Monthly Archives: March 2013

Updated Gripes

Regarding the death of Google Reader, and Google's actions as a whole, James Whittaker says:

The old Google made a fortune on ads because they had good content. It was like TV used to be: make the best show and you get the most ad revenue from commercials. The new Google seems more focused on the commercials themselves.

Have to thank Daring Fireball for that quote.

 

Regarding the lack of love for Halo 4 from the Halo community, Gamer Suggestions created this infographic based on community responses.

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Reader Rage: When Free Is Not Free

Google announced the death of Google Reader in July of 2013. Google Reader is/was a free RSS news reader that syncs/synced among just about any platform or device. The appropriately named Dave Winer says “Next time, please pay a fair price for the services you depend on.” To all the Dave Winers of the world, I literally paid for Google Reader with my eyeballs. Look at Google's a look at Google's financials. Google's cash cow, as in about 95% of Google's profits, is advertising. Much like broadcast TV, anything Google does to draw eyeballs brings in advertising revenue. Google Reader brought my eyeballs to Google, and my eyeballs were not alone.

Google Reader no more

Google Reader Dies in July

Other companies provide free interent services that are also not “free”. My eyeballs similarly pay for Facebook and news sites. My ears pay for the free versions of Pandora and Spotify. My iPhone, iPad, and Mac purchases pay for iCloud. My Windows and Office licenses pay for Windows Live Mail (formerly Hotmail and rebranded as Outlook.com). All of those free web browsers we love are paid for with out attention. Fremium services make money by encouraging free users to become paid users; I used Evernote for free for about four or five years before becoming a Premium paid member, and for the first time last year, I donated to Wikipedia. These fremium services make money out of their popularity, and using the service makes them popular.

For a giant company such as Google, there is also the notion of goodwill. During a time when everyone was annoyed by Yahoo search and the Ask.com butler, Google came into the search market with a very simple and effective web search page. While the other big internet companies were stumbling all over themselves in sad attempts to provide services, Google giave us Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Docs, the desktop search bar, Picasa, the Chrome web browser, and Google Reader. In return, we gave Google two thirds of the interent search traffic. Axing popular services like Google Reader chips away at the goodwill that Google has built over the past decade and a half. We are already questioning the longevity of Google's other free services. We do not know how much Google Reader cost Google, but certainly Google will pay a cost for killing it.

 

Halo 4 Fans Lament

This is the story of how a game developer alienated one of the most prominent fan bases in gaming history. Halo 4 is one of the most successful games in console history. Almost 8 million people have purchased the game and as of February of 2013, it ranks as 4th for Xbox live activity. For any regular game, these numbers would be outstanding. But this is Halo. The community expects more from 343 than any other new developer. Halo 3 was a cultural and media event like no other. This is Halo 4; it should be even better.

DMR in Halo 4

Halo 4 is dominated by the DMR

Evidence of the short term failure of Halo 4 is easy to find. HaloCharts.com tracks the daily peak population among all the Halo 4 playlists. The trend is both clear and disturbing for fans of Halo. Each week, fewer and fewer players return to Halo 4. The population dropped off a cliff early when Activision released Call of Duty: Black Ops II and never recovered. Low populations beget low populations, and as fewer players enter matchmaking there will be fewer players to support playlist and fewer players to connect with in order to minimize lag. Based on my past experiences, there is no second cliff nor a resurgance. The death of an on-line community is a slow inevitability.

Halo Charts Daily Population

Halo 4 is losing players

Representatives of 343 have been less than apologetic  admitting some mistakes but ultimately concluding that “. . . for a first efferot, it wasn’t half bad.” 343 runs a forum for the Halo community – an outreach program pioneered by 343’s predecessor – and the community is vociferous in its complaints. The number one controversy is weapons balance, particularly the awesome power of two weapons, the Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) and the Bolt Shot. The number two complaint is the quality of the maps. 343 filled all of the maps with bases to support the new Dominion game type and plenty of boulders to provide cover. The Dominion game type is one of the least popular on Halo 4. Comparing the Dominion playlist population to most popular playlist, Big Team Infinity Slayer, shows how bad of a bet this was for 343. All the bases 343 made for the Dominion are but clutter in Big Team games. Even more telling, the most popular map by far is a remake of a 2007 map made for Halo 3 and of course does not support Dominion. Worse, the map making tools that has come with Halo since 2007 have been neutered by 343. There are no easy fixes for the community’s complaints.

tight quarters

Corridors are too tight for tanks

343 has made the situation worse by alienating the community. The first paid map pack released for Halo 4 came a month after release, meaning the maps could have been released with the game and none of the maps reflect concerns by the community. Worse, due to an error on the part of 343, the paid map pack was released for free. 343 responded by concocting a fake “14 day buy and play” promotion and deactivating downloaded content on players consoles. Then in February, 343 required a second map pack purchase to play a popular game type the community had been asking for since Halo 4’s release. The long sought game type is a free-for-all deathmatch that harkens back to the original first person shooters from the early 1990s. Halo 4 is the first game in the Halo series to require additional paid content to play free-for-all deathmatch..

Gauss hog

Too much aim assist on Gauss Hot

The community is dumbfounded by 343’s behavior. Halo 4 is objectively a great game; the Metacritic score is 87% positive. The multiplayer population hit 400,000 players during the first weak of Halo 4’s release. Despite a good number of Die hard fans who refuse to stop playing, this is a war of attrition. 343 has done nothing to acknowledge player concerns or slow the steady drop in mulitplayer population. They are the proverbial Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns. In this analogy, the fiddle is paid map packs and Rome is  one of the most successful media franchises of all time.