I am an Apple fanboy. In fact I have been since 1985 when I wrote my thesis for my school on a Fat Mac. I own several Apple devices, from iPhones, Macbook Air's and iMacs to iPads.
I am mostly happy with all the devices but of course there is room for improvement. Let me tell you what I would love to see from Apple in 2013:
iPad Mini with Retina with cheaper 3G Versions
I love the form factor of the Mini but I also understand that they had to release it non retina first to give the larger iPad a distance in improvement. Now I bet they release a Mini with Retina this year, but I wonder what they will give the lager iPad in return? Time for a 256GB version for Audio freaks?
I also would love to have 3G with a smaller price tag. Yes, you can go WiFi or tethering with your iPhone, but just turning on your iPad and immediately surf the net is wonderful.
More Regular iMac Updates
The iMac is a key device for Apple's desktop customer and in fact is the best windows 7 machine I ever owned. Yes, I do run Windows 7 on it for games due to my job. I even upgraded the graphics card in mine although Apple doesn't officially support it.
So I did order the new 27" iMac but I wish they would release a new one year by year so I can keep up with most recent PC technology.
Bring back dedicated GPU's for Air's
I love my Air as I have the last one with a dedicated GPU. It runs games still better than the most recent model from Apple. Either the next mobile i5 has a far better GPU or they should add an optional GPU to the model so I can run games decently :)
Otherwise the Air is perfect as it is.
Stretched iPhone 4S with 5's CPU
Yes this one sounds odd. But imagine: you take an iPhone 4S, put in the advanced CPU/GPU of the iPhbone 5 but stretch the 4S display diagonally without changing the resolution. This means larger screen for touch but the App's still work as the resolution didn't change.
Sounds odd? Well, maybe adding a phone with earphones only to the iPad Mini would do the same trick.
I wish the next OS for the Phones/Pad's would get a revamped UI. Some things are still odd to use like switching off Bluetooth or WLAN all the time, or the inconsistency in some user interfaces (pull down to refresh isn't working everywhere).
I get the feeling that the programmers don't have the time to lean back, relax and think about what they are doing due to the year by year release pressure.
The camera on the iPhone 5 is very good. In fact the iPhones pushed the camera tech for smartphones far ahead than any other manufacturer.
But I think its time to rethink how those cameras work as the thickness (thinness?) of the phone doesn't allow better lens or sensor technology. Re-position the camera, or make it ejectable or use a 90° inverted light reflector might be helpful to use larger lenses and thus light conditions for the camera sensor.
2012 has been a great year for the gaming industry despite being a transition year. Transition year means that the old consoles don't sell as well as they used to and overall revenue from game sales in this time period declines. Also huge investments are being taken into the next generation of console and this is so expensive that many publishers go conservative with their current releases - usually ending up in sequels.
But usually during that time creativity runs rampant outside the large publishers and many new trends are born in that time!
"Mobile" consoles: Smartphones and specifically the iPad have emerged as strong platforms for a multitude of games. Be it indie games or full fledged online MMO's; if you have a hit on the smart devices you can make a lot of money only compared to full fledged online games usually only found on PC's.
It seems that smartphone & tablet gaming is a disruptive force and will take market share from portable consoles and other gaming devices, eventually even consoles. Research has shown that households with tablets spend far less time on their dedicated gaming consoles than before.
The important thing here: the new devices allow smaller developers create and publish games worldwide without any outside help. The publisher model seems to be outdated for a lot of products but AAA projects. We will see tremendous new game formats coming from those devices!
Sandbox: MMO's came from sandbox (see Ultima Online or Eve Online) and seem to go full circle back to be sandboxes. Why the sudden popularity? Because sandboxes seem to solve one problem: the content race. Online game developers can't create content fast enough to satisfy their customers so they look for alternate ways.
Sandboxes are one way doing it, but only using sandboxes might alienate some players who at least need some guidance through the world. Not everyone has the urge to create his own fortune, some players want a red line guiding them.
For recent sandbox development check out Archage or Black Desert Online videos on youtube. Everquest III is also rumored to be sandbox only as well as Theralon a "true sandbox MMO", from the developers of Runes of Magic. And lets not forget Minecraft, the game of the year Dishonored or GTA V which is being released 2013.
The ultimate sandbox seems to be in development at Blizzard, which project Titan is rumored to be a sandbox where players can even play smithies or bankers in cities.
Perma Death: DayZ started it all; the player can die and actually lose everything. For older human beings who grew up with classic MMO's like Ultima Online you might remember that this is where online games came from.
Since World of Warcraft care-bear is modern, as you can't lose anything. The only game which kept Perma Death in the game is Eve Online. You can even lose your most precious skill level when you aren't careful with your clone.
