Sponsored Content and Paid Reviews

Okay, Jim Sterling is stirring up a little dust. Shocking, I know. He has apparently received an email offering him money in exchange for a review. Probably not the wisest PR move. He had quite a lot to say about in on twitter:

I take exception to this particular assertion though. Payment exists in many forms. While I expect individual writers don’t often receive third party monetary compensation, I’ve always assumed that the media companies for which they produce content do. I mean, advertising is advertising and they go to great lengths to disguise it’s nature. I’ve seen plenty of magazine ads that mirror the look, style, and content so well that it’s easy to miss the “advertisement” text.

As a gamer, though, the ability to play some of the titles out there at no personal cost, sometimes before release and under NDA, is a form of payment in and of itself. Giving a known reviewer a Steam key for your game is also a form of payment. That key has a cash value that you have to hand over in order to receive, and they’re just giving it to you.

That doesn’t make it wrong though. I personally find it to be a perfectly acceptable practice, as long as it’s above the table and clear about what it is. I’ll just remind myself that your perception may be colored by the fact that they didn’t have to sacrifice the amount of money that I would.

I associate this sort of content pretty strongly with certain individuals as well. YouTuber boogie2988, whom I follow, does quite a lot of sponsored content. I don’t know if he receives monetary compensation, but I do know he sometimes receives goods and services for his videos and makes an effort to inform his viewers of this. Not always though, he does sometimes obtains these products with his own money as well.

I imagine it’s frustrating to receive messages like this when you have made a point to say you won’t do it ahead of time. Would that we all had our cup overflow with such a problem.

It’s easy to see how it would happen though. If I was going to try marketing a game myself, creating a list of prominent YouTubers would certainly be on my list of things to do. Yeah, it would be wise to at least do a little bit of background on each one, but there’s just so many that I would probably resort to the same tactic they did. Just email everyone on the list and see who bites. It takes a lot less time and effort to send an email to everyone than it does to look into the details of each and every one to see if they’re a good fit. Not saying it’s the best way, but I get it.

To each their own, though. It makes sense for Jim and his brand to call this out so strongly. I just find the notion of paid reviews as a conspiracy theory somewhat misleading. Then again, my argument is one of semantics and relies on his usage specifically implying direct monetary compensation to the review writer, and that’s what seems to be proposed in the email he received. Either that or they want him to pay them to review their game. While amusing, I didn’t get the impression he was reading it that way.

Think I’ll wander off now though. Y’all take care, try not to accidentally get paid for writing.



Game Publisher Stocks are Down, Maybe Kinda?

So, when I looked early this morning, it was already news that EA was down due to the official report that they missed on holiday sales. Been hovering around the -13-15% mark. In isolation I wouldn’t think much of it, but it’s almost looking like a trend at this point. There seem to be an awful lot of developers, both hardware and software, reporting weak holiday sales. Kinda put the idea in my head that maybe the industry as a whole turned down a bit.

It was also in my feed that Take-Two had taken a hit for it’s earnings report. Kinda reinforced the idea that’s forming. At least, until I actually looked it up. Honestly, I’m a little confused. I’ve got reports saying they missed and others saying surpassed expectations. I can say that according to the actual news report from Take-Two the numbers reported by that second article seem to be incorrect. One article said the stock was down not due to weak sales but weak guidance. I didn’t know what that even was, but apparently it’s a sort of “we expect this to happen” kind of statement.

It’s not just those two though, it looks like the other developers/publishers on my list are also down overall today compared to yesterday, in the general ballpark of -10-15%. I’ve read a few things saying the market as a whole is kinda down-ish due to the state of the union address, so that may also be a contributing factor. I mean, let’s face it, I have no idea what I’m talking about here.

I also didn’t read any of this especially closely, just enough to get a general idea of what’s going on. I’ve actually considered looking into the virtual market game that MarketWatch has, if only out of sheer curiosity. No better way to learn than by doing, right?

Square Enix is also making some minor headlines with their Q3 report as well. Ironically, their actual (US) stock is up. The Japanese and German listings, however, are down. Their report also shows sales and income down from last year, but also expenditure is higher as well. It will probably improve in the near future though, I know the pre-orders for the FFXIV expansion go live soon, if they haven’t already. A year ago I would have been all over that pre-order, so I’m sure that’ll help bring in a little spike of income. Their projected end of year is still down over last year though.

