Tag Archives: blizzard

Hearthstone: Darkmoon Faire – World’s Greediest Video Game

Video Game Prices Are Going Up

The standard price for video games is increasing to $70 for the PlayStation 5 and next-gen Xbox consoles, ending 15 years of $60 games.

I assume this will also be for PC games, but it’s also misleading. When the industry shifted to digital delivery, saving maybe 25% of the cost of delivering a game (at the time), the game companies took all of the cost savings as profits instead of sharing the cost savings as reduced prices for games.

They started the slow death of the resale market at the same time. So in totality, I would call that a price increase. You no longer ‘own’ copies of your games. In any case, let’s look now at the world’s new #1 greediest video game, according to elves everywhere.

Hearthstone Darkmoon Faire: Now Quad-Wielding Pure Greed

Blizzard rolls out a new expansion with a new card set, plus a new mode, plus a long-awaited achievement system. Great! Wrong.

New system for questing and gold: The whole progression game is now a scheme to sell Tavern Passes. Pay $20 to lessen the pain from your arm being twisted for months. The total possible gain is meant to be the same, but the rewards are end-loaded to punish casuals and push the paid XP bonus.

This is on top of the usual $50 to $70 to buy each thrice-annual expansion, which doesn’t even come close to giving you most of the cards, and that’s already more than an annual MMO sub.

But Wait: New Mini-Sets: Hearthstone is getting mini-expansions in between main $60 expansions. Per this article breaking down Hearthstone costs, a full mini-set costs around $60 or 5000 gold. That in itself doubles the costs of Hearthstone, beyond the Tavern Pass and the card collection arm-twisting in the new game mode and in the achievements system.

Hearthstone Mini-Sets Will Refresh the Meta, but at What Cost?

New achievement system: We’ve waited for this for years. But there are no real rewards for your loyalty and efforts except a point total! No titles! No pets! No perks! No skins! And you have card collection achievements thrown up in your face constantly, reminding you to collect x cards of y class for z expansion. And on and on. What a joke.

New game mode: you need to complete card collections in order to unlock powers in the new Duel mode. Since you can’t possibly do this F2P anymore, you are paying to win.

This isn’t an avalanche of greed. This is a cataclysmic volcano of dollar sucking parasitic vacuum cleaner monsters raining down on players of all ages and financial means. (“During a pandemic”? Sure! Let’s tack that on.)

The eye-opening power creep this year can also be mentioned. We can’t forget either the insane power of the Demon Hunter class as it was released last spring, pushing everyone and their uncle into crafting all of those cards, only to have them rolled back all summer until they were eventually reasonable. The aggressive mini-sets will just accelerate the power creep.

All of this is not fixable except by rolling all of this back. This is a legitimate clown fiesta, except the clowns are you. You should not play Hearthstone unless you are a whale, not a clown.

LotRO

LotRO put up a “huge” list of question answers from the devs this week. The list was entirely unsurprising in its disappointing-ness. It was a lot of non-answers and vague promises that will never be fulfilled.

I’m surprised Justin Olivetti seemed to eat it up, but he was very harsh in his previous critical articles on LotRO.  At some point you have to stop stabbing a dead horse.

This comes after the recent scam of releasing a quest pack as a full expansion. This looks a lot like barebones studio just milking players to stay alive. At what point do you draw the line and preserve your ethics and  integrity?

Cyberpunk 2077

Coming soon on Dec. 10th, from one of the few studios still making great games with integrity.  The ongoing super mega hype is a bit concerning, but we’ll have to see.

Note that multiplayer is not being released with the main game, for example. “Projekt Red have revealed that the multiplayer component of Cyberpunk 2077 is its own AAA release.” So it’s time to pay for two games to get one? Here we go, boys. Let the games for your credit card begin.

Vampire: Masquerade

A battle royale game is being made in the Vampire setting. This game has been almost univerally criticized. It’s a game that no one wants. Meanwhile, a new overpriced mini-RPG has been released on Steam to further profit off of Vampire fans. I bought the first one and played it a bit.  I’m over it.

This cheese has been evolving for a long time, and it’s invading even the most sacred, die-hard fan spaces in video games.  No sacred stone will be left un-despoiled in the quest for the most and cheapest profit.

Wow Classic

I continue to be interested in a long-term investment in WoW Classic, or more precisely a proper trip through the world of WoW spanning my years until retirement.

I quit and never kept up with WoW over the last 15 years, so I would be somewhat psyched to go back to this less spoiled, pure land of old.  Leave the current greed and insanity behind. No cash shop. No arm twisting to pay cash money to win.

The problem right now is Blizzard’s lack of public plans and communication.

