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You’re Paying Almost 40% More for Your Video Games

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If you look at how Video Games were sold 20 years ago, you’d be able to see how drastically different things are now compared to the past. It used to be simple; developers build a game for people to enjoy and they sell it for an upfront price that depreciates over time depending on the reception that the game receives. Critically acclaimed releases held their value for longer than games that don’t do so well in reviewers hands. Whilst the price depreciation rings true nowadays, developers and publishers have found a way around the issue over the course of the last 20 years. This solution comes in the form of Downloadable Content and Microtransactions.

The change began gradually. Downloadable content was a method of providing more content to a game that had already released. This was popular among players who were big fans of certain games where new content would be welcome to enable them to continue playing the games that they knew and loved. These “expansion packs” came with a price, of course, but players were willing to pay extra for them because it added new content to their favourite games for a relatively low expense. They used to be priced at around $30, which was reasonable given the amount of content that they provided. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind had 2 expansion packs released after the launch of the base game: Tribunal and Blood Moon. These added brand new characters, enemies, quests, items and world spaces to the game which provided hours of new gameplay to play through. The average price for an expansion like this would be around $20, which is very reasonable given the amount of content that each expansion adds. Some developers and publishers still stand by this model. EA DICE’s Battlefield titles usually release with 10 multiplayer maps at launch and then more maps comes later down the line in the form of DLC Expansion Packs, each one containing an extra 4 maps and including new weapons, gadgets and assignments. These are priced at $15 each or can be purchased in advance for $60. Once all expansions are released, this means that in order to purchase the game in its entirety with all of its expansions, players have to fork out $120, the equivalent of two full titles. This might sound steep, but for players who play the game extensively, it’s fairly reasonable. Because of this DLC model, games have become much more expensive over the years. Battlefield 2 contained 24 maps and cost $80 with all of its DLC. The upcoming Battlefield 1 release (confusing naming scheme, I know) will contain 26 maps with all of its DLC and costs $120 to access all of it. If you look at it from a price per map perspective, Battlefield 2 costs roughly $3.33 per map whereas Battlefield 1 costs roughly $4.62. That’s almost 40% more expensive. Even when you factor inflation into the cost, it’s still evident that the rise of DLC has resulted in the prices of complete experiences increasing dramatically.

Whilst DLC has its place within the industry, there is also DLC that can be perceived in a negative way. This is the DLC that is implemented with the specific intention to wring as much profit out of a title as possible with little consideration for players. This DLC usually comes in the form of “Day One” DLC, or DLC that is developed before the game is even released. “Day One” DLC is where a game is released and immediately has extra content that can be purchased. Mass Effect 3 did this. There was controversy when the game first released as content was found on the install disc that wasn’t accessible to the player unless they paid a fee. This caused outrage as many players believe that everything on the install disc that they buy should be accessible as that’s what they have paid for. There is the argument that all DLC should be free; that all content developed for a game should be included within the $60 that is paid for the title at launch, and that all of the content developed for a game before it is released should be included with said game. This is where there is some grey area with DLC, because DLC map packs for games like Battlefield and Call of Duty are put into development way before the game is ever released, and yet these types of DLC content is perceived to be beneficial to both players and developers.

There are also developers and publishers that have adopted a different monetisation method. Instead of releasing expansion packs for a large sum, they instead release smaller bundles of content in large quantities for a smaller price. These are known as “Micro-transactions”. They could take the form of customisation options or they could be for ingame currency packs. For example, in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, you can buy weapon skins that change how the weapons look ingame for $2. You can purchase in game currency for Grand Theft Auto V which can then get you new vehicles and weapons within the game. This ingame currency can be earned by playing the game normally, but purchasing currency with real life money speeds up the process and removes the “grind” that you otherwise have to go through. The prices for this range from $3 all the way up to $20.

So which method is better? DLC? Microtransactions? Both? Neither? The truth is that both of these methods have their benefits. DLC content like expansions for RPGs and Map Packs for online shooters are able to provide a reasonable amount of extra content to players who want more from their favourite games, and yet this can split a community into multiple pieces. Players who can’t afford expansions for their RPGs often feel as though they are missing out. This is proven by my research where I asked 20 people who play Video Games frequently whether they feel as though they are missing out when they don’t buy DLC expansions. 55% of them said that they would feel as though they were missing out. Players who buy map packs for online shooters eventually end up not being able to play the content properly as server player counts begin to empty over time. There are workarounds for this; the price of expansions for RPGs will eventually decrease over time meaning that players might be able to afford the content at some point down the road, and map packs are sometimes offered out for free once the player count begins to dwindle so low that it become financially beneficial to release the extra content for free. But then that introduces a whole new controversy, like is it fair to charge players money for something that will inevitably become free later down the line?

