The gaming industry is constantly evolving. That’s just what happens when an entire sector hinges on perpetual leaps in technology. The biggest battle for the last several years has been between Microsoft and Sony. Their respective Xbox and Playstation systems have defined console gaming. Nintendo is still incredibly popular, though what they do has its own place that’s hard for anyone else to touch.
Microsoft recently made a move that might change the industry on an entirely new level. It was announced that Microsoft was buying beleaguered developer Activision Blizzard. The deal has been reported to range from $68 to $75 billion. Either way, it’s a lot of money. While the value of the deal is obviously massive, the impact on the gaming industry remains to be seen. And it will inevitably be huge, particularly for Sony.
The rollercoaster of emotions that is Activision Blizzard
On it’s own, Activision has long been a big name in gaming. It had been responsible for several massive titles, including the line of Tony Hawk skateboarding games, the Spyro the Dragon series, and the Call of Duty franchise. Blizzard, on the other hand, is easily best known for the Warcraft franchise which spawned the unbelievably successful MMO, World of Warcraft as well as Overwatch.
Keeping in mind that this is an oversimplification of the process and the results of it, the two companies merged in 2008. This formed Activision Blizzard, a new gaming powerhouse that took over a large portion of the overall market share. It was a coup, to say the least. But despite the company’s ongoing success, it was also plagued by issues and problems that finally came to a head in 2021.
A suit alleging sexual harassment, employment discrimination and retaliation on the part of Activision Blizzard was filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. This was after a two-year investigation that uncovered a brutal corporate culture that was allegedly tolerated, if not encouraged, by several levels of management, potentially going all the way to the top of the company.
The DFEH’s suit actually led to a second law suit filed by shareholders, alleging that they had been lied to about the severity of the claims and that they were kept in the dark about many details. The Security and Exchange Commission began an investigation of their own as a result. Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a suit of their own which was subsequently settled.
Microsoft steps into the spotlight…again
The announcement of Microsoft purshasing Activison Blizzard dropped on January 18, 2022. This acquisition evolved Microsoft into the third biggest gaming company in the word, with Tencent coming in second and Sony reigning at number one. It’s important to note that the merger has been approved by the respective boards of both companies but it won’t be finalized until 2023.
Activision Blizzard will operate as a partner developer to Xbox Game Studios, which has been involved in franchises like Halo and Gears of War. This obviously gives Microsoft an edge in the endless console wars against Sony. The company now weilds weapons in its arsenal that fans never dreamt of. That includes the license to print money known as World of Warcraft.
This will only make the Xbox Game Pass service even more appealing as it will now be offering Activision Blizzard titles. On top of that, this wasn’t Microsoft’s only game changing acquisition in the last year. In March 2021, the company also purchased Bethesda Softworks. This gave them the rights to The Elder Scrolls franchise, the Fallout series, Doom, Wolfenstein, and so much more.
Sony is officially on notice
Microsoft gobbling up these major gaming companies has only enhanced their position in the industry. It is quickly becoming the caretaker of an increasing number of venerable franchises that are potentially going to end up as Xbox exclusives. While no one would ever suggest that Sony doesn’t have its own roster of weighty exclusives, this definitely could prove to be an issue for them down the road.
A huge selling feature for Xbox in the future is inevitably going to be that big games from Activision Blizzard as well as Bethesda Softworks will only be available on their consoles. Well, that and PCs. But Sony and Playstation could quickly find itself out of the loop on a lot of major game releases. Not every console gamer is wooed solely by exclusive titles but there are more than a few who are. And there are a lot of gamers who can only afford one system.
No one can predict the future. That being said, it’s hard to imagine that Microsoft hasn’t bought themselves a hell of an edge in their incessant gaming rivalry against Sony. While Activision Blizzard has a massive number of issues to sort out, hopefully having a firm hand at the wheel will help get things in order and create a more functional and equitable work culture for everyone working there.