My Observations: Bethesda now part of Team Xbox

As I start to write this, I still am in a state of shock over the most ambitious video game business announcement that I never anticipated would happen particularly with Xbox. People are already talking about it a lot right now. I’m referring to Microsoft’s megaton acquisition of ZeniMax Media which is the parent company of game publishing giant Bethesda Softworks. The deal is worth $7.5 billion (in cash) and it includes acquiring Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. The said studios have a combined work force of more than 2,300 employees. This megaton development alone makes me want to acquire an Xbox Series X unit even more!

To put things in perspective, below is an excerpt (with key parts in bold) from the Xbox.com blog post by Xbox head Phil Spencer:

Bethesda’s games have always had a special place on Xbox and in the hearts of millions of gamers around the world. Our teams have a close and storied history working together, from the amazing first DOOM, and its id Tech engine, innovating games on PCs to Bethesda bringing their first console game to the original Xbox, the groundbreaking The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Over the years I’ve had many deep conversations with the creative leaders at Bethesda on the future of gaming and we’ve long shared similar visions for the opportunities for creators and their games to reach more players in more ways.

Just as they took the bold first steps to bring The Elder Scrolls franchise to the original Xbox, Bethesda were early supporters of Xbox Game Pass, bringing their games to new audiences across devices and have been actively investing in new gaming technology like cloud streaming of games. We will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass for console and PC. One of the things that has me most excited is seeing the roadmap with Bethesda’s future games, some announced and many unannounced, to Xbox console and PC including Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios.

Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways. All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you.

All of our work, and the foundation of our relationship with you, starts with a commitment to deliver a breadth of amazing games to discover and play on Xbox.  Over the last few weeks, we’ve been excited to share more detail on important elements of a plan we’ve been building towards for years. A plan that is the fulfilment of a promise, to you the Xbox player, to deliver the most performant, immersive and compatible next-generation gaming experiences, and the freedom to play blockbuster games with your friends, anytime, anywhere. Today is a landmark step in our journey together and I’m incredibly energized by what this step means for Xbox.

As confirmed by Spencer, the acquisition of Bethesda is more than just adding to Xbox Games Studios existing lineup of game makers and more than just adding games for Xbox and PC gamers to play. The acquisition also means adding even more games to the fast-growing and successful Xbox Game Pass subscription program which recently saw its subscribers reach 15,000,000+ (a jump of 50% in less than six months’ time!). The addition of Bethesda’s iconic franchises – Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein and Dishonored to name some – will surely add tremendous value to Xbox Game Pass and even more exciting is the confirmation that Bethesda’s upcoming sci-fi Starfield will also be added! These developments are already exciting gamers to order Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X as I write this.

Think about it. If you are already a paying Xbox Game Pass subscriber by the time Starfield gets released, you can simply visit Xbox LIVE and download the said game for free (because you already paid for the subscription). Those who are not XGP subscribers will have to pull out a lot of money to buy Starfield at the retail store or elsewhere online.

Already Team Xbox and its many Xbox Games Studios are already creating new and exclusive games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X plus PC. Microsoft no longer has a shortage of console exclusives and all the criticism thrown at them (“Xbox has no exclusives!”, “Xbox has no great games!”) are meaningless now. The addition of Bethesda studios into the many Xbox Game Studios further ensures more exclusive games in the years to come and this alone gives Microsoft a huge advantage over Sony and Nintendo!

This brings me to another sensitive topic: the Bethesda projects that are exclusive to others or are multi-platform in arrangement. Bethesda currently has two games that are exclusive to Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Phil Spencer made clear that Microsoft will honor the exclusivity commitments of those games. In short, the Bethesda-Sony deal for those two games won’t be scrapped. Other Bethesda games coming to platforms that are not Xbox-related will happen on a case-by-case basis with Microsoft having the final decision. All of these are part of the complications that come with acquiring a huge game publisher with existing deals made with other platform makers.

