In this week's games extravaganza episode of Rule Breaker Investing, David Gardner offers up three flavors of games. First, he chats with one of the Fool's very own game designers, Max Keeler, about Investor Island, the game that Max and his team just spent the last few years developing. Then, David checks in on his five-stock sampler Five Stocks to Put Under the Tree. How did this gift-worthy package of companies do? You'll have to tune in to find out. And finally, David shares an abundance of recommendations for both casual and hardcore games.
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This video was recorded on Dec. 10, 2019.
David Gardner: A few times a year, the gaming geek in me takes over this podcast, occupies this podcast, in order to dedicate it in full to the thread that runs longest and deepest through my life, my leitmotiv, my life motif, which is, as I hope you will know by now, dear listeners, games. Games. Board games, card games, video games, game designers, games for the holiday, the game of life, because to me, life is a great game. Well, not the one with pink or blue pawns and a spinner, sold since 1860 by Milton Bradley. That one's not so great. But, life. You know, the one you and I are living together? That is a great game. And here's a secret, by the way -- it's a co-op. Most people may not get this, especially if they're not gamers, but life, while it has some clear and sometimes wonderful aspects of competition, life is actually a cooperative game. We work together. And if we're doing it right, we win together. Games have rules, other players, objectives, they can be scored, and they are fun. So yeah, games. Games in three flavors, as I'll be showing you very shortly on this week's Rule Breaker Investing.
Welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing! Yep, you've reached our holiday gaming extravaganza. I mentioned at the top, it's all games this week, and in three flavors. So let me acquaint you with each of the flavors. Flavor No. 1 is discussion of The Motley Fool's brand new mobile game app. Yep, it's right there in your app store, whether you're using an iPhone or a Google phone of whatever stripe. Yep, Investor Island is the name of the game. Now, longtime listeners, some of you helped us beta test this game, months or maybe a year ago, so you already know about this. But we have a lot of new listeners, and this is the holiday games extravaganza, so who knows how many people are listening? And I want all of them to know about our new game, Investor Island, where you can throw fireballs at my statues, which themselves are being powered by this stock market and stock market data. If that sounds interesting to you, I'm really happy shortly to introduce my friend Max Keeler, who's helped us build this game. So, that's flavor No. 1.
Flavor No. 2, just after that, I'm going to cover -- you all know I play a game on this podcast. It's called pick five stocks every 10 weeks or so and track them a year or two or three later. That's a game. And three years ago this month, I picked Five Stocks to Put Under the Tree. What were those stocks? How have they done in the three years since? That's a game. That's flavor No. 2 in this holiday gaming extravaganza.
And finally, we'll close with my list of my favorite board and card games. A lot of people are looking for gifts this time of year. There's still enough time thanks to the miracle of e-commerce. I find I can almost order on the 21st and still have it there by the 23rd sometimes, not to put too much pressure on our nation's mail carriers. But, yeah, there were a lot of great new games this year, and a couple from years past. And I'm specifically putting those two short lists in categories No. 1, casual games that anybody in everybody can enjoy, and then No. 2, a little bit more harder-core for the real gamer crowd that likes some extra strategy and zing at their gaming table.
So, that is the holiday gaming extravaganza. I'm so delighted that you've joined with me this week. Happy holidays! I hope you enjoyed our cultural tips from Lee and Kara last week. It was a delight to share that. I did encourage listeners to send in your best ideas, things you practice in your organizations that we might learn from here at The Motley Fool. I'd like to share those out, which I will no doubt do at the end of this month in our mailbag. Remember that.
Also, to preview next week, yep, it's that time of the quarter. We're going back to The Market Cap Game Show -- speaking of games. That's next week. You may remember we had somebody who broke our game, and the way that Ken Jennings broke Jeopardy -- actually, really, Watson broke Jeopardy. But, that kind of happened to our game at the end of last quarter, so I've revised it a little bit, and I think, an interesting new way, to make it a multiplayer game. If you are a gamer -- and I sure hope you are this week -- you'll enjoy next week's show, The Market Cap Game Show, Episode 10: The Reboot.
Alright, well, without further ado, I see my friend Max Keeler here in the studio. Max, welcome to the show.
Max Keeler: Great to be back. Thanks, David.
Gardner: Thank you. It's great to have you back, Max. Now, I think we talked on this podcast maybe a few weeks ago. I feel like you were in the studio recently.
Keeler: I think three weeks ago.
Gardner: What was that about?
Keeler: That was our teaser for the Investor Island game, which we were about to launch. I made some promises about launching relatively soon. I'm glad to say that those promises were kept. You can find Investor Island in the app store across the globe. It's in every country, although it's a U.S. stock market based game currently. You can play it wherever you are.
Gardner: Max, thank you for being, A, a great longtime Fool. How many years here at The Motley Fool?
