New Evidence that the Nintendo Switch Leaks Could Be Fake

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An interesting story came out today and it turns out the “leakers” we’ve been hearing about for months could be faking it. If you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the Nintendo Switch “leaks”. It seems every day there is a new “leak”. I have questioned the credibility of those leaks already as well as Laura Dale’s credibility, who seems to be at the forefront of all these leaks. But recent comments by the “leakers” may show that the whole thing was a sham.

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2017 Plans and the Blog’s Future

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Regardless of what you thought about 2016, it’s about to be over. 2017 is upon us. So now is when you need to make your new plans.

I remember reading one of Robert Kiyosaki’s book (author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad), and he mentioned how he and his wife, before the new year, would sit down, review their year and make their plans for the next year. I hate the term  “New Years Resolution” because a New Years Resolution is assumed to be broken. But a plan is something you are going to work towards. To meet. I am throwing off the term “New Years Resolution” and making my “2017 Action Plan.” Here are some of the things I will publicly share with you.

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Super Mario Run and Its Pesky Price Tag

50millionAccording to Nintendo, Super Mario Run has been downloaded 50 million times. Digital Times reported the game was the fastest growing app ever. Regardless, analysis have been heavily criticizing the game for not being free. “How can you have a price tag. The game must be free!” exclaims the pundits. To my knowledge, Nintendo has not provided any details on the game’s revenue and firms seems to provide vastly different numbers. So I’ll do my own estimate how much the game may have made and how it could have made more than the average mobile game.

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Make Your Own Game Idea, Not Someone Else’s

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Scrolling through Twitter, I saw someone complain that Nintendo shut down another fan game just 4 weeks before release. It seems the big bad Nintendo is always stomping on the little guy. How could Nintendo be so heartless? We could argue if this practice is in Nintendo’s best interest to do, but the truth is that it’s Nintendo right to do so. Nintendo is the IP holder and they can protect their IP however they wish. What is a poor developer to do?

Simple, make your own game.

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Heroes of the Storm Could Be Syphoning MOBA Players

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So I’ve been a fan of Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard’s answer to DOTA and Leauge of Legends, for quite some time. I had figured the MOBA was having some trouble given that the game seems far more eager to give you goodies. But I came across something interesting the other day. It seems DOTA 2 is actually copying Heroes of the Storm and is adding talents.

Interesting, as the only other game that has talents is Heroes. They are also adding something similar to healing fountains as well. Of course, there are a lot of other additions the games are adding. One Reddit user summed it up well (all credit goes to him/her)

DOTA 2

  • talents
  • healing fountains

Paragon

  • mount system, but without mounts themself. Heroes are just moving faster with small channeling before entering fast mode.
  • many other stuff mixed from League and HotS

League of Legends

  • inbase gates
  • zzrot portal
  • Yorick rework is basically “Xul + Abathur + nazeebo” champion-hero design into one. Yet I still love him as specialist main from HotS.
  • empowered objectives since HotS was released: different dragons, including dragon for pushing (Earth dragon), Rift Herald, bigger Elder Dragon (aka boss)
  • one time there were some reworked or new champions with built-in speed-ups: Taliyah can move faster when near walls, Aurelion Sol similar way on his E. Also some global ultimates were added (Taliyah, Aurelion sol, Kled)
  • Hextech Crafting system is an answer to HotS leveling system: free skins, free champions, two more types of ingame currency. It worked in HotS and now greatly works in League: every week you can get chest which guaranteely gives you shard of champion or skin, which you can turn into real skin or champion for some essence (blue or orange).
  • chromas IP sale for limited time is another answer to HotS skin tints, and even now I see sometimes complains that these color alterations should be purchasable for IP (ingame currency like HotS gold, Influence Points), only because they do not add anything except changing color tint of skin. In HotS these “chromas” (tints actually) are free for leveling your hero.
  • Weekly rotating game mode was League answer to different maps in HotS (yet HotS went futher – we have Weekly Brawl now): Nexus Siege, Poro King, Ascension, and other maps are available every weekend

