According to recent reports, Microsoft is set to buy Activision Blizzard in a move that will consolidate some of gaming’s best names. As reported by The Guardian, the deal is set to cost Microsoft nearly $70 billion, not a small fee, even for one of the software’s best-performing companies. Coming not even a year after it acquired Bethesda, Microsoft is making some big moves, raising questions about what this could mean for gamers across the globe.
“Microsoft Logo” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by matsuyuki
Aiming for Exclusivity?
At the start of the new console generation, Microsoft was downplaying its reliance on game exclusivity as a system seller. At the time, Xbox head Phil Spencer noted that exclusive titles weren’t a major focus for the developer, as The Verge mentions. The implication at the time seemed to be that, in the face of Sony’s push for PlayStation-specific games, Xbox was the more welcoming and player-friendly option. As we might have guessed, that could have been Microsoft biding its time.
With Activision Blizzard and Bethesda under its belt, Microsoft would be in control of some of the biggest developers in the world. Under their rule, they could make titles like Diablo 4, Overwatch 2, The Elder Scrolls, and Fallout all exclusive to the Xbox system. Though this would also include PC compatibility, such a move would give the company a huge library advantage over Sony.
Fighting for Competition
In the PC space, this move would also include the Activision Blizzard storefront. With the right attention, Microsoft could rebrand this system as what they intended the failed Games for Windows Live to be back in 2007. Serving as an alternative to the likes of Steam and the Epic Games Store, this direction might prove a positive one.
On the positive side, it could serve as an addition to existing options that rely on bonuses to get ahead. The framework for this idea has been adopted in other industries like online casinos for years, with huge advantages for customers. Today, rewards like the Buzz Bingo bonus code offer give customers access to special features like deposit matches, random prizes, and seasonal promotions.
In the video game space, where competition is much more sparse, better rewards and bonuses for players could also result. If Microsoft ends up leaning more into its own storefront, then we might end up seeing it offer free games to get ahead, as we’ve witnessed result from the competition between Steam and the Epic Games Store. Alternatively, a more crowded marketplace might also lead to better cross-buy adoption, another big bonus for players who use both PC and consoles. Even if more competition just leads to lower prices overall, that’s a win for customers.
Looking at it from the other direction, it’s also possible that Microsoft might fall into the same pitfalls it did with Games for Windows Live. Covered by How to Geek, this system was underdeveloped, buggy, and only served to frustrate through forced inclusion. If Microsoft compels players to a similarly underperforming platform, gamers as a whole could suffer as a result.
“Blizzard Entertainment” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carlos Gutiérrez G.
At this point, it’s still far too early to know for sure how the purchase of Activision Blizzard could play out. While the move demonstrates a lot of potential, it needs to be said that the management of both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard are famed for poor business decisions that end up hurting consumers. We can at least promise to be open to the new experience, and maybe even have hope that better support from Microsoft might lift Blizzard out of the hole it’s been digging itself in the last few years.
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