Gardner: That's amazing. Thank you, B, for being instrumental in the creation of this game. We have a small dev team -- Roger Friedman, Todd Eder, and others -- who helped build it. Really, we've gotten a lot of help from Ireland, Tall Team LLC, the real coders of our game with lots of experience. Their polish is evident in Investor Island.
And finally, Max, thank you, C, for being somebody who keeps his promises. We need more of that in this world.
Keeler: You know, it happens once in a while. I'm glad at least it's documented this time. I can talk a little bit about the game if you'd like.
Gardner: That's what we're here to do. In fact, you and I talked about arranging this roughly 10 to 15-minute conversation along four lines: the what, the why, the who, and the how. I like this framework. Thank you for the idea, Max. Let's start with the what. Max Keeler, what is Investor Island?
Keeler: If we really back up at the highest level, just to make sure people understand this. This is a game you play on a mobile device. Either an iPhone, a tablet, an iPad, an Android device. Those are the only platforms, Android and iOS currently, that we support, though we may support others. You may be able to play it on your PlayStation 4 someday. But right now, it is just a mobile app.
Gardner: It's free.
Keeler: It's free.
Gardner: Click that little download button. That'll be a little later, we'll talk about that. But it doesn't cost anything to play. We hope the whole world will play.
Keeler: And we partnered, as you mentioned, with some of the best game developers, honestly, that I know of. The team is called The Tall Team from Ireland. They are some of the lead developers on some really popular games like Bejeweled, Plants vs. Zombies. They were at PopCap a while back. We were lucky enough to get introduced to them. We connected immediately when we talked about what we were looking to do. They've been a huge part of this effort. So, a lot of what you'll see in this game is a direct result of The Tall Team.
Gardner: You betcha. So, Investor Island. We're on an island.
Keeler: I think you and I have talked about what's the analogy. The short version is, there is no other game like this on the market that we know of. [laughs]
Gardner: This is a mash up.
Keeler: This has different styles, different modes for different people. But it's ultimately a board game, I think.
Gardner: It's a strategy game.
Keeler: It's a strategy game and it is on a sort of board. And the board is an island. You've washed ashore on this on this mysterious island, and there's a little passage at the beginning that explains it. What you're trying to do is, you're trying to take control of Investor Island. And the way that you do that is, you have these friends that are little statues, basic little Tiki-style statues that you can build. That helps you occupy the board. But the central part of your strategy is what we call your temples. And your temples are actually powered directly by a stock. So you pick a stock --
Keeler: Tesla, for example. So, your temple would appear on the board with the Tesla logo floating above it. And depending how Tesla is doing, it can fuel an advantage or a disadvantage in the game.
Gardner: Right, whether the stock is up or down. The analogy I sometimes use is, we've kind of created a game like Risk, which is a fairly popular game that many people will recognize worldwide, Risk. But imagine if, instead of powering it with dice -- because that's what you do when you play Risk, you roll dice and hope for big numbers, more armies conquer the other people's armies, take over areas -- here, we're not using dice, we're using stocks. We're using real-world stock market data, whether present day in our lives or historical, going back 20 years or so. But it's all real data, and it's powering Investor Island.
Keeler: There's three main ways to play this. I'll just briefly explain. The first is, if you just want to immediately play a game and have fun, you can play a solo match where you play against a robot. Your experience in the game will determine how tough the robot is.
Gardner: A couple of levels of AI.
Keeler: Yeah, exactly. So, you can play the robot, get a feel for the game, have fun, if you just want to play a quick game. The next mode is the turn-based mode, which is versus another player. So, we'll match you up with somebody who's roughly your skill level, and you will take turns. You can play it at your own pace that way.
Gardner: Some people may know a game like Words with Friends, let's say. Games that are turn-based where you take your turn, and then asynchronously send it to your opponent over the internet, it's their turn, it goes back and forth. You could take an hour to play, or you could play it over a few days.
Keeler: Yes. It's more like a chess match. And yeah, it can take several days, it can take 20 minutes, depending on how involved you want to be in the game. And then the third mode, which is our most interesting mode, if you ask me, is the real-time mode. In the turn-based, you're using historical data. You'll get dropped into some random year in the stock market in the past decade or so, and how your stock does -- and it's real historical performance, so you can see how that stock did.
Gardner: If it's 2012 and you have Tesla, what Tesla did in 2012 is going to power you. Often, you have more than one stock, too. You'll have a few stocks that you bring in as temples onto Investor Island, competing against your opponent.
Keeler: Exactly. In the live mode, it's actual real-time data. And it's a four-player match. So you've got two neat dynamics going on there. One is, there's no way to know how your stocks will do. In the historical, you can learn as you go, and we give you some hints about which stocks did well that year. But this is, you really have to pick a stock. So, it's a much more interesting dynamic from that point of view. And then also, four-player changes everything, because you can gang up on people, or just sit back. You can really pick a strategy that works. And it's over the course of a week. There aren't a lot of games like this. During the week, as market data comes in, certain events happen. Sometimes people are getting up at four in the morning --
Gardner: Some people have been inspired. One does not have to, but if you're inspired to do so, that could help.
