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Old 06-05-2018, 07:53 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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For my next trick, I'd like to talk about this:

https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/...5177404?page=1

I would like to stick to the first page, as I think most of the useful discussion is contained there.

The Night Elves are a matriarchal society. Their leadership structures are primarily female, and while druids hold significant power and there are male sentinels, I don't think that this is enough to overcome that presumption. Moreover, the marketing, presentation, and theming presents the Night Elves as being an overwhelmingly "female facing" race.

That established, the original poster is first chastised for picking the "wrong place" for such a discussion. I disagree with this sentiment entirely, especially when the OP clarifies the implication that Blizzard was in a sense responsible for these perceptions as a result of their writing. What Blizzard puts in the lore informs us of what it means to play a typical Night Elf sentinel, and when that lore offers us nothing but incompetence and failure, taken to an extreme degree with episodes like "A Little Patience, it doesn't surprise me that perceptions of female inferiority (which I understand will always exist and are not going away - but which I think are influenced in terms of magnitude) would begin to manifest, at least as far as Night Elves are concerned.

Taking that one step further, and without going too far into it, Night Elf men are usually portrayed in better circumstances, though I think this has more to do with their tendency to be shown in neutral content as opposed to Darnassian content - and not a deliberate attempt to show a disparity.

Ok, but if we grant that, I can hear the objection forming, why should that matter to anyone but hardcore roleplayers? My response to that is again to mention the Mimesis effect, which again is the tendency of people playing a role playing game to change their behaviors to fit the roles that have been presented to them. I would go so far as to suggest that this impact could be stronger because the Night Elves have far worse framing and aesthetics problems than they have problems in the actual canon - which usually goes a long way in mitigating those failures, but does so in a way that is either downplayed, or so far outside of the window through which most players will view the game that it may as well not exist.

Link for the Mimesis effect:
https://ciigar.csc.ncsu.edu/files/bi...esisEffect.pdf

I believe I have three objections left to consider:

1. Should women get special treatment?

No, but when we talk about the one female "facing" race among the playable races, they already are getting a kind of special treatment and it's absolutely not favorable.

2. What about the presence of major female characters?

I'll certainly take it, but the general competence of the rank and file I think needs to hold up as well. I have this problem with Warcraft's reliance on hero characters in general though. When Malfurion held off the Orcs at Darkshore, I appreciated it, but what prevented me from ranking it higher was that he did it himself, and we don't see the power of the society behind him. He is powerful, but that moment doesn't suggest that the nation he leads is powerful. The same idea I think applies.

3. What about the High Elves?

You could substitute Stormwind, or any other kingdom that has had it rough, but the High Elves are the best example because they were absolutely demolished by the scourge, and lost their nation in a far more comprehensive way than we have seen with Night Elves. My reply to that is:
a) that we see them in that position during Reign of Chaos only (it doesn't fester and worsen over eight years, nor was it repeated),
b) during that time they are shown as threatening and an absolute pain in the ass for Arthas to deal with, and
c) when it's done with, they immediately recover - leading to a host of stories and lines that we're still playing today.

Other counterexamples don't differ much. The issue here is with how these things are presented, not necessarily with the losses themselves. I also don't need to make an argument about the shade of green of the grass to point out that currently, the Night Elven experience isn't fun, and isn't designed to be fun.


The impacts and the implications of what I've just laid out I would prefer to leave to the reader, as while I have certainly leaned in a certain direction on what I think this means, I also don't want to overstep or say more than I can prove. One of the worst characters I think we've seen from the Night Elves in a while for example is Delaryn Summermoon - a Christie Golden pet character - so I hesitate from calling this a malicious attack on women. I think it's rather a symptom of the overall method of storytelling Blizzard has stuck with when it comes to portraying the faction war. That being said, I think the effects that this presentation have on player perception are worth discussing.
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  #77  
Old 06-15-2018, 03:09 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Help! I'm being memory holed!

https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/...6417982?page=2

In all seriousness, seeing an old thread pop up during an idle check put a smile on my face. Though, I took a few positions that I can't defend anymore. The minor one is Silverpine. I don't see a campaign through a mountainous, forested region as the cakewalk I was portraying it as. The more major one was the reliance on a deep lore analysis for judging whether a character is viewed as evil.

