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Earnings Calendar Apr & May 2018: Gaming, Media & Tech Companies

Updated: 4/24/2018

 

Hi all. It’s time again for some numbers. Well let’s be honest, for a whole lot of numbers!

 

Our quarterly celebration of numerical values, financial performance and corporate updates is upon us as the latest earnings season is now underway. We will see most gaming, media and technology-related companies report results in the next few weeks then a handful of stragglers later on down the line.

 

To help guide through this particular season, I’ve compiled the usual calendar with dates and investor links in case you want to track these sorts of events individually. I’ll update it above and below at the Google Docs link as the last few come in with official dates.

 

Working Casual Earnings Calendar Apr & May 2018: Gaming, Media & Tech Companies

 

As for notable results to watch this quarter, here are three I’m watching:

 

 

Facebook Inc ($FB): Wednesday, April 25th

 

To say that Facebook and its wunderkind CEO Mark Zuckerberg have been in the spotlight lately is an understatement, with its latest data scandal and questions on the privacy of its user information. Financially, the company beat analyst estimates last quarter and I expect its results will be consistently strong again, so I’m more interested in how Zuckerberg and his fellow executives answer tough questions on its conference call with analysts rather than the underlying figures themselves.

 

 

 

Capcom Co Ltd ($9697): Tuesday, May 8th

 

The Japanese publisher has a huge hit on its hands in January’s Monster Hunter: World, which at last count has moved over 7.5 million units to become the best-selling individual release in the company’s storied history (not accounting for re-releases, re-makes etc). Since this is the first quarter where this massively successful title will contribute to sales, I’m very interested to hear about what kind of growth Capcom sees and also whether its financial outlook changes based on these stellar shipment numbers for its latest flagship title.

 

 

 

Ubisoft Entertainment SA ($UBI): Thursday, May 17th

 

This will be the first time French developer and publisher Ubisoft announces results since news that Vivendi has divested its stake in the company, putting to bed any rumors of a potential acquisition by the French media conglomerate. Separately, as I’ve said before and I’ll say again, Ubi has been doing exceptionally well in terms of both releasing new games and supporting its older titles. It released Far Cry 5 in late March, and at least one analyst estimates it sold 5 million units right after release to become the second largest launch in the firm’s history. Ubisoft also shared that Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Siege has eclipsed 30 million players since it came out nearly 3 years ago, one of many examples of how the firm is generating ongoing revenue to invest in upcoming projects. It’s a good time to be either a fan, or a stakeholder, or both!

 

 

 

Thanks all for visiting, and for checking back in if you bookmark this page for future updates!

 

-Dom

 

 

Sources: Company Investor Relations Websites/Press Releases, MarketWatch, CNBC, NASDAQ, Bloomberg, Boursier.

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Earnings Calendar Jan & Feb 2018: Gaming, Media & Tech Companies

 

Hello friends and folks, it’s that time again!

 

The quarterly earnings season is upon us, during which time public companies bless fellow financial nerds and the investing public with a bevy of numbers, charts, tables plus all manner of corporate terminology to describe how business is faring. Sift through the technical jargon and biz-speak and I guarantee there’s interesting information to be gathered and crucial indicators that reveal a company’s health individually and within its broader industry.

 

As always, I’ve got you covered on a lineup of earnings dates for games, tech and media firms through the next few weeks. Bookmark this page and use the image above or the link below, as I’ll periodically update both once some of the stragglers start announcing firm dates.

 

Working Casual Earnings Calendar Jan & Feb 2018: Gaming, Media & Tech Companies

 

Lastly, here are three big names I’m following closely this season. Thank you as always for reading!

 

 

 

Nintendo $NTDOY (Wed 1/31): Yes, I’ve listed Japan’s Nintendo as a company to watch every single quarter. But that’s because it continues to be the most innovative and noteworthy of all companies in its industry, whether hardware maker or software publisher. It boasts the hottest product in gaming and one of the must-have gadgets right now in the Switch, which has sold-through 10 million consoles to consumers in around nine months on sale. And it recently announced crazy, cardboard construction “kits” in a line of products dubbed Nintendo Labo which is so outlandish that it just might work enough to impact its future guidance. Expect Nintendo to have its best annual results since the tail end of the Wii’s popularity almost a decade ago.

 

Analysts: Nintendo is reporting both Q4 2017 and full-year results. Consensus is it will generate sales of ¥433 billion ($3.89 billion) for Q4, which would be up more than 150% year-on-year, though earnings-per-share will decline 30% to ¥373 ($3.36). On the year, analysts see revenue of  ¥1.01 trillion ($9.09 billion) and ¥953 ($8.42) in earnings-per-share, which would be increases of 108% and 12% respectively. Needless to say, count me as among those who think Nintendo will beat these numbers.

 

 

Apple $AAPL (Thu 2/1): Though Apple normally doesn’t break out revenue or unit sales by each of its products within each product category (iPhone, iPad, etc), I’m hoping it can *hint* at a bit of granularity for iPhone sales in light of its high-end iPhone X release back in November plus recent reports of production adjustments for its high-end smart phone. Even so: When it seems like the market is completely and utterly saturated, Apple continues to have impressive sales and earnings beats, so I vow to never, ever underestimate it.

 

Analysts: For Apple’s first quarter 2018 fiscal, analysts forecast almost $86 billion in quarterly sales and around $3.80 in earnings per share. Up 10% and 13% over last year, respectively.

 

 

 

 

NVIDIA $NVDA (Thu 2/8): Next week, the world’s hottest graphics card manufacturer (and crytpo-currency mining catalyst) NVIDIA will reveal both its final quarter and full-year 2018 results. And I fully anticipate it will continue its streak of record results driven by both gaming and, yes, our beloved bitcoin. The company’s stock surged almost 87% last year, and is up another 28% in January alone, and yet I still think it has room to grow. I see almost limitless earnings potential in the current environment where demand is sky-high, as many have learned when checking prices on its products while trying to build a powerful new gaming computer. As long as it can keep up with production, which I believe it absolutely will in the short to medium term, NVIDIA will continue its extraordinary run.