Keeler: [laughs] Maybe some people in this room, perhaps. But, it's a lot of fun. We've been getting very positive feedback. So far, I think we're all really happy with the game. There's a lot more to come, though, which is even more interesting.
Gardner: Yeah. And we haven't even talked about spells. A big part of the game is, you start to unlock spells. This is one of those games where the more you play, the more you unlock. There are so many mobile game players worldwide of all ages. I think many of us are familiar with these concepts. The more you play, the more you'll unlock. You get access to new and more interesting spells. You use those spells to help try to take over investor island. And there's a god, a Tiki god who oversees the board. And there are a few different personalities and what they do to the game over the course of a turn or a week is always interesting.
Keeler: It's a rich game. We have some tutorials to help you figure out this game, because it does take a little getting used to.
Gardner: Totally understood. OK, so, to the extent that in five or six minutes, we could actually explain Investor Island to people from all over the world who have different degrees of background in games and the market, that was our best shot. That's the what. Max, why?
Keeler: I think there's three main reasons why we did this. The first is, I think we're really trying to reach a new audience. A lot of times, I'll talk with people younger, either people who just started working here, or at other jobs, or people in their early 30s, late 20s. And they really haven't been exposed to the market in my experience. Either at all, or in a positive way. So, I think what we're trying to do is just create an association. We're not trying to teach people how to invest with this game, but we're trying to get them to know the concepts, get them to understand what it's like to own a company, and just create an affiliation with a younger audience.
Gardner: And it's clear we're doing that, from some of the early reviews we're seeing. We're definitely attracting gamers -- this is a game, after all. But what I think is so cool about it, Max, is, yeah, what's powering it is stocks, and the stock market. It's kind of like fantasy football is powered by real-world data from the National Football League here in the U.S., but it creates its own meta game. That's what we're doing with stock market data. So a lot of people are probably downloading our game going, "This is fun. By the way, what is TSLA? What's happening on this?" So, I hope that they start to gain some affinity or understanding that there are stocks out there, and a market, and that's something that is fun and you should participate in.
Keeler: A quick story is, my daughter, who is 12, has been shopping it around to her friends. And one of her friends has downloaded the game, can't stop playing it, and has asked for stocks for Christmas.
Gardner: That is awesome!
Keeler: [laughs] I was ready for you to be like, "Alright, we're done."
Gardner: I agree, that's the happiest thing I may hear all month, and it was a happy month. That is spectacular.
Keeler: Maybe it was just in the moment that she's liking the stocks, but I thought it was just really cool.
Gardner: You said three reasons, Max. You said No. 1 of the why was reaching a new audience. So, we're helping more people find out about this amazing thing called the stock market.
Keeler: Yeah. The second reason is similar in a way. We're really trying to reach people on a new medium. It's not just about the topic of spreading stock markets to a younger generation, but also meeting people on a new platform. This is a first stab at really taking a real sincere effort at reaching people on a mobile device. We put a lot of work into this. This was about a two-year project --
Gardner: It has been.
Keeler: -- when you think about the inception. So, we're taking this seriously. We put resources behind it. And if this works, then I'm sure you'll be seeing more from The Motley Fool on mobile. That's another secondary objective that we're reaching here.
Gardner: That's wonderful.
Keeler: And then the third is, we love games. [laughs] I mean, really. If we didn't have one or two, we would still probably do it just because we love games. This is just an expression of who we are at The Motley Fool.
Gardner: That is so true. We have so many gamers, not just on our team, but at Fool HQ, period. But, yeah. I've always heard it said that, you know you've found the right job if you would literally pay to do the work you're doing. I would literally pay to get to hang out with our Irish developers, you and the team, and build a strategy game that matches up the stock market with an area control spell-driven extravaganza -- my word of the week.
Keeler: We've had a lot of fun with this.
Gardner: Alright, so, that's a very well-integrated why. It's some about why we've done it, and some of why we hope you'll love it and you'll lean into it with us.
So, that was the what, and that was the why. Max, let's go to the who and the how. Who first. Who is this game for?
Keeler: Well, I just want to make sure people know that this is a mobile game. It uses a lot of mobile game concepts. If you've never played a mobile game before, this is going to be really new territory for you, so you'll need to probably be extra patient with all that's coming at you. It might just seem like there's a lot coming at you.
If you're an experienced mobile gamer, and you've played, like, Clash of Clans, Brawl Stars, some of these big, popular games, you'll get it. A lot of the same tropes are in our game that are in a lot of these games. It is really designed more for people who play mobile games.
Gardner: I agree with that. And not only that, Max, but if you want to play ranked games -- you don't have to. You can just play your friends. But I play ranked games. We have what's known as an Elo rating, which chess players and others will know. We basically have a ranking. As you play somebody else, your result will cause you to gain or lose your ranking. So, there's a whole competitive aspect. I know a lot of our listeners do have the competitive gene, I hope in a good way, in them.