The apparent moderator who locked my thread is in a sense correct. I interpreted blight as not necessarily being evil (I still don't think it is), but it appears to have been added to add evil to the mix. Restating it slightly: it was portrayed as evil, therefore it may as well be. This is a point I've hit on more recently, and looking back at my prior conclusions with that point, I may have to walk some of them back.

May.

The defense of Cataclysm's Garrosh, if I think about it, comes from two sources. The first is the repeatedly stated motive, which is understandable and sets the stage for a conflict that both sides can relate to, and see themselves as a hero for fighting in. (Yes, I am referring to Rigby's pillar of relatedness again) The second is Stonetalon, which may have been a mistake, but it was one that made the character something other than a straight villain. The Horde could actually follow that guy.

I disagree with the moderator's decision to lock the thread of course, not just for reasons of nostalgia but because a comparison between what Blizzard did right with Garrosh and what they're doing now with Sylvanas is more relevant than ever, but it is what it is.

What I think might be more interesting is whether we can glean any insights on where Blizzard is actually going based on this foray. To understand where I'm coming from with this, look at the conduct of MVPs in the general forum. Normally I see them defending Blizzard's decisions, and I have to assume there is a layer of communication or at least understanding between the MVPs and the company. For someone to be providing services as a moderator, I would have to imagine the same level or a deeper level, though I could be overstretching.

If I'm not, the moderator claims that blight added evil to the mix, and this was not worded as opinion but fact. Does that mean that Sylvanas was always intended to be evil and not merely grey? What should that mean for Forsaken fans? (I appreciate that some opinions will line up around "of course she was always evil", but that would disagree with Blizzard's repeated statements of moral greyness. Apparent confirmation I think is useful.)

Just in case my crazy theory is right, here is the text as it originally appeared:

Quote:
I agree it doesn't make a character evil but in Sylvanas' case her experimentations, blight added evil to the mix even in Original/BC.
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  #78  
Old 06-17-2018, 11:34 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Talkin' to myse-elf oh oh oh talkin' to myse-elf!
When there's no one around well then I go to town and start a-talkin' to myse-elf.


Maybe one day I'll finish that verse...

Since I have used this as a repository for scattered thoughts, I'll do so again.


Typically, when it comes to Night Elf lore, the lore construction pits the Night Elves in a much more favorable light than does the in-game representation. I think we're seeing an odd reversal of that with the Darkshore content (and for my full thoughts on that, please see the Expectations and Evaluation Criteria thread up in the lore section). I think the actual lore and logistics of the situation is far worse than how it appears.

I'm putting this up in reply to the claim that the Night Elves are putting up an admirable defense. Summoned in defense of this claim is "oh, well they're fighting four races at once!" There are a number of factors that boosters of this argument intentionally leave out. Here is an accounting for them.

Factor 1: Kalimdor's size - and the length of the invading drive

For basis, I'm going to rely on the accounting of the size of Feralas from traveler, cited in post #17, here:

https://www.mmo-champion.com/threads...big-is-Azeroth

So, it takes fourteen days to hike across Feralas - a similarly terrained region. I'll use some simpler math.

Average hiking speed [1]: 3mph

If we assume ten hours per day of hiking, then I get 30 miles per day - 420 miles. I am reserving time for rest, reorganization, eating and sleeping.

If the length of the drive is roughly 1.5 times the width of Feralas (look at the distance from the Mor'shan Rampart to Auberdine on the Kalimdor map - https://wow.gamepedia.com/File:WorldMap-Kalimdor.jpg), then the drive is 630 miles long.

For reference, it's 615 miles from Berlin to Paris. It will take you 203 hours, or about 20 days as calculated. But this is just walking speed. We have to also take into account how long it takes to fight an enemy. For a very favorable example, let's take the Battle for France, which, unlike Ashenvale, passed through a mix of dense forests and open fields, and which also differs because we were dealing with mechanized armies, not armies fighting on foot. That drive took 46 days, and the starting point was certainly not Berlin. [3] The Battle for France of course is considered to be the country's most humiliating defeat - and they still catch shade for it today.

For comparative purposes, the average speed of a caravel was 4 knots. This allows them to cover about 90-100 miles per day. That is to say that the Night Elven fleet, if we assume 20 days walking time (which is silly and unrealistic) - would have covered 1,800-2,000 miles compared to the Horde's 615 [4]. If they are halfway to Silithus, this gives them about five days to be in Darkshore once they are contacted.