I would be leveling a Priest right now if I knew the current servers would become progression servers, for example. I just don’t know what they are doing, so I don’t know what I’m doing. I know I haven’t given them any money for months after hitting level 60 with my mage. I haven’t finished leveling my crafts.

SWTOR

I’m currently level 60ish in SWTOR with my Sith Inquisitor. It’s a goal for the holidays to hit 70 and finish a lot more of the main story. I finally got a companion that is romanceable. The talk-kill-collect is getting very repetitive as I near the end of the original vanilla content, however.

ESO

I’d also like to cap out the Champ levels in Elder Scrolls Online. I think I’m like 150-200. The max is now 810. This would require weeks of grinding, if not months. Probably not going to happen, but who knows. The last time I installed ESO, it was a huge download and I had some kind of unfixable errors with my 2060 video card. Maybe that is patched out.

Personal Projects

I’m still working on the second dungeon for Elven Academy – “The Geomancer’s Deathtrap.” I’m trying to wind up the free content in the coming months, so I can work on a paid expansion module, so I can at least offer a download and a way to get money.

The game also needs to have a sense of gaining in power as a mage, and also of security in your save code.  This is a big issue.

I’ve been greatly distracted by oil painting. I’ve sunk a few hundred hours into my painting lately instead of gaming or developing game content. The oil painting is going very well, or I would have dropped it again already. I dream of putting a few paintings in a gallery at some point.

I’m also still wanting to practice my violin, but the violin I purchased is too loud for my apartment. I made a mistake not buying an electric violin.

I wanted an acoustic violin to make game music at some point, but it’s silly trying to learn as a total novice in my apartment with neighbors. My best idea is to take the violin and practice in my car or in some forlorn parking lot somewhere.

If I can attain a basic level of competency, that’s good enough to make MP3’s for my game scenes and modules – dungeon music, romantic music, etc., and that’s a lot of motivation. I absolutely loved the violin music in Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura.

I’ve been watching a lot of Spanish movies and series to improve my Spanish listening comprehension. I’m making some progress on this, enough to feel some reward for the effort. I’ve also been playing chess as a sort of cracker box game experience, since I don’t have a current MMO.

I’ve also been streaming some art and video game development on Twitch, but the novelty of that has sort of worn off. That’s about it for now. I’ll probably think of revisions to this post over the weekend. Happy Friday and happy gaming!


Amazon Promises LotR TV series, Delivers Golden Packs For Hearthstone


I’ve been exhausted lately. In the last week, I completed season 12 objectives of Diablo 3, in bed. I can only say this was a satisfying single-player experience. And post a pic.


Lord of The Rings TV Show


Amazon announced a LotR TV series today, which is mind-blowing. There is no date set yet, and no cast, but they say they are committing to multiple seasons. This commitment must be a licensing thing.

What stories could they tell? Gandalf and Aragorn were very active between the Hobbit and Fellowship, but I’m not a lore expert. I just hope there are as many hobbits and elves as bearded men with wenches and big swords.

It’s been a while since I really looked forward to a TV show. I’m currently an Amazon Prime subscriber. Amazon now allows monthly subs, which is very cheap for a lot of value.

Sub for a month, watch the shows, order your stuff, unsub, for around $10. Plus right now you get a golden Hearthstone pack in Twitch loot. Not bad.


Diablo 3


As a mostly clueless Diablo 3 newbie, the season reset offered a good opportunity to create a new character and learn how to play the game. The difficulty and learning curve were perfect.

So I beat a “Greater Rift” in 15 minutes on difficulty 20 to complete the season, and now I have a level 70, 75 paragon Monk with a shiny gold hero portrait, and a complete Uliana set and build.

I thought I’d like the angel wings reward, but they’re a bit much.


Hearthstone


Blizz announced a new expansion, Kobolds and Catacombs. The theme has a nice Disney flavor and introduces a new single-player dungeon game mode.

No one is really sure if the mode will be good, or why Blizzard devoted development resources to this mode, or why people will play this mode, since they say it offers no real rewards.

The introduction of “legendary weapon” class cards in Kobolds is also a little ‘meh’. Just a good excuse to create overpowered cards that people have to have, and craft.


Gaming Stocks


Take Two (TTWO) and NVidia (NVDA) were two big winners in the last two weeks of quarterly gaming company earnings reports. Electronic Arts (EA) had the weakest results of the big three developers/publishers in focus on Wall Street.

Activision Blizzard (ATVI) was somewhere in the middle.

Blizzard still soared last week on news of record-breaking release for Call of Duty: WW2, but then sold off again on general market weakness.

I purchased EA and held for a week up to the day of earnings, and sold before earnings for a very slim profit.

