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Tycho / on Wed, Jul 29 2020 at 12:01 am

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The iRacing cadre has much about it that makes it... distinct, but the level of insult game on display has clearly shifted into the eldritch. I love a good abdomen as much as the next man, but we've spent a couple days trying to figure out what he could have meant by the things he said, and ultimately I had to recontextualize the whole endeavor in order to discover meaning.

I saw that a bunch of people were streaming Grounded yesterday, which I'd seen in a previous Microsoft event, and placed in a mental holding pattern with a rule to Check Back In. I coveted these streamers, these exalted ones, shaking with rage at my diminished station, but then I saw that it was on Game Pass and installed it also. Huge time saver! I don't know when I'd even fit in some kind of reckoning today.

When I used to take my eldest to Karate, before earning the belt we agreed could be their last, I used to talk with another dad there that worked on Game Pass. He made a claim I didn't know enough to refute, but found interesting, which was that their data indicated that the Pass increased game sales. You have tumbled to his claim correctly: a game subscription service, where you get the games for a set period of time, caused people - presumably, other people - to buy the games.

Then I saw a thing on Polygon suggesting that Grounded had done well on the Steam charts, which made me think he might not be completely wrong. Sea of Thieves did pretty good on there, too. It's a complex mesh, though. For one, I think Steam and Xbox represent almost completely independent circles. It's less of a traditional Venn Diagram and more, like… a frisbee left very near a dinner plate. The biggest problem for any new game is being seen and discovered. I was exposed to a game I didn't even know I had access to by seeing somebody play it on Twitch. And I know people who might want to play but don't want another subscription. The mesh is between The Service, Subscribers, friends in the nimbus of that subscription, and how this creates an ecosystem that surfaces products in the (sigh) "Buy To Own" ring that surrounds it.

Let's also keep in mind that I think Grounded is gonna be pretty fucking good. What they have up now, in addition to ticking a bunch of Steam Survival Pervert boxes, also has an amazing look and a silly vibe. It's quite broad. Until the most recent presentation, it hadn't even occurred to me that we were still talking about Obsidian here - of course there was gonna be world building, even if what we get to know in this early release is pretty thin. I can't really do Steam Survival Pervert as a genre unless there's a story (like a Subnautica type deal) or multiplayer, and Grounded has both. And Microsoft doesn't care where you buy their shit anymore! I can never tell if this is inspired business or an unrelenting, gargantuan flex.

(CW)TB out.

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