Again for comparison, the average speed of a California condor is 55mph. I think this is an appropriate measure for hippogryph flyers. [5] This makes them able to cover the distance of the battlespace in a little over a day, again assuming ten hours per day of movement time. This is important because it underlines how quickly the Night Elves should be able to send a message to their commanders. When we add in the sort of instantaneous communication that is evidently possible with Hearthstones (consider the Alliance MOP intro cinematic), those times shrink even further.

In summary, communication takes a day and change, reinforcements by sea can arrive much faster than the overland attack can proceed, and the sort of blitzkrieg that people might assume Sylvanas's attack to be took 46 days to cover half of the distance with the benefit of a mechanized army and a proper air force. Given that the Horde does stop to fight, I will charitably assume that it should take the Horde 50 days to complete their offensive - and this is assuming the best conditions.

Factor 2: Ashenvale's terrain:

Unlike France, Ashenvale and Darkshore are almost entirely dense forests. To discuss their impact, I would consult the observations of the German army in their war against Russia. [6] It took Operation Barbarossa five months to put that army outside of Moscow [8], which, if we take the distance from Warsaw to Moscow as the guide - 784 miles [7], means that to cover 630 miles, roughly 80% of the distance above - through forest it should take four months, or 120 days. This was at a time when the Russian military was highly disorganized, and in chaos after their own problems fighting the Finns during the winter war. You can see that the Russians took about five times the casualties of the Germans, and began the war with fewer numbers of trained military personnel. If we assume the four to one ratio, this situation is an appropriate benchmark.

I'm confident therefore in turning 20 days into four months as a reasonable timeframe, especially considering that Night Elves are supposed to be unusually talented at forest and guerrilla warfare - of the sort that bogged down the Russian Army during the winter war. When we get into four months, we have more than enough time for reinforcements from every corner of the globe to arrive in Darkshore. Caravels, which I consider to be too slow of a comparison for the era of the ships that we see, but that I'm using anyway for reasons of conservatism, can travel 10,800 miles in that time (90*120 days). This is just shy of a round trip from Los Angeles to Tokyo [9]. Given near-instantaneous communication, and that I'm comparing the Night Elf defense to the abysmal one that the Russians put up against the Germans at the beginning of World War II, there is more than enough time for the "entire Alliance" to swing into the fight. But they don't.

Factor 3: It isn't four against one, it's four against three

This one shouldn't take me as long to go through. The heavy lifting for the most part is done. Dovetailing with the information mentioned above is the complete absence of the Worgen and the Draenei, also in Kalimdor, from the fight. There's no reason for their exclusion other than "the writers chose not to put them there". I don't consider this to be reasonable unless the attack was far more rapid and far more dramatic than is physically possible.

Factor 4 - Concentrations

One problem with waging an attack is that you have to leave some of your military behind in order to defend your own territory. Defenders don't have the same problem because they are engaging using the military forces that were left behind. In assembling an attack force, the Horde has an added problem of having military forces in Silithus, and they have to have some there both to harvest the Azerite and to keep a target for the diversionary action. Saying "it's four races against one" therefore assumes unrealistic concentrations of force that we don't just not see here, but that we've never seen, and that would be ridiculous to assume in any situation. You can only attack a country with a portion of your military - not the whole thing, especially when the front you're attacking on is not the only spot in which you are fighting.

Factor 5: Expertise

I touched on this earlier, but it's worth pointing out again that the Night Elves are at their most powerful in the kind of forested environment that the Horde is charging through. It's not just that they are adept at guerilla tactics and forest warfare. It's not just that they've aligned their military to perform well in that environment over the past ten-thousand years. The druids and the ancients are also involved in this fight, and they too are at their most powerful in the sort of environment in which this fight takes place - and their powers include the literal control and weaponization of the very environment that the Horde is passing through.

Consideration 1: How long does the Horde's attack actually last?

If we use the quests as a guide, no concrete numbers are given, but the text implies a length of time that suggests that Night Elf commanders and leaders are just learning about the attack by the time the Horde has passed through Ashenvale. Assuming flat walking speed and comparing this with the width of Feralas, at least a week has passed before anyone knew anything. If it takes a day or less to inform someone - and by that time the Horde has already gotten to the border of Darkshore - we're into two weeks. This is assuming that it took the Horde no time at all to eliminate all resistance from the Mor'shan Rampart to Astraanar during that time, and that at no point they were noticed (which is immediately contradicted by Elegy). I'm going to come out and say that a fourteen day travel period for an entire army is way too long for it to go unnoticed, especially for defenders that have the benefit of either being able to contact anyone and everyone along the length of the battlespace in a day, and who also enjoy instantaneous communication as discussed earlier.

