Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rats Leaving the Sinking Ship



As I watched (suffered through?) the Democrat National Convention, I couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn't watching a gathering of people expecting a November victory as much as I was watching what is sometimes referred to as an "Irish Wake" - that is, a raucous celebration during a time of mourning.  As with the biblical amalgamation "Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die", I had the distinct impression of people forcing themselves to be happy on the eve of a crushing defeat.  This feeling was only reinforced when there was that whole platform controversy that resulted in the following awkward moment for the party:





I mean, when you can't even get your platform correct...well, what hope is there for a big national victory?  I believe that this outrageous platform snafu is just another sign of a party in major disarray after a historic congressional loss in 2010, and a base that finds itself clinging to "hope" and little else as they head into an election where all indicators are trending against the president.  As Pete Ferrara remarked in The American Spectator:

"But almost four years after the last recession started, there still has been no real recovery. Unemployment is stuck over 9%, with unemployment among African-Americans, Hispanics, and teenagers at depression level double-digit rates for at least 2 years now. Real wages and incomes are falling, back to levels last seen over 30 years ago. Poverty is soaring to new records as well, with more Americans suffering in poverty than any time since the Census Bureau started keeping records over 50 years ago.

"As a result, we are on track now for an historic conservative victory in 2012, far bigger even than in 1980."

In politics, it always is a dangerous thing to count your chickens before they hatch, but I just can't deny that I am in agreement with Mr. Ferrara, something that is a bit inexplicable for me as I usually always bet against a GOP moderate when he is matched up against a proud liberal,  as Mitt Romney most assuredly is.  But when everything is going against the incumbent, when even his convention is mucked up by incompetence...well, that doesn't bode well.  Look out, Jimmy Carter.  You might soon have company in the failed, one-termer club.

Not only are rats leaving the sinking ship of state, but they are also leaving the sinking ship of video games.  As conveniently summarized by a recent ABC News article, video game sales just continue to get worse and worse.  Highlights: 

-- July 12: NPD Group reports that U.S. retail sales of video game hardware, software and accessories fell 29 percent in June to $700 million. It's the seventh consecutive month of decline. Sales of console and portable software — the video games themselves — fell 29 percent from a year earlier, while sales of hardware fell 45 percent. 

— July 31: Video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc. reports a wider net loss and lower revenue in its latest quarter, but results are largely in line with expectations. It also announces a stock buyback of up to $500 million.

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., another game publisher, says its loss in the latest quarter was much bigger than expected, because sales of "Spec Ops: The Line" and "Max Payne 3" were not as high as the company hoped.


— Aug. 2: Sony Corp. says sales fell about 15 percent, largely because of lower sales of the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Portable devices and the games that go with them. The decline was partly offset by the new PlayStation Vita, which went on sale in December in Japan and in the U.S. and Europe in February.


Video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. says net income dropped because of lower revenue from games. But adjusted results — the more closely watched figure — easily surpassed Wall Street's expectations and were much higher than a year ago.


— Aug. 6: Video game publisher THQ Inc. says revenue fell in the latest quarter, but adjusted results beat Wall Street's expectations as the company plan to reshape its business advanced. 

— Aug. 9: NPD says retail sales of new video game hardware, software and accessories fell for the eighth straight month in July. Overall sales fell 20 percent to $548.4 million. Sales of consoles and portable software — the video games themselves — fell 23 percent, while sales of hardware fell 32 percent. Accessories sales rose 8 percent. "NCAA Football 13" from Electronic Arts Inc. was the month's top seller.

— Aug. 16: GameStop Corp., the world's biggest video game retailer, reports a 32 percent decline in its quarterly income as sales slowed because not enough new games came out to draw in customers. Revenue fell 11 percent to $1.55 billion, short of Wall Street's $1.61 billion estimate.

— Thursday: NPD says U.S. retail sales of new video game hardware, software and accessories fell for the ninth straight month in August. Overall sales fell 20 percent to $515.6 million. But one analyst notes that it was hardware that dragged on the month, while software sales dipped just 9 percent. "Darksiders II" was the month's top-selling game.

Interestingly, when the 2008-2009 Great Recession hit, I recall various "industry experts" boasting that gaming was "recession proof" (if I was you, I would make a note of the people quoted in that article for future reference...just sayin').  How silly.  If you don't have money...you don't have money (I am reminded of George Orwell's sad quote:  "We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men."  Alas, as goes our public schools, so go our institutions of higher learning).

This all ties into my posting that urged gamers not to vote if they didn't follow politics on a regular basis.   National elections are not popularity contests; they are not about who is "cool", or who you would most like to "have a beer with".  Rather, they are about serious issues that have real implications for your well-being, even down to affecting your favorite hobbies.  Truth is, gaming is hurting because the national economy is hurting.  And why all this pain?  Because of the guy in the White House, and his acolytes.  No matter how fervently you believe in fascist or socialist economic theories, and this administration has dabbled in both, they simply do not work.  The result: failing industries, and failing presidencies. 

Politically engaged gamers!  Do the right thing and save your hobby before it is too late: vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

If you don't, get ready for a steady diet of games like this.

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