Monthly Archives: September 2018

September in Review

The Site

The site turned twelve, something about which I went on at length in a post mid-way through the month.

The official notification

It was also the month that saw the most likes in a single day on the site.

Such an achievement

I don’t know why.  I never know why.

It was also a month for some big news, acquisitions, closures, and new expansions.  All of that, plus the usual residual interest in the site after Blaugust, drove things to a pretty decent month when it came to page views.  It still isn’t 2012, but it was a very respectable month by 2018 standards.

Finally, for the third month running, the most viewed posts does not include a single post written during the month.  It isn’t unusual for older posts to become search engine favorites, but I have yet to figure out why some of those posts, making their third appearance on the list, are popular.

One Year Ago

The blog turned eleven and so I brought out an elf.

I was talking about a typewriter.  The first typewriter I used.  I still have it.

Raptr announced that they would be shutting down at the end of the month.

GuildWars 2 launched their Path of Fire expansion.

Pokemon Gold & Silver were made available via the 3DS Virtual Console.

Crimson Leaf Games announced MegaWars – Dawn of the Third Age.

I took a look at Daybreak 30 months into is existence.  And, as I did that, we got the bad news that EQ2 Wire was shutting down after covering the game for nine years.  Then Daybreak announced that the Fippy Darkpaw server would be merged with the Vulak server… probably a few years too late to make any difference.

In EVE Online CCP gave us a heads up as to the coming Lifeblood expansion, complete with trailer.  Last I checked the site was still up, but running pretty much unattended.

I was running on about meaningful PvE progression in New Eden and going on about return on time invested and content on demand.

In space I was doing the Alpha Strikes event while the August MER showed that deploying to Hakonen cost the Imperium in mining and ratting revenue.

Then came the Warzone Extraction event to celebrate the non-VR version of the soon to be in maintenance mode EVE: Valkyrie.  It was a tough event by EVE Online PvE standards and I am sure it killed some newbies.

But the big EVE Online news of the month was The Judge betraying Circle of Two, selling their Keepstar to the Imperium (who later sold it to TEST) and the camp in 68FT-6 as alliance members tried to escape from their former home.  GigX was banned and CO2 seemed doomed.  It was one of those “Only in EVE” sort of events.

Andrew Groen was planning some EVE Online history lectures via a new podcast.  That only lasted five episodes before he went back to writing books on EVE Online history.

In a bullet points post I noted the passing of the EVE Gate site, that CCP cancelled their deal with Nexon for Japanese EVE Online support, that Ultima Online was talking about free to play, and that Daybreak wasn’t going to be handing out any more free content in Norrath for the foreseeable future.

And finally Chris Roberts was unironically talking about developer optimism in an interview.

Five Years Ago

We heard that Warhammer Online was slated to shut down in December.

We also got the official word that Blizzard would be killing the auction house in Diablo III.

SOE was getting over some of their Station Cash screw ups.

In general I wasn’t too excited about the expansion outlook on the MMO scene.

In EVE Online the Rubicon expansion went live.  Our corp had a little drama as Gaff plotted to overthrow our CEO and created a new corp, Black Sheep Down.  As is usual, he was good for the intrigue, but once he became El Supremo, he got bored and stopped playing.  Happens after every coup… and there have been a few.  We went from being literally the worst corp in TNT to… erm… well, that didn’t change I guess.  We did run out to low sec for a fight and I put my alt in the corp to bolster our numbers because there was a minimum height requirement or something.

In general we were finishing up our deployment in Delve cleaning up after the TEST collapse and I hit 110 million skill points.  Also, there was the war between evebloggers.com and evebloggers.net.

The instance group, in a hint as to where we were headed, ran a series of WoW dungeon knock-offs in Neverwinter.

And it was time for the usual bout of autumnal nostalgia.  This time I returned to Azeroth, which made me ask the question, when is it nostalgia anyway?  My daughter and I and a friend had a plan to roll up some new characters on a new server.  Whatever it was, it felt like home.

And, finally, I covered the great resurrection exploit in TorilMUD.

Ten Years Ago

Warhammer Online went live, first with the head start and then for everybody.

