Tag Archives: commentary

LotRO All-Time Low, Gaming Stock All-Time Highs

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LotRO was affected by layoffs at Turbine this week, shrinking a small team even more. This was on the heels of an update to start the week, offering a new raid, many more housing hooks, and improved landscape visuals in classic areas of middle earth (see image).

The reactions to this update have been generally very favorable, judging by in-game chat and a shortage of complaints in the forums.

Speculation is rampant right now about LotRO’s future, so it’s best to just read the forum thread or the Massively article and comments. For now LotRO will continue, but the future of reaching Mordor is gloomier.

Turbine’s new DDO/LotRO double duty CM, Cordovan, had this to say in the forums this morning:

  • We appreciate everyone’s concerns for the team’s well-being, and know that folks have seen and read your thoughts. We aren’t able to comment specifically on personnel matters, especially when they come from business decision-making like this, but we would reiterate the part from yesterday’s official statement that Lord of the Rings Online will continue to operate as it does now. Additionally, we’d like you to know that our development plans remain unchanged.

So we’ll see.  I’m now at level 103 with my Warden main, maybe my favorite class ever in an MMO.


Video Game Stocks


This was a calm week following the Brexit chaos, with very strong manufacturing data (ISM number > 56) and jobs data for the U.S.. Weakness in oil and the British pound caused uncertainty, but some brief firming today (Friday) has the S&P index poised at the brink of all-time highs yet again.

If oil and currencies drop significantly over the weekend, we will almost surely reverse. We are also entering another earning season, and earnings will weigh heavily. This week analysts were saying this quarter will be a bottom for Apple (a former market leader), and to look to “dollar cost average” back into Apple stock going into the fall.

Analysts suggest the huge pain in the refiners (i.e. VLO, mentioned last week) is a canary in the coal mine for the economy, but this seems wrong since gas demand is strong, with record driving this summer. It’s more likely overcapacity (for reasons).

This week I was looking at GLU Mobile (GLUU), which is basing, having just released the Gordon Ramsey game with strong reviews and player enthusiasm, and having a strong cash position. They are also hiring heavily per their website.

The stock also seems to have huge insider buying in the last quarter, but I don’t understand the stock options. I do see a lot of GLUU buying by Tencent, the Chinese mobile game mega-corporation, which may get protectivist treatment from the recent Chinese game oversight regulations.

So I started looking at Tencent (TCEHY), which owns stakes in a lot of game companies as well as GLU Mobile and Blizzard. Tencent recently struck a big deal with ESPN, and is reporting strong results from the hookup. Disney (owner of ESPN) also has a Star Wars deal with Tencent.

Since I’ve given up on the Purefunds GAMR ETF as a way to diversify my investment in video games (due to extremely sketchy trading volume in that vehicle), I pushed a bit into Tencent instead on this big breakout day.

I also want more exposure to China, although the Chinese financial system is considered a ticking time bomb by some respected analysts, and a big cause of the big February selloff. The fears over Yuan currency, at least, are off the table lately, according to other analysts, and thus the calm and the market stability.

It’s not a good idea to buy on a big Friday up day, but Tencent is only at $23/share, after breaking out recently from $20, a resistance level dating back a year, then bouncing off of it. I see this stock having a lot of room to the upside, and I’m only in for “half”.

Other top gaming stock outperformers today, touching new highs, were Blizzard +2.2%, NVIDIA +3.9%, Electronic Arts +2.1%, Nintendo (NTDOY)  +10.2%. Nvidia, Intel, and Nintendo were specifically mentioned on CNBC this afternoon, Nintendo for the popularity of the new Pokemon Go.

As I reported last week, Overwatch is showing very strong momentum, but in general I don’t want to be speculating on individual game releases, hype, popularity, and sales. I’d need to be paid to make that amount of effort!

In the meantime, I’ll work overtime on my lousy low-paying job on a Saturday morning. Happy Friday!