I also purchased Disney (DIS) within minutes of the rumor that they were talking to Fox studios about a purchase.

Disney went up, but I was not willing to hold through earnings. I washed out at break even. Earnings ended up bad, as I predicted. But it didn’t matter! The stock kept running anyway based on hopes and the force (Star Wars).

So Disney looks bullish into the movie release, but buying and holding seems a little premature to me. Analysts are predicting intense competition for the video game space. Why not also for entertainment in general.

I finally sold JD (JD.com) at break even, since I am already overweight China e-commerce with a double in Alibaba, and would rather diversify more in emerging markets (EEM) during a downturn. I didn’t realize JD announces earnings this Monday, though.

JD will probably soar immediately now that I sold, of course, but even if it jumped 10%, it would still be the weakest stock in my portfolio.

I am watching ANET (Arista Networks), and wondering if it isn’t too late to get in. I’m watching Z, ALB, APA, and CTRP. Broad market risks right now are very difficult. Since I’m obviously very risk averse, I’m still waiting for another serious dip.

There is speculation that people have been waiting to sell stocks this year, hoping for tax breaks that will be in force next year.

So January could be unusually bearish, but this week Congress suggested legislation maybe closer to 2019, and that’s partly where the market weakness came from in the last few trading days. Then there would be no point in waiting until January to sell.


Holiday Gaming!


Holidays. Vacation breaks. Good times. I already pre-purchased the Hearthstone expansion.

I’m very interested in CoD:WW2, since I’ve always preferred historical or diabolical shooters over other kinds, but I really want to buy CoD on the Blizzard launcher. Blizz added an Activision section to their launcher, featuring only Destiny 2, but that’s it.

Players are griping and DansGaming about this, but I’m fine. I really like the Blizzard launcher, except it is a bit of a resource hog. Are they going to add CoD? If so, I would rather have all my games on the Blizz launcher than have to load Steam.

That’s it. I’m trying really hard to get back to work on my game project. Next post will probably be post Kobolds and Catacombs. Happy holidays, and happy gaming.


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.


LotRO Mordor Beta, Hearthstone Frozen Throne, Gaming Stock Update, Tunnels And Trolls


Mordor Open Beta


This weekend the character model updates arrived on the LotRO beta server, and honestly they look very good. The newly aligned Standing Stone developers clearly have a mind for pushing improvements for LotRO.

Last weekend I played through the High Elf introduction on LotRO’s Mordor beta server, which involves a flashback to the Last Alliance at the end of the second age in Middle Earth.

In looks and animation, High Elf is sort of a cross between Elf and man. I found the intro sequences to be epic and entertaining, just long enough to serve the purpose, but not long enough to be boring.

Hardcore lore-monkeys and other serious-business types in the LotRO forum lambasted the High Elf production quality, however.

Some criticism, like the wet dog scraggly hair modeling, might be justified, although they have already improved that in the third beta weekend.

I thought the little story was fine. The elf does Night Elf-style dive-rolls. Most low-budget MMO’s these days don’t even have racial start areas.


Hearthstone announces Knights of the Frozen Throne


Blizzard announced Knights of the Frozen Throne yesterday. Frozen Throne might bring more deathrattle cards for my priest, which is nice.

Knights is especially exciting for players who like PvE story content in Hearthstone, because this xpack will bring that back after a year hiatus, and the discontinuation of adventures after Karazhan last year.

Also Blizz is running a promotion for the next week for double gold earned from quests. So if you’re on a break from Hearthstone, you should probably check in and knock those down for 100+ gold per quest completion.


Gaming Stocks


Last week I sold Blizzard (ATVI) at $59.50 near the recent high. Today I bought back into the GAMR ETF, as shown in the image above. After an almost $1000 gain, I was just holding too much Blizzard.

It was easier for taxes to sell it all instead of taking half off the table. Also, I do not trust the U.S. market right now, or the inflated Blizzard stock price, or the profit margins on Blizzard’s impressive eSports productions. If they are going to have a lackluster quarter, it could be this one.

Today Blizzard, EA, and TTWO saw big buying demand on a market bounce. They were well above any other stocks I track. Clearly a lot of people are eager to shove their money into video game companies.

If you’ve been wanting to get into Blizzard, today was a solid bet. Blizzard is bouncing off of the top line of a straight trend channel started last February. The MACD oversold indicator (at bottom of images) is also good.

I would rather see Blizzard break and fall down into that channel before I re-buy, i.e. around $54-55. Or I’d like to see a broad market meltdown or flash crash.

This year has been horrible for retail in general. A lot of stocks have been smashed. Food. Clothes. Now auto parts. Some of this weakness may bleed over into video games, or maybe just real estate, health care, and tech companies are devouring everyone’s lunch money.

