Hello Malstrom

I found this online and I thought it might peak your interest. One of the people who shorted the market just before the 2008 crash is going going long on Gamestop. The reason is he doesn’t believe in the digital future.

https://www.barrons.com/articles/big-short-investor-michal-burry-is-now-long-gamestop-51566424832

Next year’s consoles still using optical disk drives “is going to extend GameStop’s life significantly,” Burry said. “The streaming narrative dovetailing with the cycle is creating a perfect storm where things look terrible. [But] it looks worse than it really is.”

Remember when we were all told that digital was the future, that we were going to stream all our games. That everything would be in the cloud. Now we are coming up on another console cycle and again, “digital is the future.” Never mind Microsoft even killed their digital only next XBox. (https://www.firstpost.com/tech/gaming/xbox-boss-phil-spencer-confirms-microsoft-isnt-working-on-a-streaming-only-console-7179621.html)

What is crazy is how pervasive this narrative is. I was talking to an analyst and even after reading this, still say “Gamestop is doomed. Digital is the future.” He couldn’t wrap his head around that he was repeating the same song and dance we got over half a decade ago. People like digital less than they did at the start of this generation: retro game stores popping up, people unhappy with digital store fronts removing games, and no one is excited for Stadia’s streaming service. It really does take someone outside the “Gaming Industry” so see through the digital future narrative.

First of all, the movie “The Big Short” is required viewing for readers of this site. Everyone should see that movie if you want to see awesome business stuff. It is also actually happened.

The contrarian is simply a ‘smart person’ because smart people go against crowds… especially with investing. If a success story hits the newspapers, it is too late to jump in. Burry also would not make this move if he did not do the math of the balance sheets and all.

How can you make any investments in a gaming store without keeping an eye on gaming itself? So I would bet someone like Burry, aside from looking at balance sheets and all, would also look at message forums and sites. Maybe he has even come to this site? Who knows!

I echo his concerns about Gamestop’s management. I don’t have faith in Gamestop because of Gamestop. But I have faith that physical will always be around.

Look, these same people saying ‘physical is dead’ are the same people telling us virtual reality was going to be ‘the thing’ a few years ago. Where is the virtual reality now? Looking at the history of gaming (which business investors don’t tend to do), virtual reality has been tried again and again.

“The technology isn’t there yet,” says the reader.

You could make that argument for Fried Ice. A better reason may be that the market is not there.

There are indications that sales are hot for physical. The Classic Console Minis sell like hotcakes despite the games being available digitally already. Why is this? The investors have no answer. They simply refuse to discuss it and move on.

What about the limited run sales success of these Switch and PS4 games? More and more companies are jumping in and publishing these once only digital games. Why is this? The investors have no answer. They simply refuse to discuss it and move on.

I think a big part of the confusion is the PC gaming market. PC gaming market has never truly been ‘physical’. PC gaming, in itself, is not ‘physical’ based which is why every PC is backwards compatible to all PC games.

But consoles are different. They ARE hardware based.

Gaming has two sources. One: PC gaming. Two: the arcades. Microsoft, Google, and Sony, PC companies, do not understand that arcade mentality. But Nintendo does. And so do the gamers.

Above: a depiction of how Burry analyzes stock. Such a great movie.

Above: The real Burry appears at 16 seconds holding the phone. I have had similar conversations as this video displays. When you take a different position, you’re called ‘arrogant’ and you need to listen to the ‘authority’. In this case, the ‘authority’ was Greenspan. hahahah

Above: Burry closes down Scion Capital. He shows how much money he made with his ‘short’. (Hey, he could have bought Minecraft! hahahaha)  Such a great movie, go watch it.

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Dear Master Malstrom,

I understand why you refuse to buy digital games. I myself prefer physical carts as well. However, I am willing to buy digital games when the price is right. If a game is $20 or less, I will consider buying it digital, especially if the physical version costs much more. Just today I bought a digital copy of Superbeat: XONiC for Nintendo Switch even though it is available on cart. Why? Because it was on sale for just 89 cents, while the physical version is $30. For that kind of savings, I can deal with digital.

