Sunday, January 30, 2011

3DS vs NGP

Let's compare both Nintendo's 3DS and Sony's NGP.

The first one is going to sell like hot cakes, again, merely because of that cool 3D gimmick, but which will surely will add very little to substantial matters. This simple addition, totally superficial, which by the way is far from perfect the moment you're not standing right in front of the screen (the image doubles when you're a bit off-axis) will certainly not rise the production cost of the console by much (the 3D effect mainly is a trick of display). Well, we know that Nintendo will sell that one waaaaay above its true screws and bolts price, as always. It's not a surprise either, they're not in the business of making games. They sell cheap plastic toys, which is pretty much where they come from anyway.
That's the core of their disruptive strategy : selling hardware gimmicky coolness to people who don't care about video games. NDS, Wii, and 3DS.
So, next to the augmented reality, you'll have waterproof console (play underwater !!) and true holograms ala Star Wars (with obviously crappier graphics than if displayed on a flat SuperOLED screen, but never mind).

Then you have the NGP, which is a true developer's wet dream, the ultimate Swiss Knife, but which will certainly be considerably more expensive, and not as cool on the surface. It comes with two thumbsticks, a multi touchscreen, games on cards (bye bye stupid UMD), a touch pad on the back, and plenty of network functions. Yes, it's a dream come true. Nothing to best Nintendo, but certainly much more complete in promises, and probably far more rewarding game wise.

Yet... no stylus.
No tactical games for you guys. If you think you can play a RTS with the tip of your fingers on such a small screen, I have a prime swampland to sell you.

Well, hold that. We already managed to convince millions of players that you could get a true FPS experience on consoles. So why not?

Besides, isn't it what the PSP should have been? Isn't it a bit... superfluous?

What of the NGP's price? Will people even feel the need to buy the NGP, when, on the surface, it doesn't really look like it's that much new? I mean, the difference between a maxed out PS2 and PS3 was not so huge as it was between a PSX and a PS2, but visible enough on a large screen, say glaring on new generation HD screens, but on a handheld screen roughly of the same proportions as the PSP's...

Tough game for you, Sony guys. The NGP may do OK, but the strong lineup will be the key. The rest is just coating and wouldn't depress the line on the scopes by much.
Besides, the "Too-Many-Things in 1" syndrome just reeks off too much of the Game Boy vs Game Gear, in some way, and I'm quite sure that the 3D without the glasses has already guaranteed Nintendo great future revenues.

Finally, when you think of the casual-social gaming bloom, you may think that the NGP killer could be the Xperia Play itself.

Perfect Video Game Business Model

There's a blog I like to read from time to time. It's Bruce on Games. It's generally full of good insight or at least thought provoking matter, and is a healthy reading when it comes to thickening your brainstorming card deck. Still, like with many other insiders, they seem to lack something quite crucial about reality, something which means that no matter how hard they may try, their vision of the situation, their perspective, is just too narrow, perhaps too biased.
Here I present such an example: Gambling as a video game business model.

The eternal problem of selling a video game as a stand alone package is that it can and will be stolen. If people think that they can get away with stealing then they will, so the level of theft can easily reach the high nineties in percentage terms. In other words often very few users of your product are actually paying for the work that you have done.

The way round this is alternative business models, so the customer is forced to pay in a different way. These can include online games with a monthly fee, pay per play, sale of in game items, advertising or sponsorship, etc etc. All these and more are being used successfully and the industry continues to experiment in order to find viable ways to be rewarded for their work.

When I was Head of Corporate Affairs at Codemasters working for the Chairman, Jim Darling, we were fully aware of the blight of software theft on the business and often discussed ways round it. One idea was online gambling, where we made money from people betting within the game.


[Jez San OBE]'s online gaming company, PKR, is a huge success.

Ok. That's what I call missing the point. Entirely.

With gambling, he has essentially found a way to make money online with "some kind of game", but it's not the same as having found a new business model to make traditional video gaming more profitable, or profitable again.
Surely, this brings us back to the question of piracy, for which it's generally blotted out that the prime issue is economy; in that the middle class, or whatever remains of it, lives on ever ballooning debts and has been getting poorer and poorer decade after decade, with industries being destroyed and reassembled overseas.

It's quite tragic, in fact, that the electronic based industries, more open to piracy and therefore seemingly more fragile, paradoxically seem to be those which are so under-involved in economics and politics. It's like kids who have never grown. It's distressing.