So, yeah, it really is a gamer's game. I think that's the best way of thinking about it. I mean, I sure hope everybody in the whole world does, but I've had a few friends where I've shown it to -- maybe closer to my age than my kids' age -- they kind of tap around. And they don't really read the tutorial. We put a lot of time and effort into a beautifully crafted tutorial, but some people -- have you noticed this? -- they just click, "OK, OK, go on, go on." They don't read it. So, they're not really going to learn the game. They're going to be confused by what the heck is happening on investor island.
Keeler: What surprises me is actually, the younger generation is taking more time to read the materials. I would have thought it'd be the other way around. But it's some of the older generations that are like, "I don't know what's going on. Tap, tap, tap." Again, if you're not used to the medium, you might just not know what to do.
Gardner: Well put. So, a little bit of caveat emptor there. Although, this is free, so you can't lose a lot, other than time, if you don't like Investor Island.
Of course, we hope everybody in the whole world will download Investor Island. They'll let all their friends know. I know that's already happening. I'm getting to play some Motley Fool members. By the way, I'm David. If you end up playing David on the game, that's me. Max, who are you in the game?
Keeler: I have several accounts, [laughs] for testing purposes. My main one is facedancer.
Gardner: OK, facedancer. You can take on a screen name, of course. Anyway, whether you get to play me or Max -- we hope you will, but maybe you just want to play the AI, and just passively enjoy it yourself. It's all there for you.
Max, the last question is the how. We may have already spoken to this a little bit, but Max, how do I get Investor Island?
Keeler: Just to make it perfectly clear, you go to the App Store on your iPhone, or Google Play. You can also go to investorisland.fool.com, a little website that will poke you in the right direction, hopefully.
Gardner: We've got trailers that you can watch and see the game on the App Store.
Keeler: There's screencaps, there's trailers. You may even start seeing some ads, some pretty silly ads that we've put together. And then also, once you download the app, you can invite your friends. And the way that you do that is, you'll be able to share a link through a text message, through an email, through Facebook, apps like that. So, if you do want to play your family or a friend and get them involved, you can do that as well.
Gardner: Wonderful. Well, thanks for doing a quiet release over Thanksgiving. It was enjoyed by the Gardner family. A few of us involved in the project knew that we'd quietly launched on the App Store. We're still not going big with any kind of advertising. This is more of a sneak peek, still just for listeners of this podcast. But it's no longer something that we're preventing people from talking about. So, please, play it. Tell everybody. And that's the how.
Keeler: Yep, it's out of the box. Enjoy. We'll be doing some more promotion around it.
Gardner: And we're going to be adding more content, right?
Gardner: Yeah, more's coming.
Well, Max, thank you very much for your time today and for all the work you put into Investor Island.
Keeler: Thanks, David! Always a pleasure. And I'll see you on investor island. Watch out for my fireballs.
Gardner: Bam. Thanks, Max!
Alright, onto section two of our Games, Games, Games podcast. It's time to look back three years ago this month, just about three years ago this week, in fact. It was, I see, December 7th of 2016, Pearl Harbor Day, three years ago, when I came on this podcast and picked five stocks. Since it was December, it made a lot of sense to me at the time to call it Five Stocks to Put Under the Tree. So, the natural top-of-mind question would be, were these good gifts to give somebody for the holidays?
Now, I haven't actually gone back and listened to that podcast. It is all out there on the internets, so you can feel free to google it, find it, Five Stocks to Put Under the Tree, and actually hear what I was saying at the time. I'm curious what I was saying about each of these five companies. But we'll just take them in the order I presented them on the podcast and see how the Five Stocks to Put Under the Tree sampler has done.
But before we start, let me just -- I love that story that Max told about his 12-year-old daughter playing it with her friend, and her friend loves Investor Island, and then she asks her parents, could she have stocks for Christmas? That is, in a lot of ways, why we do what we do. And so it does remind me that the purpose of the theme of Stocks to Put Under the Tree was that these can make great gifts. I realize, a lot of us think about toys for kids. I certainly did ask for them when I was a kid, and I was disappointed if I got a check for $25 to deposit in a bank account. That never felt as good as a $25 toy. But, whether you're thinking in increments of $5 or $105 for kids, or weddings, giving a great stock, and giving shares of that stock, buying them and just having them moved to somebody else's account, or started in a kid's account, those really are, when you find great stocks, the gifts that keep on giving. Some of the most powerful gifts I've ever given are stocks, generally to younger people. It can be life-changing. Now, if the stock does great, that helps a lot, too. But just opening a child's eyes to the beauty of finding great businesses, saving money, which takes some guts, especially when you're a kid because you want to spend it all, save the money and invest in stocks, and then feel the reward as it goes up over time. I'm not doing a five-stock sampler this month -- in fact, I did one last month. I hope you enjoyed Five Stocks for Conscious Capitalism. But I do want you to remember the beauty of giving stocks, whether it's this time of year or any other.