As we saw with other MMOs, there were issues coordinating with friends about which server to choose, leading to yet another gripe post about the whole sharded existence we have had to put up with in MMOS.  I did wonder if the EverQuest II mechanism of multiple versions of a given zone might be worth it to get everybody on a single server.

The instance group was into WAR (after escaping from Durnhold Keep), though as a group we have some parameters that we had to work within.  And the battlegrounds in WAR were not playing out well.  And the type of quests that were in PvE led to some talk about which goal was worse.

In Warhammer itself, war were declared on gold sellers and Mythic was being very demonstrative about it.  Of course, it did not appear to stem tells from gold seller bots that seemed to sit active for days.

went on about those tips you see on the loading screen of many MMOs, spurred by a couple less than helpful tips in WAR.

In EVE Online I hit a major ISK milestone.  But I was building up ISK because I had my eye on a freighter.

The Empyrean Age 1.1 update was upon us, which included 2 changes designed to reduce the scourge of suicide ganking.  And nobody ever complained about that again.

Meanwhile CCP was offering up battleships for sale… model battleship for real cash, not ISK.

But the most important EVE Online event was probably Yahtzee Croshaw’s Zero Punctuation review of EVE Online Much shoe-on-head wearing and talk about tactical logistics reconfiguration ensued.

In EverQuest II, the Living Legacy promotion was ending.

I was wondering why there wasn’t a World of Warcraft animated series yet.  I think that might have been better than the movie we got.

LEGO Batman showed up.

And, finally, the site hit the two year mark.

Fifteen Years Ago

Valve released the first version of Steam, mostly to replace the World Opponent Network they bought from Sierra.

SOE released the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion for EverQuest, bringing instanced small group content to the game.  Their ads specifically mentioned the new “dungeon crawl” experience.

Twenty Years Ago

Pokemon Red & Blue for the Nintendo GameBoy and GameBoy Color launched in North America.

Delta Force launched in the US.  I have written about it and voxels and the coming of 3D accelerated video cards in the past.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  2. Extra Credits – Picking at the Lockbox Thing Some More
  3. Do You Wear the Mask or does the Mask Wear You?
  4. Burn Jita 2018 Aftermath
  5. Winter Movie League – Denouement
  6. SuperData and the Rise of Fortnite
  7. Burn Jita Back for 2018
  8. Rift Prime Time
  9. Spring Movie League – Wrinkle in the Mix
  10. Honest Game Trailers – Animal Crossing
  11. The Road to CSM13
  12. February in Review

Search Terms of the Month

are there any games as good as everquest
[No]

everquest franchise dead?
[Also no]

minecraft complaints
[It is so blocky to start with…]

minecraft how to make warm ocean
[Declare it the toddler pool]

how to hand in madness within wow
[I think most of the madness is outside of WoW]

Spam Comment of the Month

Yes! Finally something about facebook advertising.
[I nearly approved this just for irony’s sake]

Black Desert Online

Since Pearl Abyss was set to buy CCP I thought I would take a look at the game that people keep putting forth as a cash shop pay-to-win horror show.  I haven’t done much past the tutorial so far, but it does have its own look and feel.  It ain’t WoW, which isn’t a bad thing.  We’ll see if I end up playing enough of it to be able to make a post.

EVE Online

The war in the north has come to and end with a peace agreement signed earlier this month that came into effect yesterday.  We will be packing up and leaving the north for a month and won’t pester GotG for at least six months.  That will make for a quiet October as people get home and pick up mining and ratting again to make some money.  That will make some time for other things, since I haven’t ratted or mined or done PI in a year at this point.  Maybe I’ll watch some TV.

EverQuest II

This came out of nowhere… or out of the thin yet cooling air of autumn.  Anyway, suddenly I was keen to go and play in Norrath towards the end of the month.  And I did.  And I continue to do so.  We shall see.

Pokemon Go

I finally caught a Lapras, so I can take that off the list finally.  In two years I only ran into one once, and it ran away after the first throw.  This month Niantic changed the Pokemon mix back to favor first generation and now I’ve caught five.  Still, it was an exciting moment when I caught that first one.

