Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 21, 2010

Email: Could you please respond to this message post?

Some guy, Alby_da_Wolf, is claiming in the “Malstrom Thread” (look, you have your own thread!) on VGChartz that not only did the Wii NOT disrupt the existing game market, but Christensen’s theories can’t predict when a disruption will take place.

Care to reply to this guy on your blog?

If every time someone uttered a prediction about the video game market where they had to put their money where their mouth is, I would be a rich man.

Anyone can say anything. This is why nothing done is interesting unless people are putting their money behind it. Business, of course, is everything with money behind it. I like business because you are either right or wrong where with “message forum opinions” that are like a virus on the Internet, when the person is wrong, they will still declare themselves right anyway.

The main source of the Message Forum Pollution is that everyone is too busy thinking and not busy knowing. What is the difference between thinking and knowing? When a child is asked to spell a word, when he tries to think how to spell it correctly, he almost always gets it wrong. The only way to ‘spell’ a word correctly is to know it.

Let us say the subject turns to marketing. All of a sudden, the forum dwellers begin ‘thinking’ and start spouting out “things” about marketing. Have these forum dwellers ever taken a class on marketing or read a book on marketing? No. But they just *think* and start vomiting their ‘thoughts’ all over the place. It is quite gross.

Perhaps it is best to use a classroom example. Take literature. You are to discuss a book in class. Let us say you are to discuss Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. Now, let us say you come to class and begin talking about “Hamlet” without reading it, without knowing it. Let us say that you read the cliff notes or watched the movie instead. You think that you don’t ‘need’ to read it, but you do have thoughts you would like to share. How do you think the class and the teacher will respond to your thoughts?

They will listen with quiet amusement and then probably politely ignore your ‘thoughts’ because you do not know the material. Your thoughts are irrelevant. You either know it or you don’t.

But let us say you have read your “Hamlet”. Yet, you begin vomiting your ‘thoughts’. You say, “I think Hamlet was a saintly type of person, an idealized person.” Any professor worth his salt would immediately slap you and say, “Saintly? Hamlet killed Polonious. Hamlet also kills later on in the play. Your stupid thoughts are not jiving with the text.” You just cannot invent things in your head. It is either in the text or it is not.

Now let us say you find yourself in a court of law. Are you going to rely on your thoughts on what the law is? No. You either know the law or you do not. Since most people do not know the law is why lawyers exist to represent you in court.

With the subject of business, if someone says, “I want to talk about business, but I do not want to talk about sales,” you can safely ignore such a person. My point is that there is a difference between thinking and a difference between knowing. When people know things, such as their “Hamlet”, they will result in an interesting discussion and debate over the matter. If people started to discuss “Hamlet” based on their ‘thoughts’ and not knowing about the material, all you get is noise.

A matter of something such as ‘disruption’ does have its literature, does have its analysts. Disruption has its own definition. You do not get to decide what that definition is. I don’t get to decide what that definition is. One’s “thoughts” on disruption are absolutely meaningless. Disruption has its own definition. Looking it up on Wikipedia or trying to do the ‘cliff notes’ version of it is dodging trying to ‘know it’. It is like the student who doesn’t want to study his subject matter.

If you wish to speak disruption, or Blue Ocean, or something else, you should have the capability to quote it in some sort of way. This is very easy to do in this Age of Computers. Note that whenever I say something about disruption, I tend to quote a source on it.

Naturally, I’m very contemptuous of someone trying to discuss something like disruption with their “thoughts” when they have not demonstrated they know what disruption is in the first place. Like the literature professor who demands the student show where in the text the book is saying what his “thoughts” are, I insist that people actually point to the text or source that backs up their “thoughts”. And this goes beyond message forums. I was annoyed and did say so when Reggie Fils-Aime was using disruption out of its context. “We’re disrupting this, we’re disrupting that, we’re disrupting everything!” I believe this is perhaps a reason how Nintendo got into so much problem with the User Generated Content issue. They mistook it for disruption.

Disruption is something that is famously mischaracterized, and Christensen complains about this. This is why we need to keep all talks of disruption tethered to the actual source or else we are just wasting our time. And I hate wasting time.

A point I would like to raise to the reader’s attention is that if these people are not bothering to know something like disruption, then why are they bothering to discuss it? They are not forced to learn it like in a classroom. So why bother?