 

Analysts: Estimates are for $2.66 billion in quarterly revenue, earning $1.30 or so a share. Both would boast double-digit growth rates since the same time last year. As for its annual sales, consensus is $9.5 billion in revenue (up almost 37%), with earnings growing even faster at a rate of 48% to $4.52. I have to check historically, but I believe this would be a record year for the company overall. Stay tuned for an update.

 

Updated: 1/30/2018

 

-Dom

 

Sources: Company Investor Relations Websites/Press Releases, MarketWatch, CNN, NASDAQ, Bloomberg.

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2017 Year-in-Review: Dom’s Top 10 Video Games of the Year

Here we go!

 

Since it’s been one of the best years for video games this generation, it was almost impossible to (1) rank my favorite games and (2) make sure that I include as many as possible that deserve recognition during such a competitive time. It was difficult, but I’ve managed to narrow it down to a ranked list of my top ten favorite titles then a five honorable mentions for your reading pleasure (or disdain, if you happen to disagree.)

 

One disclaimer of course is that I will be sharing screenshots and exposition that may contain spoilers. If you haven’t finished your most-anticipated games of 2017 then.. wait, why haven’t you finished them if they were your most-anticipated? Seriously though, fair warning that there may be spoilers starting.. Now.

 

1. Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo)

Platforms: Nintendo Switch.

Estimated Sales: At least 5 million units, based on around half of Switch owners purchasing it (there are 10 million consoles sold to date).

 

During a year in which Nintendo rebounded to achieve an array of accomplishments, its most relevant to me is fully rejuvenating the Mario franchise with this magical, exploratory open world 3D platformer. Super Mario Odyssey is a sprawling adventure of our favorite Italian plumber along with his new sidekick Cappy, and is a pure joy to play while “Cap-turing” enemies to take over their abilities and grabbing each one of its hundreds of collectibles. I’m left with the closest feeling possible to how I felt playing Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Entertainment System during Christmas Day when I was little more than a toddler. Especially during a sequence in the city-themed Metro Kingdom that hearkens back to a timeless arcade title from the Japanese company.

 

It’s a game successfully split in two parts: The first tailored to a more casual audience wanting to experience the story of Mario attempting to save Peach from Bowser’s slimy grasp, this time under the guise of the villain kidnapping the Princess and planning their wedding on the Moon. Though by the end, I’d argue this is a distinctly clever take on the “traditional” Mario story. Princess Peach ends up dismissing the advances of both Mario and Bowser, in a wink-and-nod moment from the designers. Instead, she takes a trip of her own alongside Cappy’s sister Tiara, smartly bucking the tired trope of the damsel-in-distress we’ve seen her play since the 80s.

 

Then, the 2nd part is a surprising post-credits sequence targeting the most die-hard of completionists with brand new kingdoms plus a ton of puzzles and collectibles in existing areas. I’m treated to playing as Yoshi in the iconic Mushroom Kingdom, finding a theater in the Metro Kingdom with a playable version of the aforementioned Super Mario Bros and ended up conquering one of the most difficult levels in the franchise’s history. This final endeavor is a true delight, as it incorporates both platforming elements and the “Cap-turing” mechanic in fun, impressive ways.

 

If a video game that both tickles my nostalgia bone and stands as the pinnacle of its genre with new gameplay hooks, an unrivaled attention to detail and extreme polish doesn’t top my list, then I don’t know what does. It’s hard for me to find a glaring flaw with, except maybe that I wish Nintendo would hurry up and announce new future content (maybe a kingdom or two..) so I never have to leave the world of Super Mario Odyssey.

 

 

2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo)

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Wii U.

Estimated Sales: Similar to above, more than 5 million units. Likely even more than Odyssey because of Breath of the Wild releasing earlier.

 

Nintendo’s rebound began in March with the release of its Switch console and *probably* my 2nd favorite mainline Zelda game ever behind Ocarina of Time. Breath of the Wild is an action-adventure starring familiar characters like the timeless hero Link and Princess Zelda is the epitome of the “emergent storytelling” buzzword, a label often bestowed but rarely achieved. It’s set in the fantastical world of Hyrule, again haunted by the dark force Ganon, and the wonderful part is the world is wide open after a brief tutorial area for the player to run, explore and (most importantly) climb everywhere they can see. It features beloved areas like Goron City, Rito Village, The Lost Woods and countless others complete with their respective cultures and characters.

 

Now it doesn’t have the most engaging story, and lacks traditional “dungeons” that certain fans will miss. But I believe it MORE than makes up for this with intricate gameplay systems and an array of puzzles (i.e. shrines, mazes and collectibles) that allow for personal, powerful moments. If I thought I could do something, I could. Like of course a metal object conducted electricity. Absolutely it’s hard to climb when it’s raining. See that snowy mountain? Better bundle up before scaling it! Plus I’d often be rewarded with a useful in-game item, and ultimately a feeling of child-like awe inspired by so few games these days.

 

Admittedly, I was skeptical of Breath of the Wild prior to release. I was hesitant on weapon degradation, limited stamina and the necessity to prepare for the weather or elements. But I ended up actually really enjoying these systems within the broader world because each forced me to try new things, improvise under duress and consider a variety of factors when fighting, exploring or facing puzzles. The game is downright magical, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

3. Assassin’s Creed Origins (Ubisoft Entertainment, Ubisoft Montreal)

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

Estimated Sales: Hard to say. Launch sales were twice as much as 2015’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, but that title had soft figures compared to others in history. It has almost 500K owners on Steam, but without specific console numbers I won’t speculate.

 

Ubisoft is another company that had a stellar year, and its best 2017 game is also its most important since it signaled a new direction for the decade-old Assassin’s Creed series. Set in Egypt around 50 BC during the occupation of Greek and Roman forces, Origins is hands-down the most beautiful game I played this year in terms of technical accomplishment and general art direction. (Note I played the Xbox One X Enhanced version. 4K, High Dynamic Range, all that). Not only that but it also implements a loot system where I’m constantly earning new gear with which to experiment, and its upgrade options allow me to spec my character in a way that aligned with my intended play style and equipment load-out.

