Tag Archives: activision

Activision Blizzard: Sell ASAP, Or Back Up The Truck? Plus Hearthstone, Cyberpunk 2077

stock chart activion blizzard
In this post I look at a few upcoming game titles, plus the usual gaming stock analysis.

After mentioning in my last blog post that I quit Hearthstone, I jumped back in during the last three weeks. I got 60 more wins on my wild Dragon Priest to complete 500 total for the golden Tyrande hero portrait.

Overall Hearthstone is a horribly managed. I’m not even going to get started ranting about the new gnome hero. The Blizzard marketers are apparently in charge of game development instead of the actual devs.

And the marketers are solely focused on literally stealing lunch money from as many kids as possible, not making a great game to play.

I don’t know what those people are doing out in California, but they clearly aren’t taking care of business. As Kripp said on his stream a few nights ago, the Hearthstone devs are competent, but nothing is happening. They aren’t acting like it.

Something is just plain wrong with this picture. Maybe they are working on something really big.


Gaming Stocks


Activision Blizzard (ATVI) has entered a downtrend in the last month, and was pushed down harder in the last week from significantly negative analyst press.

I sold ATVI and called for a decline last summer. My slow-and-steady, diversified GAMR ETF has outperformed Blizzard since then (see comparison image above.) The question now is whether to buy back into Blizzard on this pullback!

I agree with everything the gaming analyst says. In previous posts, I mentioned over-inflated expectations for ESports, especially among game-clueless Wall Street people.

The linked article doesn’t mention other analyst observations like intense holiday competition with numerous game releases this season, as well as intense competition coming in 2018.

Justin Olivetti posted a Massively article today noting very strong numbers for Overwatch, but unfortunately the sales for Destiny 2 were very disappointing in September.

Blizzard releases their quarterly earnings on Nov. 2 during Blizzcon.

I have to wonder if the earnings are planned during reveals and excitement to cushion any earnings miss or other disappointment. Destiny sales disappointed. This is a known, but the unknown is how much this will impact Blizzard’s earnings compared to estimates.

I feel like Hearthstone is also going to disappoint. The recent Lich King expansion actually made the game less fun, at least compared to Un’Goro.

Will I buy ATVI? I don’t know. It’s timing and intuition. Watching the stock during any broad market volatility in the next two weeks will definitely help shine light on the situation.

I do know that the window of opportunity will be small, and if I miss a rip, I will lose out on an opportunity to make hundreds of dollars by pressing a couple buttons at the right time.

My last stock buy was 50 shares of VLO on September 13 at $70.50.

I sold it back on 9/14 because it dipped sharply, and I was going away for a long weekend. I didn’t want to be holding a big trade with no ability to dump it. The stock is at $77.42 now.

I watched this stock for two years. I was a coward not long ago when VLO broke out of a massive downtrend at $50, and I just didn’t pull the trigger. And now I missed it again. A $350 gain in one month because I was an idiot, and away from my computer on exactly the wrong day.


Upcoming Games


Today I looked at the holiday roster of big releases, and the only game I really wanted to play was FIFA 18, story mode. But wait, it’s the story of a guy only, no female option, so scratch that off too.

It’s the winter Hearthstone expansion, only.

But wait, again! Today Massively posted a very rare update on Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt affirms they are working really big on this game. They say they are redefining and innovating.

This game looks absolutely awesome, but for the love of the Borg mother, please let us play as a female character, instead of regurgitating another Geralt.

There are no real RPGs on the list of holiday games, unless you count Divinity: Original Sin 2, which is pulling some very high ratings. Middle Earth: Shadows of War is a male protagonist again. So is Red Dead 2 next year. I’d be excited about Star Wars: Battlefront 2 by EA if it were a Bioware RPG instead of another mindless killing field game.

Ironically, EA killed Bioware, of course.

Vampyr from DontNod has been pushed back to Spring 2018, and of course it’s another male gender lock.

So if I crave an RPG this holiday season, I’ll look at Divinity: OS2. I didn’t get very far into the first one though. The puzzles were hard on my kitty brain, and I don’t really enjoy crafting and heavy inventory management in single-player games.


