Welcome to our comentary blog

NAF-The Pulpit

Uncut and Unapologetic. Not Granny's blog site. So put her "@$$" to bed...

My Letter To Rand Al Thor 19



Rand Al Thor 19 is a man embedded deep into the Xbox community.  He is known as the “man with a million” referring to his Xbox gamer score which is hella impressive.  Nevertheless, he has been under heat for doing the ultimate taboo as of late - being an Xbox fan, and criticizing the Xbox system.  To me, despite my rebuts on Twitter which go against people spreading lies and mistruths as facts, being that anal about someone’s opposition to something Xbox related is absurd.  It befouls the culture of gaming and continues to send it on this downward spiral it has been since 2010 - no true innovation, just fanboying, hype and click baiting.

It is in reference to click baiting that I wrote this article.  At the time of this writing, Rand Al released a video where he announces he will end “click-baiting” the title in his videos. Click baiting is a recent term used to describe the act of severely over hyping the title of ones social media/online content to draw attention, therefore increasing the “clicks” or number of people open and read the article. Are Rand’s articles truly click bait?  I don’t think so.  In response I write an open letter to Rand on his channel which you can also see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI5PCOeIXhU&sns=tw

“ Rand…. I truly appreciate your candor, transparency and desire to satisfy the masses.  Guess what, you can’t satisfy the masses….  You got the fanbase you have by doing what you do. I’m not totally against click baiting unless its like SERIOUS exaggeration or flat out lie. However, there’s nothing wrong with hyping up your title -  a little - so it stands out. People need to be real here and stop the Emo bitchin.  It’s driving me crazy.  Rand and other content providers put things out on youtube at a great cost and a lot of hardwork.  There is compensation to be had for this to continue at the same quality.  Part of that compensation comes via views.  IT is what it is.  No need to cry over it folks.  Good titles of articles are to have some ambiguity, draw attention, and yes have a little hype.  These MF’s aint writin for NPR i.e. “…. Water drips slowly down wall” no dorks it’s more like “…. Water continues to drip down wall, is somebody’s bill about to get high!” Now if it read like …“ Water runs down wall. Trust me pipe will burst and drown city.  Phil should have seen this coming…”  then we would have a problem.   Rand’s articles never read like that. Rand, who am I to suggest this.  However, let the haters hate.  I don’t think you need to change anything bro.  Did the CD3 article rub some people wrong, yeah but so TFW.  It was your opinion, you did not dog MS entirely just their approach to CD3.  Honestly, I came out looking at the situation differently from you, but guess what it’s ok.  People can counter your argument and move on.  You’re not the problem. The problem is too many people have issues within the Xbox community.   We’re turning on each other because we’re falling for the puke pundit noise, and the fanboy bullshit ourselves. The systems problem was that it lacked the hardware to garner the  3rd party support that Sony got.   “Sony is crushing MS in exclusives” - that’s a farce.  Sony exclusive attach rate is 3% where MS’ is 5% this gen.  MS was getting killed in 3rd party sales because of the box.  With the X that has been resolved. Will it close the gap entirely - likely not, but will it bring back that third party support and a lot of the strayers, hell yeah. In closing that’s what lies within this problem.  Both console communities are so toxic, they now think its all about looking at numbers, pumping your chest if your consoles on top and dogging the other.  It’s pathetic. Too many Xbox fans are mad because they can’t do that this time.  They want MS to do something drastic to give them those bragging rights over night.  This is despite the company’s status which is doing hella fine, the number of AAA full game exclusives (27 to Sony’s 35) and the avg Metacritic of these exclusives (77.65 to Sony’s 79.08). Despite this, without those “we’re 1” in numbers bragging rights people want to go ape-shit.  We are now turning on one another.  Rand, you’ve become a target cause you won’t hold MS’ sac with everything they do.  This needs to stop. If Sony fans want to praise all PlayStation, let them do it.  I became part of the MS community because they were different.  As of late, not so much …. “


Posted 68 weeks ago

What is “Core” - A Gamer’s Gripe


~ Contributor:  MM2K

Over the last few years we keep hearing the phrase “Core Gamer”.  As gamers we need to toss this word out of our vocabulary.  It is a marketing term created by the industry big wigs, to put all non-casual gamers in a bubble.  You simply can’t do that. Non casual gamers have different approaches to how they want to game, and what they expect out of a game they consider to at least be good. I will attempt to explain all of the gamer categories below.