 

Speaking of character, I appreciate that it leans into original ones more than historical figures this time. Though Cleopatra is a key part of the overarching narrative. The protagonist Bayek is a kind of super-cop of his era, while his wife Aya is more of a freedom fighter. Its characters are enriched by the story and especially its vastly improved side quests that build out Bayek’s legend. Mini-stories remind me of games like The Witcher 3 and Fallout in both their world-building and character development. In one such quest, an older man begs Bayek find a very important book that will allow his wife to pass safely into the afterlife. But when Bayek returns, the man has since passed away. Bayek is left to find the gentleman receiving last rites and in a bittersweet moment, he leaves the book alongside his body in hopes that it allows both him and his wife to rejoin each other in the world beyond.

 

My only knocks against the game is that the modern day sequences are not very engaging, and its huge map is daunting when you first enter the world. Even so, Origins has vaulted ahead of great entries such as the aforementioned Syndicate and even 2013’s Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag to settle as one of my top picks in the entire franchise, because it takes risks and distinguishes itself as being able to stand on its own merits while also connecting with the underlying lore.

 

 

 

4. Horizon Zero Dawn (Sony Interactive Entertainment, Guerilla Games)

Platforms: PlayStation 4.

Estimated Sales: At least 3.4 million units, near launch. I’d wager close to 4.5 – 5 million by now based on the PS4’s user base rocketing above 70 million consoles.

 

Horizon Zero Dawn is the first “brand new” game on my list, as Guerilla Games creates a post post-apocalyptic world in which a small group of people has reestablished tribal communities after barely surviving a major calamity. Cool twist is in the 31st century, the main relics of the past are actually massive, mysterious robot creatures that resemble real-life animals or dinosaurs and are super hostile to humans.

 

But alas, Aloy is the playable character here and she’s a bad-ass, bow-wielding hunter-gatherer with an ability to combat these crazy mechs and even interface with them using technology from millennia past. After her mentor is tragically killed, she sets out on a quest to see why she’s so special and what actually happened to humankind. It’s a gorgeous, majestic open world action game with a gripping narrative and varied combat encounters as enemies require different tactics to outsmart and overcome.

 

The reason Horizon is so good is it borrows elements from a variety of games within the 3rd person action and open world genres then integrates them into a setting that is pure eye candy. For instance, take “Cauldrons.” These are cool-looking underground areas featuring light puzzles and tough combat engagements. Picture lots of neon lighting and man-made structures combined with natural formations. Emerging victorious from each Cauldron allows Aloy the ability to control a new set of machines, tying back into the lore of the world while also advancing the player’s set of powers.

 

In the end, Horizon features two parallel story lines: A brewing tribal war, and Aloy’s search for her past and discovery of the ultimate fate of ancient humans. These both pay-off in a big way, marking one of the most memorable blends of gameplay and narrative of 2017.

 

 

5. Destiny 2 (Activision Blizzard, Bungie)

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

Estimated Sales: Well over 6.3 million units, based on Activision announcing it has outsold its predecessor. Activision also noted it’s the 2nd highest-selling console game in North America this year based on dollar sales, behind only Call of Duty: WWII.

 

Rounding out my Top 5 is what began as my most-anticipated game of 2017, the sequel to Bungie’s 2014 shared world, multiplayer shooter Destiny. Let’s be frank: Anyone that knows me or reads my Twitter timeline already knows how much I love this sci-fi franchise, so it shouldn’t be a shock that this ranks as high as it does despite mixed reactions from critics and community alike.

 

Destiny 2 is not a perfect game. But it is among the best in the business at what it does well. It has a most amazing art design, especially its wonderful sky-boxes and stunning color pallet, which players can now enjoy in 4K on premium platforms and an uncapped frame rate on PC. It has an intense, entertaining campaign that vastly improved on the original game. Its character customization and equipment options are varied so that no two players look the same, and the feeling of snagging that one piece of loot you’ve been hoping for is always triumphant.  Its co-op activities, especially the high-level “strike” missions and its difficult six-person raid, are unlike anything you’ll see in a modern first-person shooter.

 

Though what really stands out and keeps me coming back is its stellar gameplay. Its moment-to-moment mechanics of moving through environments to encounter and take out enemies is the best of any shooter maybe of all time. I argue this is its most important feature, outweighing any trouble it has with stagnant progression, end-game incentives and weak player-vs-player competitive play in the “Crucible” game mode. Like I said, Destiny 2 has its fair share of issues, but it’s still my favorite game to play alongside friends and I keep returning to it months after initial release.

 

 

6. NieR: Automata (Square Enix, Platinum Games)

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4.

Estimated Sales: 2 million units.

 

I didn’t expect to even play Platinum Games’ follow-up to its cult hit NieR until I tried its short demo, available shortly before release. But this odd, way out-there action game with elements of JRPGs, arcade shooters and bullet hell genres stands out in a competitive year mostly because of its magnificent soundtrack, unique structure and absolutely outrageous story that forced me to contemplate the very nature of existence and what it means to be “alive.”

 

Deep stuff, I know. But when a game takes place in a distant future where androids, created by humans, are locked in a perpetual battle with machines, created by ancient aliens, you know it’s going to go places. And go places it does. I don’t want spoil too much, but what NieR: Automata does so well is it tells its overarching story from the perspective of multiple protagonists: Androids with “designations” like 2B, 9S and A2 instead of actual names. The androids and machines of this future world are mostly fighting each other, true, but are also learning about themselves and the world as this fight wages on. It shows how the created begin to take on characteristics of their creators, and what happens when these artificial intelligences begin to discover what, and eventually “who,” they actually are.

 

Some of the knocks against the game are it isn’t the prettiest-looking (and it ain’t), its map is a jumbled mess, its systems are opaque and the second “act” drags on because the player is revisiting a major story line from the first but in a slightly different way. This is why it’s not higher on my list. And it’s so difficult to talk about the genius of NieR: Automata without doing a full analysis of its story and themes, but suffice to say that if you are into games with killer soundtracks or narratives that weave themes of philosophy, science, AI and existentialism, then you will dig the heck out of this one.