Personal Project and Portfolio


I’ve had some health problems in the last month, and these have really set me back in my energy level. I won’t meet my development goals for the end of October. I’ve made a lot of progress though, and my game is fairly playable.

The more complicated systems like combat and spellcasting are barely sketched into the gameplay.

I was investigating the development of a new pen art style for combat action panels, similar to the look of Pillars of Eternity. So I bought my first tablet to try to speed up my workflow. I expected the tablet to have a serious learning curve, however, and I’m now bogged down on that.

I’ve always done traditional drawing. I’ve done quite a bit of comic pen work, including a completed full-size and finished comic book, but it’s just too tedious. It took me a month of full time work to do like 20 pages.

So happy gaming, and leave your thoughts on Blizzard if you want. I’ll be watching the stock. Otherwise, I am watching First Data (FDC), Hack ETF (HACK), Amgen (AMGN), and JPM and ALB, both of which I missed the boat on, although I know I should have jumped into them long ago.

I’m almost more interested to just add to my current holdings on a pullback. The market is very high and expensive right now, and Trump has to explode at some point.

Self-directed investing has taught me that confidence and patience are two of the most important virtues. I need to set definite exit rules before I enter a position, and stick to those rules after I’ve forgotten my original thought process.

I am still patient with JD.com (JD), the worst performing stock in my portfolio, sitting at a tiny .49% loss after a series of perilous dips and drops. Netease (NTES) is finally looking strong in the past few weeks, and it looks like JD is primed to follow it with positive analyst recognition a few days ago in Barron’s.

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Elf In Real Life: A Tree Is Injured! And Gaming News Update.

tree bus

My last post was four months today. Here is a quick update.

Yesterday a bus driver in Tennessee flipped a school bus full of kids into a tree, killing five children and injuring several others.

My first thought when seeing this news was to worry about the tree. How badly was the tree injured? Will it survive? I doubt if any of those humans care about the poor tree, which is the real victim of human carelessness.

So I’m making progress in becoming more like a real-life elf.


LotRO


I’ve also reached cap and geared up a 105 elf Warden and 105 elf Rune-Keeper in LotRO. I’m multi-boxing up a 90 Captain right now on a second account, and then I’ll be ready for Mordor.

LotRO has a Mordor map in-game now, which looks really grim, deadly, and impressive.

Who knows when that expansion will happen, but supposedly Turbine has extended the license for at least one more year. The end of LotRO is not immediately imminent.


Hearthstone


I’m playing Hearthstone now. I reached rank 14 tonight. I am balancing my anxiety meds to relax enough to not get stressed, but not be a zombie-like bad player either.

Blizzard finally released a female priest hero! And she’s an elf!! I was lucky enough to have an Amazon Prime membership to get Tyrande. (I’ve since cancelled that.)

I like Tyrande’s portrait, which isn’t as angry-boobed as the original female heroes, and her voice is nice and calm. I bless everyone I play – and then squelch them so they can’t taunt or otherwise spam immature human emotional emotes.

I pre-ordered the Mean Streets Of Gadgetzan expansion and bought 40 packs of Old Gods cards. Those cards gave me Twin Emperor Veklor, but C’Thun priest seems not too great against actual good decks in ranked play.

I crafted N’Zoth with the leftover dust though, enabling deathrattle decks. N’Zoth is a long-term keeper to use in Standard and in future Wild Mode for as long as Hearthstone is alive (unless the card gets nerfed, in which case I have the option to get 100% dust back.)

I’m not too excited about the Gadgetzan expansion yet, but clearly it will enable some new deck ideas, like secret mage, jade golem rogue, and more.


Activision Blizzard Stock


$ATVI has taken it on the face lately, the same as Electronic Arts stock. I was not in either of these stocks during this recent downturn, which was exacerbated by Trump’s victory, causing fears of a China trade war, which could slaughter gaming companies, and all tech companies doing big business in China.

