Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Our Governor at Work: Schwarzenegger Speaks his Mind Edition




They say it was an accident, but when Arnold Schwarzenegger gave legislators his response, he also told them what he really thought in the first letter of each sentence in the body of his cover letter.

Here it is:



It kind of makes me like him again




Yeah! Developers Can Sell Into iPhone Apps: Apple's Unbiased Indifference Edition



I was on my way to the airport for another business trip in a month where I spent more days on the road then at home, and I saw another of the ubiquitous billboards for the PSP Go. My first thought was “I have to get one.” I mean come on, it is not just gadget porn. They are dangling a slick new drug in front of a junkie. It is small and electronic and it lights up and makes noises. It even has a slidy thing with buttons. It doesn’t do anything the old one doesn’t do and in fact, with is smaller screen and inability to use my UMD games, it does less. But Sony’s blatant pandering to my addiction didn’t bother me. I am used to it and accept it, as well as my inevitable succumbing to temptation followed by the post purchase depression as a fact of life. It was the next thought that bothered me. After I looked at it I thought I would not buy one because I could just get games for less money on my iPhone. The abuser is not Sony, it’s Apple, and not just because they are bumming my high.

I wrote about Apple’s attempt to reinvent the game business. They saw consumers spending more than they ever did before for content, just not to the content owners. The money was going to a disparate group of companies making PCs, storage devices, MP3 players and broadband and consolidated all of those dollars under one roof. By doing so, they are able to commoditize the content. As I said a couple weeks ago, they did it to music, and now they have their sights set on games. The point hit home when my sleep deprived mind wandered to the bad place and I realized my support for the game device would be out of loyalty to the business model that paid for my house, and not basic logic. Sure the games on the PSP may be better, but better doesn’t always win - especially in the face of a great price disparity.

Apple is different from Gamestop or Gamefly who simply need interventions, because Apple is indifferent. Where Gamestop and Gamefly are only harming themselves by capturing revenue from the companies who feed them, in the long run, they know their survival is inexorably tied to content. Apple, on the other bears the same indifference toward developers as Godzilla to Tokyo. They don’t really want to hurt us, but they also don’t really care if they do. We are simply collateral damage resulting from the attack on the market or killer kaiju, as the case may be. Apple is attacking the game industry stalwarts by regressively taxing the disenfranchised developers by offering the false hope of lottery riches. In the beginning, I thought it was a good idea, but that was when I thought the platform would be protected and people wouldn't just be collecting free apps. Developers can see the big gooey pile of apps, but every one of them is confident they are creating the next tetris. No filmmaker sets out to make Howard the Duck and no game maker sets out to make E.T. – the game that is.

Developers are investing their own money because Apple told them they have an outlet. Sure, Apple is not telling the developers to do this, but no one is telling the poorest segment of society to buy the lion's share of lottery tickets either. The campaigns are tailored to the most susceptible. Apple tells developers they have an opportunity to reach the market and their return is only limited by the scope of their imagination and the quality of the offering. What Apple doesn't say is Apple will continue to make money on the hardware while the app store will continue to be managed for volume. Sure you can make the really cool app to tell the temperature on the moon and we’ll let you charge USD 5.99, but nothing is stopping us from approving the other guy’s moon temperature app for free. Even worse, while Apple zealously guards the ceiling price on media, it certainly won’t protect the floor. Apple would love for you to charge USD 9.99 or 29.99 for a game, but it really doesn’t care. So long as developers provide content, Apple is happy. So far it’s working – for Apple and with a recent change it may be working for developers.

On October 15 Apple changed the rules for in-app sales. It not only allows developers to quickly convert a free demo to a paid version – rather than the current Lite and Full versions – but it allows developers to join the social gaming revolution and start selling objects into games, additional content and subscriptions. The concept is a much closer alignment of interests between Apple and the developers at no additional cost to Apple. Developers are incented to keep prices of apps low, driving more downloads and more appeal for Apple. If trends from freemium content on other platforms prevail, consumers will pay more money over time for in game purchases than they would have paid for the game. So Apple gets more free content and developers, in theory get more money. This is crucial to the future of the platform. I won’t say it is a threat to Nintendo and Sony because their dedicated consoles have allowed for this content all along. A lot of DSi owners have yet to purchase a single game, continuing to play only downloaded content. However, I will say it is a huge benefit the community of iPhone developers and shows us Apple doesn’t really hate developers, they just remain indifferent.





Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Zynga's Doing it Old School: Showing Us How It's Done Edition




So remember when making games was fun. Schedules were measured on single year's calendar, budgets had fewer than US phone numbers and revenue had more? Zynga does and they are bringing those days back - with a vengeance. There is certainly no formula for finding success in ultra low budget games, it is even more amazing to hear of a game company which is churning out low budget cash cow games like jelly beans down a conveyor belt. Sure, it is "only a game company," but this game company, which is rumored to be preparing for an IPO, went from zero to well into the 9 figures in revenue - rumors place revenue between 150 and 250 million dollars - in two years and operates on margins - rumored to be 60% EBITDA - that would make any media executive cry.

If you have a Facebook account, you probably played, or received a post from a friend who plays Mafia Wars, Farmville or Zynga Poker. If you are not on Facebook, you probably never heard of the company. Which is odd, considering there are over 125 million people registered in the Zynga community. This is not just one of those dot com "ooh, look at all the eyeballs" companies with no revenue. They started cashing on on three revenue streams right from the beginning. Like a television show, Zynga makes money from advertising - about two thirds of its revenue. Unlike a television show, the other third of its money from selling digital objects through a direct relationship with its consumers. Ad dollars are earned through advertiser sponsored offers in which users can get virtual currency to buy virtual goods as well as traditional advertising. Digital objects on the other hand are pretty out there. People pay real money to buy objects that don't really exist. They vary from game to game, but purchases can be anything from poker chips, to carrot seeds, to cash, to tractors. Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit last week, CEO Mark Pincus jokingly pointed to larger tractor sales than John Deere. As you may guess, it does not cost Zynga a lot to make more digital objects and there are no inventory or fulfillment issues. 99.99999999% margins on incremental units is nice. While the concept is old hat in Asia, and common in the world of massively multiplayer games, Zynga is the first company to really bring the "free to pay microtransaction," or "freemium" model to the United States in scale. Looking at one game provides an idea of the scale.

One of the Zynga's most popular games, Farmville, grew from 354 users on June 20 of this year to 56 million users today, 20 million of whom are daily active users. Each of the 20 million daily users logs on for an average of three minutes a day. While 3 minutes may not seem like a lot in a world where 20 million viewers watch American Idol on any given night, we have to realize it is kind of like Zynga broadcasts only the three interesting minutes of the show, every day. This is the part when American Idol makes money on the voting. It's a little better than that because there are no capacity issues, so everyone who wants to participate can, and pays money, and even better still because all the ad inventory for the show is compressed into three minutes. Sure it costs less to run an ad in Farmville, but it also costs orders of magnitude less to reach the consumer. In case that's not enough, the production cost of a game is purported to be low to mid six figures and the incremental cost of creating and releasing a new game object is close to zero. Players don't even have to wait for water cooler talk the next morning. As soon as your or one of your friends achieves a new level of success in the game - which is often - a message is sent to all connections telling how much fun you are having. Finally, we can't forget, Zynga makes advertising very attractive as they know the identity, demographic and regional information of every person who plays every day. Unlike American Idol or any form of broadcast entertainment, if the company wanted to, it could send an email to everyone who plays the game. Unlike Blair Witch, Paranormal or American Idol, this is not a one off. They pop out game after game and the growth curves are getting steeper. The community is so connected, and so rabid, it took only one week, for one of the newest games, Cafe World, to reach 10 million users.

Zynga is also joining the growing list of companies working to do well while doing good. The company ran a small test in Farmville to see if users could be encouraged to donate to important causes. In their "Sweet Seeds for Haiti" program, users purchased special sweet potato seeds, with 50 percent of the purchase going to Fatem.org and Fonkoze.org. Within three weeks the campaign generated a contribution of $487,500 to the organizations. The net cost to Zynga, was not even measurable and the profit and contribution were significant enough to feed over 500 families for a year.

Gamers look at what they are doing, and say they are not games or if they are, they suck. In reality, they are not games. They are social lubricants that give you a means and a mechanism to stay in touch with your the deepest of your contacts. And as games, they will certainly not generate the same type of "wow" as Uncharted 2, but, if they really do suck, I would like to be involved with something that sucks even only a portion as much as they do.

The company's ability to make money is obviously significant, the ability to clone success from game to game is enviable and the size of the audience generated without any type of license or boost from outside media is downright scary. They are the first company to really show us how to provide lucrative, entertaining content within a social network - and that they can do so very well without anything from traditional media.





