Tag Archives: GameStop

The Friday Bullet Point is GameStop

January is almost in the rear view mirror and it has already been a strange year.  I figured it was about time for me to grab some smaller items from the month and do a Friday bullet points post.  Obviously, GameStop was the top item for me.  But, after that, everything else sort of faded into insignificance.

  • The Revenge of GameStop

A year ago, in my predictions for 2020, I said that GameStop was headed for bankruptcy.  That seemed like a gimme prediction given the company’s situation.  But then came the pandemic and we all needed video games and the company revived.

Still, things were not looking great for storefront video game sales.  The company’s stock price (ticker: GME) was around $4.00 a share a year ago and had buoyed up close to $20 thanks to holiday sales.  And then, earlier this week it was past $450 a share.

Melvin Capital Management (MCM) decided to short the stock… basically a bet that the price would go down… when it was sitting in the high teens, which the Reddit group Wall Street Bets decided to go all in the other way, driving the price up to punish MCM, costing them a lot of money as they had to cover their position.

As if many were not convinced already that the stock market has simply become a casino for the wealthy, Robinhood, E*Trade, and TD Ameritrade, all of which cater to small investors, stopped allowing their users to trade GameStop (along with AMC, BlackBerry, Nokia, and a few others which was also seeing unexpected movement).  Robinhood denied it was a political move, claiming problems with margin exposure and reconciliation, and they are kind of a dicey edge case in the market, being already under investigation by the SEC and some states.

But TD Ameritrade E*Trade are not.  They’re really in the Wall Street club first, and no doubt this move was to defend the extremely wealthy… which includes themselves… as much as anything.  The casino gets upset if the suckers start costing them too much money and start changing the rules.  And there have already been calls for the SEC to control this sort of outsider behavior so that the peasants can’t rise up again.  Populist politicians on both sides of the divide are already looking to make hay out of this and there may be congressional hearings… because political donations from Wall Street are all important.

As a rule, small investors are only safe… or not at complete risk… investing in index funds, usually through their 401k retirement program, because Wall Street can charge a recurring maintenance fee and then use the money to prop up the stocks that benefit them the most.  The little guy is allowed to benefit, but only if Wall Street can make its money first.

And people may be cheering that MCM lost a bunch of money on this, but other big firms either sold off or got in with their shorts when the price was high and made money on the backs of the Redditors.  Meanwhile, individuals who saw GME prices taking off and jumped in later and who didn’t sell before the dive will lose out.  As always, Wall Street wins in the end and the small investors mostly lose.

In the end, none of this helps GameStop  the company even one iota. (Though I wouldn’t be surprised to find some senior execs and board members sold off part of their positions.)  The stock price only matters when the company offers new shares to the public.  This was all people trading shares the company had already sold, so the price… $4.00 or $400… doesn’t mean much to their daily operations.  The company is still in trouble.  This is all people trying to make money from nothing but perception… it is straight up gambling.

This sort of thing happens every so often.  The NPR podcast Planet Money did a story earlier in the year about Hertz Car Rentals when declared bankruptcy earlier this year… due to the fact that they had no cash reserves to speak of because they have spending all their money on stock buy backs which are what most benefit the CEO, board of directors, and Wall Street in the short term, so were completely unprepared for the pandemic downturn… and how their stock suddenly shot up because people were playing the market and wanted to make a quick buck.  The GameStop thing was only news because Wall Street lost control of the situation for a brief moment.

And yes, I am a bit cynical about Wall Street after watching them wreck the economy with sub-prime mortgages fifteen years back only to pay no price and get handed billions of dollars in quantitative easing so they could pay themselves bonuses while many suffered.

After the great depression of the 30s a lot of regulations were put in place to keep a titanic event like that from happening again.  For a brief time in history the stock market was what my finance professor described back in college, a way for company to raise money in order to expand or invest in the business.  That has long since been chipped away and we’re not so far from the days of Joseph Kennedy bilking small time investors.

Anyway, this seemed like something worth noting, even if it is only tangentially gaming related.  I’ll be interested to see where things stand in a year when I review this post.

For those interested in more details about GameStop:

 

Friday Bullet Points Gaze into the Future

Another Friday where I have a few items that I could probably force into full length posts, but I just don’t have the stamina to get there.  So I will pack them into one post.

Truth in Advertising?

There was a recent Star Citizen weekly update from RSI that seemed to unintentionally confirmed my suspicions.

It barely feels like it has been 25 years

The update itself was a lore item about some in-game entity celebrating its 50th anniversary, but the first glace at the top of the message made me wonder if they were admitting it was going to take 50 years to get where they plan to go.

