1 big thing: Monster “Pokémon” hit

Fan skepticism had struck early: When “Unite” was announced last year, many “Pokémon” fans grumbled, downvoting the game’s debut trailer 161,000 times, before the Pokémon Company deleted it and re-uploaded it.

The re-uploaded trailer was panned, too, with comments like: “Stop trying to make Unite happen. It’s not going to happen.”
But it turns out the game is quite fun, as Axios Gaming’s Megan Farokhmanesh recently attested.

I disagree with this kind of juxtaposition that presents gamers as a bunch that doesn’t believe in a game when it’s pretty obvious they’re wary of the business model that goes with. Gambling at a casino can be fun. That’s no excuse for the casino.

What they’re saying: “I do genuinely think it’s great, but I’d say people have a love-hate relationship with it,” says Kotaku editor-in-chief Patricia Hernandez, a former colleague of mine who is one of the smartest (and entertainingly strident) Pokémon experts out there.

Hernandez said some fans have struggled with the game, in part because the MOBA genre — which requires that players learn characters’ moves and understand how to function as a successful team — is very demanding.
But some also flinched at the aggressive monetization schemes in the game, which pushed players to pay to advance and were toned down for the mobile launch.
“The reality is that MOBAs are gruesome in terms of lows,” she noted. “But the highs!”

And if while reading my earlier comment you thought it can’t be about the business model, well, here you go.

Jeff Bezos praises New World launch: ‘after many failures, we have a success’ | VGC

On Friday, Amazon founder Bezos acknowledged New World’s successful launch and called its previous game efforts “failures and setbacks”.

“After many failures and setbacks in gaming we have a success,” he wrote. “So proud of the team for the persistence. View setbacks as helpful obstacles that drive learning. Whatever your goals are, don’t give up no matter how hard it gets.”

It feels kind of funny to me to have Jeff Bezos chime in here but I guess that’s when you know everyone sees gaming as a cash cow at this point. Still, he’s not wrong. If anything Amazon realised what Google still can’t. Gaming is a long, uh, game. Even when half-assing it, it takes time.

Facebook Downplays Internal Research Released on Eve of Hearing

This is Facebook PR comms at an amazing streak of failure. Let’s dive in.

In one slide, with a title that said “one in five teens say that Instagram makes them feel worse about themselves, with UK girls the most negative,” Facebook wrote in its annotation that the research had not been intended to suggest a causal link between the app and well-being. The company said the headline emphasized negative effects but could have been written “to note the positive or neutral effect of Instagram on users.”

Facebook saying what the research had been intended to suggest is irrelevant. It’s like saying data gathered and causalities established don’t count if they don’t support the initial hypothesis.

In the reports, one slide was titled “But, we make body image issues worse for 1 in 3 teen girls.” Facebook’s annotation said the methodology was “not fit to provide statistical estimates” and noted that the title of the slide was “myopic.” The company said the findings were meant only to represent the feelings of the survey takers and “not the teenage population of Instagram users in general.”

Then they basically deride their own researchers before throwing another gem at us, the idea that when people are asked questions their answers only reflect their feelings on a matter, not the general population. Which is correct of course but the implication that no overarching conclusions can be made ignores the existence of statistics as a field and, my favourite, the reality that Facebook is one of those companies that relies on big data to make decisions and products work. The company quite literally collects all data it can get to then use them in an effort to understand the bigger picture on which any future business moves are to be based on.

On the 66-slide “Teen Mental Health Deep Dive” presentation, which relied on in-person qualitative questioning of 40 teenagers and online surveys of more than 2,500 teenagers in the United States and Britain, one annotation called into question the definition of “mental health” in the presentation.

“‘Mental health’ should not be mistaken for a clinical, formal or academic definition,” the company wrote.

This implies that whoever says they’re facing mental health issues don’t necessarily face actual mental issues. Fair enough. But stating the obvious (and this should always be obvious) doesn’t help anyone. As rebuke go, this is as generic as they come.

