We are still reeling from the HUGE news out of the Microsoft camp that they have purchased Bethesda for a cool 7.5 BILLION (yes, billion with a B) DOLLARS, and now owns their ENTIRE catalog. That includes franchises such as Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Dishonored, Doom, Wolfenstein, and a whole lot more. There are a lot of questions to be answered… What is this going to mean for the next highly anticipated sequels to these massive franchises such as Elder Scrolls VI or the next disappointing version of Fallout? Will we still be able to play them on competitor’s systems such as the PS5 or the Nintendo Switch? That’s where things get a little murkier. Now to be fair, I am kind of hoping this acquisition means that all of the remaining, existing, unsold copies of Fallout 76 will be dumped into a giant sinkhole… you know, kind of like what happened to all of those ET cartridges back in the day.
But being serious, what does this mean for playing any of these games on a Sony system in the future?Bethesda is a large publisher who certainly had multiple titles currently baking for the next generation PS5 and Xbox Series S/X systems prior to being purchased, but I can’t imagine Microsoft bought this powerhouse group of developers to simply maintain the status quo. So, could this mean a delayed release for future titles on Sony systems, or perhaps exclusive content for Xbox owners? Those are definitely possibilities, but the reality is that Microsoft did not simply purchase Bethesda for the fun of it. The first party development war to this point has been clearly dominated by Sony, with in-house releases like Horizon Zero Dawn, Spider-Man, God of War, Uncharted, Last of Us… the list could go on and on. Sony has amassed a plethora of award winning development studios like Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch and Insomniac who consistently churn out five star titles exclusively for PlayStation systems.
But what about Microsoft? Let’s not be too quick to sell them short… they have Halo, Gears of War, Forza, and… and… hmmmm. I guess it gets a little lean once you get past a few of their core franchises. And if we are being honest with ourselves, those titles aren’t all that they used to be. While Sony seems to be building up new franchises and fresh exclusives on a regular basis, Microsoft seems to be grinding their old war horses into the ground and simply buying new franchises to supplement them. It’s going to be very interesting to see if Microsoft plays nice with the new toys they acquired from Bethesda, considering they have SO much to lose in this next generation.
In a lot of ways many gamers who are fans of Bethesda and their library of titles may feel like they made a “deal with the devil”, selling out their independence to make games for the “evil empire” of Microsoft. While I am sure this huge infusion of cash has a little something to do with why they made this decision, the reality is there isn’t a great track record of independent studios being bought by MS and delivering great content after the transition (cough cough…RARE…cough cough). Too harsh? Let’s keep it real here… everything Rare has made since they were bought by Microsoft was…well… it was just not GOOD. The fear is that a studio being owned by a company like Microsoft can be creatively stifling at best, and could result in churning out shovelware for the next Kinect concept at the worst.
It may seem easy for Bethesda to be a world class studio delivering quality games when they were given free reign to do whatever they wanted, but now that may be a lot more difficult. Now that they have a company like Microsoft that will be corralling them it can go a couple of different ways. And in an interesting twist, that is exactly what we as believers in Christ can be tempted to do each and every day with the gifts that the Lord has given us, as we choose to apply them either for the advancement of the Kingdom, or for our own selfish benefit. Like Bethesda, we all started off as an independent studio with the autonomy to make our own decisions with the gifts we have been given. But each time we use those gifts we are making a choice of who we are going to serve with them. And we are going to look at two different examples of prophets on the Bible who were in a similar position and had to make a hard choice.
In Numbers 22-25 we see the story of Balaam, a man who would receive words directly from God to speak to others. And as we see in verse 5, Balaam had the power to speak either curses or blessings on people, and his words would come true…
Numbers 22:5 Then he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying: “Look, a people has come from Egypt. See, they cover the face of the earth, and are settling next to me! Therefore please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”
But even though Balaam had been given this gift, he chose to use it selfishly for personal gain. In the verses that follow, Balaam is requested THREE times by the pagan king of Moab to curse the nation of Israel. Balaam was promised riches and honor beyond his ability to absorb them if he would simply pronounce a curse using the gift that he had been given by God. And Balaam certainly tried… THREE times he went to different locations to see if one of those who enable him to speak the words of death that would get him paid. Maybe he thought the location would matter? He must have watched too much “Property Brothers”. Anyways, Balaam tried to curse them three times, and three times the Lord used him to speak blessings instead of curses over his chosen people. This unwilling prophet DID ultimately speak the words of the Lord, but he was clearly dragged kicking and screaming to do so, against his will. His heart was not right, and as we read later in Revelation 2:14 he still found a way to curse the people of Israel, by leading them into sin:
Revelation 2:14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
I would like to believe that nobody would use the gifts of God simply to make themselves rich or famous, but the Bible also says that EVERY good gift we receive is from the Father, and that means that any gifts we aren’t using for Him makes us no better than Balaam. So now let’s look at our other case study, the prophet Daniel. He was also a man who received words from God, with the ability to interpret dreams and even receive visions of the future, all of which have come true. And he was also a servant of God who was tasked to use his gifts while he was under the employment of multiple evil kings, all while serving incredibly wicked empires, the kingdoms of Babylon and Persia. This is the equivalent of Luke Skywalker doing independent contractor work on the Death Star for Emperor Palpatine.
We see an entirely different approach for Daniel throughout the Bible. In Daniel 1:8 we see Daniel refusing to partake of food and drink that were against his beliefs, and then later in the chapter during his job interview with the king we see the reward of his faithfulness. Daniel was given favor and blessed by the Lord with capabilities that were ten times greater than those he interviewed against…
Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Daniel 1:19-20 Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.
A short time later Daniel was given the knowledge to interpret the evil King Nebuchadnezzer’s dream, and instead of taking credit for this ability he gave all of the credit and the glory to God. His reward? A few verses later we see him getting his first work promotion to chief administrator over all of Babylon. Over and over again we see Daniel choosing the path of righteousness… while STILL serving in his position as the advisor to one horribly wicked pagan king after another. Each time we find Daniel we catch him performing his duties with excellence, even in service to an evil empire, while still remaining faithful to the Lord both publicly and privately.
Daniel 1:27-28 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets.
Daniel 2:46-28 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon.
Each and every day we make a choice with who will receive the glory for the gifts the Lord has given us. Will we absorb it on ourselves, or will we give it to Him? It does not matter where we work, who we work for, where we go to school, or wherever else we have been called to serve the Lord. If Daniel could be a mighty prophet of God while sitting as second-in-command to some of the most wicked kings ever recorded, then we can also be used right where we are at, even if we find ourselves in the middle of the most wicked kingdom on earth. The question is not whether we CAN use our gifts for God in a dark place… the question is will we give Him the glory WHEN we use them.
Bethesda has a choice… a choice to stay true to their brand and keep crafting unique and incredible game experiences that ONLY they can make, and just let Microsoft worry about all of the rest. And we have the same choice. Whatever gifts we have been given, whether it is the gift of song, of written words, of spoken words, of ministering encouraging words to others… no matter WHAT gift God has given you, it is NOT the environment that determines the use of the gift. As we saw with both Balaam and Daniel, it is the HEART of the person who possesses it. WE choose to speak words of life or death… WE choose to give blessings or curses… WE choose to glorify Him in our words and conduct, no matter where we are, and in every situation. WE choose to be the light in the darkest places… because for many people that is the only light they will ever see.
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