apewins

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#1  Edited By apewins

Sensitive topic. I support more diversity in media but as a counterargument it sometimes comes off as companies just ticking checkboxes off their lists, and once you start to see that it becomes impossible to unsee. Fact is most people hang out with people who are like them and so these full rainbow casts of characters can come off as unrealistic and preachy. And I've noticed that minorities in media rarely have any negative traits so those characters are boring, at the same time I understand the producers want to avoid the "they think every X is like this!" criticism. As an example, rather than having one black character in a movie or a video game I'd like to see a product whose most entire cast is black and we as a society just aren't there yet.

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#2  Edited By apewins

Bobby Kotick made $375M on this acquisition. That is not his severance package, that is money he made in addition to the severance he will also receive that will probably be in the ballpark of hundreds of millions. I'm sure he fully understands the situation and is already counting the days to getting his money. But maybe that doesn't matter to him, he has long since gone past the point where the balance on his bank account has any meaning to him other than being a high score counter that he can compare with his golf buddies.

What he probably was afraid of was a public humiliation that he rightfully would have deserved and what would potentially have prevented him from ruining other companies in the future. And this acquisition saved him from that, and not only that he was publicly praised by MS CEO Satya Nadella. I'm sure Phil Spencer will soon join him and we can all enjoy watching these three insanely wealthy people pat each other on the back, telling what an amazing job they're all doing.

When Kotick eventually goes, not by being outright fired but by amicably being let go on some "we're re-evaluating our strategy" excuse with everybody saying how much they're going to miss him, Microsoft can then say that the company has been fixed as if the dozens if not hundreds of individuals who supported and defended Kotick aren't staying with the company for their invaluable experience of making money. Meanwhile the people who are getting fired are the now-redundant administration staff who haven't done anything wrong and who probably hoped that they would get to have better careers at Activision-Blizzard after Kotick was gone.

I realize that this is all just capitalism and nothing new under the sun. Microsoft has so far done a pretty good job of distancing the Xbox brand from its mother company and letting it run free. But if there was ever any doubt, Xbox is still a Microsoft company in every way.

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@turtlefish: Game Pass right now is a good deal because Microsoft is practically giving it away. I was already concerned about how they're eventually going to make their money back before this acquisition, and even more so now. They'll obviously jack up the price, but right now even $20 seems too low, and I'm not sure the market will bear much more than that. All I can think of is a tiered service where Bethesda and Call of Duty go to some premium tier which is closer to $35 per month, even though they're spoken against doing tiers in the past.

I'm sure that Candy Crush and Hearthstone will continue to keep printing money for them as a cool passive income, but they do absolutely nothing for Microsoft in terms of corporate strategy, they have no synergy with any Microsoft product or service. You can't put games that are already free-to-play on Game Pass. Maybe GP subscribers will get a few Hearthstone packs free each month, but that game is supported by whales that already drop thousands a month so they're probably not interested in saving a buck or two.

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As you’d imagine, this had an effect on the way people wrote TV shows. If you can’t guarantee that the audience watching has seen every episode up to that point, then it is better to write self-contained stories rather than ones that span the entire season. Sure there were returning characters and long-lasting romantic subplots with these shows, but you almost never got the feeling that previous material was required viewing to enjoy an episode. If we take, oh I don’t know…the Simpsons for example, for the vast majority of its episodes a person could jump in without knowing a single thing about the show and still be able to understand what’s going on.

I do really miss shows with self-contained stories. You could just put on any random episode of X-Files or Miami Vice and have a good time with it, with the few exceptions of (usually) season openers and enders where the overall story moves along a little bit. Lots of people say that we live in a golden age of television, but it is a shame that most everybody wants to make this type of prestige television where you almost feel obligated to watch the entire series once you've started. You just can't skip an episode that you're not feeling any more.

Take the Netlix Witcher season 1 for example. Great show, but... the first season is 8 episodes long, and out of those the first three are mainly setup, and so is the last one. Most of those setups do pay off eventually, assuming you didn't fall asleep when it happened, but that leaves us with only four solid episodes of Geralt doing witcher things. I bet their data shows that the long narrative is what keeps people coming back, and keeps their subscriptions running, but out of all possible stories out there this would have been a perfect one where Geralt just solves one problem per episode without the viewer having to remember complex mind maps of all the character relations and foreshadowing.

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@ares42 said:

I know this is going into deep conspiracy theories, but having watched ActiBlizz getting pummeled over and over for months the thought have struck me several times that it looks a lot like a PR hit job. There's just been something about the steady pace of new leaks etc that's seemed odd, as if someone's been feeding reporters information. This acquisition doesn't exactly smother that fire.

Yeah and to further get into that stuff... Microsoft was said to have done a similar thing with Nokia. Nokia's CEO at the time was Stephen Elop who came from a long career at Microsoft, drove Nokia's share price to the ground, which allowed Microsoft to buy their mobile phone division for cheap. Once Elop was let go from Nokia, he was interviewed for the Microsoft CEO position (which he obviously didn't get).

To be clear, there were plenty of investigations into that stuff and no concrete evidence came up, and in hindsight Nokia got the better of that deal since Microsoft gave up on Windows Mobile after that. But it really makes you think how these coincidences keep happening to the same company.

