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Microsoft Buys Bethesda
What that means for the Xbox moving forward.
Xbox One purchases, avoiding addiction, and why Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda is a big deal for its next-gen console.
Read time: 11 minutes
Here are small and developing stories you should keep your eye on.
People buying the wrong Xbox: pre-orders for the Xbox Series X and S opened yesterday at 8 am and, like its Sony counterpart, people flooded the online stores to snag one. After the hot mess that was the PS5 pre-order fiasco, people expected Microsoft to implement a more streamlined experience but…they were wrong. The pre-order experience was still considered a “disaster,” with many sites crashing (including Microsoft’s own sales page). People were so desperate to purchase a Series X before they sold out that, in their desperation, they actually bought the wrong console. Sales for the Xbox One X, the current-gen console, shot up once pre-orders went live by 747% according to Amazon. This mistake proves a point made by some consumers earlier this year. The Xbox Series X and the Xbox One X have very similar names, and mixing them up is easy to do. Personally, I found this hilarious, and it shows how quickly the human mind will look past key details if it sees elements associated with the product or service they want (in this case, the word “Xbox” and the letter “X”). So, if you plan on buying an Xbox Series X, make sure it’s actually the next-gen console. Would hate to see you buy a $499 Xbox One X.
How you can avoid video game addiction: increased hand-eye coordination. Improved spatial visualization. Enhanced manual dexterity. There are tons of wonderful benefits video games can provide you with. But unfortunately, video games have the potential to become highly addicting and habit forming according to an article from The Great Course Daily. This news shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the level of immersion in games has never been greater, which can lead to a dangerous form of escapism. So, how can you avoid this? Limit how much you play. Personally, I save my gaming time for days where my partner and I are doing our own thing, and I usually cap it at around 2 1/2 hours. Alongside that, find other hobbies that take up your interests! Although being in the middle of a global pandemic makes this incredibly hard, having other hobbies helps take your mind off video games. For me? I enjoy reading and watching movies, and I’m currently working through Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and all the Harry Potter movies respectively. What do you like to do outside of video games? Let me know! I’m always looking for more things to do.
Call of Duty Season 6: the next season of Call of Duty Warzone is coming on Tuesday, September 29, and we got our first look at how the map will change in a cinematic trailer released yesterday. The trailer confirmed two new operators coming to the roster, as well as a preview at what looks like an elaborate underground network spread throughout Verdansk (the map for Warzone). Although I’m a little biased, Warzone has become one of the top shooters and BRs in the industry today, with thousands of players logging on and hundreds of streamers (including myself) posting content around the game. It’ll be great to see how the map changes and how the game plans to adapt when Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War comes out. Oh, and the game is completely free, so if you’ve been looking for a reason to download it, I hope that gives you the push you need.
The current major console manufacturers are Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. This list may change as new competition arises but, for now, these three reign supreme.
In a necessary PR move, Sony has apologized for the nightmare that was their pre-order period. The PS5 and PS5 Digital manufacturer owned their mistakes and publically apologized to its legion of fans in a sincere and self-aware tweet. In it, they also shared that more consoles should be coming in shortly and will be made available for pre-order “very soon.” Sony has been shipping their consoles via air freights, instead of overseas like they normally do, in an effort to get as many of their consoles to the U.S. and other countries as quickly as possible. Given the high-demand, it’s a smart move, and hopefully, this will give more consumers (like myself) an opportunity to get a hold of the next-gen console.
Quick thoughts: good. There was no other way for Sony to approach the situation, and I’m glad they recognized that. Time and again, one of the best ways to get yourself in the good graces of your consumers (or at least re-establish that relationship) is by owning your mistakes, and that’s exactly what they did. But that’s only part one of this apology, and they’ll need to keep their word and ensure more consoles and pre-orders are available soon. And since Sony has already shown they’re ok with misdirecting consumers, it’s no sure bet. We’ll see what happens.