Most of the digital games I buy are less than $10. If developers are willing to charge $20 or less for their games, I’ll go along with their plan for ‘digital distribution.’ But if they are going to insist on charging $60 or more, then I’m going to insist on a physical cart.

When I go to the PS4 and “All in one!” Xbox One aisles (usually having to pinch my nose because of all the hardcore stink in the area), I see their physical copies of their games drop so fast in price to $10-30. Switch games tend to remain pricier.

The ‘game industry’ games always deflate rapidly in price because they have little value in the first place. They are targeted towards low IQ gamers who don’t realize if they wait a few months, they can get the game for half the price. They are all built on media smoke and mirrors of hype: it is the hardcore way.

The ‘digital’ copy you get of games will not remain the only time you pay. Soon, you will have to keep paying more and more transactions after you ‘have’ the game. They’ll even give it to you free to get you invested so you will pay microtransactions.

Physical really means ‘i pay once, and the product remains in the consumer’s control.’ Game industry doesn’t like that. They want you to pay multiple times and not allow consumer to have any control whatsoever.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 23, 2019

“Why is local multiplayer no longer seen in console games?”

So they can sell you MULTIPLE copies of the game for multiplayer. Duh!

“It’s not about the money, Malstrom.”

It’s about the money.

We now have BIG ASS TVs now that we couldn’t even imagine twenty years ago. They would be PERFECT for local multiplayer. So where are the local multiplayer games? They aren’t there because game companies literally think they are ‘hurting’ their sales. They really are shooting their own foot by not realizing that gaming is primarily social and people like to hang out together and play games socially. I know so many Switch sales are due to the local socialization the Switch games provide (such as Smash Brothers).

Remember the Wii? How’d that sell? Local multiplayer.

Game companies: “But local multiplayer will hurt sales!”

They’re so stupid and are run by imbeciles.

Seriously, some company actually put in the resources to implement DRM for games on android?

Denuvo Extends Protection to Games Developed for Mobile Devices

I’d really like to know your opinion on this.

Piracy/ hacking/ modding have always been done with video games especially PC gaming. Only old timers remember that you were legally allowed to make a back-up copy of your diskettes because of their failure rate. Piracy was always a big issue. Video game companies put in ‘code wheels’ and ‘look something up in the 200 page manual’ to prevent casual piracy.

Is piracy, or ‘warez’ as they used to call it, actually “bad” bad? People who pirate your project usually were never intending to purchase it in the first place. The hysterical DRM in response hasn’t been consumer friendly. I believe a bigger problem for the developer was when people WERE NOT interested in pirating your game (because it sucks). I have seen many games where ‘piracy’ led to these games becoming more successful and spreading.

Blizzard games are the biggest example of that.

In a genius move, Blizzard took advantage of it. Blizzard put in something called ‘spawning’. One Warcraft 2 disc could allow up to eight people to play multiplayer at a time. This meant Warcraft 2 was played at LAN parties which meant new players introduced to Warcraft 2. Warcraft 2 spread like wildfire. Starcraft also could ‘spawn’ but up to ‘five players’ in multiplayer at once.

Westwood had a different, but equally successful, take on this. They put two discs in the Red Alert game. One disc had the allied campaign, the other disc had the soviet campaign. You could use any disc to play multiplayer. So this allowed one person to buy Red Alert and then play with his friend. That friend could also play the alternate single player campaign on it. Red Alert was sold out for quite a while. It spread like wildfire too.

DS games also had ‘spawning’. One cart of ‘Bomberman’ allowed seven other DS systems to play multiplayer on it. This allowed DS ‘parties’ where everyone would be playing cool multiplayer games.

Remember Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan? It came out during 1982, during the ‘golden age’ of arcades but also during the rise of PC gaming. In the movie, it is asked how Kirk beat the simulator of Kobayashi Maru test. Everyone fails the test. The test was to test how the new potential leader fails. Spock would say, “Your solution was creative,” and Kirk replied, “it had the advantage of never been tried…” Later on in the movie, they explain what happened. Kirk reprogrammed the test to allow him to win. He cheated. “I don’t believe in a no-win scenario.” Kirk would respond.

“Master Malstrom!” screams the reader. “I do not want to hear about Star Trek! Answer the emailer’s question!”