Rift: Game Is In Great Shape, Announcement Coming (+ Gaming Stock Commentary)

In response to player concerns today about the future of Rift, community manager Ocho had this to say in the forums:

“So let’s get to some facts:

  • The RIFT Dev team is the largest Dev team I’ve ever worked with in almost a decade of working on triple A MMOs.
  • The team has grown over the last year and a half, and hiring for the team continues.
  • Population in RIFT is strong, lots of people play RIFT and lots of new people continue to start to play RIFT.
  • Profits from RIFT are certainly reinvested in RIFT. AA took 0 devs from RIFT. None, nada, zilch.
  • RIFT is in zero danger. We’re really excited about the future, right now is a great time to be playing or working on RIFT. …
  • We’re not only reusing old content, we’re also developing new content. Keep your eyes out over the next couple weeks, we might be announcing something.”

– Ocho

This is great news, since this kitty has also been a little worried.

This week I capped my rogue alt, and I continue close to picking up a few pieces of raid gear earned for my main by weeklies and dailies instead of raiding. I’m also enjoying the creative and quirky nightmare saga story.

The second act released yesterday. The return of old classic characters doesn’t bring much life to them (so far), and we mostly see them as generic quest-advancers. The third act of the saga also supposedly forces you to do a lot of PvP and NTE dungeons.

I disagree with this design, even if it’s to justify the epic weapon you can theoretically get when it’s all over. There are two main types of players:

  • Players for whom this is just same-old grinding to pad out the saga.
  • Players for whom this is horrible and will spend an entire weekend trying to queue for PUG DPS and beat five dungeons, or queuing PvP and hating Trion the entire time.

Just doesn’t seem like a winning scheme to me.


Video Game Stocks


Electronic Arts (EA) and Microsoft (MSFT) both had solid earnings reports this week, so hopefully these will be long term for my paltry little portfolio, and I can ease up on my nine-month quest (right before the stock market goes off a cliff, possibly.)

How can Microsoft compete with Apple and Google? By uniting your PC in an ecosystem with your other devices and monetizing by applying what they’ve learned from Free-To-Play video games. I plan to buy a Lumia soon. My Samsung tablet completely fails to recognize my Windows 7 PC.

You’ll also be able to stream XBOX to PC with Windows 10, or stream console-quality games to your PC without an XBOX using the cloud, which Microsoft demonstrated yesterday.

If you need any more good news for Microsoft, China announced this week that it will now allow game consoles to be sold in China after a 15 year ban. This is probably more better for Sony and Nintendo.

My third tech pick is still Equinix (EQIX), a cloud pipeline and data center owner. They are allied with Microsoft’s Azure cloud services, which I hope will eventually win against Amazon’s huge cloud. Who wants to trust Amazon with their entire corporate business and security if the other choice is the Microsoft on your PCs?

I also still hold AT&T (T), which is now FCC-approved to merge with DirectTV, with an expectation of leveraging their scale to produce their own competitive over-the-top video streaming service like everyone else.

Nvidia’s (NVDA) stock continues to head into the abyss with PCs and chips, although the stock is super tempting as it dips below $20. The future of virtual reality in video games and in general might see Nvidia as a big player.

As TAGN reported, Blizzard (ATVI) announces results next week on 8/4, followed by an announcement of a new expansion a few days later on 8/6. Interesting.

In the last two quarters, Blizzard reported strong results and the stock popped. Both times I sold and took small profits. The stock might pop again, but right now Wall Street seems to be in a mood to sell any stocks after their results hit print.

Especially if a stock ran up into its earnings announcement.

I would not be betting on Blizzard’s stock to be higher the day after it reports. If ATVI sells off hard, it might be a buying opportunity, especially if the Wall Street boys aren’t completely up to speed with the expansion deal.

Also, if Blizzard is announcing their expansion earlier than normal at Gamescom, then maybe they are saving something even bigger for Blizzcon in November?


Weekly Wyrm Nov. 5, 2014 ~ The Topping Tail

topping tailIn candlestick stock charting, there is a formation called the topping tail. It happens at the top of a chart and marks where the stock makes a final crescendo of buying, which then exhausts itself, and the stock goes downhill from there.