Clearly, there are obvious primary priorities between putting £60 in a game or in your kids' clothes and food. It just boils down to that. Multiply salaries by ten for everybody, while keeping the same value on goods as it is now, and you'd solve a huge part of the problem. This money exists, we know where it went, and it's not in the people's pockets (clue: it's called Kapital and Banksters).
There would be minimal inflation, because the amount of money is already there, it does not need to increase, so prices wouldn't go up, purchase power wise, but keep stable (commercial laws could help). Primary resources costs wouldn't skyrocket either: they can't, "we" already produce too much. A slow down of the consumption would be a prime directive. Improving quality and durability would force industries to focus on more sustainable development (and I can't tell you how much I'm very cautious with this, as it's currently used to push the world in a direction which is nothing sustainable at all, and only used to allow authorities to peek into people's lives a bit more).

Again, all the money is already there, the amount does not need to change. It just needs to end in different hands. The mere fact that the money supply grew, prices climbed, yet income didn't really follow pretty much proves this. What hasn't worked one way won't work the other way just because income is increased to the levels it should have been at now ... let's just muse about the lack of income recalibration that hasn't occurred over the last two or three decades, relative to the hording inflation - where are we know? Yeah, good job. You've been stolen. Ouch.

Piracy gives the illusion that there's a massive loss of money, while in fact a great many people who acquire illegal copies would have never paid for it to begin with.
The problem with this illusion, which is nothing more than a fallacious argument often repeated ad nauseum every two weeks by editors complaining about lost sales, is that it also makes creators think there's a viable industry there to work in, and therefore they decide to make games.
So while in any other industry, a lack of sales couldn't be blamed on "piracy" but the simple fact that people don't have much money left to buy your stuff, in the video game industry, this silly corporate talk is entertaining a lie that keeps acting like a siren, until the ship crashes, unavoidably.

The other reason video game workers and consumers don't seem that much involved in politics or syndicalism of any sort is because of the dumbed down infantile culture that permeates so many studios which share the mental leftovers of the Internet bubble: cool kids working at Google and just sort of living their dream, having the political, historical and economical culture of a shrimp.

But no. The real deal is that people wouldn't bother pirating games if buying legal copies was not a problem. When I mean problem, the real one is not about the game's price, but people's income. It's a subtle difference, but it has a lot more to do with psychology than with cold equations.
You can lower your price as much as you want, you won't change much if the people still get the impression that the world's damn unfair and a few lucky bastards rack millions while you're left with a few pennies at the end of the month once you've paid all the bills. Case: the massive piracy on smartphone apps.

What we're seeing about piracy is so obvious because Internet enhances all, and the pseudo crisis of 2007 is only the peak of the iceberg, something that's been going on for longer than that.
So all those schemey over complicated new business *solutions* are no solutions. They're just painting, coating, but the core is still rotten and not getting any saner. Those so called solutions are even more silly because they complicate matters, while people beg for simplicity and a sense of liberty. Subscription, DLC, etc. All that is shit. Oh but wait, people actually want that shit. They're so stupid that they beg for it. Their empty lives drive them to waste their money on "virtualities" which are even more anti-productive than cigarettes.
It's no surprise that within such nihilistic societies, people are ready to pay for the likes of WoW, which by all means is not that much of a game but rather another job which just alienates you by exploiting psychological backdoors and giving you little reward at all in return.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Feeding Microsoft when Gates feeds Monsanto

There are things I hate with a passion. One of them is Mosanto. Another is Cargill.

And one thing I'm really close to hate, aside from the monopoly it holds on PC OSes (and wonderfully illustrated in Bill Gates's open letter from the 70s), is Microsoft.
Microsoft, BG's ever growing supply of money.

So what happens when our nerdy BG buys about 500,000 shares from Monsanto - poisonous killers of crops, farmers (not just the African ones) and liberties- for $27.6 M in the second quarter of 2010, and the news breaks out in late 2010?

The video game industry remains silent.
Controversial? All but an euphemism.
Sure, with billions to make, who'd shake the boat by pointing out the disgusting ties between Gates and Monsanto, and therefore logically risking the business profitability of Microsoft and millions of jobs depending on the sales of games on the Microsoft console?

Still, here's a couple links you should read, if you don't want to die silly. (And as always, don't miss the comments section when there's one!)

