Look. There was a lot of videogame news this week. Again. So we have a lot to cover.
But first, a story.
My first job out of college was at a technology PR firm. I hated it. I was basically a telemarketer. But! I am forever grateful for it because one of my first clients was a then up-and-coming videogame company called Bethesda Softworks.
I worked their booth at the first-ever E3 in Los Angeles in 1995. At the time, they were showing off the game The Elder Scrolls Arena, which, I remember, had a playable area “the size of Turkey,” as the product person would repeat ad infinitum doing demos.
They weren’t a client for too long but the president of Bethesda and I became friends. He was a loud, blunt, no-bullsh-t force of nature, and a tremendously fun hang.
I remember he really wanted to make a Ted Nugent Bow Hunter game (this was back before ole Double Live Gonzo went all right-wing nutso). At one point, Bethesda offered me a job being Bethesda’s PR person. But that meant moving to Maryland and doing PR again. So I declined.
Anyway, fast forward 2.5 decades to this week when it was announced that Microsoft acquired Bethesda for $7.5 billion dollars.
For context, that it a lot of money.
For further context, Disney purchased Marvel for $4 billion.
I don’t bring this up as some kind of what if/Sliding Doors thing (it’s hard to imagine my staying with any company for 20 years). I bring it up because oftentimes, as I examine my own life, I can be envious of the success of others. But not with Bethesda and not with my friend. I was really nothing but happy for him and the company. Smoke 7.5 billion of ’em if ya got ’em, and all that.
Bethesda put in the work and released a bunch of classic games including Skyrim and the Fallout franchises. And now their story has a happy (and lucrative) end.
More from Morrowind
But that’s not the end of the Bethesda in this week’s issue. Microsoft’s purchase raised a whole bunch of other questions that were dutifully raised and answered by the press, such as:
That last point is a doozy because now that we know how much ($500) and when (second week of November) both the PS5 and Xbox Series X come out, the exclusive titles available on each will probably shape your decision. As IGN writes:
Now, should [exclusivity] be deemed the right approach, Xbox could also have The Elder Scrolls 6, the much discussed Starfield (even if we don’t actually know what it is), future installments of Fallout, Doom, Wolfenstein and more. It’s not a coincidence that the news came the day for Xbox Series X and S preorders opened.
I mean, Microsoft would never exert its market position like that would they?
Before you panic about your PlayStation loyalty, the counter argument is that Microsoft stands to potentially lose out on a bunch of that multi-platform moola if it chooses to make Bethesda games exclusive.
In other words, who knows? The good news is that pre-orders for the next Xbox and PlayStation 5 are both sold out anyway, so you don’t have to make a decision right now anyway.
Like I said at the top, we got a lot to get through. Not the least of which being that Amazon held its annual hardware event this week and it too is jumping into the console gaming wars.
Only, without an actual console.
The Bezos behemoth is going the Google Stadia route and announced Luna, it’s cloud-based subscription service. For $5.99 a month, you can stream games to PCs, mobile devices and Fire TVs. However, unlike Google Stadia, Amazon is adding a little twist, as my friend Janko (that’s right, as you can read in this newsletter, I have TWO FRIENDS) explains over at Protocol:
A major difference between Stadia and other existing cloud gaming services, however, is Amazon’s business model. Luna doesn’t want to be a Netflix-like all-you-can-eat service, nor will it require users to purchase individual titles. Instead, the company is looking to work with game publishers to launch their own dedicated subscription channels on Luna, at a price of their choosing.
As Janko goes on to explain, Ubisoft could set up its own streaming channel for you to play Assasin’s Creed and charge whatever they want for it.
Whether or not Amazon has another Alexa-sized hit on its hands, or another Fire phone flameout with Luna remains to be seen. But it’s another example of the industry moving away from buying games a la carte and locking you into a subscription.
And if Luna doesn’t float your boat, perhaps you’re more interested in Amazon’s new indoor drone that acts like a flying security camera inside your house.
‘Console Wars’ Review: In Nintendo vs. Sega, Mortals Combat – New documentary series on CBS All Access (another subscription!) details the battle between Mario and Sonic. The New York Times didn’t like it. Maybe just watch High Score on Netflix.
Turn your Xbox One controller into a throttle-and-stick setup with these 3D-printed parts – Take to the skies and take on a dogfight with this 3D printed mod.
You Think Your Favorite Video Game Is Hard? Try Speedrunning It – NPR digs into the fast phenomenon.
Video games show potential in improving key aspects of memory in older adults – Shoot, I had a joke for this.
That’s it for this week.
Stay cool. Have a great summer. Class of ’90 rulez.