 

 

7. Cuphead (Studio MDHR)

Platforms: PC, Xbox One.

Estimated Sales: 2 million units.

 

Since Cuphead’s reveal during E3 of 2014, I had been using the same (bad) running joke: Whenever someone brought up the game, I’d say “Believe it when I see it. And I don’t think I’ll ever see it.” Think about it: A super ambitious, hand-drawn title using the animation style of a 1930’s cartoon being developed by a tiny studio run by a family that had never commercially released a game. A niche Microsoft exclusive showed at every trade show for years, rumored as nothing but an onslaught of very challenging boss fights in a two-dimensional play area. Then, it was updated to include platforming levels that felt “tacked on” by those that saw them behind closed doors. Plus, for a long while, there was no release date in sight.

 

Boy am I glad that I was wrong, as were those that previewed those early builds, now that it’s hit the market. Sibling tag-team of Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, along with help from Chad’s wife Maja and others at Studio MDHR, have made one of the most extraordinary video games I’ve ever played. A run-and-gun platformer that literally looks and feels like a cartoon made during the time between the Great Depression and World War II. Yes, it’s still mostly an onslaught of bosses with a handful of collectible platforming levels scattered between. But it *works*. Each foes is expertly-crafted and animated with such nuance and skill that I’m still in awe it exists. Plus it has a snappy overworld, a multitude of weapon types and purchasable power-ups allowing different styles depending if a player wants more health or the ability to teleport. And it’s music.. Spectacular. Imagine an epic boss battle amidst a backdrop of an iconic jazz or bouncy swing tunes playing live as you methodically dismantle your opponent.

 

Its main downside is the barrier to entry is high, as many players will be turned off by its difficulty including an especially frustrating sequence right before the final encounter. However for those that are fine failing over and over again just to experience that one moment of monumental triumph, Cuphead is best-in-class.

 

 

 

8. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (Bluehole/PUBG Corporation, Microsoft Studios, Tencent)

Platforms: Mobile, PC, Xbox One.

Estimated Sales: 30 million units. (And it will probably be, like, at least a million more by the time you read this.)

 

Here it is. Better or worse, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (or PUBG for short) is the biggest story in gaming this year. And it wasn’t even a full commercial release until just a week ago, spending the bulk of 2017 in a preview mode on PC. It’s even still an “early access” title on Xbox One. The battle royale, Hunger Games-style multiplayer game that started as a mod for survival games is a phenomenon because of its simple yet elegant premise: One hundred players parachute out of an airplane onto an island full of weapons and armor, and the last person standing wins.

 

You might say: “That’s not original! I’ve seen this before!” And you’d be right. It’s one of many in the battle royale, last man standing genre. But I’d argue why PUBG is so beloved (and hated, by its detractors) and ultimately successful is a much more nuanced discussion. It’s a game going for realism, but its charm actually lies in its rough edges and “jank.” Its natural pacing is impeccable, as players experience the endorphin rush of a good loot game every single match between moments of high intensity and much-needed recovery. Its combat is very difficult to master, which means every successful kill feels like a victory in and of itself and an actual victory feels like bliss.

 

Similarly, every mode echoes a different genre: Solo play is a stealth-action horror game, where death can be behind any corner.. or bathroom door. Duos becomes an intricate, technical tango between two players calling out drops and enemy locations. And squads mode is a frantic, fast-paced feud of four-person teams. PUBG offers something for every type of competitive player, and its “circle” mechanic where the map slowly shrinks forces the action no matter the mode, resulting in memories and YouTube videos galore.

 

From a technical standpoint, PUBG has a long way to go. It only has two maps on PC, and just one on Xbox. It crashes and drops connections regularly on console, to a maddening effect. Though it has a solid foundation in place, and an addictive gameplay loop can hold players over until its tech is cleaned up and more variety is offered in terms of map locations. Here’s to your next Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

 

 

 

9. What Remains of Edith Finch (Annapurna Interactive, Giant Sparrow)

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

Estimate Sales: Yet another one where it’s hard to tell. Almost 120K owners on PC, but indie publishers often don’t disclose exact overall sales figures.

 

Indie studio Giant Sparrow’s spiritual successor to The Unfinished Swan is a masterwork in storytelling and world-building, and an emotional journey into one family’s tragic history. It follows Edith Finch, the last remaining survivor of her family, returning to her childhood home in the Pacific Northwest to delve deep into the memories of her deceased relatives. As the player, I walked and explored this makeshift house that seemed to reach into the heavens, climbing until I reached its pinnacle which both physically and figuratively acted as the climax of the overall narrative.

 

Its story is told via a sprinkling of vignettes showing each relative’s last moments, from a food-poisoned young woman who believes she is transforming into animals to an infant playing gleefully in a bathtub to a grieving uncle who opted to live in secrecy in a bunker underneath the property. In its most poignant mini-story from both a gameplay and story perspective, Edith’s brother Lewis is a drug user and cannery worker who daydreams of being a prince in a fantasy world. The game sees you controlling Lewis cutting fish with one hand while simultaneously moving about through his fantasy world with the other. The scene plays out as him traversing mythical lands to find his true love, the princess, all the while conducting the mundane task of his day job. It’s bittersweet in its message, and flawless in its execution.

 

Some of What Remains of Edith Finch is predictable because of its linear nature, and it’s a dreary game in terms of its overall look, but its unconventional story and final payoff outweigh these flaws to become one of my major indie recommendations for 2017. Its vignettes perfectly encapsulate snapshots in time, right before tragedy strikes. Moments that the main character, and I, end up cherishing.

 

 

 

10. Nioh (Sony Interactive Entertainment, Koei Tecmo, Team Ninja)

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC.

Estimated Sales: Over 1 million units. Likely more, since that was a figure based on the weeks after release way back in February.