Gates Foundation ties with Monsanto under fire from activists
Bill Gates Foundation Buys 500,000 Shares of Monsanto
Should the Gates Foundation sell its stock in Monsanto?
Gates Foundation invests in Mosanto: Both will profit at expense of small-scale African farmers
Chemical Relations: Monsanto and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Seriously, there are times when I feel a bit heart-torn when I know that making video games in such an age of disgrace is not particularly fertile for the mind, and is often said to keep people away from important matters (just like any entertainment consumed in droves and nothing in video games actually encourages people to do otherwise), but do we really have to flush everything, including ethics ?

EDIT : I forgot something. Did you ever hear of the Doomsday Vault ? Surely, you want to read the following article : Doomsday Arctic Seed Vault: Do Bill Gates, Rockefeller and GMO (genetically modified organism) titans know something...
Hello? Is there anyone still sane on this fucking planet?

--- Special Blackwater Black Ops/XE Services Update ---

Machines of War: Blackwater, Monsanto, and Bill Gates. An excerpt:

A report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation (Blackwater's Black Ops, 9/15/2010) revealed that the largest mercenary army in the world, Blackwater (now called Xe Services) clandestine intelligence services was sold to the multinational Monsanto. Blackwater was renamed in 2009 after becoming famous in the world with numerous reports of abuses in Iraq, including massacres of civilians. It remains the largest private contractor of the U.S. Department of State "security services," that practices state terrorism by giving the government the opportunity to deny it.

Many military and former CIA officers work for Blackwater or related companies created to divert attention from their bad reputation and make more profit selling their nefarious services-ranging from information and intelligence to infiltration, political lobbying and paramilitary training - for other governments, banks and multinational corporations. According to Scahill, business with multinationals, like Monsanto, Chevron, and financial giants such as Barclays and Deutsche Bank, are channeled through two companies owned by Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater: Total Intelligence Solutions and Terrorism Research Center. These officers and directors share Blackwater.

One of them, Cofer Black, known for his brutality as one of the directors of the CIA, was the one who made contact with Monsanto in 2008 as director of Total Intelligence, entering into the contract with the company to spy on and infiltrate organizations of animal rights activists, anti-GM and other dirty activities of the biotech giant.

Contacted by Scahill, the Monsanto executive Kevin Wilson declined to comment, but later confirmed to The Nation that they had hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and 2009, according to Monsanto only to keep track of "public disclosure" of its opponents. He also said that Total Intelligence was a "totally separate entity from Blackwater."

However, Scahill has copies of emails from Cofer Black after the meeting with Wilson for Monsanto, where he explains to other former CIA agents, using their Blackwater e-mails, that the discussion with Wilson was that Total Intelligence had become "Monsanto's intelligence arm," spying on activists and other actions, including "our people to legally integrate these groups." Total Intelligence Monsanto paid $ 127,000 in 2008 and $ 105,000 in 2009.


This is getting out of hands!
- Whose hands?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Miss Terry

I was watching that miserable review of Predators by IGN, aptly rebranded as IGNorant by some Youtube poster.
OK, the movie wasn't necessarily great. It just tries too much to be like Predator, yet it seems many reviewers miss just how the whole first movie reeked off low budget. Perhaps that's what makes bigger budget Predator moves not so good, I don't know, since more money often tends to remove the cheap factor that is essential to the cult part.
Still, the movie was quite enjoyable and hardly as cringe worthy as Predator 2 or those abortions of crossovers.


I think the sequence with "Machete" (sorry) was very cool, and "Morpheus" (re-sorry) was a very nice addition as some routine nutjob, although I wish he had lived much longer!
All other characters made sense in their own way, the Yakuza killer was cool, and the Israeli female soldier was, in lack of better words, plain logical (regardless of your opinion about the on going real life shit storm in the relevant region).
What I don't get though is why the last Predator could blow up the ship on remote, yet not bring it back.


But I'm not writing this to review the movie.
What made me cringe was one particular comment to that mediocre "review":

Good movie really!
But why do they always leave out the simple and easy stuff?
Like the predators collecting trophies, or healing themselfes.
If they want to do something new, why not invent females?
Or maybe explain more about there economy? I mean they must have one with all that technology, or something alike ^^
Still I like this movie!
Better then that avp requim garbage, cant see shit in that film.