It was also the month of many friends.  One of the special research tasks required you to add three new friends.  After struggling for a bit and only finding one, I posted my friend code on Twitter and got more than a dozen in a short time.  I deleted the tweet after a while as it was a bit too successful.  Now I have 19 friends to find gifts for, most of whom are from Japan.  That is probably more friends than I have in real life.  But it is kind of neat as each gift has a picture that goes with it, so I’ve seen some new places… and the 7-11 logo.  There must be a Pokestop at every 7-11 in Japan or something.

Level: 33 (+0)
Pokedex status: 339 (+4) caught, 357 (+3) seen
Pokemon I want: Dragonite… Dratini are so rare where I live
Current buddy: Wailmer

World of Warcraft

My efforts in Azeroth sort of petered out over the course of the month.  I went from daily logins during Darkmoon Faire to basically logging in for a bit each weekend to get a little further along with my main on Kul Tiras, who is still just level 117 at this point.  This is sort of how non-addicts play video games I hear.  Admittedly, this slackening of attention might not have been entirely out of boredom with the game as during this period of time my wife and I also binge-watched the first three seasons of Better Call Saul and the first season of Castle Rock and most of the first season of Handmaid’s Tale, and some of that show on Hulu with Hugh Laurie, as well as knocking out season five of Bojack Horseman with my daughter and getting through season three of Archer and the first few episodes of season 2 of Ozark on my own.

That is actually a lot of television.

So perhaps WoW isn’t wholly to blame.  I just spent a lot of time on the couch rather than in front of my computer.

Coming Up

BlizzCon is actually on November 2nd which, while not next month, is close enough that I am sure we’ll be hearing more news and speculation as to what Blizzard might be showing.

I expect some more news from Daybreak.  We got the title of the coming EverQuest II expansion, but no details.  In addition, there is still an EverQuest expansion that they ought to be talking about.

In EVE Online things will probably be somewhat quiet.  The war in the north is over for now and we have committed to taking a month off.

There is also EVE Vegas coming up mid-month.  I will be attending again.  I will actually be speaking.  But don’t worry, I am only talking about blogging, so you won’t be missing anything if you’re not there.

The Lesson of Club Penguin Island

If you assume your customers are loyal to your product and choose to test this you may be disappointed.

Back in the early 2000s the cable company sent me a letter.

When we moved into our house it had the old dual-coax A/B cable connection that had be installed back in the 70s.  It was a bit annoying, but HD wasn’t a thing for TVs yet so it didn’t really matter.  The TV worked, I had our ReplayTV DVR running with it just fine, I didn’t really think about it much.

The letter said that they would no longer be supporting the old network and we needed to call them in order to arrange new service.

Now I had to think about our TV service.  So I went out and compared deals and ended up calling DirecTV to get their package that included the receiver with Tivo integrated. (Based upon the recommendation of a friend who worked at ReplayTV no less.)

When I had that set I called up the cable company to cancel my service.  The agent wanted to know why I was cancelling and I explained that their letter said I couldn’t keep my current service so I went shopping for a replacement.  The agent said that I actually had almost five years until my current service would be discontinued, something not mentioned in the letter.  I told the agent that it was too late, I already had the new service installed.  And that was that.

Most people are happy enough with what they have in a lot of areas of their life.  But if you make them focus on a particular area, especially if you threaten to take away their happy situation, they may decide that there are better options out there.

And so it went with Club Pengiun Island.

Penguins go mobile

Back in March of last year Disney closed down the long-running web MMO Club Penguin, a game that had over 200 million registered users over the course of its twelve years online.  It was past its prime for sure, and was looking a little long in the tooth, but it had an audience that was still committed to it and could have carried on for years based on the groundwork that had been laid.

But for Disney, MMOs and web games were apparently yesterday’s news.  Mobile games were the new frontier.  And so they developed Club Penguin Life, a mobile game using the Club Penguin IP.

And, to be sure that it was a success, Disney closed Club Penguin the day before Club Penguin Island launched.

This actually worked out worse than I predicted.  I thought Disney had enough muscled to force Club Penguin Island to be a success.  I was wrong.

Of course the Club Penguin players were angry and in no mood to favor Disney with their presence.  Plus, the new game was on a different platform, so if you were playing on the PC you were probably more likely to just move to another PC game.

Reports said the game wasn’t ready for prime time.  Club Penguin Island had server issues and a host of bugs to address over time.  Meanwhile, even those fans of the old game who were willing to come over found Club Penguin Island unable to compare to the original.  An MMO that has been able to grow for a dozen years has more content than you can reproduce on a new platform in a short time.