It would appear that most of the lower than expected sales were in the mobile/browser, mmorpg, and merchandising areas, while development and advertising costs rose over the same period. At least, that’s what the press release says.

Meanwhile, operating income declined year-on-year due to greater amortization of development costs for major new titles and increased advertising expenses.

In the smart devices and PC browser area, many of the titles newly launched in the prior fiscal year performed below expectations and failed to generate additional revenue on top of that from existing established games. A decrease in licensing income and an increase in advertising expenses also resulted in a year-on-year decline in net sales and operating income. “Romancing SaGa ReuniverSe,” which was launched in December 2018, made a good start (net sales from this title are
not recognized in Q3 but will be booked in Q4).

In the area of massively multiplayer online role-playing games, net sales and operating income decreased compared to the same period of the prior fiscal year, which had seen the launch of  expansion disks for “FINAL FANTASY XIV” and “DRAGON QUEST X.”

I think that’s all for my dry gaming stock watching for today though. I’m looking forward to the release of Anthem and how that plays out in this regard, though I suppose we probably won’t get a decent financial report for another few months yet. Such fickle and volatile things, these stocks.

College Applications

I find filling out a college application an odd experience. Answering some of these questions, like past college experience, requires details I barely remember pieced together from things like Amazon order history. At the very least, I’ve probably been using Amazon way to long.

My oldest order is from sometime in 2002. Books for a writing assignment, if I recall correctly. All the purchases are dated and have an address though, which helps me create an awkward sort of timeline. Of course, I’m sure they’ll want transcripts at some point.

In theory, I could get transfer credit for at least some of the basic math classes and such. Not much though. I don’t think I ever took a proper english course and the highest level math class I have a decent grade in is probably college algebra.

That’s the unfortunate bit is that the last college I attended I was basically a dropout by the end of the first year. It didn’t live up to my expectations and I lost the will to bother. I doubt any of those credits are worth much of anything. It was a highly specialized school anyway though, so I doubt there was much transferable to begin with.

Likewise I took the time to ask my wife if she would be okay with it as well. I didn’t think she would be opposed, but it never hurts to run major long term time-consuming decisions through first.

I’m gonna call it there though. Early morning again and it’s been a busy day. Y’all take care, and try not to surprise anyone with major life choices they weren’t included in.

Eco – Pollution

Okay, so remember that building we were making for the tailings the other day? That was a really bad idea and didn’t do anything to contain the problem. When I checked the pollution level with my soil sampler we were well on our way to 200%.

escaped pollution.png

So I did what I would normally do and looked it up and did some reading. It’s worth mentioning that tailings in this game have little in common with tailing in the real world. In reality it’s something of a slurry mixture that contains everything that isn’t the metal you were trying to extract. The exact level of danger is highly dependent on the particular ore and it’s refining process. Still, uncontrolled runoff is bad. It’s not uncommon for them to be stored in open air pits.


In Eco, though, the only way to mitigate their “pollution” is to bury them. The deeper the better. So we spend several hours digging this big pit to put them in. In Eco pollution is first applied upward until there are no solid blocks left. If that wasn’t enough to “absorb” it, then it radiates outward from that column. To give you an idea, even with this pit filled in, I’m still measuring over 300% in the dead center. Overall mitigation is good though, the outer edges of the pit are measuring below 100.

Our overall goal so far was to build a blast furnace to try and reduce the amount of tailings produced. It’s been a rather long and rough run, but we’re finally getting there. At the same time as we’re doing all this, I’ve been trying to get a farm up and running and cook food for us to eat. I ran into a problem, however.

It was only today that I realized that the only beets left in the ecosystem are the ones I’m growing. They no longer exist in the wild. I also though crimini mushrooms were extinct, but I managed to find a half dozen or so and get a farming area set up for them as well. They probably don’t exist in the wild any more either.

There are some world generation problems as well. Our world doesn’t spawn any bison, for example. I used server commands to fulfill the requirements for one of the research projects because they don’t exist and never have. As I understand it, this is a known issue with world gen.

tier 2 workshop.png

We also managed to get this tier 2 workshop up and running as well. We’ll ultimately be building an upper floor to house the rest of the tier 2 equipment. After that we’ll probably be building a reinforced concrete building, which is tier 3, on top of the filled in tailings pit. One thing at a time though, my current objective is to harvest my beets tomorrow so I can finish the dish in my cast iron stove for the “advanced cooking” skill book.

