I Want Intel’s ARC GPUs to Succeed, But my Hopes Aren’t High

When I first got into PC gaming, AMD was basically the only company I really cared about. Before I even knew what a dedicated GPU was, I learned that, with AMD, all I needed was a single AM4 socket motherboard and one of their cheap APUs and I’d be set with an entry level gaming rig that would satisfy a newbie PC gamer like myself.

And it did. Hell, I don’t even think I was running AM4 at that time. Back then, I was using an A-10 series APU. And boy, did I use that fuckin’ thing till to its maximum. CS:GO? League? Sure. But what if I told you I would take that puppy and fire up ARMA 2’s DAYZ mod and happily play it at 25 FPS at 720p? Those were the days, I’ll tell you h-what.

These days, I can’t claim to be the most spoiled person in the word in regards to performance. Despite having a stronger knowledge of hardware, I haven’t actually cared to spend the money on any of the latest tech. I run a 1660 Super with a R5 3600 and, as far as I’m concerned, that’s all I need. 4k gaming? No thanks, not needed.

That said, I can stand to make note of the future of hardware’s direction even without direct experience with the stuffs, and I can stand taller yet in understanding that Intel’s ARC lineup of GPUs are, at best, going to act as a 2.5 billion dollar graceless buffer between the dedicated GPU market and Intel’s ironing out the seams of their new product.

Image via Intel

NVIDIA and AMD, who have both dug out respectable shares of the dedicated GPU market, have a new graphics card generation (supposedly) coming out in Q4 of this year. These newer cards are going to outdo the current circulation of cards by a considerable, unverified margin. NVIDIA’s 40 series GPUs are being produced on TSMC’s 4nm fabrication process and will retain a 300-400 dollar price point for the 4060 model. In today’s age, that performance is going to be more than enough for AAA gaming at 1080p (and likely 4k), and its going to do it at mid-range prices the likes of which we are only just starting to see again after the Covid-19 related silicon shortage. Meanwhile, we have yet to get a confirmed release date for the ARC graphics cards outside of a Korean laptop launch which played host to a plague of driver issues that have more or less dampened the hype surrounding the cards altogether.

When said cards do get a global release, they’re only just going to be able to compete with NVIDIA’s 30 generation, as demonstrated by a somewhat barebones test released by Intel. This means that NVIDIA will be a generation behind the competition with product that is only just strong enough to compete with a product that’s already been in circulation (and thus, discounted heavily) for more than a year.

Its a real shame, too, since having a third tried and true company to put the heat on AMD and NVIDIA in the graphics department would be a real win for consumers everywhere. Hell, it would probably be a huge win for the world as a whole when you consider the cementing of a stronger Intel fab process, cheaper market prices, alongside stronger consumer and server-based computing performance from all three companies to boot (assuming they can all keep pace).

The barrier between that distant, preferable reality and the one we may be in, which sees Intel eat their losses in full, is nothing short of a few tall cliffs that need climbing. In short, Intel’s ARC GPUs are something I desperately want to stick in the marketplace and pave the way for a consistent showing against NVIDIA and AMD. To do that, they’re going to need to be cheaper than the already discounted RTX and RX cards, strong enough to pass up on the new 40 and 7000 series cards, and also be void of any compatibility issues at global launch.

Basically, the odds are against Intel, but we’d all be better off if they could cause an upset.


The r/WSB Gamestop Saga Continues

It’s been half a year since the ladies and gents over at r/WSB started squeezing the short positions on Gamestop to death, and the price of the company, while not the $325 peak it topped off at, is still holding strong at $160 per share.

The only thing more surprising to me than the fact that a collection of retail investors on the internet played the market is that they’ve managed to do it for longer than a couple weeks. When AMC and GME started to pop, I felt that a continued growth or stabilization over the ensuing weeks was impossible. Despite the welcome increase in price in AMC, I still feel more the fool for not jumping on the GME train when I had the chance. You live and you learn.