 

Rounding out my personal “Top 10” is Team Ninja’s challenging, hack-and-slash RPG Nioh. Set in feudal Japan, the protagonist is an Irish sailor turned samurai (yes, you read that right) named William who embarks on a quest to take down a devious villain with supernatural powers. One twist is this dark version of Japan is infested with not just human warriors but otherworldly foes called “yokai,” some of which tower over William in foreboding fashion or evolve into different forms. Upside is William can also call one of a number of spirit animals to his aid, and he builds an arsenal of melee and ranged weapons to support his effort.

 

Nioh is far from an easy game, especially early on when you have limited options in terms of armor, skills and upgrades. Many enemies can take out William in one or two swings of their weapon or a well-timed elemental attack, so cunning and timing are essential in combat. I needed to carefully consider my path through each level, unearthing shortcuts along the way that help when I respawn after my inevitable demise. But its epic boss fights are the real treat: Beating adversaries like a former mentor turned massive, pipe-smoking toad, or a hybrid lion-dragon chimaera monster or even a gigantic multi-headed sea snake is akin to the ecstasy felt if succeeding in games like Dark Souls or Battletoads.

 

Another draw of Nioh is it’s extremely rewarding in terms of loot and currency, seeing each battle result in a literal explosion of items to pick up from the ground. It also integrates a number of smart systems. When you die, a version of your character can then be summoned in other players’ games as a ghostly “Revenant.” You can also summon co-op partners to support in your current mission, or even have the ability to run most missions with a friend. Lastly, it offers higher-level versions of its missions that reward the most coveted gear. It’s this cross section of rewarding gameplay, intricate systems and the jubilant feeling after each encounter that makes Nioh so special.

 

Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical Order):

 

Call of Duty: WWII (Activision Blizzard, Sledgehammer Games)

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

Estimated Sales: Best-selling console game of the year globally, and has generated over a billion dollars in revenue. Quick calculation leads to around 16-17 million units assuming it sells most of its copies at full-price. But if we assume discounts & exchange rate conversions etc, I’d wager 14-15 million already.

 

 

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4.

Estimated Sales: Over 500K units. Ninja Theory disclosed that the game has exceeded expectations and is now profitable.

 

 

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom)

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

Estimated Sales: 4.1 million units.

 

 

 

Splatoon 2 (Nintendo)

Platforms: Nintendo Switch.

Estimated Sales: 3.61 million units.

 

 

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Bethesda Softworks, MachineGames)

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

Estimated Sales: Unfortunately not a huge commercial success. Just above 370K owners on Steam. No word on exact overall or console sales.

 

 

There you have it! What a year. I hope you gamers out there were able to play some of these titles, and got as much enjoyment out of them as I did. Thanks so much for making it this far, and let me know how you feel about these in the comments or on Twitter! Here’s hoping 2018 can live up to its incredible predecessor.

 

 

Sources: All screen caps taken by yours truly on one of the listed platforms, usually Xbox One for multi-platform titles. Estimated sales from an amalgamation of sources, including company announcements, financial statements, NPD Group, GfK/UKIE, equity analysts, social media posts etc. If you are interested in details behind sales stats, please drop me a line.

 

-Dom

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Working Casual 2017 Year-In-Review: Over-Review

 

Hello all!

 

It’s been.. let’s call it.. an “interesting” year. Despite my writing output obviously declining, and the current state of the geopolitical climate (which is something I don’t critique or comment on here), it’s actually been one of the best in recent memory in terms of video games and the technology surrounding the medium. 2017 has seen both Nintendo and Microsoft release a new console, innovation in the augmented/virtual reality and mobile spaces, a stellar year for video game stocks plus some of the best darn games of this entire generation if not ever. Gamers and techies have been treated to an awesome 12 months, admittedly if only within our immediate “bubble.”

 

In celebration of the past year, I’ll now round up my thoughts on some of its most important topics and products, similar to last year’s pieces. I’ll update this post throughout the next week, as I cover the following:

 

Dom’s Top 10 Video Games of the Year

 

Top 5 Influential Gaming, Tech & Media Companies of the Year

 

Top 3 Impactful Deals or Mergers of the Year

 

Best & Worst-Performing Gaming, Media & Tech Stocks

 

 

If you participate (or participated) any of the year-end celebrations, I’ll take this opportunity to wish you a happy, healthy holiday season and a very Happy New Year into 2018. But it’s not over just yet, so stay tuned!

 

-Dom

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Earnings Calendar Oct & Nov 2017: Gaming, Media & Tech Companies

 

Hi everyone!

 

As you can see, I’ve taken a bit of a break but I’m back for my latest earnings calendar post so we can all prepare to see how companies in the gaming, media and tech spaces are performing lately. Q4 performance tends to be an important indicator of how companies are faring against full-year estimates, since it’s usually the half-way mark for a fiscal year. And it’s especially telling if companies start to adjust guidance.

 

I’ve posted the calendar above with the most current dates available, and the link below takes you to the usual Google Docs location to use it as a reference:

 

Working Casual Earnings Calendar Oct & Nov 2017: Gaming, Media & Tech Companies

 

Some of the noteworthy results incoming within the next month:

 

 

Amazon $AMZN (Thu 10/26): The world’s largest online retailer by market capitalization recently closed its acquisition of Whole Foods back in August, so we should see the early impact of the deal on its overall business plus future guidance. Plus Amazon’s tone and guidance are always a good barometer of consumer sentiment going into the holiday season, which is of course the most important time of year for the online retailer especially as most holiday shoppers still tend to favor brick-and-mortar stores (for some odd reason.. embrace the digital revolution, folks!).

 

 

Nintendo $NTDOY (Mon 10/30): The Big N’s Switch hybrid console has even more sales momentum than I initially thought. It’s been the best-selling console in the States for the past 3 months according to NPD Group, and has moved over 1.5 million units in its home country of Japan to date. The firm’s stock is up a whopping 91% return since Switch’s launch in early March. Friend of the blog and analyst Daniel Ahmad says its worldwide total is likely around 7 million units by now, which means it’s well on its way to the 11 million in its 1st year that I predicted back in April and will likely even surpass that total. We’ll hear exactly how many have shipped in a little over a week, and exactly how much it’s contributed to the firm’s bottom line.

