Category Archives: Popular Culture

Game Saves World Billions in Productivity with Region Block

[Below is parody content?]

Popular movies and video games have long since been correlated with productivity loss. For example, popular science fiction franchise Star Wars has been the lead in this category, when its blockbuster film launches lead to countless students and employees to call out to go to the theaters on release day. Similarly, the recently launched Japanese video game, THE IDOLM@STER: Shiny Colors, cause millions of dollars in loss productivity, following its recent launch last week.

In a stroke of genius, the developers of Shiny Colors limited the game for play to Japanese internet users only. By region-limiting the HTML5-based game platform, Bandai Namco has saved an estimated $50B USD in productivity loss, experts say.

The free-to-play video game platform is the latest entry in the popular franchise, THE IDOLM@STER. The Japanese-gamer oriented properties started in 2005 and has spawned countless video games, TV shows, movies, and tie-ins of all kind, such as a mixed-reality VR theatrical show. While domestic audiences still beared the brunt of the damage in loss productivity, the prudent business move limited the damage to just Japanese domestic businesses.

“It is a noble sacrifice,” said financial analyst Akihiro Nakamura from UBS. “The joke was that the devops were going to all call out sick and play during launch, but the region blocking already saved us millions across our Americas and Europe branches. Despite their best efforts otherwise, Bandai-Namco is still going to boost their prospective stock price for this fiscal year just on the preliminary revenue projections.”

Streaming Business, Autumn 2017

I remember supporting Crunchyroll when it turned legit in 2009 and started to charge a subscription. Now, it’s the incumbent, to answer the irony-note. There is nothing incumbent to Daisuki–it’s a new venture by a bunch of Japanese companies to try to stream internationally. Crunchy beats them by like, what, 4 years? A …decade (lol) by internet streaming time. Not that it really matters.

When Funi sold to Sony for ~150M USD it was a sign that CR is worth a lot more than that. Maybe $250M? When Chernin bought half of the company in 2013 it was valuing CR at about $100M, and today Chernin’s company owns about 80% share of the Crunch. It’s really hard to say how much more it is today in exact terms. Part of the reason is because not only we are long in the era of Warring Idols, we are squarely in the heat of combat during the era of Warring Streaming Services. Netflix’s random number drop here is a stake in the ground. This explains a major reason why Daisuki is going away–why would the production companies like Bandai Namco, several who are likely serving as middleware for Netflix and other foreign interests, compete with their customers? 30 anime is a lot of work that probably will go very far as far as engaging production pipelines largely controlled by the same o’ stakeholders that has been pumping out the animes that we know of since the late 90s. Plus, more competition will make Daisuki more difficult of a proposition when its owners may be better served with more “remotely-local” money participating, as it always is the case of doing business in a foreign country. By that I mean, why would Japan spend the extra effort and extra money courting Americans (or other foreigners) when American companies can spend that extra stuff courting Japanese licensors and production companies?

So, then, Netflix. Netflix is flexing this muscle because 1) they’re in a hurry for attractive original content and 2) they’re newcomer in the anime space, yet they have a major leg up over the other American competitors like Disney or Amazon. Anime, after all, is cheap, and its cheapness is possibly the strongest suit about this type of media. I can’t imagine how many live-action American Netflix Originals $8B can get them, maybe 10? 15 tops?So yes, Author is right, the incumbent will slap Daisuki, Crunchyroll and every anime-specific simulcast service in the world silly with $8 Billion. Why did FUNi and CR merge their streaming effort? Gotta hunker down when giants roam your town, I guess.

Crunchyroll is the incumbent in this space. It has some strong competition, but more because streaming giants are going further to reap margins and build walls to protect their revenues. Daisuki serves its masters more by folding and having CR do their deeds, or whoever else is paying more. Anime is just a growingly important area that has long been neglected. You can kind of tell that when big guns start to target the smaller fries, the market is maturing as margins thins enough so deeper niches are being courted, because now they make economic sense.