Gamestop Store

Still, this success and continued strength begs the question, what actual asset does Gamestop represent for investors, aside from a play on the market? Because from where I’m standing, the company doesn’t actually have any business model worthy of an $11 billion market cap. Especially not with a negative price to earnings ratio. I say this, by the way, not being against crafty plays on certain markets.

These Measurements of Evaluation

are substandard on their own, and I understand that. But factoring in those two variables in tandem with the overwhelming doom that is Gamestop’s inability to actually offer a service people need, it seems to be a company that’s being held afloat merely be the will of the people. Or, more accurately, by r/WSB people.

And I understand, by the way, that the will of the people voting with their money is enough to keep a company afloat indefinitely, even if the company doesn’t warrant that treatment from a purely profit driven mindset.

That said, there hasn’t been any good news about the restructuring of the company in the past year, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how GME is going to save their sinking ship. And I do believe it is a sinking ship.

Video games are a commodity that are increasingly distributed over the internet. Consoles can be purchased for retailers that offer services non-video game related (meaning their business model spans a far broader reach), and trading in old games for a 5% reimbursement has become less than attractive, both because the gas money required to travel to a Gamestop is more expensive than the amount of money you’ll get for a trade-in, and because nobody wants to trade in their old games of the past since reverse compatibility is a feature of modern consoles.

And trading in modern games? As aforementioned, those are purchased through the internet. Consumers either have ’em permanently or they got a refund within a few hours of gameplay.

“But wait!” I hear you saying. “Gamestop offers a selection of Funko Pops!”

Funko pops. End me.

I realize people who are betting on Gamestop believe the company is going to be restructured for the better sooner rather than later and make their evaluation off of speculation and not current standards like Funko Pops, but the thought of a company with as much debt as GME succeeding because they offer a collector’s toy is hilarious.

Don’t touch this company. As someone who has a lifetime’s worth of experience in the video game market, I can say with confidence that the odds are not in the favor of the holders.

GLHF, r/WSB. Despite my reservations, I’m rooting for you.

Ford, a Stagnant Growth Stock

Among many of life’s counter-intuitive facets, we find Ford. An automobile company that, in the last 15 years has pulled an average annual revenue of $148 billion, with an average annual net profit of the last four years coming out to a modest $2.4 billion. This is factoring in the huge losses F took in the Covid Pandemic, of course.

In light of the recent developments surrounding Tesla’s meteoric rise into a 1,141.58 price to earnings ratio, a debate has come to forefront of Ford as a company the keep in step with their competition. Many speculators have put their foot down on F as a stock that its going to see little to no growth before finally pattering out in the face of technological growth and dying out as a company in the next 30 years. Some have said the exact opposite.

In Terms of Speculation

I don’t think there’s much to fuss over, and I don’t think the two takes mentioned above (the death or boom of a company) need to be held by anyone of any rational mind. Ford, from my perspective, is a company that has stood the test of time and thrown many of its profits into regrowth and investment into tech. Its a company that’s known for its steady growth and solid dividend payments, and because recent events have temporarily thrown those norms out the window, the average consumer mindset has plagued the evaluations of the company. Their history has become less important than their present, and their present is a boring 28.61 PE, without the flash of GM or the innovation of Tesla, which is more looked at as an investment of energy and infrastructure that an an investment in the automobile industry (though, truly, it is all three).

Just this year, Ford announced an increased investment put into autonomous and electric vehicles, capping their funds in the sector at $29 billion, comparable to competitor General Motors’ pledge of $27 billion in the same sector.

Additionally, Ford has already put out an an all electric vehicle in the form of the Mustang Mach-E, which helped push February sales to an all time record, up 56% from the year before along with strong performances from the hybrid F-150.

If you want a good indication of the future of a company that doesn’t involve a crystal ball, taking a look at the products they provide, their performances on the market, and the way said company uses their profits to stimulate growth is your bread and butter for such a task. And its clear from the data above that Ford, even in a new market, is doing well in all three of those categories. Whether or not they’re the instigator of change seems, to me, to be an irrelevant factor. Its their infrastructure and commitment to adaptation that keeps Ford around, and during this time of uncertainty, when major players are unable to push the button on a full-on buy or sell call for F, buying into the company is a wise play for the long term.