Although pre-orders haven’t been smooth, Microsoft and Xbox are still seeing record-breaking numbers. Like their Sony counterparts, the Xbox Series X and Series S was met by a starving crowd that was ready to purchase the powerful consoles. Pre-orders went live at 8 am yesterday, and within two hours numerous stores and sites like Target, Best Buy, GameStop, and Amazon all sold out. Unfortunately, it does look like all pre-order opportunities are gone, as even Microsoft’s sales page for the next-gen consoles have indicated as such or are still not working. With that said, consumers who missed out won’t have to wait long, as the console is planned to release on November 10.
Quick thoughts: congrats to Microsoft and the Xbox, but I’m not surprised by anything of what I’ve read and heard. The Series X and S have been building massive momentum since its announcement, and when combined with the mess that was the PS5 pre-orders, it’s no surprise so many people flocked towards the Xbox. It’s also no surprise that people saw problems with pre-ordering. No site (at least I know of) can handle the massive load that comes with thousands of people clicking on your sales page all at once. Crashes were bound to happen, especially with a product that is in high demand. But regardless, this is another big win for Microsoft in what has been a phenomenal September.
It looks like Nintendo has their next console in the works, and we’ll definitely be getting it sometime before…2100.
In the company’s latest corporate management briefing, Nintendo announced that they plan to release their next-gen console by the end of the century. It was specifically listed on the document with a release year of 20XX. We’ll more than likely get a new console well before that date, but Nintendo is doing their due diligence and avoiding any potential for rumors and speculation.
Quick thoughts: I think that it was necessary to mention plans for a new gaming system, but it’s kind of hilarious that they announced their plans in that manner. Once 2021 hits, I’m sure we’ll get more information but, for right now, Nintendo is more than happy to stay quiet and let Microsoft and Sony dominate the news this holiday season. With this said, there are some other great nuggets in the briefing like theme park openings and the Mario movie, so check it out if you have the chance!
Microsoft Purchases ZeniMax Media
In a stunning and potentially gaming-changing move, Microsoft purchased Bethesda’s parent company — ZeniMax Media — and now has rights to the studio and all of its current and upcoming titles. This includes generation-defining games such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4, and even the PS5 exclusive Deathloop.
The $7.5 billion purchase not only provides them with exclusive rights to these current and upcoming titles, but it also pushes them further from Sony in regards to the number of studios owned. Last year, Microsoft surpassed Sony with 15 studios compared to Sony’s 14. Now with this acquisition, this bumps Microsoft’s total to a stunning 23 studios, and it’s no sure bet which games will be exclusives and what games will still be available to Sony and the PlayStation.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Phil Spencer shared that games developed by studios they owned would be released to other competing consoles on a “case-by-case” basis. What that means is unknown, but some experts are sure that Sony will be left out from some lucrative titles in the very near future.
This is a major win for Microsoft and Xbox, and it continues what has already been a fabulous September for the company. After experiencing major criticism for a lack of titles, strange comments, and an ambitious cloud gaming plan this past summer, Microsoft and Xbox are now firmly in the driver seat.
I’ll tell you what, Microsoft is putting their money where their mouth is. They’ve said numerous times how they're aware of consumer concerns on their lack of exclusive titles. But unlike other companies that just try to peddle out more games from the same studios, they’ve decided to expand their portfolio. This will have massive implications down the line, and this is how I see it.
First, their Game Pass.
If we’re looking at the short, immediate impact this deal provides, this is it. Xbox’s Game Pass already offers consumers with some of the Xbox's finest titles from multiple generations. From the original Halo: Combat Evolved to Gears of War 5, consumers will have instant access to all these games for free when they have a subscription to Game Pass.