Microtransactions, whilst irritating when implemented badly (when players are able to pay money to give them a competitive advantage ingame), when implemented non intrusively, microtransactions can work wonders for a game. Take GTA V as an example. In game cash can be bought with real life money, and this cash can then be used to buy more powerful vehicles, better properties and more expensive weaponry in the game, but none of these give the player any competitive advantage ingame. This steady flow of income that comes from the microtransactions enables the developers to create more substantial content like new races and vehicles. These can then be introduced to the game for free. Overwatch has a similar system where players can buy Loot Boxes for a price. These provide the player with cosmetic items that don’t have any effect on their performance ingame. The money generated from these microtransaction sales are then put towards developing new maps and modes that are introduced to the game for free. So Microtransactions are not all bad when implemented correctly.

The hard fact is that DLC and Micro-transactions are incredibly profitable. An earnings report from EA for 2015 showed that $1,300,000,000 of their revenue came from DLC and Microtransactions alone. This accounted for more than half of their total revenue for the entire year, so if these types of monetisation were to simply disappear, then developers and publishers would earn a lot less. In turn, this could have an impact on the quality and quantity of the games that ultimately get made. With less money, games have to be either much smaller or much less ambitious to keep costs down. So maybe, DLC and Micro-transactions aren’t as bad as some people make them out to be. As long as the way that DLC and Micro-transactions is not intrusive and doesn’t exploit the player, then more money going to the developers can only be a good thing as it not only provides players with the content that they want, but it also advances the industry forward as more money is invested in more ambitious projects like new gameplay concepts and rendering engines.

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Source by Joshua D Boyles

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Where to Find Those Efficient and Hardworking Affiliates?

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Everyone wants a hardworking affiliate, employee, associate, partner, or even spouse, and why not? It’s the next best thing to doing the work yourself. However with the massive outbreak of work and income opportunities available online, how can you beat everyone else and find that one (or more) ideal person who will make your online business explode with success? Here are some of the most ingenious and uncommon ways to snag the idea affiliates for your affiliate program

Direct Sales Agents

Direct sales people are really one of the most enterprising, hard-working individuals in business. They mostly work on commissions or rebates and are willing to literally go door-to-door offering their products to anyone and everyone they bump into. Imagine how much easier their job would be if they could be an affiliate and simply work via the Internet and a mobile device or desktop.

Also, most direct sales people tend to carry more than one brand in their product arsenal so signing up as an affiliate would be almost the same type of work but using a different approach.

Colleges and Universities

Many college kids would be interested in a part-time income opportunity if it would mean funds to help pay for their education, loan, or partying. All you have to do is make sure to offer them products they can endorse as a student.

Freelancers

Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest annual report show that 75% of U.S. businesses used freelancers in 2011? Freelancers earned a whopping US$990 billion in 2011 which is a 4.1% increase from the previous year. The only industries where the number of freelancers decreased were in insurance, finance, and construction. Most probably your affiliate program isn’t a part of these 3 industries.

Furthermore, online business and finance experts are predicting the growth to increase incrementally every year even with an economy that is improving. People just want income security and more control over their earnings. With the spate of lay-offs, it’s understandable why many would prefer to work as an affiliate than as an employee.

Scout For Them At Affiliate Conventions

There are annual affiliate conventions held in different cities around the country. You should try to catch one when it is held somewhere near your location. The average turn-out for these types of conventions has increased regularly over the years. Last year, many of them were sold out weeks before the event.

Advertise!

The US Census Bureau has said that as of 2012, 15% of Americans are poor, 43% of young adults depend on their parents to some extent for money. Even more surprising is that the median income of young adults in 1982 was $31,583 and last year it was $30,604 for the same age group! Income is dropping and people are looking for ways to earn additional income outside of their 9 to 5 jobs. That’s where you can come in playing the hero and helping others realize their dream income.

Finally, go online and talk about your product. Make the affiliate marketers come to you and have the luxury of picking the best candidates. You will need some help in marketing your affiliate program so target a marketer who’s experienced in affiliate program and SEO.