Apple and OpenGL

One tidbit that came up at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference was the plan to deprecate OpenGL support with the Mojave release of the MacOS and in iOS 12.  This led to a panic about there being no more video games on the Mac.

I haven’t been to a WWDC since 1995…

OpenGL has been around for a long time and, among other things, its openess helped nVidia get in and dethrone 3dfx Interactive and their proprietary Glide API back in the day.  And deprecate doesn’t mean pulling it out wholesale.  It will still be there for a couple of years.  But if you find a problem or need an update, Apple isn’t going to help you.

Still, Apple will drop it eventually.  Past history says that will probably get announced in 2020 or so.  Apple would like you to use their Metal interface instead, and some companies have support for that on the way.  You can use Metal with World of Warcraft currently if your hardware and OS are current. (And probably should use it, as it fixes a crashing issue with WoW.)  But if you are a serious PC gamer you probably have a Windows partition on you Mac, if not a Windows machine already.

Blizzard and Diablo IV

It was noted that Blizzard had posted a job listing looking for a dungeon artist for an as yet unannounced Diablo project.  This led to a hysteria of complaints and the projection of personal feelings onto the idea.  Just Google “diablo iv” and look at the headlines. (And yes, I am going to call it Diablo IV at this point.)  Everything from “when are we going to get it?” to “Oh lord, no!” pops up.  So I figured I ought to note this as the week the controversy began.  We know nothing so far, but some people are already angry.

I for one welcome our new demonic overlords.

Despite the one-two punch of the auction house and the horrible itemization (the latter which I remain convinced was there to drive you to the auction house), Blizzard eventually got the game in order by killing the auction house and fixing itemization, making Diablo III a pretty decent game.  The “always online” bit is still annoying, but Blizz is hardly alone in demanding that.  And they have continued to tend the now six year old game, which is more than they ever did for Diablo II.  By any practical measure the game is a success and warrants a sequel. (It sold lots of copies on the PC and consoles.)

Hopefully Blizzard will run with what they have learned and stick with the roots of Diablo as the foundation for the next game rather than, say, making it a Battle Royale title or something.

Minecraft Subnautica

On a closer horizon, the Minecraft Java Edition 1.13 release, the Aquatic Update, looks to be slowly making its way to us.

Under the sea…

The update entered pre-release at the start of the week, whatever that means, so I think we should be getting the official release soon.  I have actually been avoiding our Minecraft server, knowing that I’ll want to go play when this hits.

Free Games for Amazon Prime Subscribers

In yet another benefit for Amazon Prime subscribers, you can now download any of five free games before the end of June.

Amazon Prime benefits

The games are Tumblestone, Treadnauts, Strafe, Banner Saga, and Banner Saga 2.  You need to have the Twitch client to download them (the Twitch client is what the old Curse client became when Amazon bought Curse… and Twitch) and you need to have linked your Twitch account to your Amazon account.  This sounds like a recurring deal, so there will likely be more games in the future as the Amazon Prime largess train continues on.

As an aside, the first version of this Amazon post I saw said it was six games.

Is it five or six?

However the image only shows five games and I didn’t click on the link until later, so I don’t know if there was a sixth game at one point, if a sixth game was planned but was removed and the word didn’t get out, or if it was always five games and somebody just messed up.  (h/t to Corr who first linked this to me and who had that second image handy.)

Pokemon Zygarde Download Event

Despite the impending end of Pokemon on the Nintendo 2DS/3DS, download events continue for the current core RPG titles.  During the month of June in the US you can go to your local GameStop for a download code for a shiny Zygarde.

Zygarde

This event is only for Pokemon Sun & Moon and Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon.  Instructions for claiming the legendary Pokemon are available at the Pokemon site.

Pokemon Dialga and Palkia GameStop Download Event

It being an even numbered year… or such is my theory… Nintendo has again decided to give Pokemon players a chance to get their hands on an array of otherwise mildly difficult to obtain legendary Pokemon.

The first up are from the Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, & Platinum generation, Palkia and Dialga.

Legendaries of the DS era

To obtain one or both of this pair you must trundle on down to your local GameStop to pick up a code to redeem with your game.

The code requires you to own a copy of Pokemon Sun, Moon, UltraSun, or UltraMoon, and the legendary you get depends on which copy of the game you have.  Those with Pokemon Sun or UltraSun get Palkia while those with Pokemon Moon or UltraMoon get Dialga.

But the divide doesn’t end there.  Those with Pokemon Sun or Moon get a level 60 version of their respective legendary with one set of moves, while those with Pokemon UltraSun or UltraMoon get a level 100 version of their legendary with a different set of moves and a held item.

Look, here is the chart if you want the details.