The quests do not appear to imply a length of time that's four months, a month, or even fourteen days. Throughout the questing, the Night Elves are just learning about the attack and are just now moving in forces from Darnassus to attempt to counter it. A day might be too soon, but a week is too much given the apparent rapidity implied by the quests - for an offensive that under the best conditions for the Horde should take them four months - which by itself gives them the benefit of a more modern army and the inexplicable absence of the Draenei and the Worgen.

Consideration 2: Gamescale

The immediate retort I might get from this is the idea that distances have been scaled down because following a 630 mile offensive would be grueling and exhausting, and that this should explain the lack of Alliance reinforcements or the apparent rapidity of the attack. I think this argument implies a sort of reverse fish-eye effect, where gamescale DOES apply in one segment, but DOESN'T apply in others. As an argument I find that inconsistent and hence inadmissible. If you are going to shrink the world for gamescale, you should do that evenly, meaning that the proportions apply in how long the overland offensive takes, and how long it takes to bring reinforcements in. To do otherwise is simply to say "well, the writers didn't want to bring reinforcements in" - which is a statement on their priorities rather than the reasonableness of the scenario.

Conclusion

In summary, the more I go to crunch the numbers on the reasonableness of this offensive, especially when we consider how long it should take reinforcements to arrive, the more ridiculous it appears. If instantaneous communication (and in some cases transportation - see Tyrande's presence in the zone) wasn't a thing, it would be different, but it is. Sylvanas completes a 630 mile drive through heavily forested terrain against an enemy that inexplicably doesn't have the aid of its local allies, that should be at its best in the terrain Sylvanas is moving through, and this happens in a space of time that can't exceed a week - maybe two if we're being generous. To put it bluntly, the Horde's success in this attack is ridiculous, which marks an interesting reversal of the usual trend of Night Elf presentation being better than the underlying lore.

References

[1] - https://www.google.com/search?source....0.5PswFFDQKlI


[2] -https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Berlin,+Germany/Paris,+France/@50.8442123,4.9952586,6.69z/data=!4m15!4m14!1m5!1m1!1s0x47a84e373f035901:0x421 20465b5e3b70!2m2!1d13.404954!2d52.5200066!1m5!1m1! 1s0x47e66e1f06e2b70f:0x40b82c3688c9460!2m2!1d2.352 2219!2d48.856614!3e2!4e1

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_France

[4] http://www-labs.iro.umontreal.ca/~va...ips_Discovery/

[5] http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/anima...ifornia-condor

[6] https://history.army.mil/html/books/..._Pub_104-2.pdf

[7] https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Wars...755826!3e2!4e1

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Barbarossa

[9] https://www.google.com/search?ei=tZE....0.d77ek1KEJhI
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Old 06-21-2018, 05:12 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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https://us.battle.net/forums/en/wow/...page=1#post-20

I'm just going to save this, right here. If on a future date, the last post on the first page is removed or edited to say something completely different, my position may change, but we appear to have a community manager, posting in their official capacity, about what the Night Elves have left.

I think the reply and the context within we find it speaks for itself as to what Blizzard thinks about fan-concern over the treatment of Night Elves. Night Elf fans should take note, and plan their purchasing decisions accordingly.
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Old 07-02-2018, 02:43 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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I have to say, I wasn't expecting what I got yesterday.

I was in the Story Forum Discord when I saw the screenshots that I would later repost of Lor'danel under Horde occupation. The beta tester posting it explained that this was a post burning world quest. As my stomach turned I had a thought.

"If there's a Horde quest, shouldn't there be an Alliance one?"

There were others in the channel having a meltdown over the apparent lack of parity. I repeatedly asked about the Alliance side. Could this have been the immediate counterattack I was hoping for? I got a comment along the lines of "it will probably be a quest to scrape up ten dead Night Elves". This was my last chance to hope here - the piece I was missing. "Let me have this" I asked them.

Over the next two hours I was grinning from ear to ear as the pictures came in and the situation was described to me. The environment in which the world quests take place in depicts a massive counterattack. Why am I so excited? I'll tell you.