The answer is because they are not reacting to my arguments, they are reacting to my personality. They keep taking the bait I place out there for them. Most people are egomaniacs first and pursuers of knowledge second. I am tired of the ‘swamp’ that is the message forums, of these cockle doodle doo analysts, and many game-journalists just putting out garbage after garbage. I want to smoke them out.

So I intentionally say something like, “When Pac-Man came out, the game had great impact. If you disagree with this, you are wrong.” On the surface, that sounds like I am some ego-maniacal tyrant. There are two responses to such a statement:

The people who pursue knowledge will find it funny. After all, who is going to deny the impact of Pac-Man? Just the idea of someone doing that is funny.

Then there are the people who do not wish to pursue knowledge but wish to pursue superiority. They will react to that statement by writing an essay on how Pac-Man didn’t have an impact. The result is that they have made themselves laughingstocks. I, and everyone else, will point and laugh at them.

Some analysts have even taken this bait. They have responded to what I have said to say ridiculous things such as, “The new audience the DS and Wii reached will not be around for much longer. And they most certainly won’t be migrating upward to any other sort of games.” And that was said in 2007. Yet, the DS and Wii are still kicking butt.

I want to help drain this swamp. And I want to bait these people to show who they truly are. I want them to present to the world what laughingstocks they really are. You become a laughingstock when you ‘think’ and strive not to ‘know’.

Through this email, I want you to just remember the difference between thinking and knowing. Just because you can ‘think’ doesn’t mean you know anything. After all, a cornerstone of disruption is that all actions by the disrupted company are ‘rationale’, and yet they are all wrong.

As I wrote, I see Malstrom acknowledges MS efforts with Natal and its innovative and disrupting potential. Fine. Then he, as usual, ruins his flash of objectivity predicting it won’t work. It’s always black or white for him, while actually Natal could more easily have a partial success, carving for itself one or more comfortable niches (like dance and fitness games), possibly grabbing a slice of Balance Board market too (although BB would remain leader for all the game kinds it’s best suited for).

BEEP! BEEP! Let us back up the truck here and break it down.

As I wrote, I see Malstrom acknowledges MS efforts with Natal and its innovative and disrupting potential. Fine.

This guy doesn’t know what he is talking about. Microsoft cannot disrupt because Microsoft is an incumbent. Sony cannot disrupt because it, also, is an incumbent.

Disrupting means you have to be disrupting something. If there is a disruptor, there must be an incumbent. The disruptor has to be disrupting other companies, other ways of doing things, or it is not disruption at all. It becomes something else. Something more like Blue Ocean Strategy.

Natal cannot disrupt. The disruption is already occurring with the Wii. What Natal is about is co-opting the disruption. This is why the main dude at Xbox on E3 2009 said the same exact words that Reggie Fils-Aime did on E3 2006 in terms of mission statement.

Continue the tape.

Then he, as usual, ruins his flash of objectivity predicting it won’t work.

I said that the strategy is fine, but the execution is all wrong. I know this by how Microsoft is avoiding public access to Natal. Microsoft is scared of how your average person will react to it. This is in contrast to the Wii which Nintendo was rushing to put in people’s hands (i.e. “Playing is believing”).

It’s always black or white for him, while actually Natal could more easily have a partial success, carving for itself one or more comfortable niches (like dance and fitness games), possibly grabbing a slice of Balance Board market too (although BB would remain leader for all the game kinds it’s best suited for).

Does this guy not know what ‘co-opting’ means? It means exactly that.

I don’t think its execution will work because it takes a very special type of software to reach the Expanded Audience. This software is still extremely rare.

Business forecasting is much about probability. You want me to take a bet on spectacular software from Rare? Well, I say the probability of that is low.

BTW, denying Natal will succeed after acknowledging its strong points doesn’t make much sense, unless its plain and simple exorcising of his fears.

This guy doesn’t even know how to read. What strong points did I point to? There are none that I can see. I said was that Microsoft had the right strategy, but its execution looks unconvincing. Saying you have the right strategy but the wrong execution is like having the right strategy to go to the gym to get fit but do all your exercises wrong resulting in your trip being a failure. There are countless products out there that have the right strategy but wrong execution.