I’ve nibbled half back into Activision Blizzard at this week, prepared to buy more if the stock goes down another 10%. I’m just surprised it took this long for the stock to crash this far. Apparently there are concerns now about Call of Duty sales in the UK. Or something.

I’m also still holding Chinese stock in Tencent, the world’s largest game company, which remains up 10% since I bought it. NVidia soared 25% on stunning results this quarter, but unfortunately I sold it along with Electronic Arts at the pre-election recent market top, which apparently was not the top for some stocks.

Also last week, I initiated small long-term positions in Facebook and Home Depot on their respective big selloffs.

Home Depot’s gain has matched Blizzard’ loss in the last week, so I’m breaking even as the market goes up. That’s never a great feeling. I’m also fairly exposed to potentially devastating Trump trade warfare between the U.S. and China (thus Home Depot), and warfare against an open internet.

Overall market valuations are very stretched right now compared to historical bull markets, but some analysts say tax breaks will boost the market significantly in terms of the current high P/E multiples.


Trump Presidency


Trump currently has his crazy truck in reverse on all of his major policy promises, except maybe NAFTA. He is even moderating on climate change already.

If he does follow through with bringing back the coal industry and making Sarah Palin the interior secretary (drill baby, drill), then a Trump presidency may actually be good for trees. (Surely he isn’t building his Mexico wall out of wood.)

Trees love carbon dioxide! They turn it into oxygen, and that’s how we are all breathing and alive right now. So go ahead and burn coal, President Trump. The polar ice caps will melt, the sea levels will flood the coasts, and the coral will die, but the trees will survive just fine.


Mighty Blizzard: Meet Stock Market Meltdown

S&P500 image
This week was one of the worst in stock market history. Major indices lost over 6%, with the Dow losing over 1000 points.

China’s growth is slowing down. The U.S. dollar is strengthening. Prices of oil and other commodities are still in decline. This brings a risk of financial triggers for countries that rely on oil and raw materials exports, which brings risk to the world financial system.

I watched oodles of CNBC this week, and I’ve never heard the Wall Street boys so defeated. Even the bullish opinions sound like slick salesman B.S. or clinging desperation. The pessimism is actually a plus. If everyone is already out, how much more money can leave the market?

More. Large U.S. outflows have been observed from foreign countries. Some analysts suggest heavy European selling. Every Joe and Jane will see their 401k funds melting, and they’ll pull their money on Monday. Today some analysts mentioned that the market never bottoms on a Friday.

Jim Cramer talked about Blizzard on Mad Money on Tuesday. He said Activision-Blizzard’s 27 billion valuation was undervalued and even “ridiculously cheap”. Cramer spoke highly of Bobby Kotick, who he knows from the old days.

Cramer also spoke highly of NVidia. I personally thought Microsoft and NVidia were played out in terms of news catalysts. I was wrong.

Microsoft popped today on an announcement of a plan to make their own SIM cards for a new phone service for Windows 10. Jim Cramer thinks there is still positive news ahead for Nvidia, at least for two more quarters.

On Wednesday, Cramer spoke on Electronic Arts. He called EA “more problematic”, and said to stick with Blizzard. This general idea was echoed in an analyst report on EA yesterday. Cowen predicted a very strong quarter for EA in mobile, however, with possibly 50% sequential revenue growth.

Cramer is not always right of course. A valid trading strategy is to do the opposite of everything he says. A year ago this month in January, he was recommending Kinder Morgan (KMI) and recommending against Valero (VLO).

Of all the bad CNBC stock advice I saw in 2015, only Karen Finerman’s repeated recommendations of SunEdison (SUNE) ended worse.


Video Game Stocks As “Sin Stocks”


I’ve heard a few Wall Street analysts recommend RJ Reynolds this week, a stock which has risen strongly this week while most other stocks fell. It has a good dividend, but I assume the real reason is because it’s a traditional “sin stock”.

Sin stocks are supposed to do well in a recession. According to the article, they are “businesses that provide an outlet for consumers”. They also have deeper margins than traditional consumer plays.