That might sum up where I’m at in Rift. Goboro Reef was the most enjoyable MMO zone I’ve played since Moria. It was a great story with fascinating and funky writing and some bells and whistles sprinkled in: mermaid songs and a lost enclave of Eth, which is the most interesting of Rift’s races. I thoroughly enjoyed this zone.

It gets everything right.

After Goboro, the Rift expansion falls back into the Storm Legion organizational chaos, although it’s kicked up a notch in quality. I would bet Draumheim was written by a completely different writer. In this kitty’s opinion, whoever was responsible for Goboro should oversee and have goddess-like powers over all future story zones made for Rift.

This writer is brilliant. She uses sentence fragments, which I’m not thrilled about. She also uses the word “evil” in two or three dialogs to impress the player with the badness of the baddies, and I don’t agree with this either.

Still. It’s all about the characters and creative writing. At the moment, Rift seems to have made the same questionable decision as LotRO and abandoned the best-written character in the entire game (Arethea) after developing her so well. I hope not. I hope Arethea will show up again.

I also hoped for Nona in LotRO, and we saw how that turned out. I’m on hiatus from Rift at the moment.


Blizzard-Activision = Win


A few weeks ago, I called a stock pick in Blizzard. I said that Blizzard’s stock was undervaluing the strong post-launch performance of Destiny based on what I’ve seen on the street, and I was betting that the earnings would surprise. That’s exactly what happened last night, and now I’m out. I just don’t want to be holding Blizzard.

A lot of big name game makers had very strong earnings this last quarter, by the way. This includes Take Two, EA, and Sony. This is good for games. I saw an interview with the Take Two CEO and he didn’t seem like the sort of horrible caveman that would champion the GTA games. This kitty suspects that looks can be deceiving when it comes to a corporate CEO.

If I were catwoman, I’d investigate.


Saint’s Row 4


I finally got this on a Steam sale last weekend thanks to a tip from Yolari. I paid like $10 for an Ultimate Pack (or something), and now I feel guilty. I wanted to pay more. I just didn’t want to pay lots and lots more.

On the other hand, I would have paid full price a long time ago if the Saint’s Row franchise had stayed in the category of a quirky but still classy underworld story (like the Mafia franchise). So there’s that.


Wasteland 2


I really enjoyed this until near the end of the first real zone. It sort of turns into torture. I mean–in the very first level of the game, you’ve got poisons, incurable diseases, corpse explosions, traps, puzzles to solve with Google, locks you can’t pick, and waves and waves of enemies.

That’s good right? Only up to a point. I’ve heard a lot of players wash out in the first levels, and that was me. I don’t regret supporting this game, but save the torture for the later levels. I was worried I couldn’t cope with managing a party of seven, and that was also a factor.

Seven characters means seven monsters at a time, and you have to kill them one shot at a time, since micromanaging ammo is a real factor. That’s all. Happy gaming, and watch out for those topping tails.


Elder Scrolls In Edit Mode

Massively reported today that Zenimax is restructuring their play flow in Elder Scrolls to skip players straight to their capital cities, where a more open world is found.

This is a startling good idea. Your arrival in Tamriel will have an immediate graphical awe factor, unless maybe if you’re Daggerfall, where I think the desert island is pretty in comparison.

I see “many updates to the UI” in the patch notes, but nothing alluding to an information-loaded interface that won’t implode my frontal lobe.

So how can Bethesda just let players skip a whole zone and not screw up the story? Well, when I said “disjointed story” in my beta impressions post, I could have said “the main/personal story is lost and missing almost completely from the entire first zone.”


Immersion WoW vs. Elder Scrolls Online


In the wake of the ESO beta, I took the below screenshot in WoW, which illustrates a lot of the immersion I missed in ESO. See the screenshot, which could be titled “a death knight and a panda walked into a bar.”

There’s my name for one thing (of a now-deleted DK), and my guild, and the names of other players. In ESO, no nameplates means other players are just bland, indistinguishable bodies on the landscape. I don’t know who they are, so they don’t register in my head.

There’s a trusty mailbox next to the panda in the image. In ESO, you get mail off of a game panel, which is fine in the world of consoles I guess, but it’s still another immersion fail.