Natal will live or die once it is in the hands in the consumers. But from what gamers have seen so far, Natal is considered a joke. And a bad one at that. No wonder Microsoft has been very paranoid about Natal lately.

Now, here is the next chunk:

About Sony Move, I can agree it’s more defensive and less offensive than Natal, but does this automatically mean its total defeat? History is full of defenders winning against the attackers and even fuller of inconclusive battles where each part ends roughly in the same situation it started. Malstrom systematically denies these possible outcomes.
Another flaw in Malstrom reasoning is that he writes as Nintendo had infinite time at its disposal, but this is simply not true and it means that each time Sony or MS manage to temporarily reduce the gap from Nintendo, they make disruption less likely, and no bombastic rethoric can change this.

Let’s go through this:

About Sony Move, I can agree it’s more defensive and less offensive than Natal, but does this automatically mean its total defeat?

Whoever said that? I certainly didn’t. Is there another guy named Malstrom running around saying things? Who is this guy talking about?

The rationale behind a defensive co-op is to stop the disruptor from making inroads to the more profitable market segments.

The entire Xbox franchise could be classified as a defensive co-op. Sony’s Playstation was disrupting PC gaming and the Xbox was a defensive co-op to keep developers on Microsoft’s platform. Why else would Microsoft throw away billions of dollars? (“Because they really love the hardcore gamers, Malstrom!” Keep drinking that Kool-Aid, man.)

Sony very well could be trying to pin an anchor on Wii’s upward movement to buy the company time so they could create something that could really go after the new market. (But based on Sony’s obsession on 3d visor gaming, I’d say this is likely not the case.)

History is full of defenders winning against the attackers and even fuller of inconclusive battles where each part ends roughly in the same situation it started.

I’m sorry. I thought we were talking about sales of entertainment products, not discussing warfare through history.

Usually when someone uses a ‘military metaphor’ or something like begin quoting Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”, you can be damn well sure that they don’t know what they are talking about. Using war metaphors to a business question is as absurd as using a math answer to a question on literature. It is like going into Physics and talk about the history of rock and roll.

Malstrom systematically denies these possible outcomes.

Malstrom also systematically denies the outcome that space aliens from Pluto will land and make grievous assaults on the world’s supply of peanut butter. It is most certainly a possible outcome. However, the probability that space aliens from Pluto will land and make grievous assaults on the world’s supply of our precious and delicious peanut butter is extremely low.

Disruption is a tool, like a compass, that we can use to determine probabilities in business. The text I was citing clearly states that when asymmetric values arise, the victor is always the disruptor. Since Sony is not pursing the Wii’s values but only think it can bang away at the Expanded Market like a club due to its “technology”, the disruptive compass clearly points to a ‘low probability’ on this working.

Another flaw in Malstrom reasoning is that he writes as Nintendo had infinite time at its disposal, but this is simply not true and it means that each time Sony or MS manage to temporarily reduce the gap from Nintendo, they make disruption less likely, and no bombastic rethoric can change this.

Where did I write that “Nintendo had infinite time at its disposal” or anything close to that?

What I have done was shout and snarl at Nintendo for going their cursed ‘User Generated Content’ strategy because not only was it repelling customers, it was wasting time as Nintendo’s competitors were preparing to launch motion controllers of their own. What amazes me, reader, is when I say so much on a subject that people email me and say, “Stop talking about it already!”, there are people who won’t acknowledge that I said it at all.

In order for me to be wrong, people are resorting to make up stuff of what I said.

Anyway, the guy doesn’t know what he is talking about. Disruption is already occurring. The fact that Microsoft and Sony are launching their own motion controls shows they are feeling the heat.

One last thing: Christensen theories perfectly explain why and how past disruptions happened, but they can’t predict future or whether a disruption attempt will succeed, totally or partially, unless you don’t take account of every possible significant factor, and Malstrom, downplaying or plainly ignoring every possible factor against his wishes, is not applying the theory correctly.

Again, this guy does not know what he is talking about. Is he not aware that Christensen and his former students have launched companies such as Innosight that does consulting work to help businesses make disruptive products? (I wonder if Nintendo got any such consulting.) Much of Christensen’s work is about future disruptions. There was that time when he visited Intel and talked with many of the people there. When he left, Intel then created a product that made a billion dollars.