Oh, the reader is energetic today! That’s refreshing.

If you want to know how things were, you have to know how developers and gamers thought back then. Take a look at this: Mark Kern: My own Kobayashi Maru. Mark Kern was the director for Vanilla World of Warcraft. My point is that the ‘Star Trek’ and the history tells us how these people think. Guys like Kern literally took Kobayashi Maru to heart. They don’t believe in ‘no win’ scenarios’. This is how many classic games got published against these overwhelming odds (World of Warcraft being one of them).

Gamers, also, have the ‘I don’t believe in a no win scenario’. At least, the higher IQ type gamers do (which were more prevalent during the early PC gaming). If a gamer has no money because they are poor or in college, they would literally reprogram the game and find SOME WAY to get to the game. It’s comical actually looking at it.

So now we get to the emailer’s question. I think many of these ‘mobile games’ have created Kobayashi Marus for gamers. You can’t win at these games. There are so many hidden transactions, hidden fees, and rip offs in them. They are doing a typical PC gamer response: reprogramming the game so that they can win.

These new ‘security’ measures remind me of the code wheels and manual look-ups of the 1980s. Gamers are too savvy to be ripped off. This is a type of market correction. So the market is putting on ‘more security’. Soon, the ‘game’ will be in ‘how to beat the game’s security’.

I think the market is reacting to the mobile games as a ‘no win’ scenario and are cracking, hacking them to become ‘winnable’. Developers do not like this because they can no longer rip off the gamers. It is fun to watch.

In all my years of being a gamer, I have observed is that there is no ‘easy lunch’ for developers. Games take hard work and long hours. Because of that, every developer tries to bypass that. This is why you see so much copycatting, so much unfinished games, etc. But gamers are savvy. This spirit of savviness is why the gaming market is not like the movie or television market (where that audience obviously has a much lower average IQ).

The ‘more security’ shows that gamers are defying the ‘microtransaction’ overlords.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 22, 2019

My new favorite website

If a game isn’t available physically, it doesn’t exist. The only games I ever buy digitally are those that had a physical form at some point (arcade games, Neo Geo games, SNES games, etc). For example, it is OK to buy Pulstar which costs around $8 as opposed to the $100 or more price for the Neo Geo copy.

But there are so many limited run games out there, and you don’t want to miss any of them! Despite that, so many are trash games though. That is to be expected.

This is my new favorite site. It tells me where all these ‘limited’ game are at and where including a demo of the gameplay. Great stuff!

Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 22, 2019

Star Wars is a scary lesson for Nintendo

I think everyone agrees that Nintendo’s biggest asset or property is not their hardware or even their software, it is their intellectual properties. This means Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule, SR-388, and all the characters that come with them. With IPs, Nintendo can use them to make more than games. They can make amusement parks. They can make tons of money over toys and merchandise. Mario was designed to be like Mickey Mouse where he shows up in different genres. Nintendo is said to be like the Disney of video games.

Nintendo never seems to particularly care about other IPs outside of gaming. Not Star Trek. Not Dr. Who. But there is one they absolutely love. Iwata couldn’t stop mentioning it. Nintendo loves Star Wars.

Nintendo secured a Star Wars game for the Gamecube launch. During the Wii launch, Iwata couldn’t stop talking about the Wii-mote being like ‘light sabers’. Nintendo pressed hard for a Star Wars Wii game that would use the Wii-motes like light sabers.

Iwata, Miyamoto, and the rest are also at the right age to properly be amazed when Star Wars came out in the late 1970s (which also coincided with the rise of video games).

“Yeah, so Nintendo honchos loved Star Wars. What’s your point, Malstrom?” sniffs the reader.

Star Wars is a HUGE intellectual property.

“I cannot deny that.”

Of course you can’t, reader. But what is the state of that intellectual property today?

“Kids are not into Star Wars…”

The final movie of the Star Wars trilogy is set to release in a few months, right? Where is the hype? I think VII was seen as disappointing, and VIII as really disappointing. I think apathy has set in. While Episodes I-III may not have been what Star Wars fans wanted, kids, at least, enjoyed it. But I don’t think anyone is really into these new Star Wars movies.