OK, sermon over. Let's go to the five stocks.
Stock No. 1. Stock No. 1 to put under the tree was Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), ticker symbol AAPL. This stock, like most of the stocks on this sampler, needs no real introduction. I thought it would be more fun, rather than go back over the last three years and see what corporate developments have caused these stocks to go up or down, I would just be thankful. Thankful this time of year makes a lot of sense to me. So I'm going to thank each of these stocks. And I might as well give a little spoiler alert now -- all five of them have beaten the S&P 500. And for most of them, it wasn't even close. I feel very thankful looking at this list of stocks. When I look at Apple, I think about how thankful I am that the company remains true to its original vision, its brand and its focus. A lot of people want Apple to do more than it's done. They say things like, "Hey, will there ever be an Apple car? I want an Apple this or that." The company admittedly hasn't innovated in really interesting ways over the last three years -- unless you think that AirPods or the AirPods Pro, which appear to be sold out everywhere that I'm seeing right now -- unless you think that's a significant addition. Certainly, they've refreshed lines. They've made new iPhones, new tablets. But Apple is such a strong player, such a global player, and really, at the heart of it is just the world's best brand. Brand management is a very disciplined thing to do at Apple. Certainly a big Tim Cook fan. How could you not be? When Steve Jobs left us, a lot of people were sad and they thought, "Is it over for apple? We lost Steve." Turns out, Tim has taken the company way higher than Jobs had at his untimely death. Tim Cook's done a great job.
As I prepare to give the stock performance here, just keep in mind that this was a mega-cap when I picked it three years ago. I picked it three years ago on the podcast at $111.03. Today, it's at $269.41. We're doing this during market hours here on Tuesday [December] 10th. So, the stock is up 143%. The market up 40%. So, that is the boogie we're competing against for all five of these stocks. The S&P 500 is up 39.7% from December 7th, 2016, so we're rounding to 40. So, Apple is up 103 points over the market. That's a great start to any five-stock sampler.
Stock No. 2. Stock No. 2 was picked at $770 three years ago. Today, it's $1,737. Maybe you can guess from the numbers. We're still here at the letter A. It was Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). That's right, because as many gifts as Amazon has put under trees -- not just mine, but yours and so much of the world's over the last three years -- as many gifts as Amazon has provided, the greatest one of all has been to shareholders. This is a stock I first recommended in 1997 at $3.21. It remains a long, long-term hold in our portfolios. I picked it in 2002 for Stock Advisor. This has been one of the great stocks not just at this time, but of any time. So, yeah, I'm thankful for Amazon. I've often called it my favorite company. People say, "Isn't your own company your favorite company?" I'm like, I like my company a lot, but Amazon isn't just the best stock I've ever had, it's also incredibly enriched and simplified my life as a purchaser, somebody who doesn't like to shop very much, and can just be so much more efficient with good pricing and fast deliveries. The company has innovated remarkably over these 20 years or so.
So, yeah, Amazon's up 126%. The market's up 40%. Amazon is up 86%. Put that together with Apple, we're plus 189%, and we have three more to go.
Stock No. 3. I kept it in the A's for a third stock. This one fits into this podcast pretty well, because Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) is probably my favorite video game company. The stock was at $37.45 at the close of market December 7th, 2016. Not great performance. It's been a rocky few years. But overall, the stock is just short of $56 today. It's up 49%. The market up 40%. We'll give ourselves a plus 9%, so, it is a market-beater, but not dramatically so. But how could I not be thankful for just what this company does? Yes, I'm an active buyer of Apple products. I'm an active buyer over at Amazon. I hope this theme makes sense to all my fellow Fools and Rule Breakers out there. Activision Blizzard, I am an avid customer of as well. Certainly, Hearthstone is probably a game I've played more than any other over the last few years. We talked about Magic: The Gathering a few times in the last year, having Richard Garfield, the original designer of Magic on. Having my new friends, the Westin brothers here to talk some about Magic cards. Well, Hearthstone wouldn't exist without Magic. But it's really done a tremendous job as a collectible card game over the internet, a digital card game. A huge business, and yet that's just one of so many products that people enjoy from Activision and from Blizzard. I'm certainly a big Diablo fan, and was happy to hear about Diablo 4 being announced. Well, it's not actually clear when it'll come out. It might still be like two years from now. But finally at BlizzCon this year, the company announced Diablo 4.
Now, Activision is certainly had its critics, and rightly so. Some of the treatment it gave to some of its eSports players, Hong Kong and otherwise, put it in the headlines in a negative way. It is partly Chinese-owned, so the company has been taken to task -- by some members of Congress, in fact -- for the way that it handled that. I do feel as if they're contrite. It's a tough position, I think. I hope that Activision is learning from that. Of course, Hong Kong itself is a very complex situation in the world. Sometimes companies like this one get pulled into that and need to fend for themselves, and sometimes make mistakes.