Things were off to a rocky enough start that by the eight month mark Disney had a beta out for a PC version of the game, no doubt in hope of finding some of the users they lost when they skipped platforms.

Basically Disney betrayed their installed base, switched platforms, and offered an inferior experience, but thought it would all work out just fine.

It did not and yesterday the company officially announced that Club Penguin Island would be shutting down.  Text of the announcement quoted for posterity:

To our Club Penguin Fans and Family:

There’s no easy way to say this but after 13 incredible years, Club Penguin will be sunsetting at the end of this year. We’ll be providing players with all the necessary information in the coming weeks via in-game messages and updates here on Island News.

Thanks to you, Club Penguin has been more than a game; it’s been a global community where you have gathered to socialize and express yourselves. In a time when games come and go within months, it was one of the longest-running kids’ games of all time and at its height, had over 200 million accounts. Players from countries around the world showed their commitment to the game by adopting 25 million Puffles and creating over 200,000 videos.

When we replaced the original Club Penguin game a year and a half ago, we always strived to make Club Penguin Island the best mobile successor to the original game. From day one of development, Club Penguin Island has been a true passion project for everyone here at Disney but, the time has come for the party to end.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued dedication to the Club Penguin and Club Penguin Island games and for being a member of our family. We are so grateful to have shared in this journey with you. We’re excited to bring you more new experiences around all of Disney’s beloved characters and stories across all platforms.

Please look out for more information soon and as always, waddle on.

– Club Penguin Team

I find that message to be somewhat disingenuous as for a lot of Club Penguin fans, the actual game was shut down back in March of 2017 and the stats they are quoting are heavily weighted towards it.

Still, I am sure that the fans of Club Penguin Island will be disappointed all the same.  And those working on the game found themselves facing unemployment as well.

The actual shut down date hasn’t been announced, but I imagine Club Penguin Island won’t be around to ring in the new year.

Coverage:

And What of the EVE Online Store?

Since the announcement of the acquisition of CCP by Black Desert Online creator Pearl Abyss a few weeks back there has been a stream of speculation as to what this will mean for EVE Online, good or bad.

The two logos together in space

There has been more than a fair share of panic that New Eden is going to become some sort of pay to win hellhole like Black Desert Online with special cash shop ships or gold ammo or whatever.  I am dubious that Pearl Abyss would jump right on that, and not just because CCP spent most of their AMA forum thread repeating that there were no drastic changes planned.  It would simply be dumb to to make that sort of changes to the game as it would be a quick way to kill it.  Unless CCP has something else worth $425 million, that would be a very bad way to treat their investment.

But if the panic over the downside has been overstated, it is in part because the possible upside of the acquisition lacks a direct, tangible win.  How will things be better if CCP’s primary message is that things are not changing?

My own take has been that the acquisition should/could allow CCP to focus more on EVE Online, the most valuable asset the company owns.  Without having to worry about making that next product they won’t have to keep diverting time and resources into what has largely been a waste of money sine they bought White Wolf back in 2006.

Being part of Pearl Abyss puts CCP in an ecosystem where EVE Online doesn’t have to pay all the bills and gives them the support to develop the IP of New Eden for other games.  Players win by virtue of EVE Online getting more of CCP’s attention.

Again, while positive sounding, that is a pretty nebulous stance.

Others have take this a step further and started pointing at things on which they feel CCP ought to focus.  More than 15 years in EVE Online is a big game with a lot of neglected features.

Over at Massively OP their EVE Evolved column decided to pick a couple of items that CCP ought to work on and I couldn’t disagree more with the proposed focus, and all the more so because the article’s alleged point is monetization.  Neither ideas is a money maker.

One was walking in stations, a feature I’ve beaten to death here.  The problem the feature has now is the same problem it has always had, which is that if you bring in avatars you then have to create game play to justify them.  Otherwise it is just a huge waste of time and money that would cost much more than even the most optimistic revenue estimates you could make while keeping a straight face.  If you’re going to build what would essentially be a new game you might as well go all out and actually build a new game rather than trying to stick it in New Eden.  Fortunately CCP has learned its lesson on that and said in that AMA that walking in stations was not going to return.

