Monday, 4 November 2013


You had questions and I will pretend to have answers.

Let's get the ball rolling…
Arthur Brandoch Darwin Petersen said... 
Mr. Furious, 
Could you be a futurist for a moment? What do you imagine to be the future of storytelling mediums. 
In the 19th century there were basically two: plays and the printed word. We've added tv and film to that. And finally, the internet. 
Do you see anything like a crossover or combination between ebooks and film/tv ? What else might happen?
Games will be huge, becoming more realistic, more immersive, and be bigger than movies and TV combined.

Then the game industry will collapse due to stupidity of the people running it.

I'm no expert on the gaming industry. In fact, I don't really play many games because I don't really have much time to spare, and I'm really bad at it, but I do pay attention to the news.

Right now the big name games can make huge money, Grand Theft Auto V made the gross national product of a European country in its first day sales. But it did cost over $200 million to make, tens of millions more to market, and other costs, so while the profits were huge, they weren't as monstrous as they like you to think they are. People are pointing at that and saying: "We are entering the age of games."

They're right, we are, for a while, but then things will turn around and bite it on the ass.

They are:

1. Narrow Field. The big name games make big money. But for every huge blockbuster, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of games that don't make those levels of sales. Remember, the audience for games are much smaller than movies, so while a game can outstrip movies in revenue, the unit price is about 5X the price of a movie ticket. Even franchises that made money in the past can fall out of fashion and into oblivion with fans. This can be really damaging to video game companies because of…

2. Exploding Costs. To stay on top you need to up your game constantly in just about every facet of game-making. Better graphics, bigger action, and so on and so forth. Soon the top tier franchises will have budgets that make Hollywood blockbusters look positively frugal. The higher the costs, the higher the risks, and risk terrifies companies. That fear creates…

3. Managerial Stupidity. Video game companies are not immune to stupidity, and I just said, fear breeds the dumb. Thus you get things that are allegedly "anti-piracy" measures but are really just schemes to suck more money out of gamers, while hindering the gaming experience. I fear that they will soon reach a breaking point where it will be so bad, so egregiously greedy, it will turn off all the casual gamers who aren't willing to dedicate their lives to navigating a whole lot of technical nonsense just to run around blasting zombies and aliens.
In 2015 Grand Theft Auto VI's special controls & levels ultimately killed the franchise.

As for e-books and TV. We're already seeing apps for tablet computers that allow people to access special features associated with their favourite shows, and other features, but I'm not expert enough to see it go much beyond that.

I do see an opportunity in e-book readers for genre fiction. Specifically that it can become the new pulp. Essentially selling individual or bundles of short genre fiction for the easy enjoyment of commuters and vacationers.

Next question, or to be more exact, a bundle of questions:

Rainforest Giant asked: 
What kind of candy did the Furious lair hand out? 
This Halloween I handed out mini-Hershey bars, Aero bars, and candy-coated chocolates called Smarties in Canada. As well as those little bags of chips, and Jolly Rancher flavoured lollipops. Our drill is that each kid gets 1 bar, 1 lollipop, and 1 bag of chips. Since my house is on a hill and requires a little effort to reach it's family tradition to be extra-generous with the candy. We had about 115+ kids at the door, which is a little above average.

This generosity helped avoid the egging my house got with last year's plan.

Second, any news on the next Hobbit abomination? Not that I am passing judgement on the cynical, repetative, money grubbing Jackson. I might never get the chance to exploit anything, but if I do I'll think of him. 
I just saw an ad for The Hobbit: Part 1: The Saga Begins Extended Edition DVD.

Holy shit. The entire trilogy is a goddamn extended edition. 

