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Games Inbox: Microsoft buying Sega, Xbox All Access success, and Xbox Series S stock problems



Sonic The Hedgehog - coming soon to a cinema near you

Sonic The Hedgehog – would you care if Microsoft owned him? (pic: Sega)

The Thursday Inbox is worried that Microsoft will start an acquisition war with Sony, as one reader is proud to play Ring Fit Adventure.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gam[email protected]

Whales and minnows
Am I the only one that doesn’t want Microsoft to buy Sega? Or anyone, frankly. I really do not want to see the games industry being owned by just two or three companies. That’s already happened with movies and I’m sure we can all imagine that being the Disney of gaming is exactly what’s written on Microsoft’s masterplan whiteboard.

Sega may be their own worst enemy but at least they’re out their making their own decisions and occasionally coming up trumps. Would Microsoft sanction spending the money on Sonic Mania 2? Or those weird Japanese Game Gear reissues? I don’t see that fitting into their corporate message.

Consolidation is bad for everyone, from the poor schlubs that lose their jobs because Microsoft already has plenty of marketing people and HR and all the other non-creatives to the homogenisation of the product itself, as everything is made to fit one corporate ideal. Japanese games are the way they are because they’re made first their home audience first and foremost, that’s not going to be the case if they’re owned by Microsoft.

But it’s the same now for Bethesda. Whatever Microsoft might say about their ‘semi’ independence there are now a corporate division of a much larger company. And let’s not turn this into a Microsoft vs. Sony console war. I’d be saying the same thing if Sony or Nintendo did it, but they don’t. Although they may now feel compelled into doing so by Microsoft as everyone rushes to snap up other companies before they lose out.

All I can say is thank god for indie gaming.

Stealth hikes
Was very surprised to see that you can’t use standard hard drives on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, which is very disappointing. And the latest rumours for Xbox drives is £160 for 1TB, which is daylight robbery in 2020.

This is the price hike nobody sees, so with software at £60-70 and hard drives at least £160 the new consoles are much more expensive. Also, how big will the patches be for games like Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare? 200GB, that’s one game. People will need a hard drive at least 2 to 3TB in my judgement, what does GC think?
bigboss1960 (PSN ID)

GC: You can use normal hard drives to store data, but you can’t run a game from them. But yes, this is going to be a major issue, especially for Xbox Series S and especially since Game Pass gives you access to so many games at once.

Equal competition
This is a difficult thing to discuss because people get so defensive over the whole console wars thing but I’m sure I can’t be the only one to be worried about Microsoft’s new policy of buying up huge chunks of the games industry, lock, stock, and barrel.

They can afford it so why not some will say, while ignoring the terrible success rate of major publishers buying famous developers. Sony do plenty of things wrong (game prices and their cross-gen U-turn just in the last month) but nobody can criticise them for the way they’ve built up and nurtured their first party studios. They started with nothing and now have multiple top-notch teams that crank out some of the best games in the industry.

Microsoft could’ve done that. They’ve only been in the industry one less generation than Sony, so by now they should be at the place Sony was at the start of the PlayStation 4 era. Instead they’ve lost and shut down the few good studios they did have and then (after a needlessly long wait) started buying up developers seemingly at random – from the well-regarded to the completely anonymous.

And when that didn’t move the dial for anyone they just up and bought one of the big AAA publishers and all their developers. And despite all that the amount of diversity in terms of genres and country of origin is still terrible. Almost everyone they own only knows how to make shooters and Wester role-players and all of them are American or British – with the sole exception of Shinji Mikami’s company, which they got in the job lot from Bethesda.

There’s nothing grassroots there at all and there’s no proper attempt to fill in the gaps in the Xbox’s line-up or international appeal. They just realised they were in a losing position and tried to buy their way out of trouble. Just as they’re trying to outspend Sony because they can’t compete on a level playing field when it comes to making games. I don’t like it and it’s a very nasty precedent if they’re going to buy even more.

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

Streams of money
If Microsoft’s purchase of ZeniMax were a game of poker it would be classed as going all-in, betting everything you’ve got.

The sheer amount of money involved, £7.5 billion, shows just how serious they are, how deep Microsoft’s pockets are, and how much they want to ‘win’ this upcoming generation.

