Miss Cleo Predicts Your Gamerscore

Miss Cleo Predicts Your Gamerscore
The Crystal Ball of Michael Pachter

Tracey John | 16 Nov 2010 09:22
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Whenever a games journalist needs an insightful - or incitable, depending on your perspective - technology pundit, the first guy she calls is Michael Pachter.


If you don't know Pachter by name, you've certainly heard about his work. Gaming websites across the internet constantly cite his forthright predictions on the videogame industry. Whether it's about console price drops, software sales, company earnings or even new hardware (like the Wii HD, for example), you can bet Pachter's shared his opinion about it on some gaming blog, and he's probably pissed off both publishers and gamers alike.

In addition to the videogame publishers, Pachter also covers Netflix, GameStop, Blockbuster, RadioShack, Coinstar, Dreamworks, WWE and movie exhibitors like IMAX, Regal, Cinemart and Carmike. However, he wasn't always analyzing and predicting the entertainment industry's next move. He said it was a "total fluke" that he covers videogames. Armed with four degrees - an undergraduate degree in political science, a law degree, a master of law and an MBA - he held jobs as a tax lawyer, an investment banker and a "mergers and acquisitions guy" before he was hired at Wedbush to head up the research department. But then he found that doing the actual research was more interesting than running the department, so when the person covering the games beat left the company, Pachter stepped in, and he's been doing it for the past 11 years.

A typical day for Pachter begins at 4:30 in the morning. He stays for 12 hours (except for today, because of our interview and a long week of earnings calls), and eats lunch at his desk. He tracks the industry, looks at data and reads news websites and blogs. He makes an average of 15-18 phone calls a day - ranging from 10 minutes to an hour - to speak with investors as well as public and private companies.

"I talked to Activision today, and I talked to Microsoft a couple of days ago," Pachter said. "My work essentially consists of understanding what companies do and then writing about it. And then typically after I've written about it, I'll speak with shareholders and help them to understand it."

Once he gets home, the work doesn't stop. After dinner with the family, Pachter usually checks his e-mail and the internet for news every night before bed to make sure he doesn't miss anything (he gets about six hours of sleep a night). He also writes notes to investors during the weekend for a few hours, bringing his average work week to 70 hours. When he's not evaluating the industry, Pachter also somehow makes time to actually play some games. He typically plays 4-10 hours a week, and enjoys all genres - from casual titles like Cut the Rope on the iPad to every Call of Duty game and in-depth RPGs like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Fallout and Diablo.

But that doesn't include the times when he travels. To visit clients, Pachter's away from home about 60 nights a year, mostly for domestic trips, though he does head to Europe on occasion. In fact, later this month he's got a business trip that takes him to six cities (London, Paris, Geneva, Helsinki, Oslo, and then back to London) in seven days in order to meet with 3-4 clients a day.

"So that's a real fun week," Pachter said, chuckling. "But I don't want any sympathy. I'm paid pretty well."

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