Oh, and you know why Disney is making the decisions it is? George Lucas still has licensing rights where if they use original Star Wars characters and IP, Disney has to pay George Lucas a percentage. However, this doesn’t apply if the original IP is changed at least 25%.

Image result for cpo red arm

Above: Why does he have a red arm? To change the IP enough so Disney doesn’t have to pay George Lucas anything.

Image result for millennium falcon square radar

Above: Why is the millennial falcon having a square radar dish? So Disney doesn’t have to pay George Lucas anything.

Why is Disney killing off all the original Star Wars characters? So Disney doesn’t have to pay George Lucas anything.

To avoid going into the weeds of the legal rights issue, my point is that Star Wars brand is no longer as hot as it once was. In fact, it shows how rapidly fast a brand can fall. If Star Wars can fall, as an IP, then any IP can.

Nintendo should be scared to death of watching Star Wars slowly implode. If Star Wars can self-destruct, so can Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Pokemon, and all the rest of the Nintendo IPs.

If I was Nintendo, I’d also be observing Blizzard with alarm. Blizzard’s IPs are currently imploding. What is going on here?

Bad games, and bad content within those games, causes IP decline.

It would, indeed, be fascinating to chart the high points and low points of Nintendo IPs.

Donkey Kong-

High point was Donkey Kong. Went into decline ever since. Spin-off of Mario took spotlight. But IP was resurrected as ‘Donkey Kong Country’ which then went into slow decline.

Mario-

Did good with Mario Brothers. Absolute breakout with Super Mario Brothers 1, 2, and 3. After Super Mario World, it declined. Low point was Super Mario Sunshine. It’s highest return has been 2d Mario and, perhaps, Mario Odyssey and Mario Maker 2. Other than that, Mario has never returned to its 1980s highs. Not even close!

Zelda-

Zelda did bangbusters with Zelda 1. in fact, Zelda was very consistent in its IP which even rose to its peak with Ocarina of Time. Then, Zelda entered consistent decline. Only with the release of Breath of the Wild has this IP returned.

Metroid-

Metroid used to be the  most consistent IP. While I would argue the GBA Metroids were a ‘decline’, some might disagree. Even the spin-offs were amusing such as Metroid Hunters (a quake like game) to Metroid Prime Pinball. Maybe those could be called a decline, but can obvious spin-off games be seen as decline? No, the big decline came with Sakamoto’s masterpiece:

Image result for metroid other m

Then you have Federation Force. I don’t think Sakamoto’s ‘Samus Returns’ did the IP any favors.

If Metroid Prime 4 doesn’t succeed, we might as well consider the Metroid IP completely dead.

No one seems to know how to make an IP become successful. However, we are finding out how to destroy an IP.

First, ignore the universe rules of that IP. (Example: Mario no longer has any memories of previous Mario games.)

Second, lecture the customer on social politics. (Example: Mario telling the player how he or she needs to start being ‘woke’.)

Third, insult the customers when they complain. (Example: Mario telling everyone that they are ‘stupid’.)

The IP would most certainly crumble and be close to being destroyed.

If Star Wars, Star Trek, and Dr. Who can go downhill so fast, then any IP is vulnerable. Even Nintendo IPs. Should Nintendo’s IPs collapse, then there will no longer be a Nintendo. This would certainly be the case if NOA was running Nintendo. Thankfully, the Japanese are more grounded about their IPs than Hollywood or Disney are.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 22, 2019

BRITANNIA Review

Above: Trailer for the show

With the success of Game of Thrones, certainly other shows similar to it would appear. Of course, I haven’t watched Game of Thrones. I am a huge fan of HBO’s “Rome” series. On a quirk, I decided to try this show out. I had no idea what I thought about it. So I watched another episode. Still had no idea. What a strange show! Then I watched some more episodes.

What is amazing about Britannia is that it pulls off what so many shows attempt to do: surprising the audience. I’ve never seen a show with as much trickster-isms and twists as this show. And it’s only nine episodes! (It has been renewed for a second season.)

I thought the actors were great. The make-up is wonderful. The scenery is as gorgeous as it gets.

The problem is the history. The show is purely made up stuff with no historical elements. This isn’t much of a problem as such history doesn’t exist. We know nothing about pre-historic Britannia. or the druids. What we think we know came from 19th century writers’ imagination.

