Tag Archives: video game

Gay Christmas, Blizzard; LotRO Goes Independent, Torment Has Release Date

tracer gay overwatch

Lots of game news this week! Today Blizzard released a new webcomic for Overwatch, and the internet is abuzz because, well, lesbian.

In an ideal world this would scarcely be news, but instead we have the usual bigots and homophobes commenting their denial, and probably far more keeping hatefully, or guiltily silent, if Trump’s election is any indication of the preponderance of these people in the American heartland.

Let’s just call the American heartland “Trumpland”.

Eurogamer reports that Russia is blocking the webcomic because it is illegal. Any gayness violates Russian laws against gay “propaganda”. So if you’re not following Garry Kasparov on Twitter, or otherwise have no clue about Russia, there you go.


Lord of the Rings Online


The LotRO team announced this week that they are buying out LotRO and DDO and forming an independent company called Standing Stone Games. SSG will be published by Daybreak.

I’m not sure how I feel about this, except for surprise. One has to think about the almost unthinkable idea that LotRO could keep running for years to come.

As long as my for-life sub keeps going, that’s fabulous. My second account subscription runs out in one month.

For more information, and a good rundown, check out Bludborn’s video on Youtube, or visit the LotRO forums, which of course exploded.


2017 RPG Lineup: Torment: Tides of Numenera Leads Off


Torment finally has a final release date of Feb. 28th, 2017. This is basically the only game I’m looking forward to, at the moment, in 2017. Mass Effect Andomeda is also out there, and Star Wars Battlefront is looking at a new installment for EA next fall.

There is also Bard’s Tale IV from Inxile, which seems low-budget, but that classic in Unreal Engine 4 is worth watching.


Hearthstone: Mean Streets Of Gadgetzan


Hearthstone released a new Xpack at the first of the month, ushering in some very powerful cards that completely defined a new meta. Unfortunately, data shows this is the most unbalanced class distribution that I’ve ever seen in any class-based game.

I have a feeling this was planned for the purposes of greed. And that’s why I’m betting on Blizzard. Unfortunately, my card packs from the preorder were horrible, so I’m a little limited.

Last night I installed one of Hearthstone’s competitors: Elder Scrolls Legends. I’m still learning the game, which is far more complex and interesting in mechanics than Hearthstone.

I’m really interested in creating Elf-only decks in Legends, which is surely possible because of a superabundance of pointy ears in Tamriel. On the other hand, ESL is missing a certain something.

One thing I’ve identified is that cards in ESL don’t feel like characters. In Hearthstone, you know who Loot Hoarder is, or Ragnaros, or Piloted Shredder. The cards feel more unique and special, as well as sparkly.

There are so many cards in ESL that they become more like regiments in a deck than close-knit teams. There are also a lot more “win more”cards so far, but ESL has a systemized comeback mechanic, rewarding more card draws as the opponent beats you further down. It’s also nice to be more flexible in the hero portrait you play.

I’m not sure how I feel about the lack of a “hero power”. Hearthstone’s hero powers strongly force classes into certain appropriate archetypes. Is that a good thing, or bad thing?

So this month a lot of good players have come back to Hearthstone, and I’m playing against T1 legend decks at rank 14-15, which is brutal. I may or may not repeat rank 10 again this month, despite having an official T2 deck with my dragon priest.


Gaming Stocks


NVidia’s stock continues to soar vertically in the Trump rally. AMD’s stock has tripled since I bought it a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, I sold both of those stocks a long time ago, because I failed to follow basic investing principles.

In my defense, NVidia is now more highly valued on earnings than Facebook, Apple, or Microsoft, and a big part of that is based on an idea that the future is smart cars and VR. I remain unconvinced. There is also rumor of a chip oversupply from NVidia right now, after a shockingly incredible quarterly report.

Here is a good article on NVidia.

I think 2017 is going to be a Trumper-Coaster of ups and downs. So I’m lurking, continuing to hold Blizzard and Tencent in my gaming stock portfolio.

Sony (SNE) has declined to reasonable levels along with the China markets in general, so I’m watching those to possibly add. I was up so far in Tencent that I’m still up even after the huge pullback.