Friday, October 16, 2009

Talking About a Revolution: Bizzaro EA Edition



I don't think this idea rises quite to the level of heresy of this one, but it could definitely fall into the category of "Wow, that is nuts . . . hmmm now that I think of it, it may not be so crazy." You see, I got this email from Gamestop with an amazing offer on a great game:



As a Tim Schaefer fan since Full Throttle, I was already counting the days to release, but Gamestop nows sweetens the deal by offering the game for one ATM unit, or as some of us might say the right price for a game? Sure, it would be tremendously hypocritical for me to cash in games to Gamestop, but if I put on just a bit of a disguise and went somewhere other than my regular Gamestop. . . . Inspired by Pete Townshend's one man crusade, and like him, solely in the interest of research, I looked at the list of games:



I wouldn't give back Arkham, still hours to go in The Beatles - and it is one of the only games my wife will play with my son and I - do they really want G.I. Joe or G-Force? Fallout 3 will create shelf fulls of a great free alternative to the new GOTY version Bethesda is trying to sell creating the question - is it better for the publishers to squeeze more dollars out of their hard core consumers or have Gamestop sell a very similar thing to new consumers without paying Bethesda? FIFA 09 for those newbies who don't realize games are dated like magazines. WET to guaranty a reduction in re orders and all the rest of the games necessary to make sure the stores are well stocked for 40% margin product for the holidays. Sure, a lot of these are gathering dust on my shelf, and even if I intended to buy DLC, I could just repurchase the game when the DLC comes out. My console will still have my game saves. A very cluttered closet is a clear testament to my never turning in an old game, but when they spell it out this clearly, grabbing the third rail is oddly attractive.

Then I started to wonder why Gamestop had to have all the fun. Why are they the only ones who get to sell product over and over again? We should be able to get us some of that too. I thought about how much money I pay EA every year. In the past year, I purchased Dead Space, Mirror's Edge, Need for Speed:Shift and Brutal Legend. That's probably about average for a core gamer. Sports oriented players probably bought Madden and either a FIFA or NBA title and PC gamers bought whatever it is people do on a PC. Regardless, it is pretty safe to say that if their core buyer purchases between four and six games a year, they are very happy. Even though we pay USD 59.95 on average for a game, by the time it filters through the intermediaries and manufacturers, EA will receive about half of that money. Add in marketing, and you are probably between USD 25 and 30 per unit sold. So guesstimating on the high side, I paid EA USD 120 last year. But what would happen, if EA decided it was tired of my "renting" games from everyone else (isn't a Gamestop purchase with an intent to turn it on just a rental by another name) and chose to capture the revenue? It really would not have to reinvent the wheel. Disruptive models requiring changes to human behavior are expensive, but EA wouldn't have to do that. The model has already been created. EA need only act a bit more like gamefly, or better yet, with the combination of physical media and instant viewing, Netflix.

While the rest of the world is looking to advertising subsidies, or swallowing Chris Anderson's (the bald Wired editing one, not the saving world TED one with the full head of hair who used to publish game magazines) "look at me I discovered the free sample" manifesto, companies from Blizzard to HBO understand subscription is a good model. Sure it's hard. You have to offer compelling content and listen to your consumer, but if you do, they keep paying you money every month. In fact, they will do it until you do something really, really bad. And curiously, the customers subsidize themselves. Your costs increase with consumer base growth, but so does your revenue. What would happen if EA switched to a subscription model?

Gamefly charges USD 16.95 a month and seems to be growing its base. For this price, a subscriber can hold on to one game at a time and if they choose, exercise a purchase option on the game they have. If EA charged me the same thing, rather than USD 120 last year, I would have paid them at least 203.40 - assuming I did not choose to keep any of the games they sent. If I chose to keep them or wanted more games at once, they would have received more - and so would I. Exclusive catalogue titles available only on line to subscribers would allow me to introduce my son to some of the things I used to play. Even though EA can't justify putting the Road Rash series in a box, it would cost nothing to stick it on a server and give me access. Interest may even revitalize the title ala Ghostbusters. I would also tick the order box for titles I may not choose to buy at full retail and become a convert. Even if I don't EA captured the consumer rather than Blockbuster or Gamestop.

