Hello, and welcome to GYGO! I’m Kael, your local doughnut enthusiast, and I’m writing this with severe heartburn as I recover from having too many deep-fried dough balls for breakfast. When I wasn’t running up against the frailties of the human stomach, I modded two separate Elder Scrolls games. I really love some of Oblivion‘s quests but lack of controller support drove me right back into Skyrim‘s (thanks to a body mod) incredibly well-sculpted arms.

Anyway, the news!

I’m Not the Only One Into Bethesda

This week Xbox announced that it had acquired Zenimax Studios, owner of Bethesda. Xbox head Phil Spencer announced that, “Xbox consoles, PC, and Game Pass will be the best place to experience new Bethesda games, including some new titles in the future that will be exclusive to Xbox and PC players,” followed by a confirmation that, “it’s vitally important that Bethesda continues making games the way it always has.”

During a digital roundtable, Spencer further stated that bringing more first-party exclusives to Xbox was a motivation behind the merger. He clarified that Xbox intended to honor Bethesda’s current contractual obligations, and so not all games would be exclusive. For those that are, they would be limited to any console capable of Microsoft’s subscription gaming service, Xbox Game Pass.

Speaking of which, 13 of Bethesda’s games are coming to Game Pass. These include more recent Fallout and Elder Scrolls games. Considering much of the long-term appeal of these games come from the modding communities, it’s exciting to note that Skyrim at least will have limited modding capacity. Though some of the most popular mods will be incompatible due to an inability to run Skyrim Script Extender (which forms the basis of most mods that make deep changes to the game).

One such mod is Project Proteus, which launched this week. Look, I’ve installed over 300 mods to Elder Scrolls games this month, and this one blew me away with its scope. It ambitiously changes Skyrim by allowing players to switch between characters within one save game. It also adds the ability to change various parts of the game, from the weather to NPCs faces, and it lets players form an adventuring party of multiple original characters.

Crypto Is Making Art Weird

This week The Castle Doctrine developer, Roherer, held an auction for digital copies of art featured in the game. The format he chose is tied to a blockchain NFT, which I absolutely do not understand, but seems to be a way to verify that a digital file is unique—like the providence that proves a painting is the original work. Only in this case it’s a digital file that isn’t meaningfully changed by reproduction, so it’s all sort of arbitrary.

Roherer framed this sale as an extension of The Castle Doctrine, which revolves around buying, selling, stealing, and otherwise obtaining art at any cost. Some of the artists who created the art have other opinions. At least three artists have asked for their art to be removed, citing issues of ownership, ethical opposition, and the fact that generating a single NFT transaction may take the same energy required to power a household for a month.

Working in an Emergency

Texas-based Gearbox studios announced this week that the release of Borderlands 3 Director’s Cut will be pushed back until April 8th. This follows the massive storm that froze over Texas at the end of February. The southern state, which doesn’t typically experience intense cold, was faced with widespread blackouts, plumbing problems, and freezing temperatures. Many companies shut down during the resulting state of emergency, though Gearbox reportedly asked their staff to “prioritize the well-being of themselves and their families,” while continuing to work on the game.

Cloud Imperium Games is another studio that didn’t shut down. Kotaku reported this week the company requested employees find ways to make up hours lost to days-long power outages or to use their vacation time while seeking shelter. Employees were reportedly frustrated by a lack of empathy from executives, and an apparent lack of communication about the emergency with departments outside of Texas (which were largely business as usual). CIG director Chris Roberts has reportedly since guaranteed that all employees would receive a full paycheck this month.

This behavior echoes a larger attitude in the game industry. This week Business Journal reported (via Kotaku) that Capcom allegedly has been pressuring employees to avoid work from home. This follows a cyberattack last January that lead to a 1TB data leak for the company. Capcom is based in Osaka, Japan’s third-largest city and a center of COVID cases in the country. They responded to the report by saying that they have implemented safety measures such as mask wearing and staggered schedules. Competitors like Nintendo, Square Enix, and Sony all allow work from home (in the case of Square Enix on a permanent basis).

In other news…

Former Overwatch League player Jay “sinatraa” Won was suspended from the North American Valorant Champions Tour pending an investigation into sexual assault allegations from his former partner.

Roblox went public this week and Wall Street says it’s worth $45 billion.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, one of Steam’s most popular games, disappeared from the store this week. The game quickly came back online, and Steam reported it was a backend glitch that was quickly fixed.

Animal Crossing characters will soon be hitting Build-A-Bear. No news yet on who’s making it to the stuffed animal creation station, but my bet is on a customizable Tom Nook for everyone.

Chewy.com founder and GameStop’s top investor, Ryan Cohen, will spearhead GameStop’s attempts to adapt to digital games markets. Cohen is a crowd favorite on the wallstreetbets subreddit. The announcement sent GameStop’s stocks up to $200 a share, echoing the GameStonks market upset of last month.