January 2008

Internet: Serious Business

NY Times: Blogging Will Kill You

“I was a corporate lawyer and an entrepreneur, and I know about working all the time. But now, you’re always worried a big story is breaking in your e-mail, and if you wait an hour, you’ll miss it. Every morning when I wake up, the panic hits and I have to see my e-mail as soon as possible.”

Clearly I am far too slack a blogger. I pretty much never wake up with panic attacks about this blog, ever.

Political Handicapping: New Hampshire Edition

Because like Mr. Funtax, everyone care about my political opinions thanks to my position in computer games and general bloggery!

I am biased here: I like Barack Obama a lot. I have often griped how politicians talk to us like seven year olds. He doesn’t. He actually treats the electorate as adults. What’s more, he’s the only one running who seems to recognize that the slash-and-burn politics of the past 25 years or so isn’t working out too well in practice any more. Whereas Hillary’s message (and the Republicans, for that matter, with the exception of Huckabee) can be boiled down to “I will accomplish my goals by DESTROYING ANYONE IN MY PATH”, Obama’s is more one of reconciliation and consensus. Which, a bit of research shows, is more than just talk. So, that being said, fired up and ready to go, the handicapping!


Barack Obama: 1st Huge momentum coming out of Iowa, and his debate performances were good. Polls show double-digit leads. He’s got this one, and South Carolina as well. Super Tuesday will be the crunch time, but for now it’s Obam-a-go-go.

Hillary Clinton: 2nd Most people have her coming in 3rd, but I suspect Obama is actually drawing most of his support from Edwards voters. It’ll be close either way, and she’s in it until at least Super Tuesday (and most likely the convention).

John Edwards: 3rd You know, John Edwards has to be pissed right now, because he’s been running his election straight from James Carville and Karl Rove’s playbook and he’s still in third everywhere. And his lashing out in debates, and most recently at Hillary for daring to show emotion in public this afternoon, shows that. I suspect after Tuesday he’ll bow out to make a play for being on an Obama/Edwards ticket (and everyone I talk to thinks Obama will pick James Webb instead) (admittedly these are mostly game developers and message boards) (oh like you have better contacts) (ok I’ll stop)

Bill Richardson: Who? Will drop out after New Hampshire and join the Clinton campaign.

Dennis Kucinich: Wha? At this point I think he’s in it solely for the snacks.


John McCain: 1st Ordinarily, I would be all over a McCain presidency (I supported him last time he ran) but since then Iraq happened and he’s wrong about pretty much every post-9/11 issue. Still, he’s the best the Republicans have.

Mike Huckabee: 2nd I confess to bumping up Huckabee solely because I hope that Romney gets a sharp poke in the eye. In any event he doesn’t have the national infrastructure, nor any hope in hell of winning the general election. Still, he’s honest, he knows what he believes, and people respect that. Given the choices, well, that’s why he’s doing as well as he is. Plus, if you don’t vote Huckabee Chuck Norris WILL kick your ass.

Mitt Romney: 3rd Romney is everything that is wrong with our electoral system made manifest. He’s a smug millionaire who is trying to buy the nomination through buying as much sludge as the stations will sell him air time to sling it, only to primly declare that personal attacks are crude when called on it. Not to mention the fact that he turned from a moderate Republican governor of Massa-frikin-chusetts to a Bush neocon clone solely because some focus group told him it would get him nominated, which implies that everything he believes is negotiable. I not only hope he comes in 3rd and promptly drops out of the race, I also hope Chuck Norris punches him square in the nose.

Rudy Guiliani: 4th At some point Guiliani should win a primary. The question remains whether the convention will take place before or after that point.

Fred Thompson: Zzz I bet Fred wishes it was 60 years ago and you could get the nomination through giving out the best cigars. I bet Fred has great cigars. I bet he has them flown in from Cuba. I don’t actually smoke cigars, but I bet Fred’s are the best. I bet Fred will continue not to actually run because it’s too much like work.

RON PAUL, BITCHES: YEAH YOU KNOW IT RAAAR He’s going to win a primary when no one’s looking and then we’ll ALL be sorry. No, actually he’s gonna drop out soon and focus on his Libertarian Party bid. Too bad, Ron Paul made the debates fun. Maybe the Republicans can adopt Mike Gravel.

Clearly, I Went The Wrong Way With My Predictions…

…because Elder Game totally went for the funny.