Me, only you can’t change my mind

The other was a bit more subtle, an idea that superficially seems to have merit, but which falls apart if explored.  That is improving or expanding the EVE Online store.  I’m not talking about the in-game store, but the web storefront that sells real world items.

The EVE Online store has long been a bone of contention and has gone through many iterations over the years, with significant gaps where there wasn’t a store at all.  But the long running consistent complaint has been pretty simple; why the hell can’t I buy some decent EVE Online merchandise?

Right now it is a semi-generic store, but you can at least buy a black EVE Online logo T-shirt or hoodie or a coffee mug along with a few other items.

The Current EVE Gear Shop

But the article over at Massively envisions a grand expansion.  It calls for better apparel, posters, ship models, and whatever.  It is a refrain we have heard over the years.  We want to buy cool stuff about EVE Online.

Except, not really.

Sure, our theoretical selves, enthusiastic about the game, are keen to throw money at EVE Online stuff.  But the real, practical, looking at the prices and having to open the wallet and get out the credit card selves?  Not so much.  Yes, there is always somebody willing to shell out for a thousand dollar floating Nyx model, but there aren’t enough people for CCP to ramp up production and keep some in stock to ship.  Those battleship models CCP made back in the day?

Everybody loved them, but not many people loved them enough to drop $125 on them.  I am pretty sure CCP took a bath on those and I seem to recall them giving them away for various events down the road. (Though now I see a few on eBay for $300 each, so maybe I should have invested.)

The reality is that for a company the size of CCP, the gear store is marketing and not a business.  I cringe every time I hear somebody say, “CCP could make so much money if they only sold…” about the online store.  No, they won’t make money.  They’ll be lucky if they break even.  The quantities are simply too small relative to the prices we’re willing to pay.

Yes, if you’re Blizzard or Riot or even Valve and have a super popular game companies like Jinx will pay you for the license to print shirts and such.  The market for some properties is big enough that third parties can pay to use the IP, do the work, and make money at it.

But EVE Online is not one of those properties.  Jinx worked with CCP in 2009, back when EVE Online was still a bit of a rising star, then declined to renew after 2011.  When pros like Jinx drop you, that is a pretty big hint that you aren’t in a league to make money on T-shirts with your IP.

I realize that this is mostly opinion on my part, but I think it is opinion backed up by some reasonable evidence.  And I’ll throw some more on top of that.

Find a game of comparable size/player base/popularity as EVE Online that has a better online merchandise store.

As I said, the big dogs are covered.  Blizzard licenses out to Jinx and others, while Riot and Valve have their own store.  But down at the CCP level things get kind of thin.

SOE used to have a store with some dubious merch.

It’s like they never saw Beavis & Butt-head

But since the dawn of the Daybreak era that has all fallen by the wayside.

Back about when EVE Online was working with Jinx Turbine managed to get a LOTRO coffee mug and mouse pad in the WB online store, but that seemed to be about their peak.

And then… hrmm… in digging around, that was about all I could find.  Barring unlicensed third parties at places like Red Bubble, there isn’t a lot of merch available from game companies like CCP.  We might, in this as in many things, be holding CCP to an unreasonable standard when we’re actually better off than other games.

Anyway, if you have any evidence to the contrary I’d be glad to hear it, but I think we might have the best EVE Online store we’re likely to get… and it is never going to be a profit center for CCP.

SuperData Shows WoW Way Up, League of Legends Down

As September winds to a close SuperData Research has released their digital revenue numbers for August, and the month saw quite a shake up in the status quo.

SuperData Research Top 10 – August 2018

This is only the third time since SuperData started publishing this set of monthly charts that League of Legends has not held the top spot in the PC column and it is the only time it has been lower than second place.

Last month Dungeon Fighter Online took the first place position from LoL.  Not only did DFO hold that spot, but now World of Warcraft has come in and pushed LoL down another notch.

Certainly, with the launch of the Battle for Azeroth expansion in August, it was expected that WoW would surge as last minute buyers grabbed the new content and resubscribed.  But passing LoL is another thing, and it certainly brings into question the “WoW is dead” crowd.