Part of Tencent’s pullback may be due to new Chinese laws that require game companies to publish all loot box odds on their websites. I assume this will include Blizzard operating in China, so this may be news for Hearthstone, in terms of more transparency for odds when opening card packs.

I’m also back to working every day on my game project, at least a little, in addition to my lame, underpaid job.

Happy holidays, and a happy New Year.


Final Super-Amazing Post, Then KKBB On Break

World of Warcraft Westfall Quest
This is my final commentary for a while, and I plan to go out with a fizzle of glory. I’ve known for a while that live streaming was going to kill written bloggers, and that’s happening. Or maybe I just suck. Let’s go to bullet points, then praise World of Warcraft writing, and lastly talk stocks.

  • Scientific American reported last month on studies of brain changes in gamers. Gamers who play fast shooter-type games are shown to get various mental benefits:
    1. Improved ability to focus on visual details.
    2. Higher sensitivity to contrasts.
    3. Better reaction time to sudden events.
    4. Better making of correct decisions under pressure.
    5. Visual search improvement.

    I have to wonder if there are any drawbacks, however, versus controls. Are these gamers developing nervous disorders, sleeping more poorly, or overeating, for example.

    Scientific American also reported on the serious health risks of poor sleep, since scientists have discovered that brains flush toxins (like beta amyloid, responsible for Alzheimers’s) mostly during sleep, through the newly discovered “glymphatic system“.

  • Korean voice actress fired. She tweeted herself wearing a shirt that said “Girls do not need a prince”. The Mary Sue observes that South Korea is a painfully repressive country with low rankings in gender equality, and where supposedly 80% of young adults want to move somewhere else.In response to the charges, the young woman said: “she is willing to take responsibility if she did anything wrong.” My reaction is the same as Mary Sue’s – …..
  • Overwatch. Kotaku reported today on the strong characterization of Overwatch’s new heal/snipe character, Ana. Ana is a complicated, deep older woman, in contrast to all the young, pretty characters more common in games. The players apparently love Ana as a character, and that’s totally awesome. That’s Blizzard.
  • Gaming Hypnosis. The dark wizard Vive has produced two new gaming files: Healslut, which gives you a sexy submissive thrill of service and pleasure for healing in video games; and Blog!, which gives you a thrill of submissive service for writing up helpful blog posts … like this one.Remember these hypnosis files are no joke. They seem to “wear off” fairly quickly, but training the brain with pleasure can have long-term subtle influences.

World of Warcraft Writing: Exemplary


This week I re-subbed to WoW, and was playing through Westfall with a Shaman to unlock the Lady Liadrin paladin hero in Hearthstone. I also ran many dungeons with my lovable Death Knight.

The blog image above is exemplary of Blizzard’s game writing, so I took a screenshot when I saw it. Here are the great techniques this MMO quest dialog employs, aside from the cute name:

  1. Sums up the story in case you forgot. This is so important, yet all RPG’s routinely ignore the fact that players start and stop the storylines – very often.
  2. Involves you, the player. You’re actually a part of this story. You feel important. You’re called by a term of endearment, a rookie. It’s the norm for the player to go through the motions like a quest drone, a one-dimensional gopher.
  3. A mystery to solve.  The writing ploy often used in some MMOs, but just as often underused.  There should always be mysteries in game worlds. There should always be a sense that you’re seeing only the tip of a vast, dark iceberg.
  4. Using named and non-named characters. Some RPG’s (and writing by George Martin) overload you with character names. Biobreak posted a short, cryptic comment on this last week.That snippet of dialog from Durance in Pillars of Eternity made a great impression on me when I saw it in-game, because it’s so true. It’s important to only use so many proper names that the reader can brain. Everyone else’s name should be a generic yet clever, subtle device to give a greater impression of the game setting, its population, and its prevailing ways and emotions.

Game Stocks


NVidia soared yet another 2.7% today, which is insane. Intel had modest results this week, but cloud results so far this earning season have been extremely strong, so maybe that’s helping NVidia. I was close to breaking down and selling Nvidia yesterday to protect ridiculous profits. I’m glad I held.

Curiously, AMD is also up over 100% in the last year, but I was impatient and sold my little speculative stake long before that happened.