One of the reasons why our merry analysts never mention ‘disruption’ is because they are their competitors. Business leaders do not listen to Christensen or buy his books to learn about the past. They do so because they want a better ‘business compass’. They want to see the future. And they are willing to pay good money for it too.

The plain silliness he’s spewing against MW2 and its sales clearly show he can’t accept reality when it goes against his theories.

This falls under the category of “make stuff up that Malstrom didn’t say.” I have never said anything against Modern Warfare 2 of not being a success. I have criticized analysts who laud Modern Warfare 2’s sales while ignoring Super Mario Brothers 5 which outsold Modern Warfare 2 combined on both platforms during February 2010 NPD.

If you want to look at people spewing stuff since they cannot accept reality as it is going against their theories, look at the response when Super Mario Brothers 5 became a blockbuster success. People were literally melting down. They were emotionally wedded to the idea that the Wii was dead, that the Wii was in decline. But the Wii demand surged leading it to sell almost more hardware in the month of December than all of PS3s in the entire YEAR of 2009. And Wii inventory all sold out at the beginning of the year.

You would think our commentators and analysts would wish to discuss such a phenomenon occurring like Mario 5 rocketing the Wii up throughout the world. It is quite remarkable since everyone assumed the 2d platformer was dead. But they are deliberately avoiding the subject. Why? Probably for the same reason they talked a big game about Grand Theft Auto IV and neglect to mention anything about Mario Kart Wii which has outsold the ‘game of the generation’.

As for Modern Warfare 2, there is not much to discuss about it. In gaming, beyond killer apps, there are ‘entertainment phenomenons’ that just drive rocket up whatever platform it is on. For example, Grand Theft Auto 3 (including its sequels) were an entertainment phenomenon. Street Fighter 2 was an entertainment phenomenon. Super Mario Brothers was one hell of an entertainment phenomenon.

While this is debatable, there are distinctly five entertainment phenomenons this generation.

-World of Warcraft

The game is huge, and the large amount of subscribers is amazing. The revenue the game brings in is insane.

-2d Mario

This includes both NSMB DS and NSMB Wii. Both games rocketed up the DS and Wii. The DS did not explode in America until 2d Mario appeared on it.

-Call of Duty

This includes Call of Duty 2 as well as Modern Warfare 1 and 2. I, myself, have even said that the Call of Duty series was building up steam over time. The switch from World War 2 to modern warfare really allowed it to grow. I said how people are missing the extremely strong interest in Call of Duty 4 as the game was selling strongly, but quietly, in the background. It, like a volcano building up pressure, finally erupted with Modern Warfare 2.

-Wii Sports

This includes Wii Sports, Wii Play (since it has sports in it), and Wii Sports Resort. Do I really need to say why this is a phenomenon?

-Wii Fit

Wii Fit is currently sold out. Again. This game just won’t stop selling. People are buying a Wii to get Wii Fit. Wives are ordering their husbands to go buy a Wii for them.

The desire for a console maker is to get as many third party games as possible and once an entertainment phenomenon breaks out somewhere, they rush in to make it exclusive. GTA 1 and 2 were somewhat mediocre PC games. But because Sony would invite any third party games onto their platform, these crappy PC games on the PlayStation led to GTA 3 which ended up rocketing up the PlayStation 2 as the series erupted.

One of the reasons why people are saying gaming is in decline is due to the decline in number of entertainment phenomenons. Consider the NES and how many entertainment phenomenons were on that. Mario, Zelda, Mega Man, Contra, Final Fantasy (in Japan), Dragon Quest (in Japan), Tetris, and so on and so forth. Gaming felt like entertainment phenomenons were erupting all over the place. Consider the 16-bit generation when Street Fighter 2 appeared and changed everything. When you look at how this generation’s entertainment phenomenons are pretty much the five I listed, it shows what a sad state gaming is in.

But note that most of those entertainment phenomenons are occurring on the Wii. This is why those Wii games listed rocketed the Wii up. World of Warcraft, of course, completely rocketed Blizzard up to be named side by side with the oldest third party company in existence: Activision.

So how about Call of Duty? The problem with the Call of Duty phenomenon is that it is simply replacing the FPS-on-console phenomenon earlier such as the Halo last generation or Golden Eye the generation earlier. It is reinvigorating core gamers, but it is not bringing in anyone new.

