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Microsoft to Buy Bethesda for $7.5 Billion to Boost Xbox

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(Graphic via Microsoft)
(Graphic via Microsoft)

In a move no one in the gaming industry saw coming, tech giant, Microsoft announced plans to acquire ZeniMax Media Inc. on Monday. ZeniMax is the owner of the renowned video-game publisher Bethesda Softworks. The deal calls for purchasing the developer for $7.5 billion in cash, making it the biggest video game purchase to date. Bethesda is a publisher to successful triple-A (AAA) title games such as The Elder Scrolls, DOOM and Fallout.

What We Know:

  • Based in Rockville, Maryland, ZeniMax Media Inc. owns several studios around the world. Microsoft’s acquisition will expand the company’s gaming business with an injection of more titles and game developers. ZeniMax was previously one of the largest privately-held game companies with 2,300 employees around the globe.
  • The latest installment of their Elder Scrolls series landed them more than 20 million copies sold, spotting it as one of the top-selling games of all time. Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella in an interview, “with the acquisition of Bethesda, we metaphorically and literally double our gaming content capacity”.
  • This deal comes as Microsoft is ready to launch the next-generation Xbox consoles in November, at the same time as their longtime rivals Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5). The main lineup of games this year, including the company’s flagship series Halo, ended up falling flat to many players and fans. Inducting Bethesda’s library into Xbox’s subscription service “Game Pass” will surely boost consumer morale.
  • Although this move has surprised many in the industry as of late, Microsoft has already been gathering game creators and content for a while now. They spent nearly $2.5 billion to purchase Minecraft in 2014 and have acquired six-game studios within the past two years. The company stated that the deal is expected to close by the second half of its fiscal year 2021 while having “minimal impact on its adjusted operating income” for the following fiscal years.

  • According to analyst George Jijiashvili at researcher Omdia, Sony’s launch lineup for the PlayStation 5 is stronger than Microsoft’s. The PS5 is expected to outsell Xbox despite Micros released 2 versions of the devices (Series X and Series S).
  • Xbox and Bethesda have a long history, which started around the time the publisher released its first-ever console game on the original Xbox in 2002, Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. This sort of deal speaks volumes when observing the advantage Xbox has over others trying to join the gaming market.
  • Founded by Christopher Weaver in the mid-80s, Bethesda became the pioneer in the market for personal computer (PC) games, as well as the hit developer for many games to follow. The company started with simple sport simulation games before moving on to other projects, including the ever-popular role-playing game (RPG) The Elder Scrolls, which released in the mid-90s.

On the other hand, ZeniMax Media Inc. was founded in 1999 but has slowly grown to be very successful in the next two decades after. Many of its own acquisitions included the Fallout franchise, Id Software, the maker of DOOM and Quake series. Microsoft has stated that this merger will not affect Bethesda’s structure and leadership.

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Javier Garay is Media & News SVCS Intern at UnmutedCo. He is currently enrolled in the University of North Georgia seeking a bachelor's degree in Film/Digital Media with a concentration in Media Studies. Javier writes for Black News Alerts (BNA) along with social media management for both BNA and BossFM, and is a part of the BNA Daily Podcast Team.

Business

Quibi is Shutting Down

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Meg Whitman is without doubt one of the founders of Quibi. (Image via Robyn Beck / AFP)
Meg Whitman is without doubt one of the founders of Quibi. (Image via Robyn Beck / AFP)

You might have heard about Quibi, a short form mobile-focused streaming service, at some point this year, but you won’t be hearing from it anymore. Quibi recently announced it is closing house after only six months of operation, making it one of the shortest-lived streaming services to date. The announcement came from a Medium post.

What We Know:

  • The post by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman said, “We feel that we’ve exhausted all our options. As a result, we have reluctantly come to the difficult decision to wind down the business, return cash to our shareholders, and say goodbye to our colleagues with grace.”
  • Several factors could have gone into the platforms of premature death, but one stands out the most. The new streaming service was mobile-only, and it was already at a disadvantage compared to other services. During a pandemic such as this, everyone at home seemed to choose other services as Quibi didn’t offer enough to tempt subscribers. With many free platforms such as Youtube and Tik-Tok, the new service fell flat in an already saturated market.
  • Quibi has stated that much of the failure to launch off the ground was with itself and the idea “wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing”. The company said they will notify what subscribers they did have of the final time they can access the service.
  • Quibi marketed a seemingly resilient and well cast original programing before and after the shutdown. In an effort to save that work, Katzenberg reached out to Apple, WarnerMedia, and Facebook to acquire them, but to no avail. When that plan failed, Katzenberg attempted to get Facebook and NBCUniversal to at least pick up its content, again with no success.
  • The streaming service officially launched on April 6th earlier this year with two plans to choose from: $4.99 a month (ads) or $7.99 a month (ad-free). The mobile-only gimmick was an attempt to separate itself from its competitors. They even threw in an interesting system where all their content was produced to accommodate portrait and landscape formats for a unique viewing experience. Aside from a free trial, there was no free option and TV apps weren’t released until this week for platforms such as Apple, Android, and Fire TV.
  • It was reported that both Katzenberg and Whitman raised a whopping $1.75 billion in order to create Quibi, but having money doesn’t always equal success. Despite promising content, which even landed them two Emmy wins, the subscriber base which helps a streaming service run, left as fast as it came.