Warhammer Online launches, but only 300 people manage to purchase boxes; everybody else is unable to distinguish it from World of Warcraft and buys the wrong game. After Warhammer fails it is bought by SOE, who muddies up the graphics, lowers the quest quality, and reopens the game as “EverQuest 3.”

Everyone’s A Prophet This Week

So far be it for me to buck the trend!

  • This is going to be a slow year for MMOs. Last year saw the release of most of the projects that began development before WoW shipped. (The remainder – Age of Conan and Warhammer Online are set to release this year, and Pirates of the Burning Sea this month.) Now we enter the Desert of Azeroth, as the extinction-level-event that is World of Warcraft’s unbelievable success caused everyone in the MMO industry in 2005 to go:

    In the next few years following, we’ll see the results of everyone trying to go all aikido and step where WoW isn’t. But for this next year or so, you’re going to see the effect of an entire MMO industry three to four years ago going “Holy crap. They sold how many boxes? And our entire development team is in a WoW guild? Hmm.”

  • Speaking of those above three MMOs, they’ll all be pretty successful, if not astounding million sellers, which means that every pundit will wax profoundly about how they’re all failures, despite keeping their dev teams paid and their publishers afloat. Note: MMOs can be successful revenue sources even when not produced by Blizzard! Specifically, PotBS will be a niche title a la Eve which does well long term but nothing spectacular out of the gate, Warhammer will grab over a million subscribers (counting both the US and European markets) which will make it the second biggest MMO, disappointing everyone who wanted it to be Teh Giant Slayer. Age of Conan will do somewhere in the 200K range, much less if there are launch issues (it remains to be seen if Funcom’s learned from Anarchy Online). No one will care about the much-vaunted nudity. It didn’t save Shadowbane, either.
  • Speaking of Blizzard: Starcraft 2 will slip to 2009, sorry. However, fear not – the PC market will still be in a Blizzard hammerlock, as the next World of Warcraft expansion pack will ship just in time for the Christmas rush, dwarfing any other game’s launch that year. Note: I did not say “any other MMO game”. I meant “ANY OTHER GAME”. The PC market, by and large, is rapidly becoming WoW-driven. Proof? In November, almost a year after Burning Crusade’s ship, amidst all the new hotness Christmas releases like Orange Box and Call of Duty 4, Burning Crusade was #9 in the PC charts for the month and World of Warcraft was #5. This doesn’t track subscriptions – these are box sales – new accounts.  In terms of subscribers, WoW will finally plateau after cracking 10 million, mainly because there is no one in WoW’s target market left. The big news at next year’s BlizzCon will be the announcement of Blizzard’s next MMO, which will not be World of Starcraft or World of Diablo.
  • EA Austin — sorry, Bioware Austin will finally announce that yes, they’re working on Knights of the Old Republic Online. Everyone will yawn since that was leaked all over the place LAST year. Or maybe those leaks were MISDIRECTION! And they’re really working on Peggle Online. That Gordon Walton fellow is crafty.
  • Free MMOs will continue to pull in more free users, more paid users, and more money than the vast majority of “old school” MMOs, as Raph Koster is vindicated in spades, over and over, when people start to actually notice that more people play Maple Story than World of Warcraft.
  • Second Life will no longer be all over the news as even Reuters figures out that a lot more people talk about Second Life than actually participate in it. They will continue to have server and client issues, and near the end of the year the first Second Life clones that were conceived back when Second Life was the new hotness hit the market. I don’t know what they are off the top of my head, and you won’t either, because as Linden already knows and these new kids will learn, enabling a game wholly based on user generated content in a 3D space is REALLY REALLY REALLY freakin’ hard.
  • 2008 will be to Facebook as 2007 was to Myspace – no one will care any more, some hot new thing will come along, and everyone currently working on Facebook-centric startups will feel awfully silly (but still make hojillions of dollars).
  • The election matchup will be Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney, and Obama will win in a landslide. I’m willing to fudge on the Republican side given Iowa’s results but it’ll still be a Democrat landslide. Ron Paul will run from the right as a Libertarian candidate (I know, he said he wouldn’t, HE FIBBED DEAL WITH IT) and break 5%, which dwarfs the LP’s previous best of 2% but is still a statistical blip.

Feel free to tell me I’m full of it! Bonus points if you (a) tell me I totally forgot about Darkfall or (b) complain that Shadowbane didn’t actually ship with any nudity.