It looks like Modern Warfare 2 is the peak in part due to Infinity Ward’s problems. We’ll likely see the series begin to decline from here on like how Grand Theft Auto did this generation.

This is why I laugh at people who think Modern Warfare 2’s sales are indicative of a healthy Core Market. This entertainment phenomenon is only substituting the FPS phenomenons in generations prior to it. While the water below the HD Twins boats has risen a little because of Modern Warfare 2, you can see there has been no dramatic rocketing up precisely because the series is substituting a prior phenomenon from last generation. The number of entertainment phenomenons is, undeniably, shrinking. Yet, they keep increasingly erupting on the Wii. For all we know, Vitality Sensor might be the next entertainment phenomenon. It might not be. But the probability of entertainment phenomenons is far greater on the Wii than it is on the HD Twins and their massive budgeted products of non-risk.

And despite Heavy Rain not being a blockbuster, it’s getting enough success for its genre, it’s most likely going to sell more on a single platform that its ancestor, Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecies in USA), did on four platforms, so his dig at it is quite silly too.

With all the marketing and hype Heavy Rain got? Are you kidding me? Hahahaha. It is only like the most overhyped game of this generation and it could barely crack the top ten when it came out! Hahahaha.

You have to stop slurping down the Industry Kool-Aid. The ‘Games Industry’ doesn’t want to make games, they really want to make movies. Perhaps it is because they want to think themselves cool as ‘Hollywood’. Regardless, there is a big push toward ‘narrative games’ by the Industry because they think it will turn them into an interactive Hollywood. “But David Cage said he was overwhelmed by the game’s success.” What do you expect him to say? I am amazed that people who, correctly, apply cynicism to anything a PR or marketing person says but refrain to do so when it comes to a developer. Heavy Rain could have sold two copies, and David Cage would be saying the same thing.

But with the insane amount of hype the game got, you don’t even see the analysts patting each other on the back going, “What a fantastic success!” They know that hype brings in only front loaded sales. Industry hype can only prop up a game so much. If the game is still selling months from now, I’ll declare myself wrong. But I bet Heavy Rain sales were hype related.

This doesn’t mean Wii will lose its leadership, it will actually most probably keep it, but disruption is another thing.

I love how he keeps trying say disruption isn’t happening when Sony and Microsoft are furiously responding with motion controls of their own.

And actually disruption really happened regarding gaming, a whole new market was born, but it simply didn’t disrupt the old one, they are living side by side, the most likely outcome will be that Wii will keep the biggest share of new market plus its loyal fans and a small share of the old one, while MS and Sony will keep the largest share of the old one plus their loyal fans and they’ll eventually get a small share of the new one.

Stop the tape.

This guy has no clue what disruption is. He talks about “markets” as if he were playing a RISK board game.

Of course the Core and Expanded Markets live side by side. They always do. At first. But then the bottom falls out of the Core Market. Or, rather, the incumbents keep retreating to more comfortable higher profit segments and get gored as the disruptor follows them. Or the Core collapses into a niche.

When the Internet news appeared, newspapers did not go away. They existed side by side. Newspapers mocked the Internet. Internet got the last laugh as it is wrecking the newspapers’ advertising business model. Now newspapers are dying.

When the NES appeared, it and game centric computers like the Commodore 64 existed side by side. But the game console stuck around while those game centric computers all bit the dust (or were disrupted by the generic IBMs at the time).

Console companies may follow the flow of console cycles, but disruption does not. Disruption will be going on outside of this generation and spilling into future ones.

There is also the disruption occurring on PC gaming that Alexis St. John is about. Disruption is not a ‘Nintendo thing’. Other game companies are dong it as well. Disruption is occurring with the browser based games which has taken over the low end of PC gaming (and they are moving upward). Alexis St. John is interesting in this regard since he is not only a driver in the PC gaming disruption, he had a hand in creating the current incumbent PC gaming and core console market. (In a similar way, the disruptor on the console side, Nintendo, was the one who established the core console gaming with its analog controller, with its consoles that Sony imitated, etc.)

As little as Move and Natal could be they’ll add a few sales anyway, they won’t generate negative sales, so Nintendo will end this gen first with a share between 40% and 50%.

There is a risk of a backlash from the Core side to the Move and Natal. This is why asymmetric values are important. The values needed to reach an Expanded Audience are not compatible with the Core Audience. This is why you find hardcore gamers angry at what is going on.

