Really packed week. Maybe some good job-related news in the near future? Crossing fingers. Also, more and more deadlines incoming, and winter is hitting quite hard during the past few days: Spring, come save us soon.
A matter of Destiny?
Who would have thought that, after creating the most iconic Xbox IP (Halo), Bungie would leave the Microsoft umbrella, develop one of the most profitable “game as a service” IPs (Destiny 1 and 2), and finish being acquired by Sony just a few days after the biggest movement in the history of the industry.
I have seen many people saying that this movement is the start of an economical fight between Sony and Microsoft to buy as many video game studios as possible, growing nonstop in a new edition of the console wars while mimicking the recent story of the movie/streaming giants (Netflix, Disney, etc.). However, I think that the scenario is a little bit different.
For a start, Sony cannot realistically compete with Microsoft by buying studios. This is just a a matter of how big each company is, and while the Japanese giant has been doing super good during the past few years, it is still miles away from one of the most powerful companies in the entire world. Since the Xbox One era, Microsoft has pushed the idea of digital subscription as the way to enjoy their video games, mimicking the business model of streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify. However, in order for this model to succeed you need to accomplish several crucial points. You need a catalogue big enough to attract players and something that makes people keep paying their subscription month after month. Microsoft did this by buying super famous studios (Bethesda, for example), but also by working on backwards compatibility and by offering a super low subscription fee. Moreover, they created all the technical infrastructure to enjoy your games either in your console, pc, or even mobile phone.
Well then, Sony cannot realistically get a catalogue as big as Microsoft, but does it really need it? After all, HBO is one of the better streaming services and the amount of content they have is not as big as the one in Netflix. You can argue that having The Sopranos is much better than a thousand low quality generic shows, and this could be true for video games, too. During the past few years, Sony had the biggest exclusive titles out there. Games like God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, or The Last of Us helped sell millions of consoles, and they will continue to do so. However, and this is a point in common with streaming services, these games are a “one-hit wonder”, in the sense that after you play God of War for the duration of its campaign (let’s say around 20 hours?) you will probably not play it ever again, or at least until some years have passed. Once a player finishes God of War, what games does Sony have to offer? You could say: another big budget masterpiece, but, how many of such exclusive games can Sony publish every year? With budgets on the level of several hundred millions, it is unrealistic to keep the pace. Streaming services tackle this by airing shows week after week, so they are sure that if you like, let’s say, The Mandalorian, you will subscribe to Disney+ at least for a couple of months, instead of watching the whole season during a single weekend. Video game companies have an analogous approach in the form of “game as a service” experiences. Instead of just playing a closed story, games like Fortnite offer multiplayer experiences that evolve season after season. A Fortnite player usually plays the video game for years, spending money month after month. Also, these games can be played in all the consoles, PC, and mobile devices, expanding their potential player base in orders of magnitude.
So, I see the Bungie acquisition as a clever positioning movement by Sony in order to have control over one of the biggest recurrent video game experiences out there (Destiny). Will this, in combination with the quality approach, be enough to “fight” against Microsoft? Will Sony start publishing games in more platforms in addition to PC, such as mobile phones? Only time will tell, and of course these kind of movements could be totally disturbed in a fortnight by the appearance of some indie game that no one really knows about yet, NFTs, or virtual reality technologies.
Sony buying Bungie for $3.6 billion, on gamesindustry
Leonardo does it again
Every other year historians find some obscure note from one of Leonardo’s diaries hinting the development of devices that were supposed to be invented centuries after his death. Now it is the time for the telescope. Super cool piece by the Optica people, where you can even see some small light ray calculations on his trials to zoom in the Moon.
Did Leonardo da Vinci Invent the Telescope?, on Optics and Photonics News
The abuse of antibiotics, in numbers
A couple years ago I saw Years and Years, and one of the stories involved a man dying from falling into the ground and getting a small cut by a rock. While the injury was minor, some bacteria entered his body and killed him in a matter of days, with no way for doctors to save him due to drug resistance. This is something that might seem science-fiction, but nowadays drug-resistant bacteria kills more people than AIDS or malaria. You can read more on the topic at Nature.
To the Moon
This section has its own soundtrack, you can play it here. While many astronauts bring a special book, or some personal item when they go to space, Stuart Roosa, in his Apollo 14 mission, traveled with a canvas of tree seeds that were planted back on Earth. A beautiful piece of history that the people at The Atlantic reported.
We Almost Forgot About the Moon Trees, on The Atlantic
Nature images of the month
Giant sea dragons, driving fishes, and amazing panoramas of the Orion constellation are just some of the incredible pictures of the month in Nature. Go enjoy them.
The money game
Buying games is not only a thing that Sony and Microsoft do, after all. It really makes you wonder how bad the newspaper business is right now that they spend a million dollars on buying a game which is not even original. I am quite happy for the creator (you don’t become a millionaire every day after coding a small game for your girlfriend), and I can’t wait for the New York Times to put this behind a paywall, killing all the player base in no time.
The New York Times Buys Wordle, on The New York Times
John is coming back
If Covid does not allow me to vibe this in summer concerts I am going to have a mental breakdown.
And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!
Featured image from Matthew Power Photography