Of course, I do wonder how much this has to do with Riot Games, the studio responsible for LoL, and the toxic workplace revelations that have been showing up in the press, starting with the expose at KotakuLoL has long had a reputation for its horrible player base, but it appears that this is something of a reflection of how the company is run.  As noted below, LoL is not having a good performing year and maybe its reign at the top of the chart is over.

Then there was Monster Hunter: World which jumped onto the chart in the fourth place position, pushing Crossfire and Fantasy Westward Journey II, long staples of the top of the chart, down to fifth and sixth spots respectively.

All of that put the battle royale games, Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds down to seventh and eight positions.

Also popping up onto the chart was Hearthstone, which managed a ninth place entry, leaving the bottom of the stack to World of Tanks, which at least held on to its long streak onto the chart even if it dropped a couple spots.

So this is why I like to track this chart every month.  An individual month is cool but not all that informative.  Trends over time though, reaction to events and launches and that sort of thing, that is the interesting bit for me.  Even if you question SuperData’s data gathering techniques, even flawed data, gathered consistently over time, has value.

On the console chart Fortnite held on to the first spot for another month and FIFA 18 returned in second and Grand Theft Auto V, long a staple of the console chart, stayed in third.

Madden 19 debuted strong on the console chart while Overwatch returned to the chart, ringing in at eighth place, giving Blizzard another title on the overall report.

And on the mobile chart the rankings was almost identical with the July chart, with Pokemon Go holding on to third.  The only change was Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga which swapped positions, putting them at ninth and tenth respectively.

So kind an interesting chart at the PC end, but not much change on consoles and almost no change for the mobile end.  It will be interesting to see if Blizz’s mount bribe will keep WoW high in the ranks for September and then if it will collapse because the core audience won’t have to pay again until March.

Supplementary data with the chart:

  • Madden 19 sets new franchise launch record. We estimate Madden 19 sold 664K digital units on console. This easily made it the best ever launch month for the franchise, though sales benefited from an earlier release date this year.
  • League of Legends heads towards its worst performing year since 2014. League of Legends revenue is down 21% compared to the same time period in 2017.
  • Blizzard hits a home run with World of Warcraft expansion. World of Warcraft made $161M in August following the release of its “Battle of Azeroth” expansion, not including all pre-sales in the months leading up to launch. Subscribers for WoW West hit its highest point since 2014.
  • Monster Hunter World sells 2M units on PC. Capcom’s action game had a successful launch on console earlier this year, and the PC version looks to be doing even better. Monster Hunter World took first place in this month’s top grossing Premium PC rankings, knocking PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds down to second.

WoW Classic Coming to Your Home for BlizzCon

I had just started thinking about my wish list for this year’s BlizzCon.  With the event coming November 2-3 this year, we’re still more than a month away, but it is never too early to start speculating as to what might find its way to the main stage.  Diablo IV maybe?

And then earlier today Blizzard announced that you would be able to try out a demo of WoW Classic at BlizzCon… even at home, if you bought the Virtual Ticket.

Classic is as classic does

The details, such that there are:

Every BlizzCon, we look for opportunities to bring new aspects of the experience to our community around the world. This year, we’re excited to announce that for the first time ever, BlizzCon Virtual Ticket holders will join BlizzCon attendees as the first people to play the World of Warcraft Classicdemo we’re creating for BlizzCon at home.

Shortly after the BlizzCon opening ceremony on November 2 (on or around 1pm PDT), players will be able to download the same in-development BlizzCon WoW Classic Demo that will be playable on the show floor. Players will have a chance to explore and enjoy a limited questing experience through a pair of classic early-level zones—one Horde and one Alliance—and experience firsthand our recreation of the original Azeroth.

Once the demo is live, you’ll be able to play until 10am PST on November 8, giving BlizzCon attendees a chance to check it out again once they get back home.

While I was very likely to have gone with the Virtual Ticket again, this pretty much seals the deal.  I expected that WoW Classic would be center stage this year, but this goes way beyond what I thought might come to pass.  I expect that this will make the Virtual Ticket a big deal for a lot of people.  Having a week over which to explore what they have done so far will be a big temptation.

And then we can spend the next few months debating and complaining about the things Blizzard decided to include and decided to omit from the Vanilla WoW experience.

Anyway, you can count on me giving it a try.  The question is, will I need to buy a Virtual Ticket for my daughter as well now?

