Weekly Digest #1

A long time ago, I promised that I’ll be sharing articles on a weekly basis under the “That’s what he read series“, and I failed to deliver. I apologize.

I’d like to start again and stick to it this time.

The name is different, but the concept is the same: I’ll share 5 articles about different topics (gaming, management, leadership, blockchain, technology, sports etc.), try to summarise it through a quote, and give my thoughts.

Article #1: Ego is the Enemy – Harvard Business Review  – Leadership & Management

The article provides some interesting, yet very logical, guidelines on how to avoid getting an overly inflated ego. We are humans and by definition: it means that we are not perfect. This also implies that we don’t necessarily have full control of our emotions, needs, and let our human instincts and nature get the better of us.

An inflated ego narrows our vision. The ego always looks for information that confirms what it wants to believe. Basically, a big ego makes us have a strong confirmation bias. Because of this, we lose perspective and end up in a leadership bubble where we only see and hear what we want to. As a result, we lose touch with the people we lead, the culture we are a part of, and ultimately our clients and stakeholders.

Article #2: The Good Times Are Over for Japan’s Loot-Box-Style Gaming Bonanza – Bloomberg Business – Gaming

An excellent article highlighting the mind-blowing revenues gacha-style games have generated. Moreover, this article also tackles 2 important topics:

  • The lack of investment from these behemoths in their staff and the “less for more” mindset
  • Why western publishers decided to use the same lootbox/gacha content for their games

Japanese gacha games have generated at least $55 billion since 2007, according to industry association Mobile Content Forum (MCF) and an analysis of data compiled by Bloomberg. Yet for Japan’s pioneers of mobile gaming—or, according to critics, gambling—the good times seem to be just about over. Mostly unable to produce follow-up hits, the companies are losing market share to more innovative rivals in China and South Korea, and their profits and share prices are tumbling. “The gacha business model is under pressure to change,” says Koki Kimura, president of Mixi, whose stock has crashed 65 percent from last year’s all-time peak. He predicts mobile games, which account for 90 percent of Mixi’s $1.7 billion in annual revenue, will drop to a third of the total in 5 to 10 years, supplanted by sports broadcasting and gyms.”

Article #3: The incredible story of the French “Madoff” – L’Express – Society

This article is unfortunately in French, but Google Translate does a good job.

This long read from L’Express tells the fascinating (yet horrible due to a lot of people losing their savings) story of the son of a plumber who turned multi-millionaire with a crazy Ponzi-scheme based on… books, autographs and other materials from famous writers. His collection had hundreds of pieces from Hugo, Balzac, Céline, Baudelaire etc. He even had an original book from Einstein’s early work on the “Theory of General Relativity”!

Oh and yeah spoilers: as many Ponzi schemes, it didn’t end well.

Article #4: Japan is cracking down on Softbank’s revenue – TechCrunch – Technology

A very informative read about SoftBank, which also links to other solid articles about the company. SoftBank is under scrutiny since a few weeks now, mostly due to its ties with Saudi Arabia (Reminder: SA have contributed approx 45% of SoftBank’s 96 Billion $ Vision Fund) and the fact that they seem unfazed by the gruesome death of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Aside from their shady ties with SA; their humongous debt, upcoming IPO and the change in the Japanese telecom landscape are all sources of anguish for the giant. Oh well, not everything is dark: The Softbank Fukuoka Hawks won the Japan Series in baseball for a back-to-back performance.

“Now for the big story. We have been obsessed this week with SoftBank,  first covering the telco group’s penchant for debt, and then covering the unusual financing situation between the IPO of its Japanese mobile division and its bankers, in which SoftBank is demanding its underwriters provide a massive bond to the Vision Fund in order to lever it up and juice returns.

It feels like the more we dig into all of SoftBank’s moving pieces, the stranger the story gets.

Over the past few weeks, the Japanese telco market has been absolutely crushed by traders. Market leader NTT DoCoMo announced about a week ago that it would cut customer rates by 40% on mobile services, and warned investors that it may take five years for the company to return to this fiscal year’s profitability. Concerned over industry-wide rate reductions, a possible pricing war and potential upticks in churn, investors rapidly sold the country’s three major wireless companies — including SoftBank — causing their collective market caps to plunge $34 billion the following day.”

Article #5: How to handle entitled gamers when announcing a mobile game – GamesIndustry – Gaming

Last week, we had a Smash Bros Direct, and BlizzCon 2018, it should have been a celebration of gaming, with plenty of positiveness, right… RIGHT GUYS? Guys….?

Well, it did not exactly go that way… On one hand, there was a fake leak around the supposed Smash Bros roster that literally divided the gaming community in two, and on the other hand, Blizzard announced a new Diablo game for… mobile. Both of these topics will be dissected by yours truly over the next few weeks, pinky promise.

The article, by the journalist Christopher Dring, gives some good insight on how to handle the entitled community when announcing a game that doesn’t fit their hardcore tunnel-visioning and needs. I highly appreciate the fact that he breaks down the psychology behind game announcements and their reception.

“Get it right, and you can create buzz around your product and brand like no other. But likewise, the level of expectation (and indeed entitlement) can lead to the very opposite reaction if you don’t hit the mark. Which was a situation that Blizzard found itself in this weekend with the reveal of Diablo Immortal for smartphones at BlizzCon.

On paper, Diablo Immortal is a major announcement. It is Blizzard continuing to push significantly into the mobile space. It’s an effort to expand the franchise into Asian markets. It’s likely to appeal to some of Diablo’s lapsed fans, who perhaps no longer have the time to devote to the main PC series. It’s not a remake or a reimagining, but a full new game based on one of its most cherished IPs for the world’s biggest gaming platform.

You can see why Blizzard thought it would make a fitting closing announcement to its BlizzCon opening ceremony.

In hindsight, it was clearly not the right fit for an audience of (mostly) core PC gamers. But even so, the level of venom and anger aimed at that game has been surprising. The developers were accused by fans – while on stage – of making an out-of-season April Fools joke. Campaigns have begun to get the title cancelled, and there has even been appeals to the President of the United States to intervene.”


Thanks for reading! See you next week.

Rachid

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