What can you buy for $68.7 billion? Apparently, an conglomerate of video games developers and a publisher all wrapped up in a neat little bow.
This is what many of the gaming world figured out when the news broke that Microsoft, the people behind the Xbox brand, is buying out Activision Blizzard lock, stock and barrel. Like everyone, I was shocked; I thought Microsoft was buying SEGA?
All jokes aside, Microsoft buying out Activision Blizzard is definitely a huge deal but not for me. Besides, Sekiro, which was published by Activision, I haven’t really played any of their games. Which is weird considering they’re the publisher of such popular game franchises like Call of Duty, Diablo, Overwatch, Crash Bandicoot, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Fallout and many more. Still, I will acknowledge Microsoft shelling out the amount of cash to buy out an entire company, especially one that’s undergoing tremendous legal issues, is a pretty gangster move.
Honestly, despite the hefty price tag, I do feel it’s a really good buy for Microsoft in the long run. That simply means they can instantly expand their Xbox Game Pass library to include all of these games as well as assure Xbox owners and Xbox Game Pass subscribers that the latest Activision Blizzard games will be added sooner rather than later. More games means more gamers flocking to you, after all.
That’s good for Microsoft and Xbox fans. For Sony and Nintendo fans, not so much. I don’t want to sound like a nervous nellie or whatever you call someone who overly worries about the worse case scenario but I can’t change who I am. I can just feel this purchase is going to be bad for Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Switch owners down the line. Because you can bet your bottom dollar that Microsoft is going to get their money’s worth. And that would entail exclusivity deals for Xbox.
Now, ever since the buyout, the people over at Sony, Activision Blizzard and even Microsoft themselves have tried to placate gamers all over the world. Sony came out with a statement saying, even though Activision Blizzard is now owned by Microsoft, one of their biggest competitors in the gaming industry, that none of the current games are being pulled off the PlayStation Store. Activision Blizzard has pretty much confirmed this on their end as well. Microsoft, to their credit, have also pledged that all contractual agreements done before the purchase will still remain intact.
That sounds good, right? It sounds like Microsoft is going to let Activision Blizzard play with the other neighbors, right? Well, for now, at the very least. But give it time. Just wait until the contracts that were written up years ago are finally completed and we just might see a change in tune.
Activision Blizzard has generally been a good third party developer. Well, despite the lawsuit against them, that is. What I mean is that Activision Blizzard has published games on Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo systems since time immemorial. They may have struck the time exclusive deal once in a while, like with what they did with Bethesda’s Deathloop for Sony’s PlayStation 5. But be ready for a time when you’ll see all future Activision Blizzard games have the “Only on Xbox and Xbox Game Pass” tag line in the trailers. I can definitely see a time, many not in the next couple of years, but further off when this will happen.
In other words, while slated multiplatform games like the planned Overwatch 2 will still be hitting Sony’s console, Microsoft is just biding their time and waiting for the contracts to be up and completed. Because once they’re fulfilled, they can quickly make all future releases exclusives for their systems. They’re playing the long game, now! Even Crash Bandicoot, once thought to be Sony’s mascot during the PlayStation’s heyday will all of a sudden be only available on Xbox one day! Mark my words!
The only game series that I can practically see surviving all of this is the Call of Duty franchise. It would be incredibly dumb for Microsoft to lock away this money making franchise to their systems only. You’re still going to see it launched on Sony systems alongside the Xbox versions. However, what’s going to happen is there are going to be more exclusive content launched on the Xbox counterpart before it reaches the Sony side of things.
The company I’m oddly not worried about how this purchase is going to affect them is Nintendo. Nintendo doesn’t necessarily need to bolster their Switch gaming library with Activision Blizzard games. Yes, they have Diablo III on the Switch but I don’t think anyone’s really rushing out to get that game on that system. I mean, it’s good but not the way I think most gamers would want to play it unless they truly want to play it on the go. However,the idea that Activision Blizzard not porting over some of their games over to Nintendo or Sony systems still spells bad news for them.
Of course, I could be worrying over nothing. There’s still a change, albeit a small one, that Microsoft would leave Activision Blizzard as some sort of third party “free state,” so to speak. It can allow Activision Blizzard to still put out a solid chunk of their games on other systems because, well, that’s still another huge revenue stream! It does make some business sense to leave well enough alone and allow the company that rakes in millions of dollars annually because they pump out games on all systems to keep on doing what they’re doing. In fact, it’s almost the ultimate insult to Sony and Nintendo as each time they sell an Activision Blizzard game on their systems, they have to realize they’re giving money to one of their greatest competitors!
But I still think the pessimistic view of Activision Blizzard’s publishing future is going to come true. Microsoft has to get their money’s worth with the purchase and the best way to really do that is to plug how all future Activision Blizzard titles will be Xbox and Xbox Game Pass Exclusives. If you want to play something like Deathloop 2, Dishonored 2 or Starfield, you won’t find it on the PlayStation anymore. You gotta get an Xbox or a beefy PC with Xbox Game Pass. In other words: give us your money.
What do you think will happen to Activision Blizzard games on Sony and Nintendo systems? Will Microsoft allow them to play nice? Let me know in the comments section below!