It’s worth taking a moment to also think about why Sony bought Funimation. Their FAQ explains a lot, but it’s basically because everyone wants a pie in the Streaming Wars. Sony’s stakes in the ground begins probably with Playstation Vue, and extend to their on-demand offering like Crackle and whatever you see in the Playstation Store. More importantly the rest of the world is fertile battlegrounds, where Netflix’s anime streaming worldwide will clash with licensed content from the usual folks, including Sony, eventually armed with a bunch of FUNi stuff. It’s been 9 years since I watched Xam’d on PS3. God damn.

Anti-Immigration Is Anti-Eventer

In the USA, immigration is in the mind. The new President’s administration has all sorts of issues, but this one is a major killer as it affects, and very personally affects, not just those of us who travel overseas to events. I cannot count the number of students studying in the USA who came from abroad, and I love how they culturally enrich this country. More importantly, they make up a good number of the con population who travel for guests, so they are also my siblings-in-arms. It’s these people that make up the largest affected population segment, I think, which the changes to the US visa system affect.

Beyond that, the Trump Administration has hollowed out a lot of top positions in the DHS hierarchy and that will have a slowdown effect in terms of processing of visas and the like, as the new administration sort things out. This means if the Daisuki guys want to run that lovely Anison Matsuri this summer, they better get a jump on the roster so the paperwork can begin, if it hasn’t already started. Anyways it’s hard to speculate the impact on the rank and file process for applying for various vias at this time, let alone for another few months. I have to wonder how this impacts other cons?

When I landed in JFK terminal 7 this past Monday morning, it was below freezing. A handful of worried-looking people were at the international arrivals exit and there was a sign (in English) telling people where to find a lawyer. The newspaper-headlining protest crowds were absent, but it was also Monday morning, and not the weekends anymore. Still, it’s the kind of thing that may dissuade some folks from traveling to USA, even if it’s for an offer to come attend a con, just saying.

I think this sort of governance is so bad that it even hurts those anime-girl-headed turds that harass people on twitter, even if indirectly. It’s unbecoming and unfortunate.

Clinton’s Copyright Platform Is Probably Good for Anime

Iowa Primary

United States presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton recently revealed her campaign platform on tech, and here’s the relevant segment:

And she will encourage stakeholders to work together on creative solutions that remove barriers to the seamless and efficient licensing of content in the U.S. and abroad.

Since nobody else has done one of these yet, at least nobody interesting, here is probably all there is to it in this election. Given her opponent Donald Trump’s current style of campaign so far, it’s hard to say if there will be a policy document for the Republican side. Of course, these are just campaign promises, which don’t translate into actual policy implementation all the time, or if the implementation would ease international licensing. It’s just merely on the table as an idea.

And when it comes to relatively fringe issues like international licensing, having that is way better than usual. For example Obama gave some pretty vague statement about reforms on IP during his campaign, and other than the patent reforms that went in during his second term, the current President didn’t really do much during his time in the Office. Historically it’s just not a subject area that gets much lip service during any presidential campaign. The past couple cycles have been a little different, and obviously I think a lot of hot topic issues today are tech oriented, so it’s nice to see some splash over to archaic copyright law.

Anime & Brexit

Think of this as me practicing how to write about current events. After reading over this post I felt the disclaimer about regional differences is needed, so here it is: The below discusses monetary policy and recommends certain action mainly from a US-centric point of view. Your local currency and economy may behave differently than mine or most, so these are not really suggestions as much as broad-stroke observations and predictions.

I used this image to distract myself from all the depressing Brexit talk last night

For the unaware, the UK has passed a referendum to withdraw from the European Union, which is, at heart, an economic and legal coalition of European countries. Within the Union, some rules of law applies across all member nations, as well as free trade between member nations. This leaves the separation of UK from the EU in a state of uncertainty as no country has left the EU in this particular fashion, and the UK is a major economic power in the world.

Let’s take a look at some immediate and longer-term impact of the Brexit event.