Why buy one studio, when you can buy the parent group and get a shed load of grade-A studios?

It leaves me somewhat disturbed to think how much the relatively low price of the new machines, coupled with Game Pass and these acquisitions, is Microsoft’s attempt to, quite literally, buy the video games market.
Recognising that Microsoft make billions of dollars a year, and this is just another drop in the ocean to them, will these studios finally give them the ongoing high quality output that they have so obviously missed over the years, or will they exert corporate control and damage the studios reputations, like 343 Industries?

From what Bethesda have said, it appears not, but these are some of the biggest franchises of all time, and if Microsoft locks them to their machines, we could end up in a situation now where you must have both machines to access the exclusive content, akin to Netflix vs. Amazon Prime and other streaming services.
The only thing we can say with certainty, is this new generation is going to be brutal and, in the long run, expensive.

GC: An analogue of Netflix vs. Amazon Prime is exactly where the games industry is likely to be heading.

Next gen customer service
Wow, have to write to say credit to Smyths with the Xbox All Access pre-order. I was in the same situation as DM from yesterday, that completed all of the Klarna paperwork only to get the message that they had no stock left.

I emailed Smyths, who replied promptly to say they were looking into it and would get back to me ASAP. And then another email to say they were sorry for the mistake and gave me a way into their website to complete the pre-order. Looks like the next generation is definitely happening after all!

Worth emailing Smyths if this happened to you. Good luck everyone!
Saints Stickman!

Games are good for you
Playing video games are bad for you! You’ll ruin your eyesight, and it leads to poor posture!

I don’t know if there’s been conclusive proof of these claims, but I’ve always wondered if my worsening short-sightedness has been a direct (or indirect) result of my gaming through the years.

But for someone who hardly ever does physical exercise, I’m proud to say I’m now onto my 30th day of Ring Fit Adventure, with only one day missing in the chain. Thanks to the geniuses who came up with an RPG/exercise hybrid game, I now have the motivation to keep at it.

Wii Sports all those years ago got me moving for a while, but the game side of it became pretty stale.

If only I’d taken a plunge on Ring Fit at launch, with six months of a partial pandemic lockdown, I might be sporting a six pack now!
ttfp saylow (gamertag)
Now playing: Paper Mario: The Origami King and Ring Fit Adventure

New hardware
I am very tempted to buy a PlayStation 5 (if I can get one with the high demand) but I have got a lot of games to be getting on with before I do. Also, my 1080p 3DTV has just started going wrong, so will have to look to upgrading to a new 4K TV when it packs up, which will be perfect for next gen gaming having not had a 4K screen before.
Andrew J.
PS: The free game on Epic Games Store from 4pm today is Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 Complete Edition, it might be more than one game free today as last week they changed it from one free game to three free games!

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Value jam
If Western role-playing games are your jam then Game Pass just became essential after Microsoft’s purchase of ZeniMax. Plus, inXile and Obsidian and I’ll throw in Fable.

It’s a great fit for Xbox who brought that PC style Western role-playing game to consoles with Morrowind and Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic on Xbox. Oblivion launched first on Xbox 360 and for me that console was the natural home for games like Fallout and Mass Effect.

Along with EA Play the quality of Game Pass is extremely strong and the value puts Sony and Nintendo quite frankly to shame.

We just had Nintendo’s bone idle, phoned-in Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection. This week Sony wants £70 for a game and so far won’t upgrade PlayStation 4 versions of Spider-Man to the PlayStation 5 remaster. But Miles Morales PlayStation 4 version will be upgraded! When asked what will happen if you put the PlayStation 4 Spider-Man disc into a PlayStation 5 Insomniac said you’d play the game via backward compatibility.

PlayStation 5 is still the console I will buy, as I still prefer its roster of games, but I must admit I look over at the Xbox fans and think you lucky oiks. Should be a much more even generation. Each has really compelling offers.

Inbox also-rans
So do you think Microsoft will be disappointed then, GC, that their cheapest next gen Xbox Series S didn’t sell out across the majority of the retail stores here in the UK on the first day of pre-ordering?