But if you look into the far future, the Xbox-Bethesda megaton deal will eventually lead to sequels of Fallout, Elder Scrolls and other franchises that will be released exclusively on Xbox platforms and PC, and the Bethesda brand will remain. Bethesda’s famous role-playing game (RPG) franchises alone makes Xbox an even more attractive ecosystem for gamers who love RPGs. Think about it! Imagine playing Fallout and Elder Scrolls sequels (or remastered versions of Skyrim or Fallout 4) on Xbox Series X years from now enjoying all the massive content presented with 4K resolution, 60 FPS frame rate, great visuals and much shorter load times. With Microsoft having the more technologically superior console (Xbox Series X compared to PS5 with disc drive) and a much bigger and stronger 1st party game lineup, gamers will realize the benefits of the Xbox-Bethesda deal.

If Microsoft wants to make even more money and sell more, they can always decide to make Fallout and Elder Scrolls sequels available on PS5 and other platforms (even on Nintendo’s next-generation console). Microsoft acquired Mojang years ago and kept Minecraft available on multiple platforms (including those of Sony, Nintendo, iOS and more). When it comes to the next console generation with Bethesda’s many games being played, I expect their multi-platform games to look and play better on Xbox Series X than on PS5.

With Bethesda and Obsidian Entertainment together with Team Xbox, producing a sequel to Fallout New Vegas is no longer an impossible dream!

I should also state that Microsoft having Bethesda under its extensive corporate umbrella and ownership of the many intellectual properties (IP) of the company means that the dream of producing sequel to Fallout New Vegas is no longer impossible! Microsoft also owns Obsidian Entertainment, the very same team that worked with Bethesda for Fallout New Vegas, and they can decide to assign them to produce a sequel complete with a lot of human, technological and financial resources to back them! While I love the idea of Obsidian making Fallout New Vegas 2, I personally prefer they keep focusing on making their major fantasy RPG Avowed (ironically an ambitious game described as something to rival Bethesda’s Skyrim) and making a next-generation sequel to The Outer Worlds (which I love playing). A new Fallout New Vegas can be released on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X AFTER the respective releases of Avowed, Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI many years from now.

Apart from the very promising benefits gamers will soon have from the Xbox-Bethesda deal, Microsoft also deserves praise for their transparency with gamers about their next-generation consoles, their expanding 1st party game studios lineup, Xbox All Access, Xbox Game Pass and the like. Transparency aside, Team Xbox also proved to stay honest and well organized with gamers unlike Sony’s PlayStation division. Watch the videos below regarding Sony…

The Xbox-Bethesda deal alone motivates me even more to acquire an Xbox Series X console and also sign up at last on Xbox Game Pass. I am certain that I am not the only geek experiencing the excitement about the very bright future of fun, engaging and high-value gaming with Xbox. With Bethesda’s RPG franchises alone, Xbox is already the best and definitive ecosystem for people who love playing role-playing games (note: Microsoft has Avowed coming and hopefully a The Outer Worlds sequel from Obsidian, plus established support from Square Enix with a Dragon Quest game coming out this December). This is something that Sony (even with Final Fantasy XVI a timed exclusive on their PS5) and Nintendo cannot match! Going back to Bethesda, they really had gone a long way and their decades-old history of doing business with Microsoft is undeniable. The very first time I played a Bethesda game on Microsoft hardware was none other than Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on Xbox 360 and that was way back in 2006. In the past decade, I played Skyrim on Xbox 360 and Fallout 4 on Xbox One. Personally, I am happy that Microsoft acquired Bethesda with not only the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X in mind but for the long term…the far future!

In ending this, watch these videos from Dealer Gaming, Colteastwood, Rand al Thor 19 and Zalker 87 for additional insight about the Xbox-Bethesda deal!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

My Observations: Watching Wonder Woman 1984 on VOD streaming will NEVER match the theatrical experience

By now you should be aware that Warner Bros. postponed yet again the release of the much-awaited Wonder Woman 1984 and selected December 25, 2020 (Christmas Day) as the new opening day. This is because of the ongoing pandemic which depressed economies around the world and dragged down the movie theaters. Of course, as I personally observed on social networks, a lot of fans are upset with the daily and there are some of them who expressed that a theatrical release of Wonder Woman 1984 is no longer needed and it should instead be released via video-on-demand streaming services. And then there were a few who did not hide their Leftist, socialist beliefs and even condemned Warner Bros. for corporate greed only because it still insists on showing Wonder Woman 1984 in the cinemas first.