Sin stocks include alcohol, tobacco, gambling/casinos, and weapons. Really? It sounds like a new category of sin stock needs to be added, since that’s pretty much a definition of video games: addictive, with lots of gambling mechanics and as many guns as possible.

As Jim Cramer mentioned today on Mad Money, Constellation Brands (the brewer of Corona, etc.), reported a stellar quarter and the stock rocketed yesterday. I don’t see why video game stocks shouldn’t also outperform.

I sold Nvidia, Microsoft, TAN (solar ETF), and Electronic Arts in previous weeks closer to their tops. The question is when to buy them back. Yesterday I pushed 50% back into EA, but it’s important to have major patience.

The solar ETF is a trickier trap since it’s influenced so heavily by politics, oil, and having 25% of its holdings in China.

Some big name money managers are calling this another major financial crisis, on par with the 2008 Great Recession, which lasted 18 months. That seems as good as anything for a worst-case scenario timetable.

Other people are saying the severe oversold conditions are a setup for a “multi-week rally”. I don’t see why the S&P should break the “crowning top” pattern until other bearish patterns, like oil and Dow transports, are broken first, but anyway, that’s enough of that.

Happy Friday, time to stock up on sins.


New Year 2016: Looking Forward And Back

Pink Bed

I spent New Year’s on social media. I didn’t feel too alone. I was in bed with my computer. One time I told my guild in LotRO that I couldn’t do a dungeon run because I was ‘playing in bed’.

This image is what I mean, boys.

Last week I purchased Divinity: Original Sin on sale on Steam. It’s a really polished game, and I was having fun exploring and solving puzzles. At level two I was suddenly told that I was the saviour of the world, and the enemy is a void dragon.

I haven’t played Divinity in several days. I was also dying too much in fights. The same formula made me quit Skyrim: dragons, dying, and ‘chosen one’.


Looking Back At 2015


This was Activision Blizzard‘s year. They were called out yesterday on CNBC as up 92% on the year, the third best performing stock in the S&P 500. They were also cited on Bloomberg as the winner of Christmas based on Call of Duty sales. COD won’t match Star Wars, but it’s in the same ballpark.

Meanwhile, EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront debut was a critical fizzle, a disappointing lump of pretty-looking mediocrity according to this kitty’s most trusted Jedi of truth-telling.

Acti-Blizz also bought King Digital for a ridiculous sum of course, and the breaking news today is their purchase of Major League Gaming.

I’ve mentioned on this blog the large amount of debt Blizz is carrying already. Can they really crush it as the 1000-pound gorilla, or can nimbler studios pull the rug from under Blizzard’s efforts to counter the outflow from WoW?

Even though EA’s stock has sold off on their latest (perceived) IP fumbling, it might still be a better long-term investment, especially if Star Wars sales numbers are solid with casual console players.

Some high-profile Wall Street analysts are making this prediction, calling EA a strong buy in its current trough. I sold at 72. I’ve learned to not sell Blizzard.

Of course, the stocks will now probably go in opposite directions because that’s what happens to the stupid kitty.


What I’m Looking Forward To In 2016


Mafia 3 ~ Not. I’ve been looking forward to this game for two years, but Take Two ruined it. They turned the classy, artsy feel of this game into a knuckle-head brutality fest.

I can’t even bear to watch that trailer again to compound this kitty commentary.

It looks like they just GTA-ified this great franchise. That means it’s GTA, but they changed the Italian ‘family’ into a ‘family’ Lousiana style – or something.

I just know I won’t be playing as that bicep-busting caveman. Goodbye forever, handsome Vito. Thankfully we have another shooter –

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 ~ Yes! I recently found out the game offers a choice of gender! Can this kitty love Acti-Blizz even more? I hope so. Thank you Blizzard. I’m looking forward.

Dogma: Eternal Night ~ The Kickstarter for this vampire-themed labor of love failed miserably this month, and it’s looking more like a shiny pipe dream. I hope those guys get hired by the big companies with zero balls to spend real money on vampires.