This show certainly takes religion and superstition by the horns. I enjoy shows they interweave religion in its conflicts, and this is one of them.

Is this show unrealistic by showing black Roman prefects, female warrior princesses, and druids casting seemingly magic spells? Sure. But Britannia seems to be living within its own universe’s rules which is enough for me.

It’s greatest value is just how wild this show surprises me. You think it will go one way, then it tricks you. After the ninth and final episode, I’m like “WTF just happened? I can’t believe they did that!” hahaha. The best word to describe this show is ‘trickster’. The second best word would be ‘trippy’.

If you like fantasy shows and want to be surprised, give a try.

That’s what the rumors are going about at the moment:

Exclusive: Apple planning $4.99/month price for Arcade game subscription service after free trial, works with Family Sharing

I know in the past Apple has experimented with throwing money at a game developer to make a title exclusive to their platform which they demo during their September keynote and then everyone forgets about it in three months, but I’m wondering how they’re planning to execute their long-term strategy if that’s what they’re going to use as the baseline for their subscription model.

What I’m actually thinking is that they’re giving developers more confidence in bringing their “real” games over on their platform (Shantae 5 is going to be one of the titles launching with Apple Arcade, for example) and like how Microsoft did it by eating a lot of costs to give developers the tools to make games for the platform, apple’s Dipping into their massive war chest to offset most of the costs for this service initially until they have the critical mass of titles needed to move onto phase 2, whatever that plan is. I’m hoping it’s that they bring some of their titles from Apple Arcade to the “pay once, keep forever” side of the store.

But yeah, $5/month is too good to be true.

If you can’t hold it in your hands, you don’t own it.

I even reject ‘streaming’ services like Netflix. Once I find a show i like, I buy it so they can’t change it on me. I’m currently buying sci-fi classics like the Star Trek shows before CBS tries to change them to fit their piece of shit Discovery/Picard/Whatever show. Since they don’t know how to fit into canon, they’ll just go back and ‘change canon’. Bastards.

What do you think of the original Super Mario Bros. movie? Seems relevant given the new deleted scenes as well as the animated movie coming up.

Just for fun, good ol’ Master Malstrom.

I need to re-watch the movie. I saw it in theaters when it was released. I haven’t seen it since.

The movie might explain why Miyamoto and Nintendo moved Mario and Mushroom Kingdom away from the plumber-mythos to the crazy-anime-mythos that Mario has de-evolved. 1993 is the right time during that. I saw all traces of Mario being a ‘plumber from Brooklyn’ be removed.

I remember liking the movie at the time, even though it was vastly different from what I expected of Mushroom Kingdom. I was expecting the movie to be more of a cartoon like the Super Mario TV Show.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 22, 2019

Email: Cadence of Hyrule

Have you tried Cadence of Hyrule?

I got it despite it being digital-only, and honestly it kind of blew me away with how much it gets right. Forget the rhythm gameplay for a minute, here’s what it does right:

– The overworld is randomly arranged.
– You can complete the main quest in any order you want – the difficulty scales up as you progress.
– The game starts out very punishing, so there’s motivation to get more hearts and better weapons.
– Items like the bow or boomerang aren’t needed to unlock new areas, they just help in combat and sometimes help you get secrets.
– The music kicks ass.
– You can play the entire adventure in co-op. I didn’t know how much I wanted a co-op open world Zelda game until now.
– Dungeons have some pretty tough combat, even though the layouts are small and not interesting.
– Optional powerups like rings and boots have limited durability, but weapons don’t break.

You move and attack to the beat of the music in this game. I thought it would be gimmicky, but I got into the flow pretty quickly. It’s pretty forgiving with the beat, and the challenge is mostly in playing intelligently. Move around carelessly and you’ll die quickly.

What I found interesting is that they took the overall adventure design of Breath of the Wild, with its dangerous open world full of powerups and a main quest that can be completed in any order, and distilled it down to a small 2D Zelda game that can be finished in 5 to 10 hours on your first playthrough.

I do not see any Cadence of Hyrule Switch cart.

Therefore, Cadence of Hyrule does not exist.

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