Learning to fly, the Microsoft flex, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2022#03)

Frantic week: several meetings, a lot of coding (with mixed results), and deadlines getting closer and closer. Nevertheless I still had some time to read the crazy things that happened, mostly on the gaming front. Let’s start:

Money money money

So, last week I wrote about the possible acquisition of Zynga by Take Two, and how it was going to be the biggest deal in the industry ever. Not even a week after, Microsoft announced the purchase of Activision-Blizzard for an incredible 68.7 billion USD (almost 6 times bigger than the Zynga deal). For comparison, Disney acquired Marvel and Star Wars for ~4 billion, respectively. This has provoked such a big earthquake that it is not clear for how long we will be able to see the effects. First, it puts Xbox as the biggest IP holder out there. Just to name a few, after this deal Microsoft will own:

Candy crush, Guitar Hero, Crash Bandicoot, Diablo, Spyro the Dragon, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Prototype, Overwatch, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, The Lost Vikings, Call of Duty

And many more that I missed. Some people are starting to say that the Xbox Game Pass is the Netflix of video games, and it is quite clear to me that the intention of Microsoft is to achieve this kind of service. They followed Netflix in many ways: they started slow, they built the infrastructure, they offered extremely cheap offers to establish a big userbase, and finally they expanded its catalog so everyone has something to play. While novel gaming models are interesting, I still have many doubts with regard to this approach (also, it comes from one of the worst big companies out there). I do not like the idea of the quality of video games resembling the average Netflix show. Also, once everyone is using the service, small developers will be pushed to put their games there with questionable margins, which could hinder the evolution of the medium a lot (small indie developers have been, in my opinion, the biggest innovators out there for almost a decade now).

There another angle on this. During last year Activision-Blizzard was the protagonist of many news regarding bullying, harassment, and terrible work-balance practices. There were many workers airing the terrible events that happened inside the company, whose executives were aware of and did nothing to stop. These events generated a lot of buzz, and of course many companies publicly reproach the practices. One of those companies was Microsoft, which published a strong statement against. The interesting thing here is that a deal like this does not happen overnight, so I am 100% sure that the bad press was used to lower the company value, and so reduce the amount to pay for the acquisition.

So, how is the industry going to react to this? Sony cannot compete with Game Pass, and buying studios for these quantities is impossible for them. Nintendo has been slowly evolving from a video game company to a toy producer (although they are still able to make the best video games every now and then). EA, Ubisoft, and Take Two are still there but, for how long? Is the US government going to study possible monopolistic actions agains Microsoft? Is the gaming landscape going to be controlled by either Microsoft or Tencent in the near future? Prepare for unforeseen consequences…

Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, on the verge
Activision Blizzard’s Workplace Problems Spurred $75 Billion Microsoft Deal, on the wall street journal

Trying to save the seas

As a sea lover, this kind of action is always amazing to read. Portugal just approved the creation of a new marine reserve around the Selvagens Islands (between Madeira and the Canary Islands). Something quite relevant that probably you did not see on the news.

“If we don’t establish protection areas,” warns Gonçalves, “we will continue to lose resources, so fishing will lose, just by carrying on as at present. The second important fact is that what science shows us is that these areas can reverse their losses and so through these valorisation mechanisms, the economic value of fishing ends up being enhanced.”

The European Biodiversity Strategy sets out that by the end of the decade, the European Union should have 30% of its seas classified as protected areas. But by 2020 only 10% of coastal and marine areas had obtained this protection.

https://www.euronews.com/green/2021/12/05/portuguese-islands-create-europe-s-largest-protected-marine-area
Portugal Creates Europe’s Largest Marine Reserve, on treehugger
Le Portugal crée la plus grande réserve marine entièrement protégée d’Europe, on Marine Industry News
Portuguese islands create Europe’s largest protected marine area, on euronews

What a time to be alive

So 2022 started strong with the Pope listening to Megalovania, and I thought that was going to be one of the weirdest things in the year. As with the Zynga deal, in less than a week the gamingverse raised the stakes: some people hacked a virtual session of the Italian senate and reproduced a Final Fantasy porn video. For the lulz.

Final Fantasy Porn Interrupts Italian Senate Zoom Event, on vice

The lemniscate technique

Really cool piece on how a group of researchers managed to record and understand how the Paratuposa placentis (body length 395 μm) flies. Of course, this might seem just a curiosity for many people, but understanding how such small animals are able to fly is key to develop our own means of transport. Also, the video from the nature team is really nice.

Tiny feather wing beetle reveals new way to fly, on nature

How the GPS works

A really cool infographic on how the Global Positioning System (GPS) works.

GPS, by Bartosz Ciechanowski

Gotta go fast

AWDQ 2022 ended, and more than 3 million were raised to fight against cancer. One of the highlights of the event was the Sekiro blindfold run, which you can see in the video below (I strongly recommend you take at least a quick look).

Awesome Games Done Quick speedrun raises $3.4 million for charity, on the verge

And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!

Featured image from Andy Mann

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