For now, I opted for a more global diversity in my video game investment. It’s interesting that the GAMR ETF holdings do not have Blizz, EA, and TTWO in the top 10. I like that. I’m also still holding NVidia, Tencent, and Netease.

NTES was my gaming pick in my last blog post in May. It is currently up 11.47% since I purchased it. According to a chart comparison tool, NTES has outperformed Blizzard slightly during the last two months. I wouldn’t expect that to continue, but it’s nice.

I also sold Silver(SLV) for a small gain at 16.30. It’s now down to 14.73, and I’m looking at it again. The problem is that both it and the dollar are much lower, which is a big problem. It would be better to buy the dollar if it turns (symbol UUP).

Other names on my current radar are Patrick Industries (PATK) for secular need for cheap housing, a trend shaping up and good PE, PEG ratios, Autozone (AZO) for oversold due to panic over O’Reilly’s released numbers, and telecom ETF (VOX), which was picked by an analyst I like (Tom Lee), and it’s a Trump trade.

edit- Today, Monday morning, I bought a bit of JD.com (JD) at 39.90 on heavy volume against a very good stop out level at 38.40. This is a small, low-risk bet for big potential gain after a very strong last earnings report and a period of consolidation.

edit- Also,as of Tuesday the GAMR ETF now has Blizzard at #7, so apparently they are buying the current weakness.


Tunnels And Trolls App Still WIP


I checked on the T&T app this week, and apparently Metaarcade is still working on it.

They’ve put up a few updates in the last week, however, and the blog post suggests the team is fighting the 90-90 rule:

The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.

Yes, that sounds about right. I’m in the same situation with my own game project, which is currently looking great. The hardest problems still need to be whipped into shape, however. My next blog post will be about that, with my first module ready for play-testing.


New Hearthstone X-Pack Leaked, Blizzard Crits Earnings, DA:I on EA:A, Etc.

king krush


Hearthstone “Lost Secrets of Un-Goro”


This week the new x-pack for Hearthstone may have been leaked by a voice actress resume, as reported on the Hearthstone subreddit.

The new card set appears to be themed from the Un-Goro crater area. This means a fertile green jungle with dinosaurs, Night Elf history, crystals, and scientists.

So basically a lot of my favorite things, except the insects. Those things are annoying! I turned back every time I reached Un-Goro in WoW, looking for better adventuring options elsewhere.

I do play Hunter sometimes in Hearthstone, and Hunter might make a comeback from the bottom of the current insanely unbalanced game. Existing dinosaurs in Hearthstone are typically Beast cards (i.e King Krush shown above.)

(I have the beautiful and hungry-looking King Krush card for Hunter, but it isn’t really playable.)

We also learned that Blizzard will finally balance the game a bit – at the end of February, not long before the next X-pack. You can do the math on that.


Gaming Stocks


Activision Blizzard (ATVI) stock ended Friday up 18% on better than expected earnings, crazy user statistics, and the announcement of plans for a $1B (?) stock buyback over the coming months.

So this was a good day. I think I spent $170 on Hearthstone last year, and Blizzard gave me like 200% cash back, plus a dividend.

On the other hand, my venture into Rambus (RMBS) two weeks ago was ill-timed, so I lost 6% on a medium bet. Rambus received a strong upgrade of support from J.P. Morgan yesterday, however, and it’s clearly coming back. Now would have been a better time to buy.

After a bit of experience my policy is to hit it, then hold or forget. This is a forget. I listened to the conference call live with the CEO and CFO, and I was unimpressed. Many other chip companies killed it this quarter while Rambus squeaked by using non-GAAP accounting. It seemed sketchy to my intuition.

I also mentioned Pepsi (PEP) two weeks ago, and it has surged strongly since then, but I’m wary of the inflated U.S. market. If you look at a long-term chart, the curve on the S&P is just too steep (etc. etc.).

There has to be a FOMO effect at this point, and Trump believers are notoriously dumb. 51% actually believe the (mythical) Bowling Green Massacre is real, and a reason why we need a travel ban.

Another question mark over Pepsi is Mondelez (MDLZ), which said last week in their earnings report that the U.S. environment for snack sales last quarter was very challenging, with strong promotions/discounts.


Dragon Age: Inquisition


This week I was looking for a new game, and I noticed DA:Inquisition is now on EA:Access for $5/month! This is by far the best deal I’ve seen. I’m looking forward to exploring EA Access games for a few months until Un’Goro, then Mordor.

Cheers and have a good weekend. Time for dragon slaying, and maybe a little courtly romance. Who knows.