My #1 mistake, by far, in the stock market is being impatient, afraid, not being confident of my picks. I would be up thousands since last year in Amazon, AT&T, and AMD, if I’d simply held onto those picks since last summer and not panicked.

Microsoft’s (MSFT) stock had goblin rocket boosters this week after showing off their cloud results, which I’ve noted a number of times on this blog as a tailwind. If you’re in MSFT, you’re golden. Unfortunately, at some point the cloud ramp-up is going to level out. Cloud margins will compress under more and more competition.

On the other hand, cloud providers have security services on their side. I thought it was so stupid last year when Wall Street analysts were talking seriously about up-and-coming internet security companies like Palo Alto and FireEye. Those companies were soaring.

Not so much anymore. It was clear to this kitty that the big cloud companies would reap the biggest profits in security services. That’s happening.

On the other hand, the HACK ETF is showing some very solid chart strength lately, so that diversified internet security play is something to look at if you like that sector for a future cyberpunk world. It’s too bad they don’t have holdings in Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, but at least Purefunds has big trading volume in that ETF, unlike in GAMR.

So I remain in Google, which is a rear-runner yet to really ramp up their cloud, despite having a strong position, and in Alibaba, which has a huge lead in China cloud.

A number of U.S. companies in the last two weeks, like Starbucks, have affirmed a very strong China this quarter, so I’m glad so far that I have a 25% weighting, but not in an ETF, since I’m afraid of the banks and insurance companies, which weigh heavily in China ETFs.

My China picks are Alibaba, China Mobile, and Tencent. I’ve looked at the Chinese solar stocks for various good reasons, like massive China pollution problems, but those companies have had issues, including some big names wanting to pull out of the U.S. market completely for some reason. The solar ETF (TAN) still seems like a solid pick that offers investment in a diversification of international companies.

On the topic of energy, due to oil prices breaking down this week and lackluster earnings results from Kinder Morgan (KMI), I sold that stock at a modest $100 profit before taxes. This paves the way for adding a sentimental favorite refining stock (VLO or TSO) if they ever turn around.

My only defensive stock now is Verizon (VZ), which was up strongly today on news that they are a likely buyer of Yahoo assets. I’m not sure it should be up on that, but I’ll take it. I’m a long term heavy user of Yahoo-owned Tumblr, so it would be nice to be invested, even if it’s business-wise something of a failure.

So that’s my final post for a while. I think my stocks are set in stone unless there is a really massive collapse in August that would force me out of the market at break even, only to start all over.

If I were to look at gaming stocks right now, I might buy Electronic Arts (EA) during a significant selloff in August. Blizzard is really short on stock “catalysts” after their Legion expansion, while EA has a bunch of releases and press coverage coming this fall.

Any August investments, however, are subject to terrifying U.S. Fed interest rate whims in September. The market went off a cliff last December when the Fed raised interest rates even a quarter point.

Gaming stocks have become a playground lately for stock traders, and the significant moves on game releases are clearly a bit silly (i.e. see: Pokemon doubling Nintendo’s stock, Sony soaring on E3 and VR, etc.) I’m tempted to sell Blizzard now and switch to EA, but I’ve learned not to sell Blizzard.

So there isn’t much to talk about now. I’ll sit on my Kitty laurels with over 300,000 total views on this blog. I’ll watch readership of my famous LotRO and Rift Newbie guides continue to dwindle into history.

Cheers, and happy gaming. Be safe, and take care of your body every day. Also consider making some investments instead of going into credit card debt. Your older, uglier self will give you a big hug.


New Compy, Pokemon Go, former EA CEO speaks on CNBC, Microsoft Good Times

nothing

The new love of my life just arrived in Tempe 12 minutes ago, after traveling from one Chinese city to another, then to Japan, then to Indianapolis, and back to Phoenix.

She’s modest, just enough for my needs, and super-pretty, especially when back-lit. I’ll be playing in bed a lot more going forward. I’ll be playing WoW only since I’m dealing with cheap Intel integrated graphics on my first-ever laptop.

I want to unlock Lady Liadrin for Hearthstone. So, level a character to 20. I also like some of the Legion class changes, like Rift-style world events and open-tapping.  I’m actually kind of psyched for a WoW expansion for the first time since BC.  I just need a character to play it with.