You can click on this to see it larger…

So the true OCD Pokemon fan has to have all four games… but of course they already do… in order to obtain all four legendary variations.

I will likely just get a code for my copy of Pokemon UltraMoon… mostly because through my own bit of obsessive “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” collecting, I already have the duo sitting in Pokemon Bank.  But I wouldn’t say no to another one.

Anyway, all of this, including the steps on how to redeem your code once you obtain it from GameStop, are documented over on the Pokemon web site.

There is a time constraint.  The codes will only be available during February and must be redeemed by May 28, 2018.

Happy collecting!

Addendum: I actually picked up a card after writing this.

The Dialga and Palkia card

The cards are much bigger than the last GameStop distro, being about 4x the side by my estimation.

The reverse side of the card

The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with a Darkrai Event and More

The celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokemon continues.  This month’s legendary Pokemon is Darkrai, the nightmarish legendary Pokemon that first showed up as a special download during the Pokemon Diamond & Pearl era.

Darkrai brings nightmares

Darkrai brings nightmares

This month though the Pokemon 20th Anniversary event requires another visit to GameStop to pick up a card with a code to claim Darkrai.  I went by GameStop already with my daughter and a friend in tow to grab a couple cards.

Darkrai GameStop Card

Darkrai GameStop Card

While there were three of us standing there when I asked about the cards, the clerk only handed me two.  I suspect he thought I was asking for the kids rather than for myself primarily.

As before, the code is only good for Pokemon X & Y or Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire on the Nintendo 3DS or 3DS XL.  Other Darkrai related items are also available in May.

That is the main event for May, but it is not the only Pokemon available.

There will also be three, one week only direct download events this month featuring Pokemon from Pokemon X & Y.  The Pokemon available are:

  • May 2–8: Zygarde
May 2-8 level 100 download

May 2-8 Level 100 Download

  • May 11–17: Shiny Xerneas
May 11-17 Level 100 Download

May 11-17 Level 100 Download

  • May 20–26: Shiny Yveltal
May 20-26 Level 100 Download

May 20-26 Level 100 Download

Xerneas and Yveltal are the X and Y styled Pokemon from which the Pokemon X & Y entries in the franchise derive their name.  Zydarde is the Z, who might have gotten his own follow up title if Nintendo and GameFreak had been on their old plan of putting out an interim title between (e.g. Pokemon Emerald or Pokemon Platinum) major releases in the series.

And, to wrap up the month, if you signed up for the Pokemon Trainer Club newsletter, as I mentioned in last month’s update, you would have three codes in your email inbox by now to download the legendary trio of Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres.

May is for rare flying Pokemon

May is for “Many” Pokemon

So if you are on the ball and serious about this sort of thing, you could be adding up to seven legendary Pokemon to your collection this month.  And the events will carry on through the remainder of 2016:

  • June – Manaphy (Nintendo Network)
  • July – Shaymin (Nintendo Network)
  • August – Arceus (GameStop)
  • September – Victini (Nintendo Network)
  • October – Keldeo (Nintendo Network)
  • November – Genesect (GameStop)
  • December – Meloetta (Nintendo Network)

The events will culminate in the release of the next entry in the Pokemon RPG series, Pokemon Sun & Moon.

 

Download Mythical Celebi at GameStop

Nintendo is running their Pokemon Black and White Tour currently, and one of the attractions is the ability to download a special Pokemon to your copy of Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, or SoulSilver, the Mythical Celebi… who I guess isn’t all that much of a myth if you can just download it.

Mythical Celebi

However, the Pokemon Black & White Tour is only visiting a few cities over the next few weeks.  So that Pokemon fans not near those locations won’t miss out on everything, Pokemon.com has announced that from February 21st through March 6th of this year, GameStop will be hosting the same Celebi download event that is accompanying the tour at all of their US locations.

Download Celebi – Meet Zorua

Downloading Celebi and transferring it to Pokemon Black & White will allow you to meet (and capture) the Pokemon Zorua.  That Pokemon is otherwise unavailable in the game.

This is an in-store only event.  You must got to a US GameStop store during the dates listed to be able to download these Pokemon.

However, since it is an in-store event, you will be able to download these Pokemon to Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold and SoulSilver.

As usual, all of the details are available at Pokemon.com.

The Last Weekend for the Shiny Pokemon Download at GameStop

The last of the shiny Pokemon download events, part of the build up to Pokemon Black and White, ends this weekend at GameStop.

The final shiny Pokemon, Suicune, is available to download through this coming Sunday, February 6th.