If Heroes was not a threat to these games, then why copy them. If Heroes of the Storm was such a non-issue, then it could easily be ignored and left alone to die. There are something these guys are worried about with Heroes. There are two possibilities I could surmise

  • People are leaving the MOBAs and not coming back: Heroes has a lot of quality of life improvements like shorter game times and mounts that make it hard to player other MOBAs. More modes and maps help as well. Heroes makes it hard to go back
  • New players are going to Heroes: Heroes is by far the easier game to get into. MOBAs often require you to have a MOBA mindset where Heroes doesn’t as much. It’s far easier to pick up as you go.

With Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch, I thought Blizzard was going directly after Valve. Heroes was a response to DOTA 2 and Overwatch was a response to Team Fortress 2. Overwatch had caught on. As a result, no one talks about TF2 anymore. Heroes hasn’t caught on as fast, and it may be that MOBAs have more of a niche. But now there may be a case for Heroes making inroads into other MOBAs. According to Newzoo.com, Heroes was the 14th most played game. DOTA 2 wasn’t even on the list.

If Heroes is truly making inroads, then I expect DOTA 2 to go first. DOTA 2 was always a niche game compared to Leauge of Legends. I expect that players will retreat upstream and most of the users will be competitive players who are concerned with their rank. League has a large casual player base so it will be some time before Heroes starts to make inroads there. Blizzard is focusing more on competitive play which could impact both games as this is the major component they have on Heroes.

It will be interesting to see how 2017 plays out for these games. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, for sure, but you usually won’t imitate something that isn’t successful. There may be something going on here.

Pokemon Are Just Fantasy Pets (And Why Pokemon Go Waned)

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One of the topics I’ve wrapped my brain around is why Pokemon is successful. Everyone and their mother has made a “monster” game. You have Digimon, Monster Rancher, and now Yokai Watch. They all fail. But Pokemon succeeds. Pokemon, even after 20 years, sells at least 10 million for each new game. How do they keep making success after success. After playing the newest Pokemon, I figured.

When I was playing the game, I felt like I have my own little team of Pokemon that I was connected to (as much as you can be connected to data). After a tough battle, I would use the Pokemon Refresh to pet them, feed them, mess with them and see what they did. As I was doing this, It then dawned on me what Pokemon successful. It’s because Pokemon are fantasy battle pets. The appeal of these games (and why people keep coming back) is the same as a cat or a dog. Pokemon, at its core, is a pet simulator with battling. Everyone has a Pokemon they like and everyone has a Pokemon that you’ve raised up and care about. Its also why the Pokemon Company keeps focusing on letting you transfer old Pokemon into the new games. The appeal of the game is having you feel like the Pokemon is yours. You have your companion. They have the moves you taught them. The nickname you gave them. They even have stats unique to that specific Pokemon (known as individual values). Pokemon is just a better Giga Pet.

Unlike a lot of other “monster” games, there is more of a sense of raising and growing with the digital creature. You build up your Pokemon. You teach it all these moves (of which it can only keep 4). They even have their own individualized stats in “Individual Values.” You give it a special nickname. And then you can battle them with your friends, and trade them.

Kyle Bosman, on his show The Final Bosman, made the point about how your Pokemon is unique to you. As he so put it “This game doesn’t want you to think of the Pokemon as data even though they are.” Even in this new game, Pokemon Sun and Moon, the game treats the Pokemon as your partner. They put a huge emphasis on the Pokemon being your ally that you work with and grow together.

This is also why other monster games always fail. They always try something similar but never get that feeling of connection with your digital creature. As a result, the creatures feel like data. In Digimon, they are just data, so everything about them feels pointless. In Yokai Watch, you catch ghost. Do you really want to catch a ghost? It’s a gimmick. Pokemon, on the other hand, tries to keep it close to the real world, and it’s done a pretty good job despite a few odd Pokemon.