Sensor Tower, an app tracking firm, reported that Quibi allegedly lost about 90 percent of its subscribers after the three-month free trial promotion in July. After the trial ended, the platform’s users dropped from 900,000 to only 72,000 that stuck around and became paid members. Quibi has argued those figures are incorrect but have yet to release actual statistics.

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Business

Bounce TV’s Ryan Glover, Killer Mike, and Andrew Young Establish Black-Owned Digital Bank

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Greenwood founders Killer Mike (left), former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young (center) and Bounce TV President Ryan Glover (right). (Photo Credit: Greenwood)

Rapper Killer Mike and Bounce TV originator and President Ryan Glover have teamed up to launch Greenwood, a new digital bank customized to Black and Latinx communities.

What We Know:

  • The bank will be named Greenwood, after the growing Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The city, nicknamed “Black Wall Street,” was demolished by a crowd of White supremacists in the 1920s.
  • According to CNN, Greenwood is a banking service that runs entirely online, giving mobile deposits for checking and savings accounts, that looks to aid minority-owned businesses.

  • For every sign up for this foundation, the company will give the equivalent of five free meals to an organization addressing food insecurity. They will also provide to either the United Negro College Fund, Goodr (an organization that addresses food insecurity), or the NAACP every time the card is used. The bank will also give a $10,000 grant to a Black or Latinx small business owner that utilizes Greenwood.

  • Glover announced that the bank was created to provide loans and financial aid for Black-owned businesses who have had difficulty with white-owned banks.
  • Killer Mike, whose government name is Michael Render, is an Atlanta business proprietor who stated that the financial system has been bad for Black Americans, and that’s what inspired the invention of Greenwood. The Grammy-winner also expects that this investment will boost the chances of Black dollars staying in Black neighborhoods.
  • The idea for Greenwood was designed by Glover last year and is set to launch in January 2021 officially. Glover mentioned that the assassinations of George Floyd and the civil tension everywhere in the nation advanced his work on the bank.

Glover mentioned to CNN that Greenwood has brought more than $3 million in seed money and gathered a growing waiting list of “tens of thousands” of people looking to create an account.

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Exploitation Concerns For White Businesses Selling On Etsy

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Eyebrows are raised in concern for white owned businesses selling Black Lives Matter merchandise on Etsy.

What We Know:

  • Many white owned businesses are showing they are in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement through their merchandise on Etsy. And while they are sincere in their actions, others are concerned that the businesses are exploiting the movement.
  • Julie Muller is a 67-year-old woman who is using her homemade cookie-decorating business to support the BLM movement by selling cookie-decorating kits that have cookie cutters in the shape of Barak Obama’s face, sprinkles, and icing in red, black, and green, which are the colors of the Pan-African or Black Liberation flag. Her hope is for her kits to start a discussion that will teach children about the movement.
  • 45-year-old Ashleigh Boutelle from Twin Peaks, California used his garden gnomes business to show support for the movement by painting the gnomes with a darker skin tone and the pointy hates with “BLM”. “I was trying to be very careful and present something that you might say is neutral,” Boutelle said. He added that he hopes his creations don’t offend anyone. He also said that he is planning on donating $10 from each sale of the $60 gnome to an organization that he hasn’t chosen yet.
  • BLM wine bottle stoppers are also being sold by 37-year-old Kate Mayer and 25% of each sale is going towards the Black Voters Matter Fund. Fresco Steez, an activist for the Movement for Black Lives and the co-founder of Black Youth Project 100, said that she hopes that when a white woman with the BLM wine stopper uses it at a dinner, that a Trump-Pence supporter starts a debate.
  • Although the gestures of these white owned shops seems genuine, the problem is that these objects like the gnomes and wine stoppers are they are associated mostly with white suburbia. Also, not all of these businesses are donating their profits to a Black organization of some kind. In a Reddit post, a user by the name of “Iamlunasol” talks about how they wanted to buy a Black Lives Matter yard sign from a Black-owned business but one company that they talked to weren’t Black-owned but were selling BLM merchandise without donating profits.
  • “Before you buy a BLM shirt, sign, car magnet, etc., ask questions to make sure you’re not giving sales to a non-black seller that’s exploiting the suffering of black people for personal profit,” the post said. Eventually, the user found a business that was donating “100% of their profits”.

While Jasmine Renee, owner of Etsy shop — Shea Butter Apparel, commends these businesses for supporting the movement, she hopes that the people buying these products are also looking into Black businesses and the white sellers are promoting Black sellers selling BLM products.

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