You appear to need all three shiny Pokemon for Pokemon Black and White.  When you transfer them to Pokemon Black or White you will unlock the ability to catch the new Pokemon Zoroark.  Zoroark will otherwise not be obtainable in the game.

And, while you are out on your download mission, you might as well stop by your local Toys R Us to download Ash’s Pikachu.  The download event for Ash’s Pikachu runs until February 13th.

Go Pikachu!

That will then be followed in some areas by the Pokemon tour.

And then, finally, Pokemon Black and White will ship on March 6th, at which point we can actually sit down and play the game!

Entei Download This Week at GameStop

I almost forgot that this week is the second of the three Shiny Pokemon download events at GameStop.

This week, through this coming Sunday the 23rd, the Pokemon to be downloaded is Entei.

Shiny Entei

You need these Pokemon for Pokemon Black and White.  When you transfer them to Pokemon Black or White you will unlock the ability to catch the new Pokemon Zoroark.  Zoroark will otherwise not be obtainable in the game.

It sounds like you will need all three for the unlock, so head to GameStop before this coming Monday for the download.

The final download event will follow in two week.

  • Suicune – January 31st through February 6th

That fill then be followed in some areas by the Pokemon tour.

And then, finally, Pokemon Black and White will ship on March 6th.

Shiny Pokemon Events Coming to GameStop in January

This looks to be the first event in the build up to the release of Pokemon Black and White.

Pokemon.com has announced that GameStop will be hosting three Pokemon download events in January and early February.

The events will be:

  • Raikou – January 3rd through January 9th
  • Entei – January 17th through January 23rd
  • Suicune – January 31st through February 6th

These Pokemon will be special.  Not only will they be special “shiny” versions of the three legendary Pokemon, but when you transfer them to Pokemon Black or White it will unlock the ability to catch the new Pokemon Zoroark.  Zoroark will otherwise not be obtainable in the game.

This is an in-store only event.  You must got to a US GameStop store during the dates listed to be able to download these Pokemon.

However, since it is an in-store event, you will be able to download these Pokemon to Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold and SoulSilver.

Details about the event and how to participate are available at Pokemon.com.

Piracy vs. Opportunity

There are always multiple ways of looking at a problem.  The entertainment software industry sees the used game market, embodied by GameStop, as a bad thing.  As THQ’s Cory Ledesma put it in an interview over at CVG:

We hope people understand that when the game’s bought used we get cheated

And Penny Arcade got in on the act and made the “used games = piracy” association.

I wrote 1,500 words on the subject, but tossed them because in my mind it all comes down to a simple choice.

You can say “screw you” to those who purchase the used version of your game, as THQ did in that interview:

I don’t think we really care whether used game buyers are upset because new game buyers get everything. So if used game buyers are upset they don’t get the online feature set I don’t really have much sympathy for them.

Or you can figure out how you can turn them into a customer.  Here is somebody who has an interest in your game.  Getting that far is most of the battle.

Couldn’t you just tell them that if they want to access the online content they need to enter the code that came with the box, but if that code has been used or missing, they will have to purchase a new code for, say, $10.

$10 seems like enough to keep from rewarding the market from buying used.

Sure, you’d want to tinker a bit with what people got.  Maybe the original code gave you a little something extra, some sign that you didn’t buy used.  But you would want the second-hand purchaser to have access to all the functionality.

But if you work that out, it makes that person your customer in fact.  You made a sale that had very little overhead, the customer having provided his own box, disk, and manual.  It gives your marketing department another name and email address.  And I am going to guess that a certain percentage of such buyers will feel invested enough to buy your next game new.

It isn’t that I think THQ’s point of view is not legitimate.  They do have a point.

But is their response necessarily the best one?

Jirachi Download Event Dates Announced

Pokemon.com played coy for a week, then finally let us know the dates for the last download event before Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver.


You will be able to download Jirachi at GameStop from February 27th through March 13th, just one day off from the timeline I predicted in my previous post on the subject.

As has been the pattern in the past, there is a promise of something special when you transfer Jirachi to HeartGold or Soulsilver as part of the promotional ad copy:

One of the most elusive Pokémon is soon going to be available: receive Jirachi into your Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, or Platinum Version game for a limited time at participating GameStop stores in the United States and Puerto Rico! This Jirachi is very special, with unique moves and items that will make it a must-have for your Pokémon collection! Plus, Jirachi holds a secret that will be revealed when you trade it into a copy of Pokémon HeartGold or SoulSilver Version!

The secret, according to Pokemon.com, is a special Pokewalker route that can only be unlocked by Jirachi.

The Pokewalker is, of course, the pedometer device that was previously announced as part of the Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver package.  We’ll see how much this adds to the game in just over two weeks when HeartGold and SoulSilver are released.