You are going to jump in and say "but EA does not have all the games on the market and I want to purchase from other publishers." I had a law professor who used to answer questions like this with "true, but trivial." Does Blizzard offer anything other and WOW to the 12 million folks who pay USD 14.95 a month? Does your membership in the Girls Gone Wild continuity program stop you from buying other porn? Subscriptions are a funny beast. Once a consumers signs up and go on auto bill, the money is no longer considered part of the budget. It just happens. Subscriptions and new game purchases are not mutually exclusive. My EA subscription will just keep giving me new gaming goodness and when Borderlands or Assassins Creed hits the shelves, I'll go buy them. The difference is, EA's titles get returned to them, reducing their cost of goods and letting them capture the used game margin while ensuring a consistent, predictable revenue stream from me, while Take 2 and Ubisoft will see reorders decrease proportionately to increases in sell in.

Of course the channel will be pissed. Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Gamestop - especially Gamestop because they deal with the hardest core who are most likely to subscribe - but the scene will look more like a John Woo each guy has a gun to the other's head than a blindfolded EA standing in front of a firing squad. Games will sell on discs just like CD's are still sold at retail in spite of iTunes and subscription music services and retailers want their games. It would be hard for Take 2 to make this move because retail only cares about one product every four years. But EA puts out a Madden, FIFA and NBA product they care about every year. EA will still sell games at retail and none of those stores want EA to be exclusive anywhere else, so EA has leverage. They will just sell less product at lower margins and it may even encourage retail to invest in promotion the way they have in the music sector.

I don't know, maybe I am nuts.




Sunday, October 4, 2009

Apple's Attempt to Reinvent the Game Business: Selling the Razors Edition


I read this article a while ago about the entire game business fearing Apple, and I thought it was kind of silly. Then the next day I saw this one proclaiming Apple's dominance over all others and started to think I was wrong when I said Steve Jobs' reality distortion field would not extend into the game business. Then I closed my macbook, took a deep breadth of fresh open air and realized, as tempting as it is to say Apple figured it out and is going to save the day, just like they did for music. But the articles are falsely equating the music business with the game business, and they are really wrong – and we should be happy.

In the New York Times article, Yoichi Wada, CEO of Square Enix was called for a new business model. “The next breakthrough in gaming is not going to be in hardware,” Yoichi Wada, president of a top Japanese game maker, Square Enix, told Game Show participants. “It’s going to be in how to create a successful business model.” The implication is Apple's golden touch is addressing the need. If Apple has its way, this statement is poetic foreshadowing of our industry’s doom. Sure, being afraid of the iPod only to see it save the day would be pretty consistent patterns established in the past. Every new media was feared by existing media and ultimately expanded the content market. Film studios feared television, videotape and DVD's. All expanded the market. Television feared videotape and DVRs, but they turned out to be a pretty useful. Now we are even seeing potential for Hulu and other on line distribution teeing up to expand the market. With Apple spamming mainstream media with game ads, it should only be a good thing. The iPod simply joins the handheld market, which has been around for years, and introduces a new point of monetization, expanding amortization opportunities of production costs and giving publishers an opportunity to make more money and larger games . . . right? Not if the plan succeeds. We only have to look to the music and video businesses to realize Apple is walking us to the precipice of a slippery slope.

Apple’s business model threatens content creators. You know, the one that allows creators and publishers to make money. For years, our business, like scores of others, has operated under the razor/razorblade model pioneered by King Gillette at the turn of the 20th century. Give away the razors, and sell the blades. We are blade makers. We in the game business benefit from the sale our games into allegedly subsidized consoles. The console manufactures make their own games and receive their vig on the manufacturer of each game, and we were all happy. Until Apple, no one ever thought to turn the model on its head. Apple knows content is very risky and wants to be free, so it avoided the content model fray in video and music by charging for the razor and commoditizing the blades.

Before Apple, hardware pioneers made sure the content was a available by creating, or subsidizing it. RCA supported television and phonographs with NBC and Victor, Sony owned record labels and studios and game console manufacturers publish first party games. In the music businss, Apple found a chaotic market loaded with pre existing popular content, and under attack by piracy. By simplifying access, securing delivery, aggregating popular content and setting the price at a break even level, Apple was able to leveraged the long tail – the phenomenon defined as creators make a little money over a long period of time and aggregators make a lot in a short time- without spending any risk capital on content creation. By creating a safe harbor in a world of rampant uncontrollable piracy arising from the failure of the gatekeeper model, Apple got the labels to jump on board before they realized the content was commoditized. As the company grew to the largest music store on the planet, the labels lost leverage over promotion, pricing, distribution and just about everything that makes them a label, except the requirement to spend risk capital for new music. When Universal said they didn’t like the pricing, Apple said “too bad, leave”. They didn't. After Apple did the same thing in the video business and NBC didn’t like the pricing, Apple said “too bad, leave,” and they did . . . only to come back. There is no profit in the content, but Apple doesn’t care, they make their money on the razors, not the blades. No single content creator has power - and none of them make as much money as Apple either. Now, Apple is setting its sights on games.