The company that will follow this is also a somewhat controversial company. We'll cover that in a sec. But, thank you, Activision Blizzard. Thank you, CEO Bobby Kotick, who's done a tremendous job steering this company from near bankruptcy, where he bought it decades ago, to become a premiere company in its field.
So, while Activision Blizzard, ticker symbol ATVI, only beat the market by 10% over the last three years, Stock Advisor members who were with us back in 2003, when I picked it on February 7th, are really happy because our cost in Stock Advisor is $1.61. Over $55 today, that feels really good. It reminds us again of the incredible benefits of patience and holding for the long term.
OK, company No. 4. Not everybody's favorite company, but because I can't help being a contrarian, it's kind of rallied me to this company in some ways. It's Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Ticker symbol is FB. I picked it four years ago to put it under the tree at $117.95. Today, it's just over $200 a share. It's up 70%. That's 30% ahead of the market. And I think that's kind of remarkable on its own.
Now, Facebook has been blamed for American electoral results in 2016, for fake news, regularly taken to task. Our CEO Mark Zuckerberg appearing before Congress, often in a defensive posture. He's not necessarily the best spokesperson for his company, but this is the guy who helped start it. In fact, Facebook isn't even two decades old. I'm looking at Wikipedia right now, reminding me, he built a website called Facemash in 2003 while attending Harvard. That was 16 years ago. The company's market cap today is about $570 billion. If you don't think that is one of the great successes of our lifetimes, I would challenge you on that.
Now, I realize Facebook is often portrayed negatively in the headlines. Again, I'm not going to defend them. I'll let them do that on their own. I will say, it's a company that about 2 billion of us worldwide are using, if not every day, from time to time. That seems to say something pretty remarkable about the relevance and the service that it provides, and the sharing that it enables, even if it's sometimes cast darkly in headlines. And I am a shareholder, so I guess I should feel like I can speak about something that I co-own, and I know a lot of you do as well. I also realize a lot of people don't like Facebook. Well, people who got it under the tree three years ago are pretty happy, take it all in all, because it's continued to be a remarkable outperformer with, I think, a bright future ahead of it, with a lot of lessons that will continue to be learned by still a relatively young management team, being asked to shoulder an entire world's worth of concerns. So, Facebook, stock No. 4.
And let's close it out then with Stock No. 5 of this remarkable five-stock sampler. I think it's fair to say that now. The last stock starts with the letter N, ticker symbol NFLX. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) was at $125, just over that, three years ago. Today, it's at about $292. The stock then is up 134%. That's 94% ahead of the market.
You know, it hasn't been in great 2019 for Netflix. It's been up and down a lot, especially with the launch of the wonderful Disney+ service. A lot of people are skeptical that Netflix can keep it going. Will they be the global leader five or 10 years from now? I say emphatically, yes. It's a recent rerecommendation of mine in Stock Advisor, partly because I believe Disney+ is a dark cloud that I can see through. I think it's a wonderful service. A lot of people are signed up. I have, too. But that doesn't have me canceling my Netflix. And when the Golden Globe Awards came out, the nominees this week, you may have seen this list, we covered it on MarketFoolery -- which, by the way should be a daily listen for each of us. It is mine, Monday through Thursdays. MarketFoolery pointed out that the leading nominee-getter for movies was Netflix, and the leading nominee getter for TV shows was also Netflix. This is an incredibly great company. Another one that I love.
In fact, looking up and down this list of five, while I'm not myself, never have been, on Facebook, each of these five I picked intentionally because there's stocks that kids would know when you gave it to them wrapped in a present with just a little certificate or a little write-up from Mom or Dad about how this is a share or two of these companies. So, not as exciting to receive as a kid at first, until you realize that the average performance of these five stocks over the three years since we picked them is 104%. The market, up 40%. That's 322% in the plus column for alpha. That's a stock sampler that has outperformed the market by 64.5% over the last three years, and sometimes stormy years for some of these companies.
I really don't know what else I can say other than I'm not this good. I'm happy to say, of the 22 stocks samplers I've picked in the history of Rule Breaker Investing -- all free stock samplers on this podcast -- this is one of four that has a triple-digit return. We've done this a few other times. We'll be retiring this one, because I pick them for three years, so we're saying goodbye to Five Stocks to Put Under the Tree. And because I'm going to run short on time this week if I talk too much longer about this, I'll just say there's some wonderful lessons when you look at the names of the companies here, what they do, what they mean for the holidays, in many cases, how simple it was to pick these kinds of companies, how kid-friendly most of them are, and how amazingly they have crushed the stock market, in an era and age where we're still told so often that it would just be luck to beat the market averages. Mail it in, take the index fund. One of the bugaboos of my life, and yet one of the great opportunities for 27 years and counting at The Motley Fool. In a world where people believe that, we believe different. We've tried to demonstrate it and invite you along aboard this ship of Fools and go beat the market together. We did that for free with these stocks from three years ago.