- Yes, the Horde appears to hold Lor'danel, but they're holding on by a thread. It's being attacked from all sides, and if the mission tables are any indication, the Horde will not hold it for long.
- Night Elves are battling the Horde all over the zone, they are winning all over the zone, they appear in impressive numbers, and does their military equipment. For once, as well, it isn't just a smattering of sentinels.
- Druids, ancients, and Dryads are all full participants - a far cry from the past when their participation in the Night Elf war effort was a wistful dream. Priestesses of the moon are there too.
- So far, there is no sign of the depressed pessimism that usually accompanies this sort of content. The counterattack is absolutely motivated.
- This content firmly rebuts the earlier implication that the entirety or even the majority of the Night Elven army was defeated in the field.
- ALL OF THIS IS SHOWN, NOT TOLD. It is in the game happening in full view of players on both factions.

I have more review work to do before I commit to a rating for this, and people should not expect me to ignore, or rate more favorably, the content that came before it as I near my final decision, but tentatively I can say that this is what I have been waiting to see for years. The post-burning World Quest environment is the best showing the Night Elves have had since the RTS, and Blizzard deserves credit for finally coming around on this.
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Old 01-08-2019, 05:46 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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What's going on with gaming stocks right now anyway?

I, like many of you, have seen a lot of videos and information floating around about the state of the video game industry. While I've normally heard this drumbeat coming from the likes of Jim Sterling for years, it seems to be louder than before in relation to the fourth quarter of 2018 - specifically in relation to colossal stock declines. Given that these declines were happening to the backdrop of one of the worst fourth quarters since the 1930s though, some of those drops are more than expected.

So I did a bit of analysis of my own. The chart below depicts price data scraped from Yahoo Finance for the period beginning August 14, 2018, and ending January 4, 2019. The data depicted shows the price as of any given date as a percentage of its high during the period examined - which allows me to capture percentage declines and compare them to peers.

The Numbers

The S&P 500 is generally regarded as better barometer of general market performance than the DOW because it represents a broader cross section of the market than does the DOW. I picked the NASDAQ because that is a general technology composite. As for the gaming figure, I got that by averaging the performance of Activision Blizzard, EA, Take Two Interactive, Nintendo, Gamestop, Ubisoft, Zynga, Capcom, and Konami. Each of these have an equal impact on the average, and were picked more or less haphazardly. I then plotted the average as a percentage of its high during the period.

https://imgur.com/a/8wgalqF

I took a regression as well, and you can see from the R2 statistic that 90% of the gaming market's decline can be explained by declines in the market *overall*. Job done then? Well no, not quite - because the data gets a bit more interesting when we dive into it.

https://imgur.com/a/b92iwju

We can see which ones are dragging down the market: ATVI, EA, and to a lesser extent, Ubisoft. For ATVI, I ran a pair of very simple regressions to see if either the market or the gaming sector as a whole could explain the decline.

https://imgur.com/a/Yri8FOD

Again, there's significant relation to be found here. Roughly 72% of ATVI's decline can be explained by the market in general. I included the relation to the gaming average as well, but I would caution the reader of that to infer that this means that ATVI's results are normal because of the .908 R2 number. ATVI has spent a lot of time in the financial press, and the bad news involving them could be dragging down other gaming stocks.

Based on this simple and limited analysis though, we can say that while the overall market declines explain a lot of the gaming industry's woes, especially with some of its worst actors, they can't explain all of it.

As a final note: I do not expect that I will be able to meaningfully disentangle the effects of any single title or decision when the 2018 10-Ks come out. Most of these companies have multiple titles from which they are deriving revenues, and as I've found with Activision-Blizzard, the usual suite of footnotes is not sufficient to separate data in what I would consider to be a meaningful way.

The Hot Take

But you didn't come all the way down here for limited and sober analysis - you came here for unhinged ravings from a long suffering Night Elf fan. So here is my hot take: The lagging parts of the gaming industry are in the funk that they're in due to the influence of earnings management on game design.

I can't proceed down this line of reasoning without discussing the outliers: Zynga and Konami. Zynga mostly tracked with the market and its peers before popping up at the end of November. This appears to be due to its upcoming acquisition of Small Giant Games. Konami meanwhile has released a new slot gaming cabinet, which seems to be rather successful.

