Microsoft acquires Activision-Blizzard: the consequences on the world of video games

Microsoft acquires Activision-Blizzard: the consequences on the world of video games

Microsoft acquires Activision-Blizzard

Until a few decades ago, the iconic Crash Bandicoot silhouette could easily be associated with Sony PlayStation, because the most famous peramele in the world was just a few centimeters from occupying the role of official mascot of the platform. Consequently, it would have been unthinkable to imagine a future in which the brand and intellectual property would both end up in the clutches of Microsoft, directly under the Xbox division.

Microsoft (effective closure in 2023 unless antitrust impediments) bought Activision and Blizzard, including King, for an outlay of approximately $ 68 billion, shattering all records relating to the most expensive acquisition in video game history. Now the Redmond house, obviously taking into consideration only the revenues related to gaming, has the firepower to compete directly with Sony, Tencent and very few other unapproachable giants, preparing to bring an unprecedented jolt in the world of video games. br>
The acquisition is probably configured as a win-win operation strongly desired by both sides: Activision-Blizzard needed a salvific intervention following the crisis and above all the scandals that overwhelmed it during the course last year, while Microsoft wanted to further consolidate its direct aggression on the gaming market. What will undoubtedly be discussed is the temporary retention of Bobby Kotik in the position of CEO, a character more discussed than ever who, despite the gravity of the accusations against the entire management of the company, seems to have been temporarily "pardoned" by the management of Microsoft and presumably he will be able to take off his heels in the general silence.

An operation that will forever mark the history of video games. What is certain is that Xbox will undoubtedly have to downsize and restructure the entirety of Activision-Blizzard, regardless of what Kotick's fate will be. The company has in fact suffered a violent haemorrhage of employees even before the outbreak of the scandal, and there are many workers who continue to fight arduous legal battles related to the improvement of their conditions and the resolution of serious problems of disparity.

On the sidelines, this gigantic acquisition allows Microsoft's strategies to enter a sort of economic "uncanny valley" by right: if before you could enjoy the integration of creatives like those of Ninja Theory or Bethesda's family in the ranks of the Studios, now a limit has been transcended that casts perhaps for the first time the imposing shadow of a huge financial giant on the mass market of video games, something extremely concrete, not distant and nebulous like the Asian monopoly of Tencent.

The world of gaming and its balance will undoubtedly be shocked following the news. Microsoft, at this moment, has put an end to the traditional idea of ​​"console war" that for decades has fueled the innovative engine of the industry, overwhelming what were apparently immovable power relations through economic supremacy rather than creative one, as already for some time. it happened in the technology sector and how it started to happen in the film industry. That said, this is a very distant acquisition from the one attempted - for example - by Nvidia towards Arm and blocked by the antitrust, since at first glance it does not seem to pose problems of legitimacy or configure monopolistic positions.

L Furthermore, this operation would in no way seem capable of harming consumers unless it is expressly forbidden to accept Game Pass on other platforms; a behavior that - of course - Microsoft has never had the slightest intention of adopting.

Titles like Warzone will certainly be supported on all platforms. Below we see the proprietary brands that will pass directly under the control of Xbox Game Studios:

Brand Call of Duty Candy Crush Crash Bandicoot Guitar Hero Spyro the Dragon Tony Hawk Pro Skater Skylanders Prototype Tenchu ​​True Crime Geometry Wars Empire Earth Diablo Overwatch World of Warcraft Starcraft Warcraft Hearthstone Heroes of the Storm The Lost Vikings Blur Caesar DJ Hero Gabriel Knight Gun Hexen Interstate 76 King's Quest Phantasmagoria Pitfall Police Quest Quest for Glory Singularity Soldier of Fortune Space Quest TimeShift operation should follow the structure of the one that brought Zenimax under the control of the Redmond house, all the titles belonging to the aforementioned brands should become part of the Xbox Game Pass services, replenishing the catalog as soon as possible and, above all, making their own appeared in future lists from the moment of day one.

If it was already difficult and still is a spy zante having to imagine the hypothetical exclusivity for products of the caliber of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, it becomes even more complicated in the confines of productions such as Call of Duty, which year after year collect tens and tens of millions of gamers on all existing platforms. And if you weren't stunned enough, try to imagine a tomorrow in which new chapters of historical sagas like Spyro and Crash Bandicoot will only be released on the platforms that welcome the Game Pass.

And this is precisely the point: if up to date we could have gathered Microsoft's expansionist aims under the banner of pure and simple competition between platform-owners, today the requirements to frame them as such have failed, and Activision-Blizzard represents the perfect "Trojan Horse" to infiltrate the other platforms. At one time it would have seemed crazy to see a Sony willing to welcome the Game Pass on its flagship console, while now the idea of ​​a possible implementation does not seem so absurd, not even in light of the rumors that have arisen around the creation of a Japanese-made emulator. .