Nintendo had to go through this problem of their Core Market getting angry. The solution was that Nintendo’s core games were only returning to their roots found on the NES and their franchise earlier incarnations. In order for Zelda to stay relevant, it is going to have to resemble more of the earlier Zeldas. Mario is now very relevant precisely because Mario 5 resembles the earlier Mario games.

Nintendo was able to successfully bridge the divide by going back to its NES roots. The Core Nintendo gamers understand this even though they may be more partial to the N64/Gamecube way of doing things.

Microsoft and Sony have no ‘gaming roots’ to touch. Their games are nothing more than dumbed down PC games. But the problem is that their audience doesn’t seem to know this. They seem to actually believe Xbox Live ‘pioneered online gaming’ or that high definition graphics first appeared with the PS3 and Xbox 360.

It is going to take a ton of Kool-Aid to make the hardcore drunk enough to cheer on Natal and Move.

One last thing: since PC gaming was born I countless times heard alternatively about PC’s or console’s doom. Neither of them happened.

The PC gaming market has collapsed years ago. No publisher looks at the PC gaming market as their bread and butter anymore. The proof? Just walk into any store and look at the PC game section. Oh wait, there isn’t any! (unless it is a shelf crammed in the corner)

Once upon a time, premier gaming content made its debut on the PC. Remember when Quake came out? How about Unreal Tournament? How about Elder Scrolls? These games now only appear on the Xbox 360 or PS3. When they appear on the PC platform, it is almost always a port of the Xbox 360 version.

Did you not miss the ruckus of Modern Warfare 2’s dedicated servers? The point is that publishers don’t give a damn about the PC gaming market and do not fear any backlash from the consumers there.

But once upon a time, PC gaming was where premier content made its debut. Only very few companies treat the PC this way. Blizzard still does. The hype you see around games like Starcraft 2 is exactly how it used to be back in the day.

What happened is that this person has never really truly thought or assessed the situation such as PC gaming. What he did was see someone say make a message forum post that read, “Everyone said the PC gaming is doomed. And yet it is still there. Hur Hur Hur.” Then they might even show that picture of that collage of games and say, “PC gaming! Dying since 1985!”

The reason why I do not go on message forums is because it is like arguing with a den of parrots. The parrot doesn’t know what it has said. But it sounded good enough to repeat.

Yes, the gaming centric PCs (not meaning the generic PCs that IBM would make, I mean the Commodores and Amigas) were completely disrupted by the game consoles such as the NES. Remember, Commodores and Amigas arose after the Atari Crash.

PC gaming only grew when it differentiated itself from console gaming. Once upon a time, there were platformers and space shooters made for the PC. Perhaps you have heard some of them like Torian. But the existence of the game consoles tore those type of games away. PC gaming found its identity with 3d, LAN, and online play. Game consoles could not do any of those things.

The entire console philosophy of the Xbox and PlayStation franchises is just to imitate the PC. As the consoles grew more powerful with 3d and began to successfully play FPS type games, those games began to vanish being premier content for the PC. They were now the premier content for the consoles. A PC version was simply the ‘ported’ version. LAN gaming wasn’t copied too well. But online gaming is now also being emulated.

When you look at core PC gaming today (not referring to the disruptors on the small end), what do you see? You see MMORPGs. You see RTS and strategy games. And you see some console ports. If consoles ever figured out how to successfully perform MMORPGs and RTS and strategy games, you will see them vanish from PC gaming as premier content as well.

So stop parroting some other person’s post in an Internet Message Forum and look at the entire history of PC gaming. It is not a question of whether PC gaming is dying. It is already dead. Its carcass is beginning to stink and attract flies. If it wasn’t dying, there would be greater presence of the games at retail stores. Then people try to slide on this point by saying, “PC gaming didn’t die. It is just transforming. It is shifting to something different. It is adopting digital distribution. It is switching from those huge epic games to the smaller and friendlier ones.” These clowns don’t realize they are pointing to disruption. And then tell me that ‘disruption isn’t happening’. What fools!

This is why it is important to separate it into ‘Core’ and ‘Expanded’. The Core PC Gaming is already gone. Those games are now the ‘premier content’ for game consoles. However, now even the premier content for game consoles is feeling the heat of disruption.