As cyclical as the automobile industry is, there’s no element of speculation in calling the economy’s inevitable return to growth and confidence. Its better to already be in the market when its pessimistic than to be buying in when its optimistic, because at that point, you’ve likely missed the buss.

Ford’s wheels are beginning to turn once again, and the confidence of a buyer now will likely be paid back in the next two years with great growth and healthy dividend.


A Quick Thought On SLVO: Covered Calls on Silver

Investing in physical ownership of silver is often considered a poor investment by common contemporary analysis. It’s price doesn’t move much, it doesn’t yield much profit by any reasonable standards, and the uses it boasts in industrial development, while varied, doesn’t seem to make it a commodity of any significant upward trend.

The reality that places Silver as a tool for hedging against risk more than an actual investment for profit makes SLVO an interesting juxtaposition for individual investors looking for a high-yielding monthly dividend. Annually, the ETN pays out a rough 30% yield at its current price on the market. Given the fact that these dividends come from profits made by covered calls on SLV shares, which SLVO exclusively invests in, its clear that they aren’t consistent. That fact, along with the troubling dichotomy between the high dividend payments and loss of around 70% of the ETN’s price per share since its inception, makes this option seem a relatively risky one. After all, the dividends are nice, but can’t be taken advantage of given the risky nature of holding this ETN for too long a time. Additionally, you aren’t even guaranteed those dividends to be there when you really want them, anyway.

It certainly seems to be the case that a hands off investor might be better off looking elsewhere for an investment with a proven track record. That said, someone with great timing and a mind for reading the market might find themselves enjoying a pretty profit from flirting with SLVO, even if in a scarce manner.

An interesting relationship the ETN has with the market to consider is in its strategy: As aforementioned, it relies on covered calls to produce short-term profits on its long-term positions in SLV. Given the relatively stagnant nature of the price of silver, this can be seen as one of the few ways to conservatively make money in the market. Additionally, the difficult-to-read nature of the price of silver makes the market almost always ripe for profitable contracts to made with covered calls when putting up your stake in the material.

What do I mean by that?

What I mean is that people, regardless of the actual necessity or future of silver, will always be both bearish and bullish on the metal. It really just depends on who you talk to, and when. Given that, there’s a lot of room to make covered calls with positions in SLV, for example, that can often expire as worthless, allowing the seller of the covered call to retain ownership of their position in addition to the fees they collect as provided by each respective contract.

Whether or not this strategy is effective in the long term remains to be seen, at least when organized by the relevant management over at SLVO. But all the same, its worth keeping an eye on the ETN if for no other reason than to learn from their mistakes in playing the silver market.

If they are, indeed, making any mistakes, that is.


Investing in Developers: Video Games and The Stock Market

Activision Blizzard, Riot Games, GameStop, and Nintendo. Four separate entities that might seem like good investments for those interested in putting their money in the entertainment industry. Each offers a different kind of safety and volatility, as well as philosophy for different kinds of traders. Let’s go over each one and briefly cover some of the fundamental commitments an investor makes when buying stake in the respective companies.

Activision / Blizzard

This listing might be a bit confusing to those familiar with both companies, but yes, Activision and Blizzard did merge their two parent companies, and have been listed publicly under ATVI since 2008. The company is responsible for overseeing such titles as the famous Call of Duty franchise, World of Warcraft (and all Warcraft games), and Hearthstone, to name a few. Additionally, they function as a publishing company, putting their hands on titles like Sekiro: Shadow’s Die Twice, without directly developing them.

In short, this company is in control of some of the more influential titles in the gaming world today. Additionally, they have the talent and name recognition to put some stake into projects they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. If you’re looking to invest in a safe, long term appreciating asset, ATVI might be for you.

Though, its worth looking at some of the company’s cons before throwing any money at them, obviously. There are many to name, not least of which being that the company’s evaluation is directly tied to the performance of their games. And while it may seem that the most popular, best selling franchises and titles are nothing to be afraid of when putting money somewhere, you have to consider the fact that both Call of Duty and World of Warcraft are two games that have been under heavy scrutiny the past few years. And I don’t mean light scrutiny.