GC: It won’t make them happy, but it depends how much stock there was. Also, most hardcore gamers would’ve wanted the Xbox Series X or nothing.

According to my nine-year-old son, the PS5 looks like a Virgin Media box with two pieces of paper either side, and the latest Xbox looks like a mini-fridge. Hard to argue when the logic, to be honest.

This week’s Hot Topic
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox follows the pre-orders for the PlayStation 5 last week and the Xbox Series X/S pre-orders due to start on Tuesday, and asks simply: have you pre-ordered a next gen console yet?

If you have, how much do you intend to spend on next gen hardware and software overall this year? What are you hopes and expectation from the consoles in the short and medium term and which games are you most looking forward to?

How do you think the pre-orders and marketing were handled and did they cause you to change your original plans at all? If you haven’t pre-ordered when do you intend to get a next gen console, if at all?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

MORE: Games Inbox: Xbox Series X pre-order success, Bethesda Xbox exclusives, and PS5 cross-gen confusion

MORE: Games Inbox: Microsoft buying Bethesda analysis, Bethesda exclusives, and PS5 fan noise

MORE: Games Inbox: PS5 pre-order hopes, Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PS4, and Super Mario Galaxy rocks

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Marianne Smyth Is Now in Prison After Pretending to Be an Irish Heiress




Each episode of the ABC docuseries The Con covers a different scammer or criminal mastermind who was able to fool family members, friends, or co-workers. The second episode of The Con, which airs on Oct. 21, centers around Marianne Smyth. For years, Smyth told her friends that she was an Irish heiress who was set to receive a fortune of several million dollars.

Her best friend, reality TV producer, Johnathan Walton, gave her thousands of dollars over the years as she dealt with legal issues. While he thought he was giving her money to help her win against the meddlesome family members who wanted her inheritance, he was actually helping her continue her scams.

Where is Marianne Smyth now? Several of her former pals, including Walton, are sharing her story on The Con.

Who is Marianne Smyth from ‘The Con’?

According to Johnathan Walton’s website, he first met Marianne Smyth in 2013.

She told him that her family was Irish royalty (Ireland does not have a royal family), and that her uncle was one of the signers of the Irish Constitution. He also said that she had often shown off her wealth by wearing designer labels, and that she had a penchant for paying the bill when dining out with her friends.

But, he noted, it was all fake.

After Walton and Smyth became fast friends, he said that she confided in him about her inheritance issues. She said that a male family member had died, and that his 25 million euro estate was going to be divided among five heirs — including Smyth.

Walton said that Smyth showed him angry emails and text exchanges from the other beneficiaries, who were unhappy that Smyth was getting part of the money.

Smyth was ultimately arrested in July of 2014, and Walton thought that her family members were framing her in order to cut her out of the will.

He paid her $4,200 bail, and he continued to loan her thousands of dollars for her legal fees.

Eventually, Smyth asked him for a $50,000 loan to get her legal issues dismissed. He allowed her to charge it on his credit cards, and he later had to file for bankruptcy.

Upon her second arrest, Walton began to investigate his friend online. He found out that she had really been arrested for Felony Grand Theft for stealing $200,000 from the travel company she worked for. As for the $50,000 loan Walton gave her, it wasn’t for getting the case against her dismissed. It was to pay for the $40,000 plea deal she had struck for the charges from the travel company.

He soon learned that Smyth was never going to receive an inheritance, and that she wasn’t actually from Ireland. She had also created the email accounts for her disgruntled family members.

When confronting Smyth didn’t work, Walton discovered that she had been scamming people for decades. She allegedly faked a breast cancer diagnosis, and she got her loved ones to give her thousands of dollars for treatments.

She did live in Northern Ireland for nine years after marrying a local there. The authorities there were looking for Marianne Smyth because she had conned people out of more than $50,000 while working in mortgages.

Walton said that Smyth also faked being both a psychologist and a psychic over the years, and that she had gone under several dozen aliases before.