Addendum:

Also, a shout-out to Polygon who put Arthas in their tweet about this.  Arthas, while classic in his own right, is in Wrath of the Lich King and not WoW Classic.

That’s some tip-top research there

 

Fall Movie League – Fahrenheit Nun Won One

Week three of our Fall Fantasy Movie League is in the books and it was a strange week indeed.

Well, the main bit of strangeness was that I was actually correct in my logic when it came to picking my anchor this week.  The Nun looked to have the best chance to out-perform its pricing given how big of a drop that pricing seemed to anticipate relative to other returning titles.  The pricing looked like this for week three.

The House with a Clock   $476
The Predator             $216
A Simple Favor           $202
The Nun                  $173
Life Itself              $143
Crazy Rich Asians        $127
Fahrenheit 11/9          $115
White Boy Rick           $98
Peppermint               $75
Assassination Nation     $69
The Meg                  $49
Searching                $41
Christopher Robin        $25
Mission: Impossible      $25
Unbroken 2               $24

Granted, I had no idea how The House with a Clock was going to do.  Screen Junkies, in their review, liked the movie a lot but seemed to confirm my impression that the word was out as far and wide as it could have been, plus they seemed to think that the trailer did not do the film justice.  Since I believe everything Roth Cornet and Dan Murrell tell me when it comes to movies, that was enough to steer me clear of Jack Black as an anchor this week.

I was leery of The Predator, after its first week out and rightfully as it came to pass.  While it was priced at second place it ended up coming in fourth behind A Simple Favor and The Nun.

I was likewise suspicious of Life Itself, an release from Amazon Studios.  Again, a good call as it really failed to get anywhere close to the numbers it needed to justify its price.

I suppose CRA was an anchor option, but I never really considered it.

And then there was the momentary flirtation with Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 11/9, where I was telling myself it “only” had to exceed projections by 50% to be the clear choice.  I reigned myself in on that one pretty quickly and, as it turned out, the film barely made two thirds of its $5 million projected weekend box office.

Which left me with A Simple Favor and The Nun.  As I said, I was tempted to re-run week two’s perfect pick and anchor on A Simple Favor filled in with The Meg. But FML tends to punish perfect pick films with more aggressive pricing the following week, so I ended up with The Nun.

For the Monday Hot Takes league I went with 5x The Nun, 1x Peppermint, 2x Mission: Impossible.

As the week went along and I thought about it more, I changed my lineup to 5x The Nun, 2x The Meg, 1x Mission: Impossible.

Of course, as happened the previous week, my Monday picks did better than my late picks.  Not a ton better, but some.  Nobody got the perfect pick however, which ended up being 5x The Nun, 1x The Meg, 2x Searching.

That left the top ten scores for the week looking like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $65,521,864
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $54,176,991
  3. Too Orangey For Crows – $50,622,934
  4. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $49,955,967
  5. I HAS BAD TASTE – $49,955,967
  6. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $47,460,646
  7. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $47,319,063
  8. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $42,459,713
  9. grannanj’s Cineplex – $39,553,652
  10. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $37,765,801

Being the only one who went with 5x The Nun as an anchor put me ahead of the pack.

Corr and Bhagpuss followed up anchoring on The House with a Clock, after which the pack was a mix of anchors on The Predator or The House with a Clock.

That left the overall season box office scores as:

  1. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $205,542,805
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $201,734,162
  3. Too Orangey For Crows – $200,501,899
  4. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $192,664,970
  5. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $192,210,704
  6. Goat Water Picture Palace – $190,999,079
  7. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $178,132,786
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $177,090,641
  9. I HAS BAD TASTE – $174,776,578
  10. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $173,141,080

My performance was enough to pop me up into first place for the overall seasonal score, though my lead is fairly thin.  Corr did well enough to just skirt past Bhagpuss, taking second place.

The big hits went to Goat and Po, both of who made large bets on Fahrenheit 11/9 which, as I said, failed to perform.  That dropped Goat from first to sixth and Po from fourth to seventh place.