 

 

Samsung Electronics (Tue 10/31) and Apple Inc $AAPL (Thu 11/2): You could argue that the financial results of two of the world’s largest smart device manufacturers are always important to gauge how the global economy is doing plus how people are spending their discretionary income, but this quarter will be especially interesting for both as Samsung released its Galaxy S8 in April and its larger Galaxy Note 8 in September and Apple will provide current figures on overall iPhone shipments plus more guidance on its iPhone 8 which came out about a month back.

 

 

Ubisoft Entertainment SA $UBI (Tue 11/7): France’s Ubisoft has been on a tear this year when it comes to its lineup of games: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, For Honor, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and even 2015’s Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Siege have all spent time on the best-sellers list across a variety of regions. In fact, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is actually the best-selling game of the year in the States as of late August, and For Honor holds the 4th spot on that coveted list. And Ubi isn’t done yet for the year, releasing South Park: The Fractured But Whole just this past week plus its triple-A holiday title Assassin’s Creed Origins later this month. The company also has been making efforts to remain independent from ownership of outside parties, namely Vivendi $VIV, by buying back shares and opening new studios so I anticipate its results will remain solid if not beat to the upside.

 

 

Thanks as always and I hope you stay tuned for commentary here and on Twitter during this earnings season!

 

-Dom

 

Sources: Company Investor Relations Websites/Press Releases, MarketWatch, NPD Group, Business Wire, Daniel Ahmad.

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Earnings Calendar Jul & Aug 2017: Gaming, Media & Tech Companies

 

Welcome back friends! Time to get excited for numbers, and charts, and graphs. Lots of ’em.

 

This post is a little later than usual as the “quarterly earnings season” is already well underway, but there’s still plenty of companies within tech and gaming that have yet to announce how their business have been faring during the past few months.

 

Per usual, above you’ll see a full calendar of public companies and the dates on which earnings results are posted. Then below is a link to a Google Doc containing this same information for easy access to investor relations websites for your viewing pleasure.

 

Working Casual Earnings Calendar Jul & Aug 2017: Gaming, Media & Tech Companies

 

Some companies on my radar this quarter are as follows:

 

Amazon $AMZN: The massive online retailer based in the States announced its whopping $13.7 billion acquisition of grocer Whole Foods $WFM in June, so it may provide some sort of update on the status of this deal when it reports this Thursday, July 27th. The deal itself is a key development in the retail space as it cross over between digital and brick-and-mortar sellers, however that’s part of the reason it’s under continued scrutiny from the U.S. government and no formal approval has been given thus far.

 

 

Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. $TTWO: The owner of studios Rockstar and 2K Games has seen growth lately based on the ongoing success of Grand Theft Auto V, in particular its online component. However, GTAV released all the way back in 2013, plus Take-Two doesn’t have any triple-AAA game releases this year now that Rockstar’s widely-anticipated Western Red Dead Redemption 2 was delayed. In an interview recently with GamesIndustry Biz, CEO Strauss Zelnick acknowledged the thin release schedule and commented that ideally the company would release more big titles on a regular basis. I don’t think we’ll hear much in terms of RDR2 status other than it’s still in the development phase, but the company needs to reassure investors that its line-up can support big gaps between Rockstar’s heavy-hitting games.

 

 

Activision Blizzard $ATVI: Activision Blizzard reports on Thursday, August 3rd and is in arguably the best position this year of all the major worldwide video game publishers. Blizzard’s multiplayer hero shooter Overwatch continues its widespread appeal more than a year after release, surpassing 30 million registered players and transitioning to a viable eSports franchise with the announcement of the Overwatch League this month. The company’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, released in late June, is vastly exceeding expectations as it was the best-selling game in the world during its release month. Not to mention upcoming releases, where Activision boasts two games with huge upside that I believe will end up in the Top 5, if not Top 3, games by sales this year: (the Game of the Year contender and what might be the best game this generation if it was up to me, hah) Destiny 2, out September 6th, and Call of Duty: WWII, releasing on November 3rd. Oh, and it also now has fully integrated King Digital into its structure so it has significant mobile exposure too.

 

 

Vivendi SA $VIV: Lastly, as I’ve noted in the past, whenever French media firm Vivendi reports, there’s the potential it could formally announce a bid to purchase Ubisoft Entertainment SA $UBI, which has already reported stellar results itself for its last fiscal year. As of Vivendi’s latest annual report, it now owns 26.8% of Ubisoft’s outstanding shares, meaning that my prediction the acquisition will not happen anytime soon less and less likely by the quarter.

 

 

Thanks as always for checking out the calendar and my thoughts on some of the companies on the list. Any announcements you’re looking forward to in particular? Will the publisher of your most-anticipated game this year

 

 

-Dom

 

Sources: Company Investor Relations Websites/Press Releases, MarketWatch, GamesIndustry Biz, Business Wire.

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Companies of E3: Nintendo Spotlight & Treehouse Live

 

 

Nintendo $NTDOY is the last company to have an official press event, albeit in digital form rather than a live show. First it shared a 25 minute-long Spotlight with fans, which you can see in its entirety above, and now it’s moved right into a long session of Treehouse Live. It will be streaming its Treehouse Live segment from E3 both today and tomorrow.

 

Don’t let the length of its showcase fool you; Nintendo packed in a ton of games and reveals into this time, which you’ll see broken out one-by-one below, and it’s still revealing new stuff on its ongoing streams. Not to mention, we now know a lot more about Super Mario Odyssey!

 

What It Showed:

 

 

Super Mario Odyssey: It was shown at the end of the digital show, but I have to write about it first here. I’m not often rendered speechless. But Nintendo’s trailer and subsequent gameplay that it’s streaming as I write this for its upcoming 3D Mario game is breathtaking. And we now know its release date: October 27th!

 

 

Here’s the gameplay segment from Nintendo’s Treehouse Live. Almost a half hour long. Lots of mechanics and areas shown, including a really cool section when it transitions from 3D to 2D gameplay. The game continues to surprise and charm!

