Mom, I Can’t Pause #17: Microsoft Bought Activision?
Cards on the table, friends: I came into writing this frazzled as all hell. I skipped last week’s edition because I have/had COVID. I was trying to write a little something with not much news going around leading up to last Monday, but the brain fog really hit me hard. Then, on Tuesday… Something pretty fucking crazy happened. It’s been a few days since that, so I think I can finally talk about it now with the benefit of hindsight. That being said:
Microsoft Fucking Bought Activision Blizzard!
Yeah, man. It’s been a few days, but I still have to say it to believe it: Microsoft is seemingly acquiring Activision Blizzard for a whopping $70 billion. There are a lot of things I could say to start, but I think I can start with: holy shit. I can also add a pretty substantial: what the fuck?
Acquisitions in the games industry have been ramping up in the past few years, but nobody could have predicted a move like this. Sure, Microsoft purchasing Bethesda was a pretty large move, but we all assumed that it wouldn’t get much bigger than that. The idea of purchasing a company like Activision Blizzard was unheard of, much like purchasing an Electronic Arts or an Ubisoft. Yet here we are.
There are a lot of questions that have and will undoubtedly spring up from an acquisition like this, and just about all of them are fair to ask. What does this mean for Bobby Kotick’s position as CEO of Activision? What does this mean for the future of Call of Duty? Will ActiBlizz games be console exclusive? What about the extremely dire situation at Activision Blizzard regarding the State of California lawsuit against them?
The unfortunate truth is that we, as a whole, just don’t know what the deal is. We can speculate that Kotick may be gone when this is over. There are reports that Kotick will be gone after the acquisition is completed in June 2023. Further reports also mention that some games will remain multi-platform, while others may go console exclusive. Then again, both of these reports could end up being flat out wrong. We just don’t know yet! We are in uncharted territory. Seventy billion dollar deals don’t happen every day, y’know.
The frustrating thing about this type of story is just how unanswerable the big questions are. The industry is going to react to this news in one way or another, but to assume one way or another would just be conjecture on my part. To make an assumption on any level for a story like this would put me out of my element. Especially since, and I have to stress this, this is a story unlike any other in gaming history. There have always been discussions about someone purchasing one of the big gaming publishers, but these were more theoretical prior to last Tuesday. I’m going to do my due diligence to follow news about the acquisition as it comes, but let’s just say that this story is going to be a complicated one to follow. Still, what a day, huh?
Now, onto something much less newsworthy:
How Long Can We Wait For a New Fallout?
Fallout is an extremely beloved franchise. Whether you’re an old school isometric Fallout player, or a stickler for the modern Bethesda spin, Fallout fans are an extremely passionate bunch. You could see that passion in the rabid reaction to the unfortunately shitty Fallout 76, as fans lambasted the game for being flat-out unfinished and released in an unacceptable manner. They were right to do so, too.
That being said, Fallout 76 released in 2018. It’s been getting updates, fairly steadily at that, since its release. If you’re like me though, you’re probably anticipating the next fully single-player Fallout game. While Fallout 76 has seemingly rebounded into a more playable state, it doesn’t quite scratch that itch like the exploration of a properly built open world like Fallouts 3, 4 or New Vegas. So we’re ready for a new Fallout game, but when will it be coming?
You’re probably not going to like this answer: if Bethesda is to be trusted, we’re going to be waiting for a long, long time for a new Fallout game. Bethesda has been working on Starfield for a long while now, probably since around Fallout 4’s 2015 release. With the game slated for release later this year, that would make for an approximate seven to eight year development cycle. After Starfield’s release, Bethesda is expected to go full steam ahead on another heavily anticipated game: The Elder Scrolls VI.
If you take away anything from these weekly newsletters, start with this: game development is a timely and difficult process. It is truly a miracle that we get any game release in our hands. Let’s say with optimism at the forefront of our minds, that we get Elder Scrolls VI in 2025 at the earliest, followed by a Fallout 5. That game will probably release in 2030.
There is no way that Microsoft/Bethesda can wait that long for a Fallout game.
I try not to think of games in a strictly financial sense, but allow me to do this for a moment. You’ve got a decent money maker in Fallout 76. Sooner than later, there’s going to be the Fallout television series on Amazon Prime Video. In theory, you would capitalize on the release of the show with a new game to go alongside it. The views that the show would bring in would further result in game sales. I can assume that this won’t be the case, as it would be damn near impossible to have a new game completed in time for the show’s release.
Further complicating things is the fact that seemingly, Bethesda will not let an outside developer take a swing at Fallout again. The last time they did that, we got the wonderful, if not busted, Fallout: New Vegas from Obsidian Entertainment. While the game is beloved to this day, the game’s development was not without controversy. A friendly reminder that Obsidian kinda got screwed by Bethesda at the time when the game didn’t hit a certain Metacritic threshold, therefore causing Obsidian employees to miss out on a bonus. That, coupled with extended crunch for the game’s development, is just profoundly shitty for a team to go through.
With the wide array of studios under Microsoft’s employ now though, the idea of Bethesda handing off the Fallout franchise to an external studio is not unheard of. Once the acquisition with ActiBlizz goes through, Xbox will have 33 studios under their belt. Obsidian probably won’t be the one to take on a Fallout game, but one of the other 32 could probably take a swing at it, right? To me, this seems like an obvious answer to this problem. After all, if you’ve got 33 studios, you should fuckin’ use ‘em! Still, all we can do is hope at this point for a new Fallout game before we all get destroyed by the nukes ourselves. The clock is a tickin, Microsoft.