In WoW you also have a “home” in the inn, instead of a glowing way shrine thing that doesn’t mean anything. Then there are gryphon-flights instead of teleports. I hated teleporting everywhere when it was instituted in Oblivion, and my opinion hasn’t changed on that.

The keep status at the top is immersive for me personally. Things are happening–conflicts and battles with the enemy not too far off. In ESO, these indicators would be anathema.

While I was watching Angry Joe’s ESO PvP video, I wondered how you’re supposed to know what’s going on in PvP. You can’t see the names of the other players, which means no color coding in red or other distinguishing faction allegiance colors.

And what about a personal vendetta against a specific creep who just mace-raped you? All the Argonians look the same to me with no nameplates. Maybe Zenimax will put nameplates back in the game and let players mod the UI to their liking.

Anyway. ESO isn’t overrated, but neither is it worth getting panty-twisted over. Enough writing for tonight. I’ll save an obligatory “what I’m doing now in WoW” post for some other time.

World of Warcraft Burning Crusade Inn


Weekly Wyrm ~ Jan. 10, 2013

SWTOR characterTonight, I’m waiting for hours while a beta patches. I watched Angry Joe’s latest video and worked on a new comic strip episode of “Forsaken Inn”. I might as well write something.

Achievement Complete: SWTOR Subscribed!

I’m now a SWTOR subscriber. I’m having lots of fun, to the point where I feel a bit silly for skipping The Old Republic for so long due to outrage over the LGBT issue. The game looks much better on my new computer, not so cartoony.

Thanks to the “heroic” quests in TOR, I’ve spent most of my play time in groups in the start zones, which is a first, and fun! A random player also mailed me 50k credits as a newbie gift, which was nice.

He was paying forward a similar gift given to him as a newbie.

I love the stories, quests, and immersion in TOR, which hit the perfect spot of what I’ve been missing in Rift. Even better, the subscriber experience so far makes the Free-To-Play game almost completely transparent.

There are no pesky store buttons everywhere, and the only thing I want from the store so far is the Cathar race (cat-person), which my first allotment of 500 subscriber points almost covers.

Players are friendly, although I’m a bit surprised by the number of farts and poops that ooze into the chat box, along with the good old “that’s gay” phrase. The community seems less mature than in Rift or LotRO, even on the west coast RP server, Begeren Colony.

SWTOR has a lot of great ideas, and the West Coast/East Coast servers are one of those. But why is Bioware trying to sell PvP patches on a game they designed for story and roleplay? Does TOR need a bomb-dropping mini-game?

For every great idea, it seems like I see a boggling mini-failure in TOR.

I’m not going to start smacking TOR with specific rant-examples of bugs and issues I’ve had, but just look at the image for this post. Why is my companion’s name in front of my Bounty Hunter’s name when my companion is standing behind me? There are so many of these little things.

Maybe the flaws stand out more because the rest of the game shines so brightly though, fulfilling every writing principle I harp on here on Kitty Kitty, especially the “Smiling Jack”.

You come into the game and immediately you meet friends, mentors, and NPCs that care about you, and pretty soon you’ve got a dedicated companion who likes the things you say. This is a win, and every game should have a friend to get you going, unlike most.

It also helps that the stories are more personal, with emotional motivation. Your mission in the game isn’t just to show up and start helping everyone because, well, that’s what you’re supposed to do in a game. No, that would be categorized as the same-old that is boring a lot of veteran gamers.

Roleplaying your character as light or dark is amazing for immersion. I’m playing the Empire side as a good bounty hunter and a dark-side Operative, so I can play the same side content and see what happens taking opposite story choices.

Weekly Quest Complete: Watch Angry Joe!

Angry Joe put up a “top ten game controversies of 2013” video this last week, in which he gives a long speech about Anita Sarkeesian and women in games. It was positively jaw-dropping.

Joe doesn’t seem condescending or elitist or apologetic, or anything in this video. He’s just heartfelt and honest, speaking to his “angry army”. It’s one of the most impressive speeches I’ve seen. If this is a topic that interests you, then I would suggest checking out the linked video, although the speech doesn’t start until around two-thirds in.

Have a good weekend, and happy gaming!