Checkpoint XP Daily – Bethesda, HBO and Black Holes

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Bethesda has released a new premium membership for Fallout 76, HBO’s Axios talks esports and we check in with social media.

Fallout 76 has received no end of criticism since it’s launch nearly a year ago and it once again finds itself on the receiving end, both good and bad. We talk about the new Fallout 1st Premium Membership and more. Plus, Axios covered esports from the perspective of Blizzard and the Overwatch League 2019 Grand Finals. Finally, we asked our social media followers if they could throw any of their favorite games into a Fortnite style black hole and have it come out better…what game would they choose?

Check out an excerpt from our conversation about Axios’ and their segment on esports.


Nate Bender HBO must have some people who are really interested in esports who work over there because now there’s two shows on HBO that have esports components to them. First Ballers. And now the news program Axios has done an esports segment as well. 

Joe Sloan I’ve got a message from my mom saying “Oh my god, I just saw sports on an HBO.”. 

Nate Bender Yeah, I got the same thing. 

Joe Sloan And I went, oh you’re watching — I didn’t know you watch Ballers. And she goes, “No. On Axios.” What?! 

Robbie Landis Oh, well, Joe’s mom is way cooler than he is, guys. 

Nate Bender I first had to ask the question, what the hell is Axios? So Axios, Norris we looked it up earlier today. These are the Politico folks. That, you know, they’re on their second season. And they do, you know, like investigative journalism sort of stuff. 

Norris Howard Yeah. And so this particular piece was featured as the last story of this week’s Axios episode exploring the Overwatch League and essentially the questions of viability of esports and the Overwatch League in it talked to more so about the business side and a lot less of sort of the fish bowly look at what the kids are doing kind of stuff. 

Nate Bender Really? You got that? I didn’t. I felt like there was still very much an aquarium effect going on. Because here’s the thing, you’ve got to look at the way that the host kind of frames some of the questions because they go out of their first segment, they’re talking to some of the San Francisco Shock players in their team house and just kind of asking them what life is like as a pro. Our second segment takes us to a sports research institute that is doing traditional sports and esports. And we have to waste five minutes having someone who used to play hockey justify the existence of esports, which I was like, I don’t need this. This has no bearing on my life. 

Norris Howard I disagree with you because at some point there is some fish bowling that you have to do. I mean, we fish bowl sometimes on this show because we have to you have to set context. And I think by going to a sports research firm and pulling in somebody who is a traditional athlete to say, you know what, I was skeptical, but there is no reason why this shouldn’t be considered as a sport. 

Nate Bender That was the whole point of going. It seems to be the whole point of going there, because I never found out in what way they’re actually trying to help esports pros. It was like they gave it the validity of having a real athlete. I’m using air quotes there. Give it the validity of saying, yeah, it’s actually a sport. She never actually says, yeah, it’s actually a sport. She just kind of dances around the question a little bit. Then they move on to the Philly finals. 

Norris Howard No they don’t because in the the very following question. They immediately bring up the viability of it. And then you talk about investment and you talk about the bubble. And that was the bridge in to talking to the guy who was invested in the San Francisco Shock. I understand what your energy is, but you have to do that in order to bring in and make that bridge to talk about. Is this something that is sustainable? And that is what that conversation was about with that guy. And then they even talked to Bobby Kotick, who owns Activision. I thought this was way more than what any other publication has done recently. And this is what he had to say. 

Axios Host Clip Let’s take the smallest of the for profit and big pro sports leagues, the NHL. Could you see it being on the same path as at some point? 

Bobby Kotick Clip I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t eclipse most mainstream sports, because if you think about the size of the audience, lets take the NFL is about 100 hundred million fans. Forty two million overwatch players today. Over time, if you have a hundred million Overwatch players, there’s a reason why you have sort of equivalent economics. I don’t think there’s a good reason.

Nate Bender I think he brings up a good point. But this is someone who is incredibly invested in this space. He’s probably not being as objective as possible. 

Norris Howard Not at all. And let’s just be let’s be honest here. The install base of Overwatch might be forty two million, but that doesn’t include active accounts. Correct. People who are playing really every day. So that is a little bit fudging of the numbers. But I will say this. What we learned at places like the esports business someday is the fact that esports is gainng on traditional sports. That is an undeniable fact. And at this moment, you see stuff like the Overwatch League and League of Legends, gaining on stuff like the NHL. 

Joe Sloan And it’s worth noting, too, that just because the active player base of Overwatch is significantly smaller than what the install base is, that doesn’t necessarily matter. I mean, not nearly as many people play hockey as watch it. I’d say 1 percent of the people who watch hockey actually play it. 

Nate Bender That’s true. But I mean, I don’t know. They talked to some cosplayers that were out at the Philly finals as well. And I had this moment of like, oh, they’re just making the point that hot girls play video games and they do that without actually having to say it. Which made me feel pretty gross about it as well. I know that I’ve been kind of harsh on this and they’ve been beating it up a little bit. But I do think that there was some good stuff. There were some good questions that were posed in the piece. I think that, you know, it was definitely fair in its assessment of the esports space and the host wasn’t terrible. But, you know, the takeaway for him, I think is an important one. 

Axios Host Clip This was a full house, not too many empty seats, but if they really want these franchise to be as valuable and more valuable as an NHL team or an NBA team. They’ve got to get entire cities interested, particularly when the teams are good. So that’s the real test here. Clearly, they’ve got this core group. Can they expand it? 


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