I hope Jackson makes a fortune from these films because he's certainly not going to be living on any respect.
How about your guess on torture porn like 'Saw'? Going to go away like 3D or will it just get worse? 
I think it's fallen out of fashion. It'll pop up again, but it won't be the 'all horror must be like' phenomenon is was just a short time ago. The $200 million+ worldwide box office of the $20 million haunted house thriller The Conjuring probably put the last nail in the coffin. Traditional ghost stories and suspense seems to be trading better than gore and disgust these days and I like that.
What is the future of horror and sci fi on tv? Cable, regular networks, more crappy ScyFy movies anything like Battlestar Galactica on the horizon?
I think cable will start getting more into science fiction and fantasy since new technology shows that it can be made inexpensively and the success of The Walking Dead shows that genre television, even horror can sell big if it connects well to the audience.

SyFy will continue to pump out the shitty movies with premises made by taking random words and putting them together with other words. Sure the ratings will be lousy, but the attention people give their little steaming piles online make SyFy think they're succeeding.

A smart cable network could start making what I call "story-first" science-fiction and fantasy stories that are based more on ideas over effects. But that's wishful thinking on my part.
ILDC asked... 
Disney literally releasing only Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars movies: will it happen?
If the traditional Disney characters stop moving the merchandise, it's a possibility. They're already phasing out their relationships with mega-producers like Jerry Bruckheimer, so Dreamworks should watch their back.

You see Disney got really, really huge. Too huge really, and is contracting to survive in a crowded marketplace, and there's a very real chance that it may contract too far and do more harm to itself than good.

Maurice asked... 
How, if at all, is the Netflix model going to disrupt the massive bundling of channels that is at the core of cable/telco(FiOS/UVerse) profitability? They have been fighting a la carte choice for cable consumers in DC's regulatory swamps for decades, and along has come an OTT technology that delivers much of what consumers say they want. Tehcnically cable can fight back with technical means, which net neutrality would seem to forbid, or through refusal to license content to the new entrants, which would seem to be anticompetitive (though if the FTC can give Google a clean pass for its style of bundling and leverage of its monopoly power, I don't see that happening).

Where do you see that headed? The question is important over the long term for production, because these huge comsumer cable bills and bundles call into being entire channels, entire new shows, content, dstriobution and franchisign fees, that noboy really watches or will ever watch. In that sense it's a FDR-style makework jobs program for production comapnies, execs, crews, talent, etc. If the bundle were ever to be seriously undercut it could have much wider reprecussions.

In Canada they're slowly phasing in a la carte channel choices, which means that I can finally dump all those sports channels that I never watch but had to subscribe to in order to get Turner Classic Movies.

This means a lot of the sub-par channels will not survive as viewers who don't care for seeing the same episode of Small Wonder run six times a day drop them.

So what we'll probably see is a big consolidation of channels as it contracts from the hundreds to the dozens. While this will cause contractions in big media profits, it may not hurt the non-reality-TV scripted programming as much as you think, because the channels that provide the quality scripted programs will be the ones to survive.

But I hesitate to say that traditional television and television channels are on the way out.

Subscription style services like Netflix can offer lots of movies and TV shows that can be seen at any time, but there are catches. You can only see what the subscription service has available. To see everything you want to see, you probably have to subscribe to multiple services. Which is sort of like subscribing to cable channels with a good DVR.

Plus, to fully enjoy such services you have know what you're looking for. Too many people don't know what they're looking for.

One thing I don't like is that subscription VOD services take away the "accidental discoveries" that you get from traditional television, and activities like good old fashioned channel surfing and replace them with digitally determined preferences. I probably wouldn't have discovered the Hammer Films productions I love if I hadn't been exposed to them in my multi-channel/VOD deprived childhood. 

I hope I answered your questions and feel free to ask more.


  1. I was wondering about VOD as opposed to cable/satellite as well. Iirc bandwidth is a problem for VOD services. You can browse netflix and they recommned titles based on your ratings.

    The issues I see are non-movie content. There is little original content. If they can solve that issue they will have it beat.

    Rainforest Giant

  2. Hmmmm… bandwidth sounds like tech talk.

    I'm terrible with tech-talk.