The last Call of Duty game to make the top 10 list for best selling COD games (there are 24 of them, now.) was back in 2017. The latest installment, Cold War, has been cited as an overall disappointment that only feeds into speculation about the franchise running out of steam.

As for WoW, the game only a year ago was in dire straights. Players of the retail version could only talk about broken, unfun, and “RNG-ridden” the game was. Players of the classic variant were more or less just bored. Now, only a year later, with Shadowlands released, things are looking a bit brighter for that community, and the game is receiving much better feedback, if temporarily.

And all this to say that, good or bad, things can change very quickly in the video game industry. If you don’t know about the culture of the community you’re investing in, it might be wise to dip into their ranks and see for yourself clean the house is. Even though the product’s track record might seem pretty, the very fans who use it might tell you the future is not so hot.

Riot Games

Developers of the biggest eSport game in the world and future media conglomerate overlords (pure speculation), Riot Games is undoubtedly the most talented and culturally influential development team in gaming today. The team has, as aforementioned, created League of Legends, which dominates the eSports scene with hundreds of thousands of viewers every week, and millions more during their famous Worlds event.

Additionally, they are putting out a handful of extra pieces of media in attempts grow their influence; A Counter-Strike competitor in VALORANT, an animated series Arcane that tells the story of a number of characters featured in League, a TCG rivaling Hearthstone in ways I never expected in the form of Legends of Runterra, and an MMO that I am trying my best to pretend like I’m not really all that interested in and failing miserably.

All sounds good, right? Well, here’s the deal. You can only invest in Riot indirectly. As it happens, all of their shares are traded privately, and the entity that owns a majority of those shares is Tencent. So if you want to bet on Riot, and you’re not running around with $500 million to do it, you’re best bet is throwing money at Tencent. Funnily enough (or not), Tencent has a large stake in a lot of companies (a LOT of companies), including our friends up above, Activision. You’ll have the wrestle with the morality of investing in a company that has had a lot of questions about its usage of user data thrown in its face, but I’m not here to tell you what’s right or wrong, I’m here to tell you what’s a sound investment, and barring any ban on your respective country allowing for trade of this stock, Tencent is pretty much as sound of an investment as you can make, and it even comes with a little dividend payment as a cherry on top.


I’ll be brief about our last two companies. Nintendo is a studio that produces good games. That’s about it. Its games aren’t eSports dominating, they don’t pull in massive sales like COD, and they don’t tend to have much in the way of obnoxious monetization (lootboxes, time gates, etc). But they have good games, they have solid licenses, their own consoles, and a community that loves what they do (at least most of the time).

If you don’t know anything about games, but want to have some investments in them, you really can’t go wrong with Nintendo. A small dividend to reward long-term holders, a solid foundation for a company to flourish for the next 50 years, and the love of the common folk. Easy.


It’s a bigger meme than an actual business at this point, and I want to take a moment to talk about it.

GameStop doesn’t, currently, reflect a sound investment. I’d wager at 10 dollars a share, this stock isn’t a worthy of your time, and at the moment of me writing this, the stock is sitting at a rough $180 due to the hype, misguided information, and hilarious short-squeeze the blokes at WSB are still pulling.

This is the kind of example I’d like people outside the gaming world to look at when they want to see, for themselves, the evolution of the gaming market. Today, that evolution is a world where physical games (i.e. disks) are becoming more and more obsolete. I’d wager in the next decade, physical game copies will be a phenomena limited to a small percentage of console gamers, and non-existent on the PC, as they almost already are.

Unless GameStop starts changing its business model to something revolutionary, or you just like the dream that is going to the moon, stay away from this one. It’s 0% reasonable assessment on the side of GameStop and 100% speculation and memes.