First of all, there are some political dominos that may happen as a result of Brexit, but the one that catches my attention the most is the possible split of Scotland and Northern Ireland (and/or other regions) from the UK. There are a lot of others, of course, but this one is notable because if we think of the EU as a single economic rule, UK pulling out means now we have another rule to deal with in terms of international commerce. If the UK splits further then we may have additional entity or entities. Looking at it from the aspect of copyright regional markets, it is not a big change in terms of the status quo, but like all the other factors driven by uncertainty of the Brexit terms, at least, it makes licensing anime into the UK more complicated. Or at least, it’s probably not going to be easier than the status quo.

Things will fragment into more problems when we hit existing contracts that deals with the UK and its territories as a whole if the UK splits, but this is hardly the first time the world ran into a contract like that. It is probably less problematic than an EU-wide contract that some private entities may forge, as this would be a first-time. Guess the lesson here is splitting up countries and economic unions are rather pains in the arse, to put it lightly.

Stronger intellectual property law is a key part of the US international trade agenda. Weakening the EU by Brexit may mean that the EU have less of a leverage in such trade talks, although the EU is not an area with great concerns when it comes to protecting media IP or patent protection. This is a minor consideration I guess.

I think when it comes to music licensing it might be where things gets most icky, as far as media goes, but the impact of that probably won’t be very big. Then again, licensing music from Japan is such a Don Quixote-esqe task anyway.

The immediate hurt of Brexit is in how the world market react to this event. The drop of the Sterling and Euro, and the rise of the Dollar and Yen are all natural reactions, albeit extreme, at T <24 hours. In the near term this will definitely be a problem, mostly for internationals, but markets will even out after the first shocking days, as UK prepares for its exit plan and the EU leaders prepare in kind.

For those of us who import from Japan, it will definitely hurt as the JPY rallied the strongest among major world currencies, as it does classically in this type of scenario (and also because the Franc, well, is in Europe). Things to watch out for are your pre-orders that hasn’t been collected on yet, as well as any orders in this month that some vendors charge at the end of the month. If it is any consolation, the JPY to USD was as below eighty US cents to a hundred yen merely 3 years ago, so it is something most of today’s more-affluent collectors can deal with. The USD also rallied versus Europe in general, so the impact isn’t so bad there.

It definitely is not good if your home currency is the Euro or the GBP, so times like this it might help to hit up your local joints before prices hike. Inflation is likely to set in for UK in the near term, although you can bet that regulators will quickly respond to anything to that regard, so this is more a long-term worry. On the flip side, if you reside in Japan, now is the time to send money home. What currency you are being paid in matters a lot, and likely if you are a weeb in JP, you’re being paid in JPY, so you’re pretty safe.

Along those lines, interest rates will likely lower, especially if the Brexit triggers more widespread downturn in economies. That might be good if you are planning on a large purchase by loan, like buying a house; or if you want to consolidate outstanding debts for a better interest rate. The only concern there is that in some regions, rates are already really low. It will limit what countries can do to ease their currencies, and maybe we’ll see others try that negative interest rate thing.

The redrawing of trade borders can affect also eventers, if intra-Europe flights are your thing. Budget carriers may have to change rates as Brexit moves on as a process, so it might be good to do your flying sooner rather than later. As you can see if Scotland make a move out of the UK, it will make that even more messy. It doesn’t really impact those of us outside of Europe, but flying to Japan is likely not going to get any easier for anyone anyway. Besides the monetary concerns of flight, going to the UK from EU nations may also get more complex on the point of visas and such, but that will be a major point in the Brexit negotiations with the EU.

As a matter of currency speculation, the Pound will most likely get much of what it lost back in the very short term. Exiting the EU will be a long process and it means more volatility, but it also means things can’t stay rock bottom the whole time. It’s likely that the main damage will be people on trips this coming month, and some folks staying abroad who are living off the GBP. On the long run, there probably won’t be much of a difference when it comes to most nerd purchases from Japan.