My main reason for the new laptop is web programming for my game project, at the library and on the road. Analysts say the PC market is bouncing back in the second half of this year after a long decline, which is good news for PC gamers.


Pokemon Go


Everywhere I go, I see people playing Pokemon Go. Runkle wrote an excellent personal account today of the Pokemon Go experience.

CNBC analysts have been discussing the Pokemon Go phenomenon virtually all day every day this week. They are yammering about it right now, in fact.  John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity and former EA CEO was interviewed on CNBC early this morning.

Riccitello says to expect an ocean of Pokemon Go-like games, although “follow-on” games in situations like this rarely do as well, and he’s sure Nintendo will be developing this for years to come.

As of today, Pokemon Go is the most popular mobile game ever in the U.S.

I’ve said only Blizzard both understands and implements great characters, but Nintendo has clearly accomplished this feat.

Instead of streaming Hearthstone last night, pro streamer Reynad was discussing Pokemon Go characters. Blizzard’s Hearthstone characters have died into plain cards lately, flattened with familiarity, and no longer seem so alive.

Appropriately, investors are taking profits in Blizzard this week, in tandem with glaring bugs in the most recent Hearthstone patch.

Robbers in the U.S. are also taking profits from Pokemon Go players, who are showing up in remote locations with little defensive capability in their pajama pockets.


Weekly Stocks Commentary


Stocks are breaking out now, and after 18 months, I was finally there at the right time with my finger on the trigger. I’m up 3% in Tencent (TCEHY) and 6% in Kinder Morgan (KMI) after only one week, which were my blog picks in the last two weeks on technical breakouts.

Blizzard and NVidia are breaking out to new highs. The Dow and S&P are breaking out. China (MCHI) is breaking out. Dow Transports and the Russell 2000 are also looking pretty good as classic confirmations, with CSX (railroad) reporting strong results yesterday.

There is a massive shortage of available equity in the U.S. and a massive amount of cash. Interest rates are near zero. Bond yields are low.  Gold and silver have had a huge spike, and they are looking much more toppy than stocks. It looks to this kitty like supply and demand are a wind in the sails for stocks right now.

Currencies, oil, Europe financials, and world politics remain big risks. There are far too many factors to even start discussing. It’s amusing to see market nerds in interviews and on Twitter yelling certain doom and protesting because they are in bonds and precious metals, and the market turned against them.

Microsoft (MSFT) has been extremely strong this week after notching deals with Facebook and General Electric. This is a very sharp up-move, outperforming the broad market. I’m holding Google, which is out of favor right now. I have $MSFT in VOO, my one ETF holding.

Everyone is talking about Pokemon Go‘s positivity for Google (maps and supporting tech) and Nintendo, but no one is talking about Microsoft’s focus on AR from the very beginning, with its Hololens. A smashing public success of AR in Pokemon Go probably augurs well for Microsoft’s vision.

Pokemon Go can also be a boost for wireless providers like Verizon due to insane data usage.

I’d like to say I’m done playing the investment game for a while, but I have a feeling Blizzard, NVidia, or both could get slammed on any earnings disappointment on 8/2 and 8/4, so we’ll just have to see. They are only large holdings because they are large winners.


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

image

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!


Theme of the Week: Trolls

princess tableturn
I was actually trolled successfully in the LotRO forums this last week, which was depressing. I can’t even relate to the minds of low-class American society, and I’m glad.

In other troll news this week:

The Chinese government now insists on reviewing and approving every single mobile game sold in China, including simple updates. China has turned more protectionist recently, with a major court ruling against Apple in favor of some no-name Chinese phone manufacturer, for example.

A stock market commentary site opines that AMD’s new Polaris video cards are an “overhyped disaster”. I didn’t research this. I’m never buying another AMD card.

On Thursday Activision Blizzard (ATVI) stock was up 4.23%, and another .66% in the aftermarket, on the backs of praise and upgrades from Wall street analysts. Polygon reported this week that Overwatch is now the most popular game in Korean net cafes, taking the top spot from LOL.

