Players do not win with Microsoft Acti-Blizz Merger
The gaming industry is no stranger to mergers. Microsoft in particular has made some huge moves in gaming – buying big players like Mojang, Obsidian and Bethesda. However, while I personally think the conglomerate crossed the ‘too far’ mark decades ago, the entire industry has been making a fuss about their latest venture, their plans to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in January 2022.
Despite costing more than the GDP of two good countries, Microsoft is poised to make its money back – acquiring franchises like Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Overwatch, Warcraft, Diablo, and more. However, gamers have the potential to lose out on a great deal from this integration, even those of us who use Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription service, which will inevitably bundle most of these games into the subscription fee; With significant mitigation of competition and increased power for Microsoft, this acquisition would give the tech giant greater sway in the market in a way that resembles a Disney movie quasi-monopoly — spelling nothing good for anyone who isn’t at the top of the corporate food chain.
For starters, according to data from Gamesindustry.bizMicrosoft and Activision are both in the top 10 game companies by revenue—these top 10 companies make up 65% of the market—as of 2021. As if that wasn’t enough for the industry to be so tightly focused already, this merger would put An absurd amount of power is at Microsoft’s fingertips – especially considering how they already have it the The biggest video game franchise of all time (Minecraft) as well as all of Bethesda (which owns properties like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, DOOM, Arkane Studios, Starfield, and many more). Disney showed how detrimental this centralization could be to the industry. As competition dwindles and power increases, these entertainment oligarchs could easily flood the market with sub-par content — like what happened with content overshoots on Disney+ regarding their Marvel and Star Wars IPs, many of which received a lukewarm reception.
Activision-Blizzard has a dubious reputation when it comes to monetizing their games. From promoting pseudo-gambling in games with Overwatch’s Lootboxes, to putting microtransactions into the remastered version of Modern Warfare (not only a front-fee game, but a nearly ten-year-old game at the time), Activision has made strides in penny games. Video-steady and receive relatively little heat compared to a company like EA. Not to be outdone, Microsoft has set the tone for in-game economics for the current and last generation. While Sony and Nintendo were releasing critically acclaimed first-party titles, Microsoft released games like Ryse: Son of Rome and Forza 5 — games that created a template for the current AAA industry landscape by helping to normalize microtransactions in near premium games. Childhood.
Even if those games continue to be on Game Pass, the centripetal force between these two particularly awful parties could very well result in those games on the service having possibly some of the most aggressive monetization we’ve seen in gaming yet – especially with the amount of competition it will have. dwindles.
This is all without mentioning the impact on developers who are in a precarious position. Activision is still in the midst of responding to its years of systemic abuse as long-awaited unionization efforts are happening all around them. Notorious for laying off 800 employees across the company in 2019 (after record earnings, no less), the “restructuring” that will follow after this merger will likely lead to more layoffs (similar to what we saw in the how-to, according to ribbedMicrosoft’s recent layoffs have affected Bethesda. It’s incidental to their actual acquisition, but the relative proximity to said merger is troubling nonetheless.) I’m not optimistic how this will affect those in the trenches.
Now while all of this is clearly bad, this does not mean that gamers should take sides with Sony (in a manner similar to what Epic tried in their war against Apple when they tried to rally their fans to ‘Free Fortnite’ after it was removed from the App Store) although the company does She does her best to back out of the merger at every turn. From creating conspiracy theories about Microsoft deliberately forcing broken ports, to sending the CEO of Playstation to Brussels claiming that COD has become an Xbox exclusive, Sony’s stance against the merger is certainly acceptable, but their own plan to buy Square Enix shows that they will eventually play the same game as Microsoft. Yes, Microsoft has been making aggressive acquisitions in recent years (Sony has generally been the best nurture of in-house talent), but Sony is certainly willing to perpetuate it.
As the game industry is facing the division into fewer parts, although there are already few parts, this merger seems to cause more problems. The expansion of their group of Microsoft studios will have massive impacts on the industry, and potentially for the worst.
Next up: Sony doesn’t need Call of Duty — they need to bring back their shooters