Archive for December, 2005

Wired's Best 50 Robots Ever

Wired Magazine have made a list of the 50 best robots ever (fictional and non-fictional). Although they seem to have ommitted one of my favourite robots 😉

The Long Tail

I was doing some surfing yesterday to see if anyone had analysed the patterns of retro, that is the inevitable when what has come before returns again. We currently seem to be in the 80’s right now. I’m unsure what part of the 80’s, perhaps all of it. I was just wondering when the 90’s would come back and what exactly defined the 90’s anyway. I didn’t find any analysis on the subject only some amusing satire and another article which was more of a tangent to the whole retro thing.

The tangent was an article titled “The Long Tail” published by Wired magazine. It sidelined my retro analysis quest because The Long Tail outlines the saviour of the entertainment industry!

The basic gist of The Long Tail is, currently entertainment is hit driven. It’s hit driven because inefficient distribution (shelf space and cinema screens) means that for entertainment to be profitable it has to reach a critical mass of sales to pay for it’s retail space. Anything that doesn’t have that mass market appeal often doesn’t even get stocked. Not because there isn’t a market but because that market is more distributed, “In the tyranny of physical space, an audience too thinly spread is the same as no audience at all”.

With the advent of online retail and distribution entertainment is no longer limited by shelf space, it is changing the way people consume media and giving rise to a new business model for entertainment.

The current hit driven model works on the 80-20 rule. 20% of entertainment content will be a hit, that is sell enough to be profitable, the rest will not. Evidence from online retailers suggests that while you get the “power law” demand curve that looks like any offline retailers with with huge appeal for the top tracks, tailing off quickly for less popular ones. Beyond the hits the offline retailers demand curve drops to zero, because they don’t have more obscure media in stock for one. However with the online retailers the demand keeps going, this is The Long Tail. What’s more is The Long Tail is huge, some online retailers such as Amazon are finding the non-hits have got a market bigger than the hits.

There has been a lot of lamentation in the games industry on the lack of innovation and original content being created. The games industry is very much a hit driven economy, very few games made actually turn a profit. More and more publishers are spending their money conservatively on existing IP through sequels and movie tie ins. I’ve heard the big publishers only spend 10% to 15% on original ideas. This hit driven economy is frankly getting pretty stale. How long will people keep buying the next iteration of Need for Speed? I think the Long Tail may be the light at the end of the tunnel for the video games industry. It means there is a market for the non-hits of the industry. Sure the money isn’t as big as the hits but there is still money to be made and there’s always shelf space at Amazon. Hopefully as online retails grows and online distribution becomes a reality we’ll start to see some risks being taken again.

Rugby League 2 Number One

I just thought I’d talk up my place of employment a bit as the game they (I say they rather than we because I didn’t work on it) just released has leaped straight to number one in the Australian game sales charts.

Those Aussies sure love their League!

Santas run riot in Auckland

I read this article in the New Zealand Herald about this bunch of drunk guys in Santa suits running riot through central Auckland. Apparently it was in aid of an organised event called “Santarchy”, designed to to dismantle the commercialisation of Christmas. I’m not really into the commercialism of Christmas either but it seems like the drunken Santas may have got a bit out of hand. Still, it sounds like an amusing sight to behold.

Speaking of drunken Santas, Bad Santa has got to be the best Christmas movie ever.

Dragon Quest VIII article on 1UP

There’s an interesting article at 1UP.com on Dragon Quest VIII’s release in the US. Obviously there have been 7 versions of Dragon Quest preceeding this one but number 8 is the first I’ve heard of. However in Japan it’s apparently quite a different story, the article claims that 1 in 12 Japanese households own a copy of the game. 1 in 12!!!! The only other game I can think of that might have that kind of penetration anywhere in the world is Solitare. And Solitare doesn’t count.

I imported Dragon Quest VIII and am playing through it at the moment. I am quite enjoying it. It’s light hearted fun and beautiful to look at. My only complaints would be the random battles can get in the way of adventuring and the games treatment of the main female character is quite school-boyish at points.

Firefox 1.5 out now!!!

The latest version of my favourite web browser has been released.

If you already use Firefox then probably the biggest win in my books is the new update system. You no longer need to download install a new version of Firefox everytime a bugfix/security release is made. If you are still using Internet Explorer, I think the Firefox site gives some compelling reasons to switch.