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Hannah Kepple didn’t expect ‘Cobra Kai’ to be the ‘massive hit’ it became, credits success to Ralph Macchio and Martin Kove




Not many expected ‘Cobra Kai’, the martial arts dramedy series to be the staggering hit it has become. Given the success of ‘The Karate Kid’ movie series in the ’80s, there was enormous pressure for ‘Cobra Kai’, to make a mark. Set 34 years after the events of ‘The Karate Kid’, the series follows the reopening of the Cobra Kai karate dojo by Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and the rekindling of his old rivalry with Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio).

Created by Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald, the series garnered positive reviews, not just from the fans who were familiar with the iconic movie series, but also from new audiences. The seasons also saw a host of new teenage characters who had their own storylines on the show.

“We knew the impact it would have,” Kepple said. “But we weren’t sure that it would go on to become a massive hit that it has now.” Kepple plays Moon, one of the popular characters in the show and added that it was a lot of fun playing the role. Her persona comes across as a supremely confident teen at the start of the series but progresses into being a lot more mature and understanding over time.

Kepple also confessed one of the reasons she was excited to play a part in the series was because of Macchio and had previously seen only the first part of ‘The Karate Kid’ (1984). Macchio played Daniel LaRusso, the main protagonist in ‘The Karate Kid’ movie series and also a central character in ‘Cobra Kai’. “I am a huge fan of Ralph Macchio,” she remarked. The ‘Your Worst Nightmare’ star also explained that credit for the show’s success goes to the senior actors, whom she said was “an absolutely exciting experience to work with.”

Kepple also added that working with veteran actor Martin Kove, who plays the antagonist John Kreese in the series, was a great learning experience. “He is a force to reckon with. Mr. Kove brought in a lot of dynamism to his role as Kreese,” she said. “It was a great experience for all of us to be working alongside him, and we learned a lot on the sets.”

‘Cobra Kai’ seasons 1 and 2 boasts a 94% and 88% rating respectively on Rotten Tomatoes and Kepple’s Moon was one of the characters who contributed to it. The star, however, showered praise on her co-stars as well for the show’s success. Kepple will reprise her role as Moon in the third season of ‘Cobra Kai.’ Production of the show is set to go on floors this year and the series is slated for a September 2020 release.

‘Cobra Kai’ Seasons 1 and 2 are available for streaming on YouTube Premium.

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Is a ‘Cable & Deadpool’ movie in the works? Josh Brolin is ‘excited’ for character’s future, creator reveals




Fans of Marvel’s ‘Merc with a Mouth’ have been eagerly waiting for news about ‘Deadpool 3’. And after the success of ‘Deadpool 2’, we all want to see Josh Brolin’s Cable return for the planned sequel.

“You guys just don’t understand, I was with Josh about four weeks before ‘Deadpool 2’ opened. We were down in at Manhattan beach and we were having breakfast,” Liefeld explained. “Then he’s like, ‘Hey, can you take me to the gym?’ Because he was telling me how he’s much bigger he’s gonna get for ‘2’. His shoulders were gonna get broader. And I met his trainer and I’m like, ‘Oh, you can’t wait until we revisit Cable.’ And he had talked about the talks that he had with Fox and building out the character, and he was excited what to do with him as a character.”

The partnership of Cable and Deadpool is a fan-favorite and it would be amazing to see this duo enter the MCU but don’t get your hopes up too high. Chances are, we won’t be getting a ‘Cable and Deadpool’ movie any time soon because there are a few things that need to be settled before that can happen.

For one thing, Marvel still hasn’t taken a call on whether to keep the ‘Deadpool’ franchise in its own separate continuity or integrate it with the rest of the MCU. If they do go this route, it would make it a lot easier to do another ‘Cable and Deadpool’ movie as ‘Deadpool 3’ but it would rob us of the chance to see Deadpool causing mayhem with our beloved MCU heroes.

Alternatively, if they do decide to disregard the existing ‘Deadpool’ continuity and integrate the characters into the MCU, they first need to come up with a plan for the X-Men. Both Deadpool and Cable have a long history that’s intricately linked to Marvel’s merry mutants and bringing them into the MCU without having a backstory for mutants in place would be a huge disservice to all the characters involved.

For now, it looks like Marvel would rather go the second route. In that case, it could be a while before we see these characters share the screen again but considering how great both the characters and the actors playing them are, we’re sure it will be worth the wait.

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