You that thing that really makes fans go crazy and keeps a franchise alive on its own merits, that thing that is deeply underrated, and which every single sequel and Hollywood movie tends to get rid off as soon as possible, you know... mystery... why don't people care about it anymore?
Next day, they'll beg for Geroge Lucas to show Yoda's planet and a world full of lookalikes with pointy ears. Because it would be so cool.

So what is this bloke asking for ?

Predator females.
I can't imagine something more offensive than Predator females.
As a matter of fact, what tells us that they have females at all? Or why aren't those Predators we see the females?
Oh but wait, that's not all. Our local genius is asking for...

Yes, as Predator economy. It's not like you're watching a movie to satiate a certain need for escapism. It's not like the whole world is going down in flames because of some major screw up in economy you know.
No. You really want to see more Economy. Big Brain wants some Smart inside his Predator movie, and all he could think of is economy. He wants to go to the theater and watch a bid budget Predator : Financial Times.

Yep, seriously.

Why not ask for a movie about the thrilling life of a Predator babysitter, or a Predator ship builder. After all, they must have babies, and we know they have spaceships! We need to know!
Oh and I want to see the life of Predator Einstein, since some Predator has to have come with the design for those arm nukes, right?
Hey! We need to know what they eat! Do they have recipes? That's so exciting!

No, really, why don't you leave us alone and try to make your IMAGINATION work instead, and if possible, keep all those fantastic ideas to yourself. Don't feel any urge to share them with the whole world, thanks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Debt + Tetris = ...

Debtris. See:

You never win.
Like in Tetris.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Plagiarism is fun

I was browsing around and decided to go take a look at my own blog as if I were some anon, just to get an idea of how accessible my blog was through Google and Bing.
I was surprised to see that my blog, which for more than a year, had no problem to hit the top of the page, got double taken by two odd websites which decided to call themselves respectively and

The first one, rather uninspired, is the work of someone who literally took the entire name of my blog, s included, and moved forth. Its author pretends to be a professional web designer, with no less then 12 effin' years of experience!
Yeah... err WUT?
Surely, the main page speaks for itself *cough*:

I designed mine, my very first attempt at any form of design whatsoever, in a few weeks, from the former idea to the small incremental tweaks. When I mean a few weeks, the overall style and design was already completed within a week on my spare time.

As for the links on our little thief's website, either they're not working or lead to some unique page that contains the same light content :

Did you see that? There's a link to a blog. Uh-huh. I wonder what it will look like. :)
When it comes to the experience itself, you're left to be judge of just one single website, StratFu, some unremarkable and obscure community website. Hell, the link doesn't even work here either ! How sad. But wait, this is not all. Do you want to see something truly pathetic ?
The so called web designer of StartFu claims the following records for said website:

  • 1 million hits/month
  • Drupal-based with 15,000 lines of custom code
  • Community-sourced content

I don't know about the last two ones, but I'm sure that a website which can guarantee a 1 million hit per month would have a forum a little bit more active than... that.
Not to say that there's quite a huge difference between a true new visit and a mere hit, which is any access to a file on the website. Any sound businessman knows the difference, especially when one tries to sell a given website and tries to establish a potential trend regarding ROI.
There's actually a good many ways to boost the hit per month ratio. For any publisher, this value is actually totally meaningless.
Of course, for anyone having a clue about what realistic web traffic numbers should look like, even a monster of a hub could only claim a couple hundred of thousand visits a month, unless you were the most popular  super main website in China, that is. ;)
A website that claims a hundred thousand unique visits could claim a million hits. But we're certainly not dealing with a website that can claim a hundred thousand unique visits.
The available Google cache dates this website by 29 Nov 2010 01:26:47 GMT. Seriously, what a crook.

The name of my blog was just that awesome, I guess.

Now the second "website" is even worse.
It's not even a website, but a mere index without even the most basic protective file that would have made sure the browsing of the tree would remain private! : /

What I find truly incredible is how those two ripoffs have managed to get noticed!
The first website comes just second to me on Google, which in itself is already baffling, but first on Bing (???). Bing is so broken that it even puts my blog behind a company's website that sells an anti-adware tool and talks about some malware hidden in a Sharon Stone screen saver. *sigh*
Bing doesn't even list to my main page, but an article of mine. This silly search engine actually manages to list my blog's main page after the repository

Did I forgot to blow someone or what?
 Luckily, I never planned to buy a domain name for my blog, it's totally fine as it is, free and all that. ^_^