The alternate scoring count however is starting to diverge, looking like this at the end of week three:

  1. Too Orangey For Crows – 24
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – 21
  3. Goat Water Picture Palace – 18
  4. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 15
  5. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 15
  6. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 13
  7. I HAS BAD TASTE – 13
  8. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 10
  9. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 9
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 8
  11. Joanie’s Joint – 8

Again, I have more than ten on the list because tenth spot was a tie.  There are actually three ties currently in the top 11, which I have sorted using the season box office total as the tie breaker.

While the season box office rankings swung wildly for a couple of us, the alternate scoring was less volatile as the weight of the win doesn’t matter, only the ranking for the week.  Bhagpuss is showing himself as the most consistent contestant so far, kicking him up into first place despite not having won a week yet.  The first three weekly winners are all behind him, with Goat only dropping to third place, having missed the cut for any points.

So there we go.  Now on to week four which has the following options:

Night School            $616
Smallfoot               $363
The House with a Clock  $318
A Simple Favor          $148
Hellfest                $128
The Nun                 $102
Crazy Rich Asians       $85
The Predator            $83
White Boy Rick          $55
Peppermint              $41
Little Women            $33
Fahrenheit 11/9         $30
Searching               $25
The Meg                 $24
Life Itself             $20

Leaving the list this week are Christopher Robin, Mission: Impossible, Unbroken 2, and the Amazon Studios one week wonder Assassination Nation.

New to the options this week are Night School, Smallfoot, Hellfest, and Little Women.

Night School is a Kevin Hart vehicle.  You either like his schtick or you don’t, but it doesn’t really change from movie to movie.  The current forecast has this somewhere past $30 million, and it is probably good for it.  Unless something is drastically wrong Kevin Hart is a pretty reliable draw.

Smallfoot is this week’s kids movie, and the title made me think of The Land Before Time series, which my daughter watched when she was little. (Littlefoot, Smallfoot, whatever.  I can also still sing the Wonder Pets theme song.)  Instead it features a Yeti who, I guess, has small feet, thus debunking the “bigfoot” nickname.  The studio was projecting it in the $22 million to $27 million range which, if true, make this an obvious price per screen winner over Night School, which would have to get to $40 million to complete.  Likewise, The House with a Clock looks way over-priced if Smallfoot is good for that range.  So maybe Smallfoot isn’t?

Hellfest is a Halloween night horror flick getting on the seasonal action a little early.  Long range tracking on it has been down and the floor for it seems to be at about $6 million now.

And then there is Little Women, which breaks the pattern this week, being a four syllable title in a list of otherwise two syllable entries.  It makes me wonder how much title length affects box office.  Anyway, enough time has gone by since the last movie based on the work by Louisa May Alcott that we needed a new one it seems.  Every generation needs their own version.  There is no long range forecast on this, but pricing makes this a filler choice in maybe the $2 million range.  Could be a wild card.

With all of that, my Monday Hot Takes league pick was 6x A Simple Favor, 1x CRA, and 1x Searching.  We’ll see if I change up for the worse again this week.  I likely will as, after that league locked I realized that A Simple Favor had to drop less than 35% to be worth it as an anchor.

The World of Warcraft Diary Kickstarter Clears Nearly $600K

In something of an amazing turn around, or a demonstration of how well things can go when you do it right, the second Kickstarter campaign for the World of Warcraft Diary closed up earlier today having brought in $598,999 from 8,379 backers.

The book to come

Considering the ask for the campaign was a modest $10,000, that is quite a feat.

In fact, the second campaign was almost the opposite of the first one back in March, which asked for $400,000 and couldn’t even get to $10,000.  Instead the new campaign reached 10x its goal in the first 24 hours and averaged over $43,000 a day over the course of the campaign.

That is a wild success by any measure and along the way The World of Warcraft Diary became the highest funded non-fiction book on Kickstarter.

This is an example of getting everything right after having done many things wrong (no advance notices of the campaign, no press build-up, no kind words/backing from Blizzard, asking for too much money, and not having a plan for updates).

The campaign also again shows that Kickstarter is better for some things, discreet projects like books or other art, and less good for more complicated things like video games, especially online massively multiplayer video games and Minecraft servers.

The promised date for delivery for the book is December 2018, so in theory I might get my copy by Christmas.  Yet I suspect it will be late.  Not every project I have backed has been long delayed, but I think the closest any project has come was to show up a month late.  It will be something for me to read early in the new year I hope.