legs a quick replacement is a good option to have.

Nothing fake about this moment and we all need it, even as some people are in denial (especially Anthony Thompson), most of us have too small a budget, we cannot afford to get the nice things as the cost of living all over the world keeps on going up and there is less cash to go around for other things. At that point the Black Friday is a blessing. Especially for parents, most kids desire a console, or perhaps a new mobile. At that point 20% makes a dent in that bill and even as some parents give the present early stating no bog presents at Christmas, for these kids Christmas came early and they are all so happy. It also applies to adults, especially when we take a look at Applewear and Fitbit deals, there were plenty.

Yet there is nothing fake about other venues either. When I see: “The Charities Aid Foundation is backing the UK’s efforts for global charity event Giving Tuesday on 27 November, which encourages people to do something for – or give something to – a charity they care about. Celebrities including blogger and Strictly Come Dancing participant Joe Sugg, Ricky Gervais and Martin Lewis are supporting the day which last year raised £213m online alone around the world” I see that there is reason to look in other directions too. I am a little amazed that there was no union. How would it be if a store on the Black Friday announces that any sale under $109 adds 50 cents to that charity and over $109 the send $1 that way. It could effectively add millions to such causes and that would be a reason to embrace Black Friday even more. Knowing that I was looking forward to this black Friday hoping that there was some cash left, I would not have whinged at the extra $1, even with a purchase of $85, the saving was already awesome and the extra dollar would not have dented it. So when I see this article, is it really about a missed opportunity for charities, or were some of the people at Charities Aid Foundation negligent to see if a deal could have been made with the thousands of retailers for those few extra coins for every visitor? There was even the chance that some of them would have been willing to add it that little extra to every deal they had, even more money lost out on.

There is a similar issue with the opinion piece by Stuart Jeffries where we see: ‘I’ve discovered the Joy of Missing Out. Black Friday isn’t for me‘. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/23/black-friday-joy-of-missing-out) an be seen in more than one way. Apart from the sensation of ‘Missing Out’ which tends to be a negative one. Like many other men, I do not really warm up to 50% fashion sales, unless I am in dire need of Jeans, Cargo Pants, Polo shirts or something like that. He takes us to an advertisement with: “Take the ad starring Martin Freeman for a mobile phone company. His train carriage is filled with boneheads staring into their handsets; even in the loo he finds the guard furtively watching something on his phone when he should be checking tickets. “What is wrong with you!” Freeman yells. And then a beat, before he realises that what’s wrong is him. He doesn’t have a two-year data deal to get unmissable TV, music, movies and sport promised in the voiceover. Freeman winces – and there it is, Fomo in the face“. I personally believe that contracts are for the most not a spur of the moment thing. They are long lasting and even as I had a great deal 2 years ago where I got an additional 200GB for $50 (considering that any gig over quota gets rewarded with $10 to the bill, $50 is a steal any given day. We need to think long term when we sign up to those deals. It will impact long term, yet getting a console, a game, movies or perhaps even a TV is a short term impact and 30% of a 65” 4K TV is actual money for savings. These are things you do not normally buy, so getting them in January or February when all the sales are on is the time to get them, now Black Friday changed that by offering a similar deal just before Christmas and people are getting in line a year ahead to see what else is getting the large write-off. We have to as it is almost the only moment when we have the option to spend cash on something we normally cannot afford. It is at that point that we see that the article was stupid, hollow and misguided, especially when we realise the ‘customers are getting ripped off‘, how is 20%-30% discount ripping of customers?

As for the entire Charities Aid Foundation, we see another path, perhaps it was taken; I do not know that part. Yet the entire setting where I give the option of $1 (or £1) per sale and 50% of that if the amount was small would have made an extra mountain of cash for Charities Aid Foundation. Was that path taken? I guess not, but that would be speculation. From my point of view, even cash strapped when you gain (in my personal example) 114 coins of profit, handing one over to charity seems perfectly normal and it would be given when the savings were really nice, the impact would have been marginalised to zero. Not everyone can do this, but the bulk can and in that I do not see a ‘backlash to Black Friday‘, I merely see a ‘missed opportunity for the Charities Aid Foundation‘ and of course all other charities trying to get a few extra coins on November 27th. As I see it, giving Tuesday could have started early, optionally giving the premise for people to give one more coin on Tuesday too, so how much will be missed out on as we whinge in one direction whilst we all know that there are more and more people depending on this point in time to get something essential, something the budget does not allow for?

It is in that trend that I always look forward to Christmas dinner on December 27th when all the supermarkets are pricing their Turkeys and hams down by 60% or more, December 25th is merely 0.273% of a year. When you can do that (most atheists and agnostics can) does it really matter when you have an abundance of food as a meal? whether I do or do not does not matter, when our lives are set to strapping for a budget we look towards what the opportunities give us and it seems to me that for several players Black Friday ended up being a missed opportunity. I wonder if that book ‘The Joy of Missing Out: The Art of Self-Restraint in an Age of Excess‘ by professor Svend Brinkmann takes into consideration the timing of maximising one’s budget, and as it goes on sale in March 2019, at a time when there might still be book sales going on, so we can find out then.

I am curious, merely because the list of people getting to live a life of excess is actually dwindling down. Even as incomes are not the worst, some groceries (especially meat) went up by 12% last month, and when you consider that budgets are tight, 12% has an actual impact on people, especially in places like meat & milk, items most of us need on a daily basis.

Budgeting is becoming an art for many families and for them Black Friday is becoming an opportunity to put a dent in what is needed versus available funds, nothing to miss out on. So if we see the Charities Aid Foundation using next Black Friday to give a ramp towards Giving Tuesday, I would happily hand over those extra coins if I am able to participate in the Black Friday deal, we will see what happens on Black Friday 2019.

This is merely my view on the matter, feel free to oppose it.

 

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