So why is perma death suddenly modern again? The new XCOM, DayZ and even ZombieU offer game modes where the player really is afraid when he dies as there is game progress to lose.
And exactly this is what the latest wave of games bring back from memories: if you ever played a game where are left with shaking hands when you died - then you will miss that feeling forever. Games creating excitement, Adrenaline - its time that this kind of game play makes it back into the industry and I personally welcome this!
Let me explain what Dust 514 is: it is a f2pSci Fifirst person shooter on PS3connected to the Eve Online Universe.
Let me decloak (eve insider!) that sentence:
f2p: Free to play, the first of CCP. They never did a successful f2p business strategy.
SciFi: Niche, few female players, i.e. less reach. But for f2p you need to maximize reach to get revenue. Risky genre and setting for f2p.
FPS: CCP never did a FPS. Many people think developing an FPS is easy, but if it was there would be more successful ones besides Halo, CoD and Bf. Oh did I mention this FPS runs on console?
PS3: Yes, Playstation only. This means more restrictions in terms of technology. Oh did I mention this is the first console game of CCP? Did I mention that this is also the first f2p title on PS3? And Sony's payment systems really suck, i.e. less revenue as f2p live from a variety of payment systems?
Connected: This is the interesting thing. No one ever did something like this. If this works great, if not major fail as it is the ONLY innovation Dust has. But: it never has been done before = risk.
So there are a lot of risks there and I see no mitigation from the side of CCP. Knowing the history of CCP they often fly blind until they get a community backlash and then fix it. If they fly this tactic then Dust 514 will fail really fast - and might even hurt Eve Online, their only cash cow which currently pays for all of this.
And what do Eve Online players get in return while CCP spends all money on Dust 514? Shiny new graphics and some new ships. Thats all.
Wake up Eve Online players, CCP fools you currently with shiny graphics and no new game play.
In the times of online games you will encounter various numbers from press releases, shareholder or financial reports or interviews. The problem with these numbers is that teams can be easily irritated by them as per se it is very hard to compare them.
Lets use the most famous example: Users. How many users does an online game has? Lets check one of those misleading news:
Only by reading the small print you will notice they mean registrations, not users. This number is useless as it means either their marketing did a good job or the game is out for a long time and collected millions of registrations. This number does not tell us how many users are actually playing, i.e. how good the game really is.
Takeaway: be careful with "Users". Most press releases mean registrations, rarely you get active users.
Active users is a problem in itself as the definition isn't standardized either. And usually it doesn't show whether you mean daily or monthly. Monthly of course is higher as it simply states how many users have been playing in the past 30 days and therefore is being used by marketing quite often.
ARPPU usually means average revenue of paying users. You take your revenue of a specified time and divide it by the paying users during that time frame. See, I mention time frame. Again, any ARPPU is misleading as it doesn't give you the time frame measured. As ARPPU tends to go up with the lifetime of users or the game you must have a reference time. Usually you should ask for monthly ARPPU.
As by definition ARPPU should give you the number of spending's on average of your paying users per months.
Usually when you see ARPPU numbers they try to take the highest number they have, which might be life time value. Useless.
CCU or PCU is misleading too. CCU means concurrent users or how many users are online at any given time. As you can see "time" is a variable which the word CCU doesn't define. So what does it mean, average CCU or peak concurrent users? Oh wait, that's PCU. And what kind of skill is it when CCU is very high? That your software architecture can hold it and your hardware is scalable?
And if World of Tanks claim a PCU record of 400.000 "on one server" is this really the case considering the maximum number of players in one game can be only 16 30?
Of course the 400.000 users were logged in and can exchange data in the lobby, but "online" as PCU is a number which doesn't tell you anything, does it?
The one thing 400,000 PCU tells you is the scale of operations and the number of active users. Usually 25% of your active users are online during peak times, so you can judge from 400.000 PCU that they have 2.5 million active users minimum in Russia (note the 400.000 was Russia only).
It also means that Russia is their key territory as other areas does not seem to have these high PCU's.
Want a good, real CCU? Check this out:
It shows the average CCU load on Eve Online since 2006. And in that game all are online in one world (but not on one hardware of course). I just logged in to find 52.000 53000 pilots online = PCU (16th of December 2012 as Sunday evenings usually are busiest).
Conversion rate: usually a percentage of your active users who pay. On Facebook 1-3% is considered normal, on all other f2p games 5-15% is considered the norm. But % of what? Active users? If you read all the way down here you already know that there is enough room for manipulation on that number alone.
The easiest way to manipulate that number is to take lifetime payers vs. current actives, which raises the conversion rate. Or you only take your active users but delete the "tourists", i.e. the users who register, login and leave as they don't like what they are seeing. Just this makes the conversion look really good in most games.
This small excursion into the world of metrics just should give you a key learning: do not believe the hype, think about what you read. Compare. Ask.