Look on the DS with Nintendo’s aggressive efforts toward DSware. The entire landscape of gaming is shifting to the low end, not the high end. All platforms are being pulled toward the lower ends. This is remarkable because gaming, for the most part, has been in sustaining upgrades moving to a higher end. 8-bit! 16-bit! 32/64-bit! DVD quality! High Definition!

The pendulum is now swinging the other way. It is, indeed, possible that Next Generation games are going to be smaller, lighter, and ‘more casual’ than this current generation.

This doesn’t mean MS or Sony are failproof, actually they aren’t, they’ll most likely eventually both fail like the vast majority of the giants of the past, but if tens million wishes didn’t make them fail, it won’t be Malstrom’s wish to do it.”

I don’t really care if Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo fail or succeed. They certainly aren’t giving me any money either way. What drives me is the alarm of rapidly falling quality standards across all of gaming. This is why is generating the disinterest. I now say to myself, “It appears that I have seen the best gaming can offer. I was spoiled then. Playing games today is heartbreaking because their quality is so bad. So why even bother playing games anymore?” Decades ago, I expected game quality to remain consistent or to increase. What a fool I was. Game quality has only gone down, and it seems like it goes down every generation.

That was until the DS and Wii. Nintendo’s quality seems to be on the upswing however it is not at the ‘golden era of Nintendo’ during the 8-bit and 16-bit days. For example, Mario Kart DS and Wii are much better versions of the game than the N64 and Gamecube counterparts. It is not that the Gamecube and N64 counterparts were bad, but they did seem the quality was in decline since the SNES version.

Let me use another example to having lightning strike my point. I love Unreal Tournament. While many people tend to think Unreal Tournament 2004 was a decline in quality of UT 99, it is still somewhat debatable. Now throw in Unreal Tournament III which no one plays. Everyone plays UT 99 and UT2004. All these people will say that Unreal Tournament III just “isn’t as good” as the earlier games.

Every game series I loved has been in decline or has been destroyed. Ultima has been destroyed. Command and Conquer is pretty much already destroyed. Master of Orion has been destroyed. Despite the ‘praise’ for Civilization IV, I consider the series has been going downhill since Civ II. Zelda has been in one heck of a decline. Metroid was doing OK but it looks like it is about to be destroyed by Sakamoto turning the game into a Final Fantasy. Oh yes, Final Fantasy has pretty much lost all relevance.

In my world, there are very few bright spots for gaming. Blizzard is loved because Blizzard has not disappointed. They keep the quality up consistent for their games. Super Mario Brothers 5 was what I had been wanting for almost twenty years. Mario Karts have gotten better in quality from the Gamecube low.

So I ask myself, “How can the quality be falling so rapidly?” The answer is the existence of the ‘Industry’. The ‘Industry’ is not interested in making games, the ‘Industry’ is interested only in making more Industry.

I want the ‘Industry’ to go away so games can become magical again. In my world, I am like in a desert looking for any oasis, that oasis being a game with magic. I feel game companies are resembling sausage companies churning out who knows what.

I am not interested in Nintendo winning. I am interested in the Revolution winning. The Revolution will ensure the demise of the Industry. Then, perhaps, games can become magical again.

Some people have asked, “Master Malstrom, pray tell, why do you speak with such conviction? Are you not just an egomaniac?” Here is the answer to that:

What I have found what really rattles people is they go bonkers when someone speaks so assuredly and with such confidence. The reason why they respond to Malstrom The Personality rather than anything of substance Malstrom says (they won’t even bother learning disruption or Blue Ocean Strategy before they trash it) is because they keep taking the bait. And while I don’t get any money for this, I do get pleasure from tweaking these people.

If I declared, “The sky is blue,” people would immediately respond, “Who the hell does this guy think he is?” “How can he be so confident in what he says?” “You know, the sky may not be blue as he says.” People will go to the ends of the Earth rather than admit that Malstrom was right about something. It is hilarious to watch.

The change in the tone is due to just writing articles on Blue Ocean and disruption wasn’t working. Many people saw the light. However, we still got the same crap from the “Industry” and their Kool-Aid drinkers, i.e. the hardcore. No matter what happens, the goal posts keep being re-arranged. For example, “PS3 is doing very well because it increased its numbers over the same month a year ago.” Well, it did have a new model and a price drop. But excuse me, the PS3 only loses every month. Yet, they cheer it as a success. And with the Wii, they won’t even mention it anymore. And they certainly don’t mention all the Wii games that are crowding the best seller’s list. I thought we were told Wii gamers don’t buy any games. What is going on?