Wow! It’s as if doing business is an evil thing and being a socialist and a hater of business are good things. Talk about being delusional and impulsive as a result of being brainwashed with socialism and anti-capitalism views. The truth of the matter is that socialism sucks and will continue to suck. To understand the business side of things before talking more about Wonder Woman 1984, let’s examine the state of movie theaters.

As of this writing, the movie theater operators are slowly reopening their locations and already they have spent time and money on implementing a variety of measures such as sanitation, constant cleaning, practicing social distancing, requiring moviegoers to wear facemasks and the like. At the same time, seating capacity per screen has been reduced to minimize the risk of viral infection. The reopening of cinemas not only means the resumption of their business but also the retention of the employees they still have.

Even with less than 100% of movie theaters in operation, Warner Bros. took the big risk of releasing their $200 million production Tenet which went on to gross more than $20 million in its first four days in the United States and Canada. Elsewhere, the movie raked in more than $100,000,000 in ticket sales and it has surpassed the $150,000,000 mark globally. The more movie theaters open – including the drive-in locations –  the better it will be for Wonder Woman 1984 and this obviously requires time.

To have the theatrical opening of Wonder Woman 1984 moved all the way to Christmas Day is, in my honest opinion, a sensible move. Like other forms of businesses negatively affected by the pandemic, movie theaters are struggling to reshape themselves (and retain their employees somehow in order to avoid adding them to the unemployed) and get back to business. Movie studios on the other hand are struggling with what to do with their finished productions, especially the ones that cost $200,000,000+ to make (complete with the hard work of the technical crew, the creative team and the talents who worked).

Like anyone else, I love Wonder Woman (she is my favorite of all superheroes) and I also love 2017 Wonder Woman movie which I still replay on Blu-ray. Unlike other fans who lost patience, I myself am willing to wait for the new Wonder Woman movie to open in the local cinemas, especially in the IMAX cinema. I certainly do not agree with the idea that Warner Bros. should just skip all the movie theaters in favor of releasing Wonder Woman 1984 on VOD streaming services, and I have reasons.

Warner Bros. is right to delay Wonder Woman 1984 and keep it scheduled to open in movie theaters first!

Firstly, Wonder Woman 1984 was made with the movie theater viewing experience first and foremost. The creative team led by director Patty Jenkins even used IMAX cameras for some scenes. While the filming of scenes for IMAX is limited in total, it is clear that Wonder Woman 1984 will look and play its very best on the gigantic screen in the IMAX theater! It is also likely that the most spectacular (or the most important) scenes filmed with IMAX captured Gal Gadot as the cinematic Wonder Woman. That being said, the visual splendor and the magnificence of big screen viewing will NEVER be matched on VOD streaming nor on the HDTV at home. I should add that the enhanced visuals that come with scenes being filmed with IMAX cameras can only be seen on the large IMAX screen, and this cannot be achieved on HDTV or on the best smartphones via streaming.

Secondly, releasing Wonder Woman 1984 directly to VOD streaming services is harmful not just to the struggling theater operators and their employees but also the economy itself. I do understand that going outside the home during the pandemic has its risks but the fact remains is that businesses around you have suffered a lot and there is a need for commerce and industry to be revived, and you can help the local and the national economy move forward again. Be mindful that many people who lost their jobs and their income are also suffering, and there is a need for businesses to be supported so that new job opportunities can be made…jobs that the unemployed badly need! Let’s face it, you can enjoy watching movies on the VOD streaming service you subscribed to and binge watch at the comfort of your home all you want but still the best place to watch is in the cinema. I can never forget the very day in 2017 I went to the local IMAX cinema to watch Wonder Woman by buying a premium movie ticket, buying popcorn and a drink, sat comfortably and watched the movie in its full greatness. I paid a lot and got tremendous value in return for the premium cinematic experience with Wonder Woman. Right now, movie theaters are struggling to recover and they badly need you to buy their tickets, snacks and drinks and enjoy the movie. It is also clear that both Warner Bros. and the movie theaters need each other, and Wonder Woman 1984 is too expensive a production to be released only on VOD streaming services.