You know who you are. (Massively coverage.)

Everquest: Next ~ Who knows! You’re better off watching kitten videos on Youtube than watching EQN news.

More Hearthstone ~ More Hearthstone unless I have heart failure. I hit rank 15 again and quit this month. I feel like I can go a lot higher with my Dragon Priest (yes, I’m aware of the irony).

Hearthstone is giving me a panic attack. That’s the problem. I wish I could just relax and play Hearthstone, with no more anxiety than tossing a ball at a wall for an hour.

The World of Warcraft Movie ~ I’m skeptical I can enjoy this without knowing the lore but who knows. Blizzard is already building a movie studio so this first film needs to be profitable, right? Otherwise a movie studio would be a bad idea.

In other news, this was an all-time record year for Hollywood with 11 billion box office sales in North America. So maybe Blizzard is crazy like a goblin, a very wealthy goblin.

Since I’m ‘meh’ about Black Desert, Blade and Soul, and Camelot Unchained, that’s about it. I’m still working on my ‘bi-adventure’ game project. Here is an image of my first map.

Happy gaming and best wishes for the new year.

adventure map

More Reading: Massively’s 2016 post.


Weekly Wyrm ~ Toy Cars and Plutonium

Bethesda announced Fallout 4 today. The trailer is plain brilliant. We’ve got a strong character, a little story, and heart-touching emotion. Wait, a dog?! A dog is a great solution for a character that doesn’t favor one gender.

This is one of my favorite trailers ever, and Bethesda even stretched their usual under-two-minute effort by a whole 50%. IGN reports the game will take place in Massachusetts.

The 50s flashback sequences are creepy, given the increasingly real renewed threat of nuclear bombs recently. Think Russia’s lax security and non-existent ethics, Iran, Syria and terrorism.

I think it’s only a matter of time before New York City is blown up, which is why I won’t buy and hold a stock with a headquarters in New York. Crazy? You heard it here first on the Kitty.

Just yesterday I sold my stock in Activision Blizzard on the launch of Heroes of the Storm, and today they announced Planes, Boats, and Cars for Skylanders, to release this fall along with Guitar Hero Live. The stock took off again.

It’s a nice idea.

Disney made horrible headlines recently by laying off 200+ tech employees and replacing them with cheap workers from India, exploiting a government allowance for temp visas for tech workers. These temp visas are supposed to be for tech jobs that employers can’t fill, not to displace American workers.

Just disgusting, and I’m just now finding out about it. I’m probably selling Disney and buying back Blizzard. I really hate investing in software, and especially game companies trying to turn joyful innocent games into gambling, addiction, and kid-sploitation. I guess it’s inevitable, just like drones looking in our windows.

Jim Cramer talked video game stocks tonight on CNBC. He opines that EA, Activision Blizzard, or Take Two–any way you’re winning. I still like Blizzard because of Tencent’s 12% stake. I was watching an evil video on Chinese style game monetization, and the speaker said everything Tencent touches turns to gold.

Speaking of competition, Cramer talked about the sudden resurrection of Gamestop (the game store), which everyone had written off as dead due to download purchases. They’ve mutated into other areas (phones and Apple knockoff stores) and reported a shocking quarter.

Cramer also mentioned Gamestop’s 40 million Rewards members, and he called them “loyal”. No. Gamestop practically twists your arm to join.

No one is twisting my arm to write these blog posts, and my morale is falling with my visitors. My Rift Newbie guide visits are down about 50% YOY. I’ve been watching Hearthstone a bit on Twitch.

I finished the Blackrock Mountain expansion last week. It was satisfying fun, but I’m not motivated to keep playing the PvP game. I just don’t know where I’m going without a story, MMO-like progression, or character development.

Also with no story or story quests, I’ve stalled in Guild Wars 2 with my Guardian at the exact place I stopped with my Hunter – around level 35. I’ve been working hard on my novels, and I’m taking the summer off school.

I might make the 4th a gaming weekend and celebrate my freedom by doing nothing constructive. Happy gaming, whatever you’re playing!