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Today’s Safety Tip: Don’t Let Yourself Get Bought By Microsoft

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Microsoft’s ownership of ZeniMax, the parent company of triple-A video game publisher Bethesda, isn’t going well…but it’s through no fault of Bethesda’s. Reports are coming out that Microsoft just shuttered the doors of four more studios under the Bethesda umbrella, studios they spent billions trying to acquire in the first place.

In some cases, it makes sense: Arkane Austin just delivered a dud with Redfall, In others it’s not only baffling but enraging: Japanese studio Tango Gameworks made a huge impression last year with the rhythm-based action game Hi-Fi Rush. Their star was just rising and they were destined to draw in a large crowd of fans with money. They’re the kind of thing XBox not only wants but NEEDS. And now they’ve been thrown away.

This has to be the dumbest thing I’ve seen all year, and I JUST saw Sony nearly strangle their biggest hit of 2024 to death with an unnecessary rule that would’ve cut off a large portion of its global customer base.

For quite a while, the Microsoft way of dealing with competition has been simply to buy it out. The problem becomes…then what? Microsoft has this tendency to buy studios and then struggle over what to do with them. Mind, this hasn’t been the case every time — when they bought Minecraft, they had the sense to leave it alone and keep it running as it always was.

Ideally, this would be the approach to everything that goes under Microsoft ownership.The only way the thing you bought will retain its value is if you let it do what made it valuable in the first place, right? Or you can blow a ton of cash on things, then smash them with a hammer.

Microsoft wants hits. Their neanderthal understanding of how to GET hits is to buy people that make hits. Once you have people who make hits, you let them make hits — for about a week or so before you fire them the second Microsoft has an underperforming quarter. But you still need hits! What do you do then? Well, you buy more studios.

Call me quacky but I don’t think such a cycle is sustainable indefinitely. The collapse of the Big Bloated AAAA Super Mega Game Conglom-O feels inevitable. And do we really need it? The medium will survive without it. The future of video games are in indie titles and smaller game studios. Seek them out and start supporting more of them — your dollar will go directly to the working class, not the mindless C-suite.

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