Thank you all the CEOs of these companies. It's the leadership more than anything, in my experience, that steers companies to victory or defeat.
That's it for Five Stocks to Put Under the Tree.
Alright, well, I don't know if this qualifies as a tradition or an annual favorite. I realize, few people may love games more than I do. Some people don't even like games at all. If that's you, feel free to drop off for now. See you next week with The Market Cap Game Show. That's a game we all can play.
To you who remain listening, thank you for suffering a Fool gladly. Again, it's the Games, Games, Games podcast, so how could I not close with my shortlist of holiday favorites? I mentioned casual and hardcore. Let's do it in that order.
Game No. 1 is a game called Just One. Just One has won a lot of awards here in 2019. It is a very accessible party game. It's a word game. We love those in our family. It's one where the main player -- each turn, it rotates around the table -- selects a word that, that person doesn't themselves know what the word is. They show it to everybody else, and everybody else tries to come up with a good synonym or something that would trigger that word, so this person can guess what the word is that they're showing to everybody, that they don't know what it is. Those who know the game of Hanabi, you might recognize this mechanism. Nevertheless, Just One works with all ages. It's great around the holidays. It's a spectacular game. Again, it's a fairly simple idea, but that's why it's been such a big hitter in the casual category all year long. I will mention, looking at Amazon right now, it says it's back in stock on December 15th. This one is popular enough that it's temporarily out of stock. But it should give you at least 10 days until Christmas, if that's your target, buying Just One.
Alright, game No. 2. This this is a variation on a previous game, kind of a sequel. Let me mention the previous game first, it was called Machi Koro. It's not actually a game that I have played. Some of you will certainly know it. It's a very popular game, a lighter game where you roll dice. And if you have cards in front of you that trigger with those dice, then you get resources, kind of like Settlers of Catan. It's kind of a resource generator, where you're drafting cards, hoping to roll the right numbers that give you the resources that let you build out a city. That's Machi Koro, a very light game. The reason I wanted to promote this for the holidays is because there's now a legacy version. We don't have time to talk about legacy games. Some of you will understand that. Maybe you heard Rob Daviau, the father of legacy games, who's been on my podcast a few years ago. This is a game where the version that you play, Machi Koro Legacy, the first game that you play, whatever the results are will affect the next game that you play. And you'll start to add rules and new tokens. Sometimes you'll write your name, having won the game in some way, shape, or form, within the game. So it kind of personalizes and becomes its own thing for you and your family. And while Machi Koro is kind of a lighter game, and even this one is, I think the legacy version is the really interesting one. So, that's game No. 2.
Game No. 3. Back to another word game here in the casual category -- Werewords. This is a game we greatly enjoyed over our Thanksgaming holiday in the Gardner -- yep, that's what we call it. We call it Thanksgaming. We get together, we play games for like four or five days. Yeah, there's some turkey one of those days, but we're all about Thanksgaming in our family. Werewords is a game where -- if you've ever played a game like Werewolf or Mafia, you'll recognize it. There's two tribes, you don't know who's on which side, you don't even know who's on your own side. This puts it into a word game format. If you know the game 20 Questions, it's kind of like 20 Questions meets Werewolf, and it is a spectacular game. Not enough time to explain the mechanic here, but, for those of you who would know some of those antecedents, you'll get it. And if you haven't played Werewords, I highly recommend it. It's now out in a deluxe edition, which I think accommodates up to 20 different players. There's even a companion app. The app can talk you through the play of each round. It is a lot of fun. We played that for hours.
Alright, and game No. 4 in the casual category. Now, some might argue this should have been in the hardcore gamer category. It's Wingspan. Wingspan, another Game of the Year candidate, throughout the [year] winning many awards. In fact, the game designer Elizabeth Hargrave -- there are not that many female board game designers for whatever reason, I'm not sure, but she's one, and this was her debut game threw Stonemaier Games. It came out right at the start of this year. I've mentioned it a few different times over the course of the year here on Rule Breaker Investing. I'm especially double-underlining it because it has a lovely new expansion. So, if you'd already bought Wingspan, and you didn't know that the European expansion, which adds in more birds -- by the way, the theme here is, each of us is competing with our own aviary. So, we're trying to attract the most valuable and exotic birds we can. The birds all have victory points on them of varying degrees. They also have special abilities. It's kind of an economic simulation under the hood here, but with a beautiful bird theme. A game that looks great on the table. I have to include Wingspan. I'm putting it here in the casual category and mentioning, if you didn't know, about the European bird expansion. You should go out and get it.
Alright, those are my four casual picks for this year: Just One, Machi Koro Legacy, Werewords, and Wingspan. Now, to the hardcore category.