Main Category 1 - CASUAL GAMER. The casual gamer has selected a particular type of entertainment that can be considered a video game that they play casually - hence the term.  They may partake on the bus trip to work, while waiting for the spouse to try on clothes at the mall, while on the crapper waiting for Jr. to find the last role of tissue, etc.  It is a means to pass time during “boring” phases, temporary excitement over said title or sporadic requests from friends - “Wanna play some Madden!” It is nothing they plan their day out for periodically.  They do not have any particular care for the culture surrounding said title/genre or the gaming community in general.  They like said title, it is something that may garner their interest from time to time at best; or to keep them marginally entertained when bored at least.  No real care for gaming beyond that.  There are no sub categories here.

Main Category 2 - AVID GAMER.  The avid gamer on the surface has a serious interest, like or love for various aspects of gaming.  They like the experience that video games can provide at a broader level than a casual gamer, so their interests are more likely to spread beyond 1 genre, title or series. They have moderate to very high enthusiasm towards gaming culture and the nuts and bolts that keep the community moving. They will follow a series of a game, or look into a favored genre for variety.

AVID GAMER Sub Category 1 - Mainstream gamers. Mainstream gamers usually follow the industry trend towards games and what peaks their interests. They are not picky gamers as long as said title meets the current litmus of game elements promoted (cinematics, story driven, graphics). Due to this, they are an easier demographic to market to.  Most pundits at the time of this writing fit into this category, which makes marketing even more simplified.  The visual and cinematic aspects of gaming tend to be more of a lore for these gamers than gameplay. Desire for challenge usually range from low to moderate, of course with minimum exceptions.  Mainstream gamers may play and like a larger volume of games out of the avid gamers category, as quantity over quality is at the base of their routine gaming needs.

AVID GAMER Sub Category 2 - Hardcore gamers.  These are the gamers that expect the most out of a title’s game-play.  What satisfies the average mainstream gamer is not going to cut it for this group.  They are looking for a game that presents challenge/sense of urgency, while simultaneously presenting unique and innovative assets within the game to confront these challenges. The expectation is that the game-play intensity increases in this area as the game progresses.  Unlike mainstream gamers, visual and cinematic approaches, though not hated, are not on equal footing to the type of game-play explained above. The amount they play may not as necessarily be as frequent as the mainstream gamer, however when they’ve found a title that display the intensity outlined above, they’re hooked.

Some may look at this breakdown and say - “There is a core gaming group. They are the gamers that are more aware of games, follow the community and play more games, than supposed non core gamers. Secondly, your definition of Avid gamers is the exact replica of what is meant by core gamers…..

Well first off, when the big wigs say and market using the term core, they are trying to tell the community, hey this game we’re talking about is made with the entire non casual gamer in mind. That’s false. When Sony makes Uncharted or Horizon Zero Dawn, they’ve created a game suited for mainstream gamers only, but one they want to market to avid gamers as a whole. This of course creates the greatest monetary return for the company. How? They create a title specifically for the most vocal and visible group, market as if it’s suitable to the masses, so if there is backlash from non mainstream gamers, you have the mainstream echo camber to dismiss in. This way you have less potential for the title to flop, you already understand what litmus to “clone” to grant success. In this strategy there is no care outside of the mainstream demographic who really likes the title. They know that pundits and the most vocal in the community will give favorable marks, therefore broadening potential purchases, not satisfaction. 