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Source by Lina Stakauskaite

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Recession Is Here… Six Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make During Recessions And How To Avoid Them

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The U.S. is officially in a recession. What is a recession? A recession is a business cycle contraction or general economic decline due to significant drop in spending and other commercial activities. Most pundits and politicians will blame Covid-19 crisis for the recession, but even pre-Covid-19 the proverbial writing was on the wall.

The U.S. had over 120 months of economic growth, which was the longest expansion in the modern history. Other indicators, such as negative yield spread on treasuries (long term bonds having lower interest rates than short term T-notes), were pointing to an imminent change of the economic cycle and an impending recession. The only real question was: when and how bad?

Then Covid-19 came… If the cycle was going to change anyway, Covid-19 acted as a huge and unexpected accelerant to make the recession much more immediate and severe.

Inevitably during recessions all classes of real estate, including residential homes and condominiums, will be negatively impacted as lower consumer spending and higher unemployment rates affect real estate prices and marketing times.

Here are the six costly mistakes home and other real property sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them:

Mistake #1: This will pass and real estate market will be hot again soon

First thing to remember is that real estate cycles are much longer than general economic cycles. Even if the general economy recovers, which eventually it always does, a typical real estate cycle takes as long as 10 to 15 years. The cycle has four key stages: Top, Decline, Bottom and Rise.

Let us consider the last real estate cycle, which lasted approximately 14 years:

  • 2006 – Prices hit the Top
  • 2006 to 2012 – Prices Decline
  • 2012 – Prices hit the Bottom (Trough)
  • 2012 to 2019 – Prices Rise*
  • 2020 – Prices hit the Top
  • 2020 to? – Prices Decline

*NOTE: In 2016 the national residential real estate price index reached its pre-recession 2006 peak levels. It took 10 years for the real estate market to recover.

The way to avoid this mistake is to recognize that real estate cycles take years to run and plan accordingly. Additionally, nobody knows for sure when the prices will hit the top or bottom until after the fact.

Mistake #2: Low interest rates will make the economy and real estate market rebound

Between 2006 and 2011 the interest rates (Fed Funds) were continuously cut by the Federal Reserve Board and went from low 5% to almost 0%. However, that did not stop the real estate recession and depreciation of property values.

Undoubtedly, low interest rates made the economic decline and real estate recession less severe and saved some properties from foreclosures, but it still took six painful years for the real estate market to hit the bottom and then four more years for the prices to go back to their pre-recession levels.

Some markets had never fully recovered. For example, residential home prices in some parts of California, Arizona and Nevada are still below their 2006 highs.

To avoid this mistake, one needs to realize that although low interest rates help stimulate the economy and the real estate market, they do not cure them.

Mistake #3: I don’t need to sell now, so I don’t care

If you do not need to sell until the cycle plays out, which typically is over ten years, then you will not be as affected, especially if you have a strong equity position, limited mortgage debt, and solid liquid assets.

However, it is good to keep in mind that “life happens” and either professional or personal circumstances can change and we may need to sell property before the downturn runs its course.

Furthermore, if a property has a mortgages and its value declines to the point being “upside down,” meaning the mortgage loan balance exceeds the value of the property, then the options of selling, refinancing or even obtaining an equity line of credit, will be significantly limited.

This does not mean that everybody should be rushing into selling their real estate if there is no need to do so, just keep in mind that circumstances may and often do change and property options will be affected, so plan in advance. As one wise proverb says: “Dig your well before your thirst.”

Mistake #4: I’m selling, but I won’t sell below my “bottom line” price

This is a common and potentially very costly mistake. Generally speaking, every seller wants to sell for the highest price and every buyer wants to pay the lowest price. That’s nothing new. When selling real estate, most sellers want to achieve a certain price point and/or have a “bottom line.”

However, it is important to understand that the market does not care what the Seller, or his/her Agent, think the property value should be at. The market value is a price a willing and able buyer will pay, when a property is offered on an open market for a reasonable amount of time.

Overpricing property based on Seller’s subjective value or what is sometimes called an “aspirational price,” especially in a declining market, is a sure first step to losing money. When a property lingers on the market for an extended period of time, carrying costs will continue to accumulate and property value will depreciate in line with the market conditions.

Additionally, properties with prolonged marketing times tend to get “stale” and attract fewer buyers. The solution is to honestly assess your selling objectives, including the desired time-frame, evaluate your property’s attributes and physical condition, analyze comparable sales and market conditions, and then decide on market-based pricing and marketing strategies.

