(Image via youtube.com)
Arts & Entertainment Editor: Kamryn Kobel
Microsoft, the maker of Xbox, has officially acquired Activision Blizzard. Activision Blizzard is a game development company that has created games such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Candy Crush, and Diablo. Now that Microsoft has acquired the company, the Activision Blizzard teams will work alongside Xbox developers to make their games.
The acquisition cost Microsoft $69 billion. With the purchase comes the ownership of these franchises – some of the biggest in the world.
The deal allows Microsoft to include these popular Activision Blizzard titles on Game Pass, their game subscription service. The hope is that with this acquisition, Microsoft can catch up to its number one competitor, Sony – the company that makes PlayStation.
Sony is not pleased with the deal, as it directly threatens their revenue. Additionally, certain governments weren’t keen on it either – they saw the acquisition as the beginning of a gaming monopoly.
The acquisition of Activision Blizzard follows Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda Games, another major game development company. Popular titles such as Fallout, The Elder Scrolls (including Skyrim), Doom, and Wolfstein are all Bethesda creations.
After this purchase, the latest Bethesda game, Starfield, was released as an Xbox exclusive, preventing Sony from gaining any sales from the game at all.
Bethesda’s head game directory, Todd Howard, claims this exclusivity is positive. In an interview with BBC, Howard argues that working solely with Xbox allows for a greater focus and, therefore, a better product.
“You know this is the hardware or the thing people are playing on, so the ability to focus on that always yields a better product. You do want people to be able to access it, of course. But being with Xbox means there is an ease of access for us.”
Bethesda seems to have found its permanent and exclusive home with Xbox. Can the same be said for Activision Blizzard?
Concerns about Microsoft creating a gaming industry monopoly were not localized to their competitors – The US and UK governments also felt the need to assess the situation.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opened an investigation into the merger, as they had concerns that “the deal would enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription and cloud-gaming business.”
However, the case was closed when Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley dismissed it.
The commission argued, “Any justification for continuing the case is further undermined by the fact that Sony — the principal complainant against the deal—has now signed a 10-year, binding agreement with Microsoft to keep Call of Duty on the PlayStation.”
Thus, since Call of Duty (Activision Blizzard’s biggest franchise) will still be released on PlayStation, the acquisition poses little threat to Sony – or so they believe.
The UK and EU also fought against the acquisition but failed to stop it, as the deal went through on October 13th.
Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, offers reassurance in a press release statement:
“For the millions of fans who love Activision, Blizzard, and King games, we want you to know that today is a good day to play. You are the heart and soul of these franchises, and we are honored to have you as part of our community. Whether you play on Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, PC, or mobile, you are welcome here – and will remain welcome, even if Xbox isn’t where you play your favorite franchise. Because when everyone plays, we all win.”
So, although Sony might be sweating, gamers can rest assured – Call of Duty will be available to all, no matter which console you pledge allegiance to – at least for the next ten years until the contract expires.