Either way, that’s another day’s problem, so y’all take care. Someone needs to call Captain Planet or something.

Something New – Cattails


This is actually a title I picked up because my middle child wanted to try it. It’s not that bad, really. Kindof like Stardew Valley, but you’re a cat.


Into sequence is a bit harsh, and doesn’t make a ton of logical sense, but whatever. It covers the basis of why you’re a house cat in the woods anyway. You’re immediately greeted by some manner of friendly mentor cat, and get to choose a “faction” to join before you really get a chance to do much.


You get a “den” area to save your game and sleep in. It’s placed in the town of whichever faction you choose. I’ve seen some videos that show it’s customizable and/or expandable, but I haven’t made it to whatever part allows you to do that.


The game has a number of things you can be doing, but honestly I’ve spent most of my time hunting so I don’t starve to death. I nearly starved to death a few days in because I had a hard time hunting and stopped for a day to experiment with other stuff and had to sell some random plant and stuff to the store to but some emergency food.


There is a skill system that’s supposed to help as well. There are only a few passives, one for each major type of activity, plus swimming, because water is rather irritating and dangerous. Hunting is pretty straightforward though, you just have to be near and looking at a catchable critter while a bubble fills up then hit spacebar. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.


I haven’t had much luck with fighting. There’s typically a half dozen or so enemies and they all hit kinda hard and are only slightly slower than I am, so I can’t really get behind them. The areas where fighting is going on is visible on the map so I just avoid those areas where possible.

I’m not really sure what foraging does, exactly, but I assume it’s related to the various plants you can collect. They have a variety of uses, some heal, some are good for selling, etc. I typically sell all mine.

task board

There’s also a sort of job board that’ll have a random task for you to complete each day. I’ve only succeeded once so far. It gives you a token you can exchange for food, abilities, or cosmetics.

underground shrine

A couple of days in it also introduces you to a sort of underground shrine that reminds me of the community center from Stardew Valley. No idea what happens when you complete one. I’m still working on this first one at the moment. You have to actually bring the critters in question and turn them in to get credit.

All in all it’s not bad. My child, probably more than one, would really like this, though the difficulty may be a bit steep at first. I think I could get them through the basics though. Cat simulator for the win, I suppose.

Y’all take care, make sure you eat regularly, or else.

Super Discount Clothing and more Eco

Bit late today. Spent half the day out and let my wife use the computer a good bit of the afternoon. She was trying to convince a Raspberry Pi to cooperate and it was disinclined.

This leaves me not having done a while lot today, other than go buy some pants and shirts from the thrift store on 50% day. Some of the jeans I only paid $0.50/pair for, so that’s always a win.

eco home.png

My brother did eventually get a copy of Eco though, so we’ve played that some. Got a nice little setup going so far. I’m doing more of a farming/cooking route and he’s handling most of the tech/construction stuff.


This has left us with a huge pile of tailings from iron refinement though, on the left. It’s slowly polluting the entire area around it. My brother is working on a stone enclosure, seen in the background, so house it somewhat more safely. Still I foresee this becoming quite the issue long term. It’s already… not good.

Either way, midnight approaches, so I’ll keep it short today. Y’all take care, try not to destroy the environment.

Cost of Returning to College

I got really curious today and spent quite a while exploring my financial aid options today. Also comparing those options to what’s theoretically feasible for me to actually take and where to take it.

It actually took quite a bit longer to sort through all the available information than I thought it would. Tracking down all the financial aid stuff then going through lists of schools, local and otherwise, comparing tuition rates, available programs, and the details of said programs.

There was quite a bit more variety from school to school than I initially expected and it was actually a little disheartening at first. There were very few courses I was overly interested in, and many times they were only offered on-site. The few that did offer it online were…. prohibitively expensive. The whole point was to see what was available without loans.

On the bright side, I did eventually find a few options that are somewhat realistic. My wife doesn’t seem opposed, exactly, but it would be severely inconvenient for the entire family. At least some thought must be given to the loss of time such an activity would incur and whether or not it’s a productive use of time. I love to learn new things, but there’s no point in pursuing something that doesn’t pay back at some point.

It’s late though, and my wife would like to discuss budgeting and meal planning, so y’all take care.