Paying for Inconsistency: An Argument Against Vacations

Due to a mix-up of article posts, I had this last week pretty much all to myself with only one article to write for its entirety. A website I write for, Moot.us, usually accepts three official posts from me each week, with anything extra being unpaid. This means that on any given week, I’ll be writing at least three articles, with an extra one or two for this website (or someone else, on occasion).

So a total of five article on average, and that’s not that much, but I’ve gotten used to it. It’s like clockwork at this point and doesn’t really phase me as much as it did back when I first started writing. I mean, writing more than one article per week felt like too much work back then, and it was only a matter of time before the ache of having to constantly write or think of what I was going to write hit me.

But that ache passed, and so now here I am. Recovering from that week off of work. I say recovering, and that might not read well for some of you, but that’s exactly the correct term for what I’m experiencing right now. You see, most people associate breaks or vacations with a nice reset of the mind: A way to refresh one’s self so that the work they return to afterwards is that much more enjoyable. But I’m starting to see that common knowledge as incorrect.

Lately, I’ve started to slowly come to the conclusion that hard work over extended periods of time doesn’t warrant a break. Instead, it’s rewarded with that hard work becoming easy work. And that’s rewarded with someone’s ability to do said work continuously while honing their craft in ways they never thought possible.

Take the writer, for instance. The ability to sit down and write for 2-4 hours everyday through the week and not have it grind against the mind’s patience is an invaluable tool for a writer to have. That said, it isn’t a tool that’s going to come with rest and vacation. Obviously, most would agree with this since it’s poised as a piece of advice for amateurs or those just getting their foot out in the world.

But what about when it comes to seasoned professionals? People seem to think the logic then gets flipped on it’s head: If you’ve been writing for five years and want to get away, most friends and co-workers might suggest a vacation, or at least taking a weekend off and that they’ve earned it. But this is, I think, a misplaced suggestion.

It sounds reasonable, and it sounds caring while also commending the work ethic of the employee in question. But the act of taking that time away from their craft, I think, will bring them more harm than good that they’ll need to adjust to. In the same way we want to have a drink every now and then (or every night), but we refrain because the price we pay for forcing ourselves to feel good is being forced to feel horrific the following morning. It’s life’s punishment for cheating our way to our goal, for inconsistency.

For each drink is a worsening headache, and for each day spent away from the work you’re building your life around is another day after where getting back into the rhythm and habit of XYZ becomes that much harder. I speak from personal experience when it comes to this. Remember that week I had off? Now that that time has come to pass, writing this very article feels like writing a paper for English class. It’s no longer a piece for my own website, or for my own career, but just something I have to do. And that’s not a good thing, because I don’t have to write, I enjoying the privilege of being able to. Yet, there’s that impatience in the back of my mind ushering me towards another match of R6, or looking up a new deck for Hearthstone. (Great expansion, by the way.)

That might sound not so horrible for someone in my position. After all, I write about video games, so what’s the issue with feeling spurred on to play them more? Well, it just so happens that playing them isn’t even fun for me right now. I just got into R6 in a competitive sense, I’m nearing level 50 and am about to start playing ranked, EU4 has been a blast, and Hearthstone just released a new expansion, yet I feel no real joy when playing them because that’s all I’ve done for the last week.

Imagine that, writing about video games you don’t enjoy playing. That’s a terrible spot to be in for me, and I know for a fact it’s due to my own willingness to take it easy. My boss let me know I only owed him one article and that was that, I was done for. I wrote the article and stayed in my room all week. At first, the eating schedule went away. The workout routine followed. Then it was just general things like showering every day and doing my laundry. It’s like I was back in high school, just not doing anything ever. I hated it, yet I felt so comfortable knowing I didn’t have to do anything. And that feeling of comfort and hate has translated into impatience and laziness.

“Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men and weak men create hard times.”

G. Michael Hopf

Make what you will about this quote anywhere else in life, but I implore you to consider in terms of yourself. What makes you a better person physically, emotionally, or intellectually? Is it ease? Is it time away? Or is it stress, strife, and an obstacle that is slightly bigger than the last one you’ve overcome?

Consider the fire you’re lighting under yourself. And before you decide to leave it, consider how far you might fall before you get back over it again.