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A Deep Dive Into the World’s Oceans, Lakes, and Drill Holes

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Explore the full-size version of this chart by clicking here.

A Deep Dive Into the World's Oceans, Lakes, and Drill Holes

Credit: xkcd

Today’s chart is best viewed full-screen. Explore the high resolution version by clicking here.

Sailors have been circumnavigating the high seas for centuries now, but what could be found beneath the sunlit surface of the ocean remained a mystery until far more recently. In fact, it wasn’t until 1875, during the Challenger expedition, that humanity got it’s first concete idea of how deep the ocean actually was.

Today’s graphic, another fantastic piece by xkcd, is a unique and entertaining look at everything from Lake Superior’s ice encrusted shoreline down to blackest, inhospitable trench (which today bears the name of the expedition that first discovered it).

The graphic is packed with detail, so we’ll only highlight a few points of interest.

Deep Thoughts with Lake Baikal

Deep in Siberia, abutting a mountainous stretch of the Mongolian border, is the one of the most remarkable bodies of water on Earth: Lake Baikal. There are a number of qualities that make Lake Baikal stand out.

Depth: Baikal, located in a massive continental rift, is the deepest lake in the world at 1,642m (5,387ft). That extreme depth holds a lot of fresh water. In fact, an estimated 22% of all the world’s fresh water can be found in the lake.

Age: Baikal (which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is estimated to be over 25 million years old, making it the most ancient lake on the planet.

Clarity: Interestingly, the water in the lake is exceptionally clear. In winter, visibility can extend over 30m (98ft) below the surface.

Biodiversity: The unique ecosystem of Lake Baikal provides a home for thousands of plant and animal species. In fact, upwards of 80% of those species are endemic, meaning they are unique to that region.

Who is Alvin?

Since 1964, a hard-working research submersible named Alvin has been helping us better understand the deep ocean. Alvin explored the wreckage of RMS Titanic in 1986, and helped confirm the existence of black smokers (one of the weirdest ecosystems in the world). Though most of the components of the vessel have been replaced and upgraded over the years, it’s still in use today.

Polymetallic Nodules

The ancient Greek word, ábyssos, roughly means “unfathomable, bottomless gulf”. While there is a bottom (the abyssopelagic zone comprises around 75% of the ocean floor), the enormous scale of this ecosystem is certainly unfathomable.

Objectively, the abyssal plain is not the prettiest part of the ocean. It’s nearly featureless, and lacks the panache of, say, a coral reef, but there are still some very compelling reasons we’re eager to explore it. Resource companies are chiefly interested in polymetallic nodules, which are essentially rich manganese formations scattered about on the sea bottom.

Manganese is already essential in steel production, but demand is also getting a substantial lift from the fast-growing electric vehicle market. The first company to find an economical way to harvest nodules from the ocean floor could reap a significant windfall.

Drill Baby, Drill

Demand for resources can force humans into some very inhospitable places, and in the case of Deepwater Horizon, we chased oil to a depth even surpassing the famed Marianas Trench.

Drilling that far below the surface is a complicated endeavor, and when the drill platform was put into service in 2001, it was hailed as an engineering marvel. To this day, Deepwater Horizon holds the record for the deepest offshore hole ever made.

After the rig’s infamous explosion and subsequent spill in 2010, that record may stand the test of time.

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Business

The 50 Biggest Video Game Franchises by Total Revenue

Video games generate billions in revenue every year. Where the majority of this revenue comes from, however, may be surprising to you.

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The 50 Biggest Video Game Franchises by Total Revenue

When the world’s first video game, Tennis for Two, was revealed at a science fair in 1958, people were fascinated—there was clearly something special.

Since these humble beginnings, video games have rode waves of technological advancements to burgeon into a $100+ billion industry. To visualize this success, today’s infographic from TitleMax lists the top 50 highest-grossing video games franchises.

While this feat is impressive on its own, the way many of these franchises generate their revenue may come as a shock.

How Do Video Games Generate Billions?

Video games first saw large-scale commercial success in the 1980s, in what some describe as the “golden age of arcade games”. As arcades popped up across America, renowned classics like Pac-man and Space Invaders raked in large sums of money, one coin at a time.

Today, there are two revenue models generally followed by video game publishers—the traditional pay-to-play (P2P) model, and the newer free-to-play (F2P) model.

For much of the industry’s modern history, P2P models have been the default option. A developer incurs costs to produce its games, so it sells them to consumers to recover costs and make a profit.

Under a F2P model, however, the developer essentially distributes its games for free. Players don’t have to pay anything if they don’t want to, and the developer runs the risk that it may never recoup its costs.

So why would a developer ever choose a F2P model? Let’s look at industry data from 2019:

PlatformFree-to-play (F2P) RevenuePay-to-play (P2P) Revenue
Mobile$64.4B--
PC$21.1B$5.2B
Console$1.6B$13.8B
Total$87.1B$19.0B

Source: SuperData

Those aren’t typos. F2P games accounted for a whopping 82% of industry revenue in 2019. What’s more, is that this gap continues to grow: since the previous year, F2P revenue grew 6%, while P2P revenue fell by 5%.

The Power of Discretionary Spending

There’s a number of F2P franchises listed in today’s graphic which have grossed well over a billion dollars in total revenue.

RankFranchiseDeveloperPlatformGross Revenue
#15League of LegendsRiot Games¹PC$8.4B
#21Arena of ValorTencentMobile$6.4B
#23Clash of ClansSupercell²Mobile$6.0B
#27Candy Crush SagaKing³Mobile$4.9B
#40Maple StoryNexonPC$3.0B
#46FortniteEpic Games⁴Console, Mobile, PC$2.5B
#47Clash RoyaleSupercell²Mobile$2.0B

¹wholly-owned subsidiary of Tencent, ²majority-owned subsidiary of Tencent, ³wholly-owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, ⁴Tencent owns a 40% stake.