Now, I'm only going to spend about a minute on each of these. And these are hardcore games. So, my associate producer and good friend Heather Horton, who plays a lot more games maybe than I do, reminds me that hardcore gamers probably don't really need it explained. They'll just note it. If they don't already know the game, which you might well, you can look it up and read more about it. So, it would be a huge mistake on my part to try to explain a game like No. 1: Architects of the West Kingdom. It is an outstanding worker placement game. It's very well put together. Very replayable. Part of an overall series by designer Shem Phillips. So, if you find yourself enjoying Architects of the West Kingdom, which was a late 2018 release, you should know that the follow-up to that, which is a deeper, longer game called Paladins of the West Kingdom, also highly recommended, would go right along with it. So, yes, again, worker placement. If you already know what that is, great. If you don't, I don't have time to explain.
Game No. 2. Game No. 2 comes from one of my favorite all-time designers. He has so many great games Stefan Feld -- who by the way, like so many game designers, for whatever reason, is German. I believe I understand that he's also a high school principal. I kind of love that one of the great game designers of our time, prolific -- some years, he'll come out with three new games in a year, and they're all really good -- he's a high school principal in Germany. Anyway, Stefan Feld's 2018 game, I played it a lot in 2019, Carpe Diem. Highly recommend it. In fact, the initial printing of it had a couple little faults. It wasn't a beautiful edition. They revised it a little bit, changed some of the colors, made it more playable here. So, in its second printing -- you can get that now off of Amazon -- Carpe Diem, you're going to slip into the role of a rich patrician in ancient Rome. Everyone's trying to build a lucrative city district to score as many prestige points as possible. Yep, there's some gamer terms in there. This is a card drafting game. This is a tile placement game. It's really well put together and you will enjoy it, if you're a hardcore gamer, with your family. We sure have.
Alright, game No. 3 and one of my favorites. Played it a lot earlier in the year. It does use your iPad to play along with it. It is The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth. This one is from Fantasy Flight Games. It is a remarkably well put together adventure strategy game. This is a co-op. You're playing one of the characters from Lord of the Rings and anybody else you want to play with -- it does play solo -- would also take on one of those characters, and you're playing against the game system. Your iPad, if you will, is moderating and generating foes and events. It's a deeper, longer game. This is in the hardcore category, but what I especially appreciate about this is, there's a campaign aspect. It's immersive, there's a story, your characters get better from one game session to the next. It's kind of a lightly Dungeons and Dragons-like format. Fantasy Flight has done this really well with a few other games like Descent, and Star Wars: Imperial Assault. Some of the most beloved licenses -- Star Wars, Lord of the Rings. Fantasy Flight can afford these licenses and usually creates pretty great games around them. I really enjoyed The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth.
Which brings me to my fourth and final game. By the way, these were all alphabetical. There's no ranking to these. My fourth and final hardcore game is Undaunted: Normandy. This is a brilliant game design. Much lesser known than some of the other games I shared with you in this podcast. Undaunted: Normandy, which came in a few months ago, is a WWII themed deck builder. It's not exactly a war game, though it kind of looks like one. What you're really doing, as I mentioned earlier, is you're deck building. Again, hardcore gamers will know what I'm talking about. But for those who aren't, I'll just say that over the course of the game, you're buying new cards to add into your deck, and you're playing on either the Axis or Allies side. It's a wonderful platoon-level game. You're kind of just operating a platoon of 12 people, and you're using a map and terrain, and you're buying cards that allow you to activate your sniper or your machine gunner. It's a wonderful back-and-forth.
Last year on this show, my holiday games list in 2018 -- by the way, if you want more game ideas, they're still there. Those games are great, too. War Chest was one that I highlighted from last year. This is the same designer, taking the approach he came up with for War Chest and translating it into a card game and into a platoon-level combat game. I realize it's going to sound like a war game to a lot of people. If you don't like war games, you can skip this one. But it isn't actually a war game. Those are often much more complicated, with dice and all kinds of rules. This does have a couple of dice, but not many rules. It's a very accessible game. Undaunted: Normandy.
And that's it for the hardcore games. Of course, there are so many great games, so just getting down to four for each of these lists was hard to do. The good news is, if you find yourself inspired to look further, you'll find a lot more good games in 2019 than just these. But, to summarize my hardcore list: Architects of the West Kingdom, Carpe Diem, Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth, and Undaunted: Normandy.
And that is it for our Games, Games, Games extravaganza. Thank you for the gift of your time with me this week to talk about games during this busy season. I hope I've helped, maybe, if you're looking for some gifts or some new stock picks, or a wonderful mobile game to download and enjoy over the holidays with family and friends, Investor Island. Again, thanks to my friend Max Keeler for joining earlier. Thanks to my producers Rick Engdahl, with an assist by Heather Horton this week. And thank you most of all to you for taking the time to listen.
Next week, it's going to be The Market Cap Game Show: Episode 10. We're revising and rebooting it a little so no one can break the game, as Aaron Bush did at the end of September. I'm excited. Of course, I always love, I rub my hands together, when I think about The Market Cap Game Show. It's one of my favorite podcasts to do every quarter.
In the meantime, Fool on!