Apple is promoting games in the largest marketing campaign to ever hit the game business, but consistent with the attack on the other industries, consumers don't know which games they are. I saw the cool three way soccer thingy and the roller coaster stuff, the racing with the bumping was neat, but I don't know any of their names. If I wanted to find them, I have to dig through the app store, which someone in a meeting described as "Wal-Mart, all in a single aisle, ten miles long." This plan worked for music and made Apple the number one store, but it is not going to work in games. They just don’t get the market.

The first hint of Apple’s misunderstanding of the business comes in the uncharacteristically tone deaf advertising tag line “Next level fun.” It sounds like it should be bundled with a Brady Bunch Box set. It breaks the cardinal rule of not sounding like something your mom would think of and makes Sony’s weird baby ads and goat sacrifice look ingenious. Apple app store is doing a bang up business on the mainstream side and perhaps even attracting some of the 30 million Farmville subscribers, but they are promoting games for the hardcore and they aren't buying. Madden launched at number 1, but within a month fell to 38, while Bejewled has been in the top 20 for over a year and there are only three games in the top 100 selling for more than USD 3. The number of potential Madden buyers will always be smaller on the iPod than Nintendo or Sony devices. Every single one of the 110 million people who bought a DSi or dozen who bought a PSP - I am kidding there are about 40 million - bought it to play games. Only a subset of iPhone and iPod buyers purchased the hardware for games. Even though Apple doesn’t care about how much people pay for games game makers care deeply.

Music and video do not have to be ported to the iPod. The same music file plays on your stereo in your car, in your living room and over the PA at a stadium. While a film may feel different in a theater, no design or technical adaptation is required to digitally deliver it to the iPod. So even though the owners of this other media are marginalized, they did not make any specific investments in content for the iPod. It is simply another release window. Games are a very different animal. Madden cannot just be just delivered to an iPod. The game had to be redesigned and built specifically for the device. Even if it is a port from a handheld device, it still requires investment. In fact, games are the only entertainment application tailored specifically for the device. Because content sells hardware, the investment mean something. As we saw when Bobby Kotick threatened to pull Actard off the PS3, if publishers fail to see an adequate return, they will not support a platform.

Rather than creating a new window, as it did in the music and video business, Apple created a new market in which overhead laden publishers are forced to compete on an equal footing with the garage creator of iFart. If they have not already, EA will soon realize, that the subset of app consumers who move beyond downloading the free games are downloading a ton of USD .99 games rather than USD 6.99 and USD 9.99 costly builds. Sure iFart man will make some money and a few creators will make quite a profit, but putting a roof over iFart man’s head is very different from moving the revenue needle for EA. Is it better for EA to focus on trying to figure it out and end up losing money, or waiting until a profitable winner emerges, the market rationalizes, and buy the creator at a premium? Once publishers understand they realize a better return by investing a bit more on an XBL game for delivery into a hardcore base on a platform with higher barriers of entry as well as an ability to leverage existing technology, they will relegate iPhone development to their mobile, casual, family, value or other similarly situated ancillary division of the company. In other words, the divisions only heard from at annual retreats.

The other reason, and perhaps more significantly, the game business has alternatives. When Apple extended the helping hand and offered a safe harbor, the music business was under attack. Napster turned into Gnutella and more, making it impossible to protect value let alone recoup investment in new artists and there was Apple with a way to fix it. We don’t have the same problem. While many publishers are losing money and piracy is an issue, installed base growth creates a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a profitable, protectable console business, an exciting new PC transactional business and the innuendo of direct distribution on the horizon. Other than a new console with similar economics to what we have, Apple is really offering nothing new.

