E3 2018: Bethesda is embracing omnipresent gaming

Bethesda is establishing itself as the first game publisher to fully embrace omnipresent gaming, and it doesn't mind poking fun at itself for it.

Omnipresence is something which is everywhere. Bethesda has a reputation for making its games available to as many platforms as possible, but the company is taking it up a notch with Elder Scrolls Blades.

Elder Scrolls Blades is a new game in the popular series that features console-quality graphics and will be available on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, PC VR platforms like Oculus, mobile VR platforms like Daydream, and iOS and Android smartphones. Basically, it’s everywhere that can run it.

Omnipresent Gaming History

Bethesda’s omnipresence can be somewhat traced back to 1993’s pioneering first-person shooter DOOM.

The original DOOM is often hacked by the community to run on pretty much any device with a screen — it can be found on Android Wear smartwatches, and even on the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar (although neither are recommended.)

Bethesda took over the DOOM franchise in 2010 and has clearly been inspired by fans’ desire to access the game anywhere.

Rather than leave it to unofficial hacks, Bethesda Game Studios' Skyrim appears to have become the company’s own project to have the game available on just about every platform.

Skyrim launched in 2011 on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. Since then, it’s been updated for the Xbox One and PS4, released on Nintendo Switch, and even a VR edition created for various headsets.

At E3 2018, the company showed a video of Skyrim running on an Alexa smart home speaker, a pager, and a fridge:

Obviously, the video was a joke poking fun at itself for Bethesda’s own desire to make its games available everywhere and updated for new platforms for years to come. Well, the availability on Alexa wasn’t a joke, that one is real.

Killer Combo: Omnipresence and Streaming

Many gamers have shown a willingness to buy a copy for a game they love on several platforms. That offers a huge revenue opportunity and it’s little wonder Bethesda is more than happy to keep putting Skyrim on new platforms.

However, not all gamers can afford to buy a copy for every platform. Game developers want their fair share to continue making the games they’re passionate about, but they also want people to enjoy them as much as possible.

Services like Xbox Game Pass, the company’s “Netflix for games” subscription, may help to strike that balance between revenue and accessibility.

Xbox also revealed at E3 they are working on a streaming service, so it’s possible gamers could access their titles across platforms like PC, Xbox, and Android for one price with all progress for the player synced between. With Steam’s ongoing issues with its streaming app on iOS, it doesn’t seem likely we’ll be seeing it on Apple’s platform anytime soon.

Using a Game Pass-like subscription model, the studios will still get their cut while the combination with streaming technology removes the need for costly resources to be spent porting the game between platforms.

Considering two of the three games which joined Xbox Game Pass yesterday were Bethesda games — Fallout 4 and Elder Scrolls Online — it seems likely there’s at least some consideration at Bethesda about how the subscription model could benefit their clear desire to embrace omnipresent gaming.

Do you think we’re entering an era of omnipresent gaming? Let us know in the comments.

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