Because these types of games are often published for PC or mobile phone (most people have at least one of these), their accessibility becomes a key advantage. This is especially true in China, where video game consoles like Xbox have been banned in the past.

Yet, simply amassing a large player base isn’t enough. With no money being paid upfront, developers must create compelling incentives for players to willingly part with their cash.

League of Legends

League of Legends, one of the world’s most popular video games, is widely considered a successful pioneer in this regard.

When developer Riot Games chose a F2P model for its game, it took a gamble. The model was largely unproven for titles of its genre, and it’s main source of revenue was set to be the sale of purely cosmetic items called “character skins”.

Nobody would have tried Legends if we put a price point in front of it because the game is tough to sell

—Marc Merrill, Co-founder of Riot Games

Part of the game’s incentive to spend comes from its longevity—League of Legends has just entered its 11th year. Rather than release a new title, the developer makes continuous improvements to the existing game, with each iteration dubbed as a new “season”.

If a traditional P2P game represents a movie, League of Legends could then be considered a long-running TV show. For example, while there’s been one League of Legends since 2009, there’s been 11 Call of Duty titles over that same time frame.

Joining the Party

Some of the world’s most successful video game franchises, which have historically published games under the P2P model, are also expanding into free games with great success.

For Pokémon (#1 in gross revenue), product diversification is nothing new. While the franchise manages a universe of offerings from physical merchandise to movies, its free mobile augmented reality (AR) game, Pokémon Go, may be one of its most successful endeavors.

The game, which leads players out into the real world to catch virtual monsters, was a massive sensation when it launched in 2016. In fact, it was so popular (and distracting) it’s been estimated to have contributed to more than 100,000 car accidents.

Four years since its release, Pokémon Go is a shining example of what the F2P model can achieve—the game has racked up over 1 billion downloads and generated an incredible $3 billion in revenues.

YearGross Revenue % Change 
2016$832M-
2017$589M-29%
2018$816M+38%
2019$894M+10%
Total$3,131M-

Source: Sensor Tower Store Intelligence

Part of Pokémon Go’s incentive to spend comes from its incredibly unique social experience—it
turns real world landmarks into hubs where players can gather. By simply leveraging the capabilities of existing smartphones, it’s also extremely accessible.

Is Free the New Norm?

As more and more franchises successfully expand into free games, it’s clear that the F2P model will be the primary driver of future growth. The relatively higher accessibility of F2P games is also crucial to tap into the quickly growing esports industry.

However, traditional P2P games, which are now being called “premium games”, still have some merit to them. These games are often associated with a higher level of quality which people are happy to pay for.

Yet, as the legitimacy and success of the F2P model continues to develop, this quality gap could also shrink in the future.

Editor’s note: The revenue figures in today’s infographic include merchandise and other related products.

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Healthcare

Infection Trajectory: See Which Countries are Flattening Their COVID-19 Curve

The number of COVID-19 cases around the world continues to grow, but each country has a different infection trajectory. This chart tells the story.

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At the outset of 2020, the world looked on as China grappled with an outbreak that seemed be spiraling out of control.

Two months later, the situation is markedly different. After aggressive testing and quarantine efforts, China’s outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) appears to be leveling off.

Now, numerous countries around the world are in the beginning stages of managing their own outbreaks. March 15th, 2020, marked a significant statistical milestone for this, as confirmed cases of COVID-19 outside of China surpassed the Chinese total.

The tracker above, by Our World in Data, charts the trajectory of the growing number of countries with more than 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19. As the number of new infections reported around the world continues to grow, which countries are winning the battle against COVID-19, and which are still struggling to slow the rate of infection?

What’s Your National Infection Trajectory?

As of publishing time, 39 countries have passed the threshold of 100 confirmed cases, with many more countries on the cusp. By comparing infection trajectories from the 100 case mark, we’re able to see a clearer picture of how quickly the virus is spreading within various countries.

A rapid “doubling rate” can spell big trouble, as even countries with advanced healthcare systems can become overwhelmed by the sheer number of cases. This was the case in the Lombardy region of Italy, where hospitals were overloaded and an increasing number of medical staff are under quarantine after testing positive for the virus. Nearly 10% of COVID-19 patients in Lombardy required intensive care, which stretched resources to their breaking point.

Other countries are looking to avoid this situation by “flattening the curve” of the pandemic. In other words, preventing and delaying the spread of the virus so that large portions of the population aren’t sick at the same time.

flattening the covid19 curve

Original concept by Drew Harris

Everything’s Canceled

While all the countries on this tracker are united behind a common goal – stamping out COVID-19 as soon as possible – each country has its own approach and unique challenges when it comes to keeping their population safe. Of course, countries that are just beginning to experience exponential growth in case numbers have the benefit of learning from mistakes made elsewhere, and adopting ideas that are proving successful at slowing the rate of infection.

Many jurisdictions are implementing some or all of these measures to help flatten the curve:

  • Quarantining
  • Encouraging social distancing
  • Encouraging working from home
  • Closing schools and other institutions
  • Placing hard limits on the size of crowds at events

The following chart explains why this last measure is critical to limiting the spread of the virus.

event risk assessment chart

In scenario B above, which assumes just 20,000 active cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., there’s nearly a 50% chance an infected person will be attending a 10,000 person conference or sporting event. This is precisely the reason why temporary limits on crowd size are popping up in many jurisdictions around the world.

Direct losses due to canceled tech conferences alone, such as SXSW and the Electronic Entertainment Expo, have already surpassed the $1 billion mark, but despite the short-term economic pain of cancellations and decreased entertainment spending, the costs of business-as-usual could be incalculable.

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