This is also why Pokemon Go is declining. It succeeded by having Pokemon in the real world. It took a successful brand and integrated something new and unique (Augmented Reality). The problem is that the Pokemon ARE just data in that game. In order to make a Pokemon stronger, you have to catch hordes of other Pokemon. What it does is make each Pokemon feel inconsequential. And your Pokemon isn’t special. It’s the same as every other Pokemon of that type. It has the same stats. It doesn’t learn any moves. What the game missed was that feeling of having your own Pokemon. 

This sums up why analyst always get it wrong. They see brands, not games. Pokemon Go lost its way because there was nothing in the game to care about. The Pokemon were data, which is the antithesis to Pokemon. In Pokemon Sun and Moon, the game makes you care about the Pokemon. You can now even feed and pet the Pokemon. As silly as that sounds, it’s these kinds of things that make people like Pokemon. It’s what has kept it going for 20 years.

Konami Was Right To Can Kojima

kojima-mainYou’ve all heard the story. The evil Konami got rid of the innocent Hideo Kojima and was so mean to the poor starving artist. A narrative right out of a Dickens novel.  In the collective conscious of gamers, Konami is the dastardly villain and Kojima is the poor innocent lamb. But rarely do gamers think about the finances of the company. They assume that Konami is some evil, terrible, company and they were in the wrong. But when you look at the numbers, the reason was clear why Kojima is gone. It was merely financial.

What the Konami haters forget was the Metal Gear Solid 5 was one of the most expensive games ever made at 80 million dollars. As the article notes, other games like Borderlands ($30 million) and Watch Dogs ($68 million) cost less. This was also 5 months before the game was actually out. Moreover, there was a lot of cut content, including a “Mission 51” and a Chapter 3, which would have had a whole new area. The game was going to be far more expensive than the original $80 million figure.

Currently, the game has shipped over 6 million units and is now the best selling game in the series. But how much of that is due to the drama at Konami. What if sales were higher because of the breakup between Konami and Kojima. It’s not to different from album sells increasing after the artist’s death. Would the game have sold worse if this drama didn’t occur. There is some evidence of this as Ground Zero had the worst launch in Japan of any of the main games. The game sold half of what the previous Metal Gear Solid game sold. While it was a PSP game (which does well in Japan along with other handheld and mobile games), it likely gave the company pause. The company would go on the say that game sales were “solid”, but has only said the game shipped one million units. Despite the launch of the game, Konami’s Digital Entertainment business saw a drop in sales. If people weren’t rushing out to buy Ground Zero, would they be all that excited for The Phantom Pain?

So from Konami’s perspective, there were two major issues

  • The game was getting very expensive
  • Sales of Phantom Pain were underwhelming and sales of Ground Zero could also lag.

If the end, Konami did the most rational thing. Pull the plug on production and held Kojima accountable. 


What are the point of these developers and directors? It’s not to engage in their fantasies and make art. They are there to make the company money. If you are a cashier at a grocery store, the company is paying you to add value to the customer. You collect the money, give the customer a nice big smile, and help them if they need it. You aren’t there to “express yourself.” Likewise, Kojima isn’t employed to create “his vision.” If anytime his vision clashes with the profits of the company, then the company, not the vision, wins. The Phantom Pain was a product of that. The company was going to keep throwing money at a game that would still perform worse than other mainline Metal Gear Solid games. Had Konami not created some controversy, sales would have likely been disappointing, and the game would have still been expensive to make.

Of course, Kojima is working now on Death Stranding which is being published by Sony. From the trailers, I expect the same situation will happen. Kojima will make an expensive game and sells will be less than stellar. The game looks more like an “art piece” than a game. Kojima has been riding on the name of a successful series for a while now. Now we have him working on a new game which looks to be more self indulging and doesn’t carry the game brand name. This could very well be a financial bomb just waiting to happens.

In the end, the game gods always end up becoming false prophets. I expect Kojima will be the same.