While this is great news for independent developers, in the near term, it should illicit no more than a yawn from Nintendo and Sony. Maybe the next Jordan Mechner is building his Karateka for iPhone and will take the business to a new level and make him rich along they way. But it will be many years before anyone can wrap a business around it to compete with console publishers and before that happens, they will be an attractive acquisition target. The iPod is a great platform and the technology is great, but when we consider our leverage on the existing platforms relative to where the music business sits today, I think it is an offer we can refuse.



Saturday, October 3, 2009

Metacritic is all WET: Just Sayin' Edition


Last week I bought WET because it looked like fun and I wanted to play the game. After playing half way through the game I found it didn't only look like fun, but it delivered on its promise. It was what I wanted Stranglehold to be and what Gungrave never delivered. Lot's of mindless, shooting fun. Sometimes that's just what I want in a game. But apparently, most critics did not share my view. When I first looked on metacritic the score was in the deadly sixties, but has since moved up into the safe haven of mediocrity found in the seventies. Not quite green banded goodness, but not bearing the red mark of humiliation. I wish metacritic didn't matter, but unfortunately, developers' livelihood is based on this hopelessly useless, conflicted, arbitrary measurement system even though more and more and more people are realizing marketing and word of mouth are more significant factors in the purchasing decision than a Metacritic score. If you really want to compare apples to apples in admittedly anecdotal but still compelling example, Rock Band 2 for the 360 scored a 92 to Guitar Hero World Tour's 85 last year. But Guitar Hero, with a 40% larger marketing spend, outsold Rock Band 2, the placebo, by a wide margin. Publishers still use these numbers as gating to signing developers and not only are they useless, they are shoddily calculated numbers based on arbitrarily assembled numbers.

Out of curiosity, I decided to see who was responsible for raising the score and what they had to say about the game. They were courageously disagreeing with gaming stalwarts like IGN at 66, Gametrailers at 63 and sponsor and influence free Giant Bomb at 60. It looked like it was Armchairempire.com. I say looked like because they were noted as giving the highest score the game:



But when I clicked through to the review, I saw they didn't:



Now, I am sure this is a careless error, but how dare you be so careless when developers' livelihoods are at stake. Didn't anyone at metacritic feel the need to confirm the numbers posted on the site, or is the move from 75 to 88, part of metacritic's "weighted average" calculation, described as:

The METASCORE is considered a weighted average because we assign more significance, or weight, to some critics and publications than we do to others, based on the overall stature and quality of those critics and publications. In addition, for music and movies, we also normalize the resulting scores (akin to "grading on a curve" in college), which prevents scores from clumping together.


Metacritic does acknowledge scores are misreported and suggests a solution:

Q: Hey, I AM Manohla Dargis, and you said I gave the movie an 80, when really I gave it a 90. What gives?
A: Now, if you are indeed the critic who wrote the review, and disagree with one of our scores, please let us know and we'll change it.

This does happen from time to time, and many of the critics included on this site (such as Ms. Dargis) do indeed check their reviews (as well as those of their colleagues) on metacritic.com.


Are you serious? You can't be bothered to confirm you are accurately transcribing numbers and it is up to the critics to fact check?

But shoddy journalism is not my only concern. It is the sites' holding itself out as objective when it is really a conflict laden subjective aggregation of a limited set of already subjective market data. Now, of course the fact that CBS owns of Metacritic and Les Moonves, President and CEO of CBS Corporation is on the board of Zenimax, parent company of WET's publisher wouldn't influence metacritic to hunt for some favorable reviews and maybe fudge some of the weighting or even a number, but a purportedly objective site should not be in a position where it must explain why not. When I was in law school, they taught us to avoid impropriety, but the appearance of impropriety. Avoidance is simple. You disclose. In this regard, I renew my suggestion from an earlier post and I offer a disclaimer:

We are affiliated with a studio, record company, television networks and game companies, in fact we are better connected in entertainment than CAA and WME combined. We can probably get Les Moonves on a conference call. To give you a better idea, here is a partial list of our family members:

- CBS Television
- CBS Records
- MTV
- MTV Games
- Harmonix
- VH1
- Nickelodeon
- Paramount Pictures
- Paramount Television
- Paramount Digital Entertainment
- Dreamworks Animation
- BET
- Spike

and of course our distant cousin, Bethesda Softworks. We do our best to avoid influence from our parent and siblings, but the significant subjective component in our scores makes it kind of hard.
This has been a public service message. Thank you and goodnight.


Oh, and by the way, pick up WET. It really is a good game.