 

 

Montage: Briefly showed a trailer featuring a number of games: ARMS, Pokken Tournament, Rocket League (a new announcement for the platform), Splatoon 2. Basically, a number of multiplayer games that can be played on Switch.

 

 

Rocket League: As mentioned above, the 2015 competitive online game that blends cars and soccer will be out on Switch in Holiday 2017.

 

 

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Japanese RPG from Monolith Soft will be releasing Holiday 2017.

 

 

Kirby: New Kirby game, with a working title, releasing next year.

 

 

Metroid Prime 4: There is actually a mainline Metroid game being developed for Switch. But all we get today is a logo, hah!

 

 

Metroid Samus Returns: Nintendo has announced two Metroid games in the same day, which is crazy. This is a 3DS game that Nintendo just unveiled on its Treehouse Live stream.

 

 

Yoshi: Nintendo is really bringing its A-game when it comes to its established, most popular franchises. This time it announced a new Yoshi game, no title, releasing next year.

 

 

Fire Emblem Warriors. Upcoming hack-and-slash game for both Switch and New 3DS, this is a collaboration between Intelligent Systems and Koei Tecmo.

 

 

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, New DLC: As Nintendo announced back when the game was announced, Breath of the Wild is the first game in the franchose to have post-launch additional content. Which is awesome, because it means we get more of one of the best games this year. First pack is June 30th, at which time there will also be four new amiibo figures available for characters in the game.

 

 

 

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Same game we saw at Ubisoft’s show yesterday. Releasing August 29th.

 

 

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Switch: Similarly, we saw this game at Bethesda’s show on Sunday night.

 

What It Didn’t Show (Yet): Super Smash Bros, Capcom’s Monster Hunter XX, Online Service, Virtual Console or Mini SNES.

 

Now that Nintendo’s Spotlight has finished up, it marks the end of the major conferences for this year’s E3. But the festivities are just kicking off, with the show floor opening today and running through Thursday. I’ll probably have another write-up or two before the week is up, but follow me on Twitter for updates in the interim. Thanks again and enjoy the show if you are there or following from home!

 

-Dom

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Companies of E3: Sony PlayStation Media Showcase

 

It’s Monday night. E3 proper is set to begin tomorrow morning in Los Angeles. However, right now, it’s all about Sony Corp $SNE and its PlayStation Media Showcase. The current console market leader is known for having lots and lots of games in its shows, with little regard for release window of said games, and tonight’s show was no different.

 

Was a decent show, with highs and lows, but overall I definitely think you’ll be able to find a game that appeals to you on this list. Below are those featured at the media showcase, including details on my most-anticipated game.. Destiny 2!

 

 

Grand Turismo Sport: During Sony’s pre-show, it revealed that the latest installment in the GT racing franchise is out this fall.

 

 

Knack 2: Yes. Sony is actually releasing a sequel to the launch game that turned into an ongoing internet joke and meme. And it’s out September 5th. Honestly, it looks MUCH improved!

 

 

PlayLink for PS4 collection: Two games in this collection were announced: Hidden Agenda, where you use a smart phone as a controller, and That’s You, which looks like a social party game.

 

 

Matterfall: Housemarq indie game, releasing on August 15th.

 

 

Everybody’s Golf: Arcade golf game.

 

 

PlayStation VR Games: Super Hot, Summer 2017. Sparc. Tropico. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Star Child by Playful and published by GameTrust. The Inpatient. Final Fantasy XV fishing. Bravo Team. Moss.

 

 

Undertale: Popular indie PC hit coming to PS4 this summer.

 

 

Ni No Kuni II: Japanese RPG by Bandai Namco now has a release date of November 10th.

 

 

Uncharted The Lost Legacy: This standalone story in the Uncharted series started the show proper with a new trailer, it’s out August 22nd.

 

 

Horizon The Frozen Wilds: Summer 2017 for the first expansion of Guerilla Games’ excellent open world game that released in February.

 

 

Days Gone: We see more from this post-apocalyptic zombie game from Sony Bend where you fight hordes of undead and survivors. Never seen that before. (Sorry, it’s just not doing it for me. I’d rather play The Last of Us.)

 

 

Monster Hunter World: We heard rumblings of this title recently, looks like Capcom is finally officially bringing its beloved franchise to PS4 and Xbox One in the form of an open world game this time. Out in early 2018.

 

 

Shadow of the Colossus: Early 2018. Looks like an HD remake of the 2005 game from Team Ico.

 

 

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite: Out September 19th, story demo is actually available today.

 

 

Call of Duty WWII: This game again looks like a Call of Duty game set in World War II. And it’s out in early November.

 

 

God of War: I admit, every time I see this new God of War game, I care more about playing it despite not playing any of the earlier games. Releasing early 2018. No exact release date.

 

 

Detroit: Become Human: Quantic Dream’s futuristic, narrative adventure game featuring androids in an uprising looks very intriguing again as it did last year. Though, no release window revealed.

 

 

Destiny 2: Finally! My favorite franchise of this generation is getting a sequel, and Sony has a marketing deal with Activision/Bungie so (better or worse) it has access to exclusive content: missions and gear, plus a multiplayer map. But the good news is that the release date is now moved up to Wednesday, September 6th on consoles. And October 24th on PC. Bungie will host a beta testing period that begins on July 19th on PS4 and July 19th on Xbox One (for those that pre-ordered) and then July 21st for everyone.

 

Can you tell I’m excited?

 

 

Spider-Man: Insomniac’s take on the  Marvel superhero franchise is out next year. I know lots are excited for it!

 

What It Didn’t Show (Yet): The Last of Us 2, which feels odd because it’s the biggest game Sony has. But it’s also nowhere near done and I guess not ready to show just yet. Media Molecule’s Dreams, Michel Ancel’s WiLD (especially now that he showed Beyond Good & Evil 2 at the Ubisoft show I wrote about earlier). Oh, and Bloodborne 2. I guess none of my long shots are panning out.