By itself, this is already a great deal, and although the Series X and S lacks quality titles at launch, the robust selection of titles available in Game Pass helps mitigate that. Now when you include titles such as Doom, The Elder Scrolls, Dishonored, and Fallout, this boosts the Game Pass value immensely. Although people are quick to point to more recent Bethesda titles like Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim being available, I don’t think that’ll be the only option for Xbox gamers. I do believe in the coming weeks, Microsoft and Xbox will also make older titles from Bethesda available (and free) as well.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Fall Out: New Vegas. Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
I genuinely believe all these titles will be available for Game Pass owners on day one. So even if the launch titles are lackluster, does it really matter at this point? There’s a 90% (I made this percentage up) chance that most consumers have not played every.single.title available on Game Pass, so it’s likely people will explore and see what games they could play now that it’s "free."
Next, we look at the outside criticism Xbox has received.
Although people can and will continue to criticize Microsoft’s inability to offer quality, exclusive titles during the launch of the Series X and S, I don’t think they’ll be able to hold that argument post-launch.
Microsoft is listening to its consumers and taking actionable steps, with this purchase being the biggest step they’ve taken in a while. I do think that Sony will lean on its “quality exclusives” campaign that they’ve been using for most of this year, but that slogan may have to change to “quality exclusives at launch.” There’s no way, in my mind, Microsoft will continue to make every game produced from Bethesda (among others) available for Sony and the PS5. Although current projects like Deathloop will still be available, I do think this is the start of a slow transition away from offering all their games on multiple platforms.
With that said, I don’t think any games currently on the docket for both the next-gen Xbox and PlayStation will instantly become exclusive to Xbox (that would be bad business), and we’ve likely seen most of what they’ll be launching come November. Alongside that, it’s unsure if bigger titles like The Elder Scrolls or Fallout will be exclusive, as these titles bring in an immense amount of revenue for Bethesda. Since Microsoft plans on letting them run “semi-independently,” I could see the publisher keep these games available for both consoles. It wouldn’t be in the best interest of Bethesda to limit the market.
But with that said, it’s still Microsoft’s choice, and I won’t be surprised if they did make it an Xbox/PC exclusive.
And that leads us to my final point — exclusivity.
Microsoft will have to think long and hard on what they decide to do with these current and upcoming titles. This season, they’ve preached the idea of making gaming accessible to everyone, and that’s reflective in their offerings. But by making certain titles exclusive, that would take away the ability for some consumers to enjoy their games.
What matters more to them?
The potential sales that come from people buying a Series X or S just to play their games?
Allowing everyone, Xbox or PlayStation, to enjoy the titles they’ve created?
It’s not 100% certain. Microsoft has already shown tremendous innovation on how they plan to bridge the gap between console, mobile, and PC gaming with the introduction of its Game Pass. Along with that, they’ve made comments and statements that show their growing disinterest in the toxic “this or that” approach that comes from the “console wars” concept. Instead, what they want is for people to purchase their Game Pass, and by limiting where players can play, that hurts their overall mission of making gaming accessible which in turn could hurt Game Pass sales.
But it is early days, and most of what I said is currently speculation. For all we know, Microsoft may have more planned that allows PS5 owners to play their games, while still making the Series X, Series S, and their Game Pass look much more appealing.
We’ll have to wait and see, but wow does the Xbox Series X and S look good.
What a turnaround.
RIP to the Princess Peach…sex game?
This is something I didn’t think I’d have to write but…here we are.
The hentai-inspired game, Peach’s Untold Tale, was recently hit with a copyright notice from Nintendo and was forced to be taken down. The game allowed Princess Peach to not only have sex with characters throughout the Mario world (Goombas, Bowser, etc.) but also allowed players to impregnate her and do so in a variety of ways.
I’m not joking.
Developed in 2012 by Ivan Aeedler, the erotic fan game based on Princess Peach amassed a cult-like following on adult websites and received numerous updates throughout the years. Aeedler even had a Patreon set up, asking for a monthly payment of $175 to help support the game’s development. The last update was on April 19, with Aeedler saying that he would “prefer to be dead” than stop development of the game.