As for earnings management, it is the practice of trying to time revenues and expenses in an attempt to either smooth income consistently over reporting periods, or to make a particular quarter look good. Window dressing like this isn't necessarily fraudulent or unethical because it often involves changing operations (example: instituting policies to collect accounts receivable faster to maintain certain balance sheet ratios) rather than misstating results. That being said, changing operations to hit these kinds of financial targets necessarily renders an impact on operations themselves. Now to be more specific. Here are the kinds of earnings management strategies that I think are in play.

Issue 1: Annualization

Financial professionals, by and large, like to perform comparisons on an annual basis. I do it too - but that's because with most businesses you can expect relatively consistent performance from one year to the next. I wasn't able to apply this assumption as easily though to a development stage brokerage, whose revenues could fluctuate wildly from year to year based on the completion of a small number of deals. These deals were complex and in some cases took multiple years to complete. Accordingly, you could not expect results to be consistent from year to year. You had to compare results on the basis of the individual deals.

The business of selling large video games that take multiple years to develop isn't that different - and it interferes with the neat annual analysis that investors prefer to use. That doesn't mean that investors won't penalize companies for failing to provide consistent, year over year results, or that they will perform the unique sort of analysis that would be more suited to the industry. Even if they wanted to, GAAP financial statements don't contain the level of detail needed to make that kind of analysis possible. (… and even if they did, most investors don't read footnotes anyway)

Activision has a word for this: the "Annual Release Cycle". EA uses this term as well, and when we consider EA sports, it's clear to see where that came from. Although in EA's case it may fall by the wayside in the favor of a subscription service. Blizzard of course isn't immune. Every WoW expansion since Wrath has released consistently released on even numbered years during the third or fourth quarter in time for the holiday season, and while this isn't completely annual thinking, it is trending in that direction.

Issue 2: Smoothing

Investors don't like uncertainty and are averse to risk. Accordingly, there is a lot of value in consistency in financial results that just doesn't jive with a revenue model whose results are concentrated among a handful of high quality titles that take years to develop, require ever increasing sums of cash to produce, and which may not land well depending on how gamers adapt to the product. DLC, microtransactions, the free to play model, and games as a service (GAAS) are obvious answers to this problem, allowing revenues to be smoothed over a longer period of time, rather than being concentrated in the quarter of a game's release. To a lesser degree, this is also why we have pre-orders and pre-order bonuses. A pre-order by itself is a transparent earnings management tactic which seeks to improve the cash conversion cycle by speeding up collections on unearned revenue. However, pre-orders that enable early access to game modes can unlock certain performance obligations for revenue recognition prior to their release date.

This isn't necessarily a problem, but the model has come with growing pains. Pre-orders can be used to get around reviews. Microtransactions can be implemented in pay-to-win fashion. Lootboxes have been accused of being de-facto gambling - and these moves erode trust among the buying public, especially when the monetization methods become core parts of the gameplay.

Issue 3: Sector Maturity

If you own a stock, there are two ways to get value from it. The first way is for it to increase in value after you buy it, allowing you to sell it for a profit. The second way is to receive dividends from a stable company. In general, newer, developing companies will not pay dividends, and their core value proposition to potential investors is that as the company grows, the stock price will increase. As a company stabilizes and matures, however, the stock price will be relatively stable, at least in comparison to its growth phase. Very few of the companies surveyed here actually paid dividends. Gamestop does, Konami does, and Nintendoes - that's all.

While I mentioned that Konami was an outlier to the rest of the industry, in the case of the other two, paying dividends doesn't necessarily save your stock from being pummeled. Gamestop of course is at the mercy of its upstream suppliers, and like Take Two, Nintendo is tracking with the gaming industry average - likely due to the combination of systemic market risk and sector risk brought about by the waves of bad industry news surrounding Bethesda, EA, and ATVI. That being said, the other, non-dividend paying stocks are trading on the presumption that their companies are going to continue to grow, and that their stock prices will as well.

The question is whether the market is still maturing or not. Gaming is already bigger than film, and when emerging markets are considered, there should be more room for growth. Standing on the other side of that argument though are headlines like this one, which outline investor disappointment with strong results because they were only just as strong as the last time. Product sales may no longer be enough - which is where we return once again to value added services and microtransactions, being used to extract more revenues from customers after the purchase of the boxed game.