Now, though the term core gamer may bare similarities to the avid gamer, the term core is designed under a big falsehood.  That being that all/majority of non casual gamers will favor said title. Again false. These big wigs just do not have the talent or desire to create such output. They simply stick to a niche approach and market to the masses. It works for them but not to us. It’s possible to make a game that truly has broad appeal, but again they are not structured or even desire to truly produce such an experience - because financially, they do not have to. They will not take a gamble to enrich the avid gamer’s experience in totality. They will follow the game design litmus/marketing strategy to enrich their pockets.

Ok, so that was the technical geek babble.  On with the gripe…

I decided to call in to one of my favorite podcast shows this week under an alias… because I’m goofy like that.  I called in because a running theme with some of the hosts is that Sony is where the game’s are at. They also feel that Microsoft needs to mimic the direction of Sony to start bridging the wide gap there is among console sales as of the time of this writing.  While this is going on, there was major blow back this week with the release of a very good Guardian article I urge you to read.  The article is with Xbox Head, Phil Spencer. In it he outlines the possibility that MS will focus more on service base aspects of games, being that their recent ventures into single player campaigns have flopped.  Reasonable business approach being that their most successful games (with exception to Fable 2) are service based, right? It should make sense for MS to rely on their own niche market that has garnered them success in the past.  Well, this scared some of my friends at my favorite podcast so I called in to comment. No need to worry. I wanted to convey that to my friends. I did I high a level overview of what I mentioned in the intro of this blog.

I called in and left an online voice message. When I called in, I explained you cannot fit all non-causal gamers in a box and slap one sloppy title on them.  We are different in tastes.  Some like Nintendo’s approach, hence why they buy their consoles/exclusives. Some prefer Sony’s approach, hence why no matter what they buy their consoles/exclusives. Lastly, the same for MS. The good news is the pod casters played my voicemail on air and responded. The bad news is I was mocked through some portions of the show for distinguishing the difference between the different demographic of gamers. It was mentioned that we need to accept the term “Core Gamers” because it is a real thing.   

Per this part of their response, I don’t think they truly understand the community opposite of the system fanboy. There are independent gamers who have no flag with either company or even a preference when it comes to exclusives. They simply buy the system they believe will give them the best bang out of their buck, particularly with multi-plat games. Due to this, whatever console has the highest installed base, sells the most exclusives.  The PlayStation 2 sold the most because it had the highest installed base. XBox 360 next gen did so because of the same thing. Now PS4 has retaken the exclusive sales crown due to this same theory.  It has nothing to do with accolades by pundits or mainstream noise. It’s solely based off of installed base. Last gen told it all.  Sony exclusives on average scored higher than MS.  MS crushed them in stand alone sells.  It wasn’t until MS shifted their attention on this gen with Kinect (FAIL) and Sony offering console bundles with their exclusives being free, that their exclusives sold better - on paper…

So when you talk of core gamer being a real thing outside of a marketing tool, simply put you’re wrong. Yes - it is a real “term” for the marketing world. However it is not a real “thing” as an accurate description that should be used if you are truly attempting to produce, promote or raise awareness to a quality titles the the various demographics within the community.  Less than 5% of games are created with this mysteriously abundant core gamer in mind. Most games are designed for a sublet of gamers, whether the audience big or small, with the hope of a successful market to all gamers.

I get it. Some may look at this so far and say - well you can’t satisfy everyone MM2K, and it’s not fair to  go after the term ‘”Core” when  you will always have a number of dissatisfied gamers no matter what you make.  And to that, I say BULLPUCKY.  Bioshock accomplished this feat. Among the plethora of gamers I speak to when discussing or debating quality games, I have never heard anything negative about the quality of Bioshock.  At worst I’ve heard, I’ve never had time to finish it yet.  That was marketed as a game for all demographics.  It hit that product placement goal exactly. So it can be done as long as that is the developer’s goal. In the cases i refer to earlier it’s not. They have an assembly line/one size fits all approach - again: make for the mainstream who is the most vocal, sell to the masses.  It works for the companies as they don’t have to scour hard and shell out the money for the scarce talent to make a game with true broad appeal. At the time of this writing, the return policy on games are very restrictive, so once you got a sale you got it. There is no concern over who you sucker, because the mainstream gamers have  “set the standard” and they have your back if there’s backlash.  All the while the hardcore gamer is left with their arms stretched and pockets empty, flipped inside out in disbelief