Mistake #5: I will list my property for sale only with Agent who promises the highest price

Real estate is a competitive business and real estate agents compete to list properties for sale which generate their sales commission incomes. It is not unusual that Seller will interview several agents before signing an exclusive listing agreement and go with the agent who agrees to list the property at the highest price, often regardless if such price is market-based.

Similarly to Mistake #4, this mistake can be very damaging to Sellers, as overpriced properties stay on the market for extended periods of time costing Sellers carrying expenses such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance.

Furthermore, there is the “opportunity cost” since the equity is “frozen,” and it cannot be deployed elsewhere till the property is sold. However, the most expensive cost is the loss of property value while the real estate market deteriorates.

During the last recession, we have seen multiple cases where overpriced properties stayed on the market for years and ended up selling for 25% to 40% below their initial fair market values.

The solution is to make sure that your pricing strategy is based on the market, not empty promises or wishful thinking.

Mistake #6: I will list my property only with Agent who charges the lowest commission

Real estate commission rates are negotiable and not set by law. A commission usually represents the highest transactional expense in selling real properties and is typically split between Brokers and Agents who work on the transaction

Some real estate agents offer discounted commissions, in order to induce Sellers to list their properties with them. But does paying a discounted commission ensure savings for the Seller? Not necessarily.

For example, if the final sales price is 5% to 10% below property’s highest market value, which is not that unusual, due to inadequate marketing, bad pricing strategy, and/or poor negotiation skills, it will easily wipe out any commission savings and actually cost the Seller tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.

The solution is to engage an agent who is a “Trusted Advisor,” not just a “Salesperson.” A Trusted Advisor will take his/her time and effort to do the following: 1) Perform Needs Analysis: listen and understand your property needs and concerns; 2) Prepare Property Analysis: thoroughly evaluate your property and market conditions; 3) Execute Sales and Marketing Plan: prepare and implement custom sales and marketing plan for your property; and 4) Obtain Optimal Results: be your trusted advocate throughout the process and achieve the best possible outcome.

Finding such a real estate professional may not be always easy, but it certainly is worth the effort and will pay off at the end.

In conclusion, this article has outlined six costly mistakes real estate Sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them. The first mistake is not understanding that real estate cycles are long and take years. The second mistake is a misconception that low interest rates alone will create a recovery. Another mistake is not realizing that circumstances may change and not planning in advance. Mistakes number four, five and six pertain to understanding the market value, proper pricing and selecting the right real estate professional.

By understanding and avoiding these mistakes, real estate Sellers have significantly better chances of minimizing the negative impact of a recession while selling their properties.

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Source by Robert W. Dudek

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Useful Tips To Build The Best Gaming Computer

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Every gamer will want their computer to be the best gaming computer among their peers. Sometimes, with a little knowledge and tips and tricks, it is possible to build the best gaming computer and show it off to your peers. This article will show you how:

1) You can’t get the best gaming computer from computer retailers

If you want to get the best gaming computer, you have to build your own. Different gamers have different requirement for their gaming machine. Unless you are willing to pay a high price, you will not be able to buy a commercial computer that fulfills all your gaming needs. The only option you have is to build your own gaming computer.

2) You don’t have to be rich to build the best gaming computer

It is not necessary to burn a hole in your pocket to build the best gaming computer. With some due diligence, do some market research and compare prices around the marketplace. Merchant such as TigerDirect and NewEgg give regular discount to their products and you could save a lot of money if you catch them during their promotional period.

3) Most expensive parts do not have to be the best part

Sometime, the latest model or the most expensive model does not have to be the best part for your computer. It requires various components to work together to form the best computer system. When choosing a computer part, what matters is how well it can integrate with the rest of the components. Compatibility is more important than individual performance. What use is there if you spend lot of money on the latest quad-core processor and find that your motherboard doesn’t support it?

4) You don’t need to change the whole PC to own the best gaming computer

It is a misconception that you have to change the whole gaming machine to build the best gaming computer. If you already have a good barebone system, what you need to do is to upgrade the necessary parts and your gaming computer can roar back to life instantly.

5) Brand is important

Unless you want to see your computer system malfunction every few days, it is important that you purchase the parts from branded manufacturers with strict quality control. Motherboard brand such as Gigabyte, ABIT, ASUS are some quality brands that you can consider

If you follow diligently to the tips stated above. You will be on your way to build the best gaming computer. While price can be an issue, it is better not to scrimp on important computer parts such as motherboard, CPU, RAM and graphics card as it will cost you more to upgrade in the future.

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Source by Damien Oh

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