Blizzard has also been in the news for striking deals with Facebook and Netflix. One has to be concerned about the future of its WoW movie franchise, but on the other hand, the expectations weren’t particularly high.

Blizzard continues to be the only game maker who both understands and is able to implement the power of great characters. The Overwatch characters especially are a hit with the Asian fans, or so I’ve heard.

According to some prominent game bloggers recently, Asian money is worthless to Blizzard, but for now those “underweight” investors will have to continue sucking lemons.

I visited Steam several times looking at games to buy the summer sale. I purchased Fallout 4 and Life Is Strange episodes 2-5.

Currently my characters are level 104, 103, and 99 in LotRO, so I’ll be due for a break soon. I finally have a “main” in my Warden. For the first time in a long time, I can just log in and do whatever with her, and feel satisfied with my play session, instead of feeling like I have to make ruthless progress.

I’m also doing a little multiboxing. I realized my LotRO multiboxing guide is not getting SEO on that search term (only dual-boxing), so I tried to tweak that. Here is a link, to possibly help with players who want to LotRO multibox.

This week a game developer announced a Tunnels and Trolls app, which will feature a support platform for people to make and share their own T&T modules. Unfortuntely I lost the link for this, can’t Google it either, and the main T&T website has no news on it, instead showing broken feeds.


Stock Commentary


All the Wall Street pros are extremely bearish and concerned right now about the market. I see grim faces. Big names like Alan Greenspan and George Soros are declaring certain doom. Literally no one thinks the market can go higher. Not possible. Even the bulls have thrown in the towel.

So this should be very interesting. The last time a big-name consensus declared almost certain doom was near the very bottom of the February correction. While many pros are feeling the doom, they nonetheless shoved money immediately into Nike when Nike dropped hard a few days ago.

One Nike (NKE) analyst says right now is the best entry point into Nike’s stock in the last 20 years. I’ll never buy Nike because video games. Duh.

Electronic Arts (EA) is also pushing for all-time highs in the last two days, after a consolidation phase of almost one year. It was about this place last July. If it breaks through, it’s a buy.

Of course, the same pattern is in place for a lot of stocks, and the entire U.S. market right now. So it’s hard to buy one stock on a breakout if the overall market fails.

An exception this week was Verizon (VZ), which dropped almost nowhere on Brexit, due to its big dividend, and broke out of long-term resistance to new highs instead. This is demand due to worldwide low interest rates.

I bought VZ on Monday at the bottom of the Brexit frenzy, with my stop at $54/share on the long term breakout, and so far it’s golden. It drops early every day, but just won’t go down. It just goes up.

The question in my mind is whether the smart money has sold (distributed) in recent weeks, and we have massive holdings now in “weak hands”. (Namely the buyers of the Brexit dip.) This could cause the market to drop massively and quickly. Or it could cause the market to go crazy, if it breaks north and the smart money is sitting there with their jaws hanging open, and their pockets dripping with all their cash on hand.

I could go on about record outflows in the last years and months, international dynamics of money flow relative to other countries, etc.


Current Ideas:


According to a report yesterday, the big hedge funds were buying mostly energy and materials in this last quarter.

Kinder Morgan (KMI). A few pros have mentioned liking this stock in the past week. Others have given up on it. It’s been stuck in a straight horizontal consolidation for four months. If it breaks to the northern latitude, it might be worth a shot with your stop on the top line of the consolidation band, of course.

Valero (VLO). One of my all-time favorites, this stock was pummeled today on news of a lawsuit in California, with accusations of gas price manipulation. This big selloff was met with solid buying through the day, however, forming another big bottom tail (candlestick.) This could be a bottom for Valero, because the news can’t be any worse. I’m looking for VLO to break out of its downtrend line before girding my loins, and who knows.

Pushed To The Back Burner:

Dow (DOW) is laying off a bunch of workers due to its Corning restructuring, and some say the time isn’t right to buy – better after the deal with Corning is complete. That’s going nowhere close to breaking out right now.

Visa (V) saw strong buying after Brexit, relative to the market, but lost a legal action late in the week, resulting in a 3.4% drop. Given that Visa also tends to trade with the currently treacherous financial sector, that’s also a no-touch for now. Very glad I was disciplined and sold several days ago.