Thirdly, still on the business side, video-on-demand streaming services are not exactly effective in helping movie producers recover the massive amounts of money spent on producing and marketing their major projects. Wonder Woman 1984 is a more expensive production than its predecessor and it is still the movie theater business model that will help it recover all the negative cost and break even (if not profit). The following are my questions to the loudmouths who ranted that Wonder Woman 1984 should be released directly to VOD streaming services only because of their impatience and other reasons: Do you seriously believe that video-on-demand will help Wonder Woman 1984’s producers and investors recover their money? If you are willing to pay a premium rate for digitally availaing Wonder Woman 1984 at all, how much are you really willing to pay? Do you seriously believe that movie theater operators and their employees should suffer only because you are so self-centered with wanting the new Wonder Woman film only on video-on-demand streaming?

Finally, this one is aimed at those who got indoctrinated with socialism and Leftist beliefs …who do you think you are to condemn Warner Bros. for corporate greed only because the studio is focused on releasing Wonder Woman 1984 first in cinemas? We are Wonder Woman fans here, right? It is the movie studio, its investors and other capitalists who pooled the financial resources together to hire Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Hans Zimmer and a whole lot of other people to make Wonder Woman 1984! They did that, not your socialist partners nor your socialist idols! The least we fans can do is be thankful to the filmmakers and their capitalism partners for making the movie. As for Warner Bros., we should keep in mind that the pandemic has made it very hard for them to decide when to release the movie we have been waiting for, and for sure their top executives and strategists have struggled in ways that you cannot imagine. You seriously believe that Warner Bros. and the other movie studios did not lose any money from the months-long shutdown of the cinemas during the pandemic? What is your basis for condemning Warner Bros. for corporate greed over Wonder Woman 1984?

Oh, one more thing, do you still go to a coffee shop, availed of their coffee and WiFi and used your branded smartphone to condemn capitalism and promote socialism? Capitalists made the things that you socialists enjoyed, not to mention all the other Wonder Woman-related products like comic books, toys, action figures, clothes, souvenirs, accessories and much more!

That being said, what we Wonder Woman fans can all do right now is wait for Wonder Woman 1984 to open in cinemas this Christmas Day. I believe that the delayed movie itself will turn out great and prove to be worth the long wait…and then prove that the movie theater is still the best place to watch it.

Who knows? Wonder Woman 1984 could spark a strong revival of the movie theater business around the world and we fans can be part of that!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

My Observations: COVID-19’s impact on crowded fun-oriented events should be taken seriously

For the past few weeks, the coronavirus disease COVID-19 halted much of the world’s societies and economies compelling families to stay at home as the authorities struggle to prevent infections from spreading.

Community quarantine and regional lockdown have been implemented which strongly limited people from traveling around and also negatively affected truck deliveries which really hurt manufacturing and other key economic sectors like food production (and the businesses that sell food), retailing and more.

Unsurprisingly, special events that attract a lot of people as attendees have been postponed or cancelled. In the city of Parañaque here in the Philippines, the planned 2020 cityhood anniversary celebration had to be scaled down dramatically because of COVID-19-related fear. The said celebration’s most popular events such as the Bb. Parañaque beauty pageant and the Sunduan Festival could not be organized and as of this writing, no new dates for organizing such events have been announced. Under the current quarantine procedures, mass gatherings have been prohibited.

That being said, it would be best to forget about crowded fun events for the short term and just focus on being safe at home, managing your precious funds and maintaining faith in the Lord (note: study the Holy Bible and pray in tongues to Him).

Speaking of fun events, Comic Book Resources (CBR.com) published a new article that caught my attention titled Coronavirus Could Be the Beginning of the End for Super Conventions. It caught my attention because I myself had attended several pop culture events, including the gigantic Comic-Con International in San Diego, California (AKA San Diego Comic-Con).

Let’s focus on this excerpt from Comic Book Resources:

Comic conventions long have been an integral part of fan communities. Before comic-book movies and TV shows were a multibillion-dollar enterprise, fans looked forward to these annual gatherings as a chance to be surrounded by people who shared their interests. They (were) a sacred place where fans could collectively celebrate something they were really passionate about.

And they were fun. Really fun. Fans from across the country would make the pilgrimage to get up close and personal with the writers and artists they idolized. It was a dream come true for members of what was then a tight-knit community.