Another slide’s title said that “teens who struggle with mental health say Instagram makes it worse.”

In response, Facebook’s annotation said, “The headline should be clarified to be: ‘Teens who have lower life satisfaction more likely to say Instagram makes their mental health or the way they feel about themselves worse than teens who are satisfied with their lives.’”

This isn’t a clarification. This is a changed statement that bends over backwards to downplay any chance of causality.

All in all this is PR positing that their spin on their own internal research is the best way to understand said research. If that’s what you’re going to come up with when trying to debunk some bad press you’re getting, it’s best to just shut up.

Silicon’s 300% Surge Throws Another Price Shock at the World

A metal made from the second-most abundant element on Earth has become scarce, threatening everything from car parts to computer chips and throwing up another hurdle for the world economy.

And the hits just keep on coming. As I wrote last week, you all thought it was going to be oil.

Apple Doesn’t Make Videogames. But It’s the Hottest Player in Gaming.

Definitely not a fan of this article. Not of what it says but mostly because it adds nothing and feigns shock at the obvious. But let me explain what I mean first. iOS might not hold the majority of the market but the App Store is most certainly the most lucrative store and no other OS provider or smartphone manufacturer comes close. Google might hit similar revenue (taking similar cuts mind you so don’t go all “but… but… the Apple tax” on me yet) but certainly no smartphone manufacturer can even dream of having an app store clientele as valuable and as primed to spend as Apple’s.

Moreover, mobile gaming is the biggest gaming segment in revenue. And since Apple is already king of the hill compared to other app store holder and it’s been known for years that games pull in the majority of all revenue in any and all app stores, it’s a given that Apple makes the most from mobile gaming.

Apple Inc. AAPL 0.81% doesn’t make hot videogames such as “Fortnite,” or consoles such as the Xbox. But with little fanfare, Chief Executive Tim Cook has turned the maker of the iPhone into one of the world’s largest videogame companies.

Calling Apple a videogame company based solely on revenue in the segment is like pretending Walmart is a videogame company. This is some not so creative stretching right there.

In a nod to how important hard-core gamers are to the company now, Apple introduced its new iPhone 13 Pro last month with upgrades to the screen aimed at giving a smoother video experience. The feature is particularly attractive to those who use it for gaming.

This notion is next level stupid. No one in their right mind thinks like that as the real benefit from higher refresh rate in gaming, other than image quality improvements, comes from running the game in higher frame rates which in makes controls snappier. What controls? Touch controls? And which game will be running at 120Hz just because the display panel does? Whoever thought of this part has an even shakier grasp on gaming than Apple. And that’s saying something. The only clear sign that Apple consciously wants in on it is the existence of Apple Arcade. It’s the only gaming-related thing, other than API and OS work, that it actually invests on one way or another.

Another view of how much Apple collects from its App Store—and gaming—comes from Sensor Tower, the analytics firm. It estimated that Apple received $15.9 billion in revenue from the App Store in fiscal 2019, with 69% of that amount coming from games. Using Apple’s operating margin calculation described in court records, the company’s App Store had an implied operating profit of $12.3 billion that year—or nearly one out of five dollars of the company’s overall operating profit.

Gaming alone would have earned $8.5 billion, according to a Journal analysis. That is $2 billion more than the operating profit generated in the sector during the equivalent 12-month period from gaming giants Sony, Activision, Nintendo and Microsoft, according to company filings from the first three and an analyst estimate for Microsoft.

Yes. And? What’s that supposed to mean in real world terms? I guess we’ll never know. We ‘re just left with implications and our imagination.

What annoys me with this article is that it’s all about the money. Nothing more, nothing less. Apple makes big money from gaming, incoming regulation will affect that, so Apple’s growth rate will be stunted, whatever that may end up looking like in the end. That’s all this article is all about. Everything else, other than an OK summary on recent legal drama, has nothing to do with gaming, shows no understanding of gaming and, in the end, offers little to anyone. No surprise there. We live in the internet (SEO) age. And yet I’m annoyed.