How will exclusive speech work? It is likely that, just as happened in the case of Zenimax, projects started like Warzone will continue to be supported on the relevant platforms, and the exclusivity will only touch future releases. It remains to be clarified what the fate of the individual works published by Activision-Blizzard and developed by third parties, such as the former GOTY Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice by FromSoftware, will be. In this specific case, the trademark is and remains the property of FromSoftware, and it will be necessary to carefully check the individual trademarks to formulate an exhaustive list of eligible candidates for direct inclusion on Game Pass.

For the rest, the stable of proprietary studios, among which names such as Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Toys for Bob, Beenox and Raven Software, will become part of the now immense extended family of Xbox Game Studios, transforming the great Green X in the largest entity ever seen in the video game development and publishing market.

At the announcement of the first acquisitions of the Redmond company, we hypothesized a future in which Xbox would reach such firepower as to be able to allow you to publish more than one exclusive title per month within the confines of its services. Following this last operation, the chessboard is finally complete: Xbox Game Pass has all the pieces necessary to establish itself in the world of entertainment with an offer that simply cannot find rivals among the classic competitors, because no one is gifted. of a battery of 40 studies started. Was it possible that the acquisition of Activision-Blizzard was just the piece that was missing before reaching the much-feared price increase?

All studios of Xbox Game Studios:

Development Studios Beenox Games Raven Software Infinity Ward Treyarch Sledgehammer Games Toys for Bob Vicarious Visions Fox Interactive Z-Axis Blizzard Entertainment Blizzard Teams 2-4 Blizzard Classics Blizzard Incubator King 343 Industries Compulsion Games Double Fine InXile Mojang Ninja Theory Obsidian Playground Games Rare The Coalition The Initiative Turn 10 Undead Labs World's Edge Bethesda Softworks Zenimax Online Studios id Software Arkane Studios MachineGames Tango Gameworks Roundhouse Studios Alpha Dog Don't forget the weight of export. Among the side effects of the acquisition, the export sector stands out: the Activision-Blizzard package also includes licenses for many tournaments, some of which are anchored to the controversial formula of the franchise. The first to come to mind are the Overwatch League and the Call of Duty World League, which have adopted the structure of traditional sports leagues, attracting investors from among the largest sports companies on the planet, such as Kroenke, which already owns Arsenal. how much between brands historically alien to the sector, such as Toyota and Coca-Cola.

The enormous export infrastructure could actually expand to absorb brands in its portfolio such as Halo's, which - after writing the history of the market together with MLG twenty years ago - today it is chasing the greats of the sector from afar. The evolution of export, in fact, has been carried out rather lazily by Microsoft over the years, maintaining a constant presence without ever attempting any flashes.

A similar argument applies to multimedia production: if Blizzard has even made a film for the big screen dedicated to the Warcraft universe, Microsoft has only recently revealed to the world the very first trailer of the Halo television series. Given the turn the industry is taking, the acquisition is more than likely to accelerate the process of making trans-media works aimed at reaching a whole new audience, perhaps turning Blizzard's franchises into rivals that prove to be up to par. Arcane by Riot Games.

Obviously, we should not underestimate the extraordinary experience gained around the mobile ecosystems by the subsidiaries of the acquired group, with Hearthstone but above all King's Candy Crush, which over the years have proved to be the giants of the smartphone market. Since Take Two recently chose to spend over $ 12 billion to grab the services of Zynga alone, it is clear that this particular nature of Activision-Blizzard is particularly useful for Microsoft's cross-platform aims.

Microsoft could undertake a very strong transmedia campaign made up of films and TV series. Beyond the direct consequences on the future of the videogame production of the house, we must take into consideration the impact that the operation will have on the whole world. The manifestation of the desire to invest the astronomical figure of 70 billion coincides in fact with a precise declaration of intent: to become an integral part of the foundations of the future of gaming, recognizing the video game medium as the absolute protagonist of tomorrow's entertainment.

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It is no coincidence that a company like Microsoft Corporation, which is quite evident can afford everything it wants, has decided to direct its greatest economic effort in this precise direction: the management is convinced that video games will be the future of entertainment, while other media will sooner or later find themselves in pursuit.

We do not know if Tomorrow's video games will be enjoyed through viewers, will be experienced directly through the interactive metaverse, will be reproduced only on smartphone screens, or will still be played with dear old ones or gamepad. What we know for sure, on the other hand, is that Microsoft will be present in a position of absolute leadership, having penetrated every possible drift and being able to dispose of a production force that, for rough numbers, knows no comparative.

Then it is possible that the cards on the table will be cleared up again, perhaps that a new GAFAM (acronym that together indicates the 5 largest Western IT multinationals: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, ed) emerges from the foundations of other major acquisitions, a videogame equivalent of the 5 huge giants of Western IT that would lead to a situation in which a few big giants share the graces of the entire industry.

But today, at the dawn of 2022, Microsoft does not seem to fear rivals: Game Pass has reached 25 million subscribers, the proprietary studios have easily exceeded thirty, first-party video games are garnering the praise of critics and users. And tomorrow?

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