Over the years, that’s all changed. The conventions that were so beloved by a small group of people have ballooned into massive undertakings, drawing thousands of people from all over the world. They’re not so much fan-driven conventions anymore as much as they are trade shows for the entertainment industry.

That’s not to say these super conventions aren’t fun in their own right; they absolutely are. They offer fans a chance to witness major announcements, take part in Q&A’s with their favorite stars and celebrate pop culture on an unprecedented level. They’ve become an annual staple for the promotion of the latest film and television franchise projects, and big names continuously turn up.

Now, however, with the justifiable closure of these conventions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s unclear how much we really need these super conventions.

To put things in perspective, any convention that is focused on fun would not be possible without the strong interest of multiple fans or enthusiasts who are not only willing to make time to attend such an event but also bring a good amount of money with them and spend on their respective interests.

The San Diego Comic-Con in California, the New York Comic Con in New York, and the AsiaPop Comicon here in the Philippines all require paying a fee (for the ticket or badge) in order to enter the venue which has most entertainment events and booths that fans can go to.

When it comes to special activities, private screenings of trailers of upcoming blockbuster movies occasionally get organized as well as Q&A panel sessions with entertainers or industry professionals, press conferences and more.

However, we are now living in the age of social media, wide access to the Internet and smartphones which enable users to take pictures or videos in high-definition and upload them for people to see online. Think about it carefully.

What good is a closed-door press conference with celebrities when a fan in attendance can capture everything on video and beat the bloggers and members of the press by releasing content on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?

What good is a private screening (which restricts attendees from taking footage) of a trailer or a short scene from a highly anticipated blockbuster movie when such content will only be released by the movie studio on YouTube, Facebook and other sites where Internet users can watch for free at the comfort of their homes?

What good is a fan convention if attendees post pictures/videos of embarrassing moments (example: someone throws a pie on the face of a movie star in front of the fans) online within minutes and become viral?

What good is buying classic comic books at the comic convention when the comic publishers themselves failed to wipe out the widespread online piracy (note: entire issues of comic books in digital form) of their comics which people can find and read for free?

One key point here is that fan conventions and other fun-oriented events that attract a lot of people are slowly losing their relevance. Convention organizers will have to come up with ways not only to stay relevant, not only to ensure exclusive stuff in their event is truly exclusive, but also innovate and raise the convention’s overall quality.

Going back to COVID-19, it is clear that the said virus is highly infectious and this alone defeats the purpose of organizing a huge event for as long as the risk of infection remains. As of this writing, local authorities are struggling to clean and disinfect places. Killing the virus is a costly and time-consuming affair.

Recently, the 2020 edition of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) had to be canceled due to COVID-19 which was a huge blow to many video game and technology companies that had signed up for the event. Microsoft, which was supposed to showcase their upcoming Xbox Series X console at E3, promptly announced it will organize a digital event instead.

Think about those words: digital events. Digital events can be done by companies to make a special presentation of their products or services in the form of a lengthy and detailed pre-recorded video or by organizing privately their showcase event (held in a venue that the company has all to itself) live via livestreaming. With the access of the Internet and the massive reach that social media provides, digital events can make fan conventions even more unnecessary. Digital events are also very useful for companies because they not only have complete privacy but also a lot more control in terms of creativity as well as amount of information to be released. This also spares companies from the hassles of crowd control as well as rampant questioning from members of the news media.

Together, COVID-19, wide Internet access and social media are factors that make organizing crowded fun-oriented showcase events more challenging than ever before. Why bother attending a local beauty pageant live in Parañaque City when viral infection, live-streaming and even crime incidents could happen?

Even after the end of this COVID-19 crisis, the community quarantine and regional lockdown, I foresee that it will take a lot more time before life really goes back to normal.

By then, I don’t think enthusiasm for crowded fun-oriented events would be restored to high levels immediately. Sports events, in my opinion, have a better chance of resuming given the nature of sports competition which remains very important with Filipinos. Other events like food fairs and shopping bazaars are more important to people in the local communities than beauty pageants or fan conventions. What people clearly want once this current crisis is over is worshiping the Lord together at church on Sundays.

Attending church is more essential than a crowded beauty pageant or a fan convention. There is no doubt about that!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com