I feel the “Game Industry” and its analysts are an insult to my intelligence as well as every other gamers’ intelligence. I don’t know about you, but I do not like being insulted. So let us respond to the “Game Industry” in the same exact condescension they respond to us: with absolute mockery and disdain.

More and more Kool-Aid drinkers are becoming sober from their drunken goggle-eyes view of gaming and realizing that the ‘Game Industry’ does not like them and does not like gamers in general. ‘Game Industry’ wants to become an ‘Interactive Movie Industry’. They don’t even want you to own any games. They keep raising prices on you. They keep reducing the quality of their products. They do not try to excite gamers. They only try to hype them which is shoving Kool-Aid down your throat by means of bullshot screens, of the artificial script of game developer saying how ‘excited’ he is, to the ‘Kool-Aid lifestyle’ they are trying to present to you with ‘hardcore gaming’.

I actually enjoy being wrong since I learn that way. Making a high profile website like this is like walking on a wire without a net. If you are wrong, you will be excoriated on the Internet. So there is a sort of ‘thrill’ to it. This generation has been unfolding almost exactly the way how I thought it would with one exception: Nintendo going ‘user generated content’ and almost imploding the Wii. Here are some of the things I knew were going to happen:

-HD twins would lower in price and face no significant uptick in sales.
-Wii’s value would be steady and wouldn’t have to reduce the price (Nintendo going User Generated Content chopped off $50 from the Wii on this one).
-HD Twins would attempt to copy the Wii with their own motion control devices.
-A new 2d Mario would appear on the Wii and it would be *huge*. People will be stunned just how many people stopped buying Nintendo consoles because of the lack of 2d Mario.
-The economic depression is happening as I thought it would. However, ultimately the problem is in the population decline and how people will be unable to retire. That is going to be the ‘depressing’ part.

Some of the things to come…

-Always imagined the Wii being priced the same or as high as one of the HD twins. This has somewhat already happened with the Xbox 360. And the Wii still outsells the HD system.
-Zelda returns in all its glory to become an entertainment phenomenon. I do not expect this to occur with Zelda Wii. Perhaps the Zelda after that. Zelda is in terrible shape as a franchise and needs to get back to its roots or face becoming irrelevant.
-Old Nintendo franchises will come back from the dead. Punch-Out is the first. I expect more is on their way.
-The HD twin motion controllers will sell based on hype but rapidly decline in sales. Press releases will trumpet the initial sales but everyone will ignore the sudden decline. The HD twins will be unable to penetrate the Expanded Audience.
-Some of the marketing campaigns of the motion controllers will create a backlash with the core gamers on one of the systems. I don’t know which one.
-There will be no Wii HD.
-More entertainment phenomenons will break out on the Wii perhaps making its sales go up even more (or at least keeping its sales pace even).
-As game companies move to digital distribution and greater DRM, their games suffer greater free fall in sales. Their defensive attitudes will push customers away.
-Nintendo will create a successor to the DS and Wii only when Sony shows up with a successor. Nintendo will attempt to checkmate Sony before their horse is out of the gate.
-The successor to the Wii will stun people but not for the reasons you think. Wii wasn’t a significant upgrade of processor and graphics from the Gamecube. And while the successor to the Wii won’t be concerned about the processor and graphics either, the jump to the successor will be very evident especially with a longer console lifecycle.
-As Alex St. John has said, this places Microsoft and Sony into a crisis. Due to declining costs, the successor to the Wii will likely be better than the PS3 (as all consoles improve). While the PS4 will be better than the PS3, there is no room left for graphics advancement. The PS4 won’t be able to differentiate itself from Wii successor based on graphics. So Sony is in big trouble. People don’t care about graphics today. But even more people won’t care about graphics next generation. Microsoft is expected to go a cloud type of ‘social experience’ push with their next system. Get a pot and throw all the ‘social gaming is the new revolution’ clichés into it, swirl it around, and dump it out and that is what Microsoft’s next console will be.

And now to end this very long post with a smile.


There you go.



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