So basically, Phil in his comment gets it.  What they do best is service based games to a specific audience that favors their approach and buys their consoles. The only successful title they’ve had outside of this strategy is Fable 2.  If they can reclaim the crown with Project Scorpio, this will be the focus of their exclusives.  They tried the mainstream market and found out this segment was owned by Sony. If they get a larger install base, they will sell more exclusives, no matter what the pundits say. They will do so by A) convincing the non fanboys that their system is the best place to play their multi-plat games; B) satisfying the MS fanboys by giving them the service best games that put them on the map.

The pundits are simply out of touch with the community as a whole and the diversity in tastes that are present - hence why this comment sent up alarms for them.  If you are a hardcore gamer as described above you cannot listen to them!  We here at the Faction will try to fill that void. Stay tuned periodically to our reviews for a better fit for your gaming needs.  We in addition recommend our sister site PNTSNetwork for podcast material more geared towards the hardcore gamer  There are some credible podcasts you can find to assists like: Xbox Uncut and TXR Podcast. Now these shows on the surface are Xbox themed shows, but they do not pander to any console.  The contributors give accolades and FAILS to all console/PC titles when necessary. I find these two shows are more aligned down the middle than all other ones. 

Now to be fair, the pod casters were not rude or unseemly (like how I can be) however the mockery just shows there was an interesting disconnect. The most bewildering rebut to my point was “… well I focus more on the story than I do the game-play for the most part…” as to say “because I do, so does the overwhelming majority of gamers”… And that my friends cements my point exactly. Hardcore gamers (who make up a more significant portion of the buying community than I think my friends realize) hearing that would be like a car enthusiast hearing “hey, I put the design of the glove box above everything else”  If that’s your preference, by all means go for it.  However, please understand that your thoughts and opinions do not represent the gaming community a broad - and guess what… they don’t have to.  However it is the responsibility of us in the community to voice our preferences accurately, and be honest about our biases.  There are people making hundred dollar gaming decisions based off of universally acclaimed or discredited choices.  I know I know - I said earlier it’s all about installed base for a console’s EXCLUSIVE success.  Yes that is true.  But there are still a lot of gamers on the fence about titles or even systems. Their potential purchase may not necessarily make or break the console war margin, but it will make or break their wallets. I want them informed, not misled. That is what I care about most… my fellow gamer.  I love our community and the potential behind it; not some damn console maker who at the end of the day looks at me as some widget, that they can put in a convenient marketing box like “Core Gamer”.  And you know what - the sad part is… we are falling right for the bait every time we - the gamer - uses their jargon.

MM2K is contributing editor for the New A.G.E. Faction website and Lead Organizer of the PNTS Network.  As a hardcore gamer, he has been gaming for almost four decades, with his gaming experience spanning all the way from the Colecovision, Atari systems, Nes systems,Tandy 1000, Sony, Microsoft and Windows based PC’s.  As an original member of the NAF, he started his journey within the community trying to lobby for multi-unit co-op a standard for all single player campaign experiences.  As his conversations and experiences with gamers grew from the dozens to hundreds to the thousands, he and the original Faction members knew there was a more dire cause at hand - representation for the hardcore gamer.  Since then that has been his and fellow members of the New Age Faction’s goal within the community.

Posted 80 weeks ago

Just About Ready to Launch

Hey! We’re excited about NAF Website v3.0 and our Pulpit and Review blogs posting to the site. We have some good things lined up like a couple of PS4 exclusive reviews: Horizon, Nier: Automata, as well as a couple of Pulpit posts. We have a lot to say about Project Scorpio and the buzz surrounding it. So stay tuned. We have a lot of good material we plan to churn out. We hope you’ll enjoy.

Posted 81 weeks ago

NAF on tumbler

Welcome all  to the New Age Faction on tumbler.  This is a new experience for us so bare with us as work our best to add material.  Enjoy!

Posted 81 weeks ago