The Solution

I don't have one. This is just a series of casual observations mostly derived from my experience as an accountant combined with far too many hours of Jim Sterling/Yong Yea/Superbunnyhop content, and I'm not sure that you can change investor behavior. Even if accounting standards were to change to allow for analysis on a title by title basis, its doubtful that you will ever shake investors from methods of annual analysis, or from wanting smooth, consistent results. Combine that with the present unwillingness of these companies to pay dividends, and you get earnings management - and with it, accelerated development times, revenue models meant to result in smooth, predictable results, a focus on increasing the number of monetization channels, and, as we saw in 2018: an erosion in trust among the paying public - strong enough to reflect in the stock price - resulting from the declines in quality that have come with the aforementioned earnings management tactics.

Perhaps 2018 will serve as a lesson for what happens when these earnings management tactics go too far, and maybe the companies that fill out the bottom portions of the graph above will take a hard look at their operations - but I'm not optimistic.
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Old 01-08-2019, 09:53 PM
Krainz Krainz is offline

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Issue 3: Sector Maturity

If you own a stock, there are two ways to get value from it. The first way is for it to increase in value after you buy it, allowing you to sell it for a profit. The second way is to receive dividends from a stable company. In general, newer, developing companies will not pay dividends, and their core value proposition to potential investors is that as the company grows, the stock price will increase. As a company stabilizes and matures, however, the stock price will be relatively stable, at least in comparison to its growth phase. Very few of the companies surveyed here actually paid dividends. Gamestop does, Konami does, and Nintendoes - that's all.
Wait, what? How? Why? How does that even work?

I thought all companies paid dividends.
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Old 01-09-2019, 07:10 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Wait, what? How? Why? How does that even work?

I thought all companies paid dividends.
They do not.

Dividends are voluntary distributions from retained earnings, declared by the Board of Directors. Normally when a company starts paying dividends, they mold themselves to a fixed schedule (because that's what investors now expect of the stock), but even then they could choose to stop paying dividends - aside from any that had already been declared.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:36 AM
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They do not.

Dividends are voluntary distributions from retained earnings, declared by the Board of Directors. Normally when a company starts paying dividends, they mold themselves to a fixed schedule (because that's what investors now expect of the stock), but even then they could choose to stop paying dividends - aside from any that had already been declared.
So investors who own ATVI stocks don't receive money based on the company's profits? Their only way of making money is by selling the stock when its value rises?
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:20 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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So investors who own ATVI stocks don't receive money based on the company's profits? Their only way of making money is by selling the stock when its value rises?
Correct, and as I mentioned, this is common in the gaming industry.

What this means is that the company is under pressure to show constant growth to investors (not just strong results), which is easy to do when a given market or company is new, but not as easy when they are maturing or have already matured.
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Old 01-09-2019, 06:51 PM
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What seems to me as logical is that companies should start paying dividends in the gaming industry, then.

Are the gaming companies just making less money or are the profits not scaling up the way the costs are?

Are we nearing a future in which it's "too expensive" to make games?
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:06 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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What seems to me as logical is that companies should start paying dividends in the gaming industry, then.

Are the gaming companies just making less money or are the profits not scaling up the way the costs are?

Are we nearing a future in which it's "too expensive" to make games?
The gaming market has only grown over the years, and from what I've seen in 10-Ks and 10-Qs over the years, there's no reason for me to expect that there's any problem with these companies' financial health - at the moment. Stocks are a reflection of investors' belief about the future of these companies, so we could see reversals in the future. For the fourth quarter though? In an immediate sense? I'm not sure - especially given the revenue recognition standards involved with video games with online support, and games as a service.

As for video games being too expensive to make, I'm a bit of a skeptic in that claim. I remember when I was an ATVI shareholder, and they were expecting Kevin Spacey and his surely massive fees to hold up Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, this while they were plowing $500 million into Destiny's lovely skyboxes. I haven't seen practices like these really abate since. In a nutshell, I think there's a lot of fat, and waste in modern AAA game development, and I worry that time and resources that are being spent creating the fat are displacing resources that could have been put into the muscle as well.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:23 AM
Krainz Krainz is offline

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I'm checking some websites and it seems that ATVI pays dividends. Did I misunderstand something, maybe?
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Old 01-13-2019, 03:13 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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I'm checking some websites and it seems that ATVI pays dividends. Did I misunderstand something, maybe?
Evidently I had, likely due to me screening for quarterly dividends rather than annual dividends. ATVI appears to declare annual dividends in March for a yield of 0.72%.

https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/ATVI?p=ATVI

Sorry for the error.
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