 

That’s okay, we still are seeing some really cool games! What did you think of Sony’s briefing? Will you be buying any of these games when they release? Why aren’t you as exicted about Destiny 2 as I am?!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

-Dom

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Companies of E3: Ubisoft E3 2017 Conference

 

Monday of E3 week has kicked off with Ubisoft $UBI and its E3 2017 Conference. The large French developer and publisher had a unique show, as it’s known to do, and always offers a diverse set of games. Plus surprises. Below is a rundown of projects it featured at its show, including a game that you might not have expected!

 

What It Showed:

 

 

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: The rumor is true, act surprised. The Nintendo Switch cross-over tactical RPG set in the Mushroom Kingdom will be out August 29th. (Yes, that’s a sentence I just wrote that I never thought I’d write.)

 

 

Assassin’s Creed Origins: Similar to what we saw at Microsoft’s conference yesterday. Ubisoft is showing a 30 minute gameplay reveal after its show, can post it later on. Again, launching October 27th.

 

 

The Crew 2: Second game in the open world, social racing game franchise. You can sign up for access to the beta testing run now at its website. Supposed to be releasing early next year.

 

 

South Park: The Fractured But Whole: October 17th. It’s a new South Park RPG. And it should be darn good!

 

 

Transference: “Enter the Home of a Mind.” Spring 2018. It’s a spooky virtual reality game. I don’t know what platforms, though.

 

 

Skull & Bones: Brand new game revealed. Many wanted a standalone pirate game after playing 2013’s Assassin’s Creed: IV Black Flag, and here it is. Made by Ubisoft Singapore, looks like a tactical open seas combat game. Set in a shared, systemic world that can be played single-player or co-op but mainly seems focused on competitive player-vs-player gameplay. Wondering what this means for Microsoft & Rare’s Sea of Thieves game that’s been featured at multiple E3’s, but I think these pirate games occupy different spaces in the market. Spring 2018.

 

 

Just Dance 2018: As expected, another installment in Ubi’s long-running dance franchise. Note that this game is also coming out for Nintendo Wii. The Wii!

 

 

South Park Phone Destroyer: This is actually a cool, pleasant surprise to me from the show. A mobile South Park game, looks like turn-based combat and different character classes. I’d like to give it a try.

 

 

StarLink: Battle for Atlas: I’m almost certain this space game is code-name Pioneer, which was featured in 2016’s Watch Dogs 2 as a kind of easter egg trailer. It will have a toys-to-life tie in, might it be the next cool arcade style space simulation? Autumn 2018.

 

 

Steep Road to the Olympics: New expansion upcoming for the extreme winter sports game that released late last year.

 

 

Far Cry 5: Ubi showed off a tone piece trailer and then a more detailed gameplay section for open world, first person action shooter, seen above. Set in Montana, probably the most intriguing of the publisher’s lineup when it comes to its story and characters. February 2018 is when it’s out.

 

 

Beyond Good & Evil 2: And we’ve come to the surprise of the show. Follow-up to 2003’s Beyond Good & Evil, this is a game that’s been in development under secrecy for years and years. Made by Michel Ancel, this is the first we’ve heard from the long-rumored game that some people thought might not even exist. No word on release date or platforms, but I assume it’s PS4 and Xbox One but not releasing for another couple of years. At least.

 

What It Didn’t Show (Yet): Nothing from UbiArt engine. No real “smaller” indie-type of games. Which is unfortunate. Also, no Splinter Cell game, but of course that was my long-shot prediction again.

 

As you can see, Ubisoft had a strong showing of games and surprises. By my count, almost half of these were unannounced or hadn’t leaked prior to the show. Are you planning on playing any of these titles? Wish anything else was revealed that wasn’t at the show?

 

Stay tuned today, as the next conference up is Sony’s PlayStation event at 9 pm Eastern. Thanks!

 

-Dom

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Companies of E3: Bethesda Showcase

 

It’s late here on the East Coast, but it’s E3 so I’m not bothered!

 

Bethesda Softworks of beautiful Maryland, USA (!) opened its Bethesdaland attraction earlier, and has concluded the last major event of E3’s opening weekend. It’s one of the most important private publishers in the industry with some of the coolest franchises, so similar to my previous posts, here’s a round-up of what it covered along with some thoughts and trailers.

 

What It Showed:

 

 

 

Virtual Reality: Bethesda showed two upcoming VR games: DOOM VFR, no release window announced, and..

 

 

 

.. and Fallout 4 VR. This one is October 2017.

 

 

Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind: Bethesda is pushing this recent release in the ESO franchise.

 

 

Creation Club: Announced a community service to provide more content for Fallout 4 and Elder Scrolls Online. Coming this summer on Xbox One, PS4 & PC. Bethesda is known for having great community offerings and fan service, including encouraging gamers to modify its games.

 

 

Elder Scrolls Legends – Heroes of Skyrim: Competitive free-to-play card game is coming to mobile. New content as well. June 29th.

 

 

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Switch: As I mentioned in my earlier writing, totally expected this to be at the conference and here it is. I didn’t catch a release date though, I believe it’s still set for Fall 2017?

 

 

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider: This is a brand new standalone story in Arkane Studios’ Dishonored universe. Out on September 15th.

 

 

Quake Champions: The PC-only online shooter Quake Champions will have new maps and a competition. eSports!

 

 

The Evil Within 2: On Friday, October 13th, psychological horror game The Evil Within 2 will release. Its trailer is intense. Fair warning!

 

 

 

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus: Lastly, Bethesda ended the show with its best reveal, in my opinion. In the true follow-up to 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order, this year’s The New Colossus is set in America during an alternate-history Nazis seem in control of the government and police force. Our hero, BJ Blazkowicz, is now an expecting father that doesn’t want to raise his twins in a society that’s ruled by crazy Nazis. So of course, he sets out to take down the entire regime. Releases October 27th!

 

What It Didn’t Show (Yet): Prey content, it just came out so that makes sense. Nothing on the alleged space game Starfield, likely because Bethesda only showed titles that will be released this year.

 

Goodnight for now, more to come during a busy week ahead!

 

-Dom