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Activision-Blizzard had an opportunity to clean up their own mess, and if they couldn't do it then they could burn to the ground for all I care. None of that was Microsoft's problem up until today, there was no need for them to get involved. Bobby Kotick had been abusing his employees for decades and just as he was facing something mildly looking like a consequence Microsoft comes in and bails him out. And some of you are trying to spin this like Microsoft are the good guys riding in like knights in shining armor?

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Having just bought a Series S and paid for my Game Pass in advance, I'm not about to boycott Microsoft over this, but the optics of this thing seem horrible and I am just shocked that they went anywhere near this dumpster fire. Bobby Kotick and his buddies just made a hell of a lot of money and it just sickens me that terrible people keep getting rewarded, and that stink is now going to stick to Microsoft for a long time after they're gone. And I'm just a customer, I can't imagine what Microsoft employees are feeling right now.

Call of Duty is obviously the biggest attraction in this purchase, and I just can't imagine that later this year Microsoft is going to be releasing a game that very likely grossly glorifies actual war and war crimes.

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I'm no businessman but it looks like they're massively overpaying for a publisher whose all franchises are on the decline and that has been bleeding talent (and occasionally actively firing talent) for more than a decade.

They massively fucked up by letting Bobby Kotick stay for even a day longer than legally required. I'm sure he'll be let go sooner rather than later but there are times for respectfully parting ways and Activision is way past that. They absolutely needed to make it a part of the deal that Kotick goes immediately, no matter how much of a severance they'd need to pay him. Horrible look for Xbox that's been all about inclusivity for so long.

Had they waited a little longer they probably would have gotten Activision for half the price. But then again they would have risked somebody else picking them up before that. Anyway I just can't get over the feeling that this is a terrible fit for Microsoft and if Sony or Amazon had snatched them, Microsoft wouldn't have missed out on anything important.

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#9  Edited By apewins

I've been predicting the end of the superhero craze from the early 2000s, before the MCU was even a thing. The Blade movies and the first few X-Men movies were fine, but by around the 3rd instalment of these franchises I was already thinking that this has been fun but we're about done in this genre, and boy was I wrong. I should say that I consider Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy to be the exception to the rule, as those are genuinely good movies, not just good superhero movies.

MCU movies are amusement park rides, and I insist that I made that analogy before Coppola. They're fine for people that like that sort of thing, they're just not cinema. And their success coincides with the massive overall decline of Hollywood. They have always made brainless movies, and there are still genuinely great movies being made but you really have to go look for them. It seems there is absolutely nothing in between. Some of that development probably would have happened anyway with Netflix and such but that is just speculation.

For the record I have seen the Iron Man trilogy, Ant Man, Captain America and the first Avengers. There are no consequences to anything that happens. You know what the story is going to be before you even start watching. And every time they write themselves into a corner they will solve that by having a character wink at the audience like "yeah, we know this is dumb but we're being self-referential about it so you can't criticize us for it". Ant Man specifically I remember being advertised as a breath of fresh air, and it just wasn't.

I think that young people nowadays suffer from tremendous feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness in the face of horrible societal changes that are happening around us. And superhero movies provide escapism to a world where anything is possible and nothing bad ever happens (that isn't reversed in the next act). And companies like Disney have grown so huge that they are in part complicit of what is happening in the world, and it feels sad for me that rather than make any positive change, they just keep peddling this mindless junk food to people to keep them occupied.

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#10  Edited By apewins

I've said it before on this site, but if all you're going to say about a game is "it's on Game Pass so try it out yourself" then you're not providing any value to anybody, so that's something to keep in mind for businesses that want to continue existing. Most people don't enjoy criticizing products that someone, especially an indie developer, has poured their heart and soul into, but ultimately that is literally the job of a critic and I'm seeing a lot of that recently where a person clearly didn't enjoy a game, but they don't feel comfortable saying it and instead make excuses for the product, which is just doing a disservice to their audience will ultimately make some of them go away. I am talking about Giant Bomb specifically because that is my main source of video game information.

Even if a game is free, no matter how you acquired it, there is still a sizeable time investment to be put into a game. Back in the NES days all you did was jump and shoot so you could quickly get a feel for a game. But nowadays a typical game has hours upon hours of tutorials and world building before you actually get into the meat of the game, so there is a somewhat significant time investment for you to lose if you don't end up liking a game that you could have spent on some other game.

I have recently found that I am more likely to read reviews after completing a game than before starting it. It is as if having a conversation about the game with the reviewer, even if they don't respond. Sometimes you'll also avoid spoilers, sometimes you come across stuff you wish you had known. And you can easily see which reviews actually played and thought about a game and which ones rushed out their review for clicks.

edit: With regards to Halo Infinite, people are saying that the campaign is around 10 hours and generally in the "good but not great" territory, and the multiplayer as we all know is free separately. $60 for that game is terrible value in today's landscape and needs to be called out, even if most people play it on Game Pass. They should have sliced that price in half when the multiplayer was made separate, Microsoft made GP look good by making the alternative look awful.