We are definitely still reeling from the big news of Microsoft and Xbox potentially getting the acquisition of Activision Blizzard over the line. In fact, a cursory search on the Internet sees plenty of responses to the whole affair that are positive, negative, and everything in between. Needless to say, the ramifications are huge for the world of gaming, especially in the console space, and there are several key points that need stressing.
The biggest worry for players on other platforms, especially those of a PlayStation persuasion, is that traditionally multi-platform games are going away. After all, this happened with Bethesda after their acquisition by Microsoft, with Starfield and likely other games coming to Xbox in the console space.
However, there is still some hope. While Bethesda’s games are undoubtedly popular, the player base pales in comparison to the mega franchises like Call of Duty over at Activision Blizzard, and it remains to be seen if Microsoft will take the Minecraft route to keep things as it is instead of riling up players on other platforms.
A Bloomberg report also included a telling quote from Xbox head Phil Spender:
“I’ll just say to players out there who are playing Activision Blizzard games on Sony’s platform: It’s not our intent to pull communities away from that platform and we remained committed to that.”
For all intents and purposes, it is fair to assume that any future new releases, outside of established franchises, will be exclusive to Xbox on the console front. For the rest of us, the choice is either getting into the Xbox ecosystem or going the PC route to get access to these games.
Power of Game Pass
It has been quite clear for a while now that Xbox and Microsoft are pursuing a different strategy than the usual sales numbers when it comes to gaming. Instead, they have been focusing on consolidating one of the biggest libraries of games that provide immense value to subscribers in their ecosystem.
Whether you are gaming on your Xbox Series X|S. your Xbox One, or even on PC, the Game Pass service is just too good a deal to pass up. And now, with the addition of all the studios and games under Activision Blizzard, Xbox will definitely tout the big blockbusters as day-one releases on Game Pass.
In a situation where you no longer have to pay crazy prices for brand new games and have access to hundreds more that you may not have tried, subscribers are going to be very happy. With Microsoft stating that there are more than 25 million subscribers currently, that represents a healthy chunk of profit every single month.
However, it is still wise to remember that Microsoft is still a business after all. After dropping close to US$70 billion (S$94 billion) in this new deal, they need to recoup that somehow and still make a profit. While the subscription to Game Pass is still very affordable right now, there is no guarantee that prices won’t rise in the future.
With the library of IPs and studios heading under the Xbox umbrella following this Activision Blizzard acquisition, the tentpole titles may not be the only ones to get the spotlight. Dormant franchises, such as Starcraft, could potentially see a comeback.
After all, when you have the resources that Microsoft has and a fanbase that is clearly hungry for more, it makes perfect sense. Could we see World of Warcraft on Xbox consoles someday? It could take a while, but until it is ruled out, a renewed hope on the classics coming back should give the company all the data it needs to determine if an endeavour like this is worth a shot.
The Sony equation
Sony remains the one true rival to Microsoft in the console space, with Nintendo happily doing its own thing and being successful on its own terms. With this big move, there is no doubt that Microsoft is intent on toppling the pedestal that the house of PlayStation is currently on.
Aside from a few titles like Forza Horizon or Halo Infinite, Xbox has not been competing on the same level as PlayStation when it comes to exclusives. The addition of Activision Blizzard and its studio will help similar to Bethesda, but the true test lies not in the immediate future, but a few years down the road at least.
While Sony has more or less acquired studios that have always been close collaborators in the PlayStation world, such as Bluepoint and Housemarque, it has rarely ventured out into the bigger third-party space so to speak. That is where Microsoft is obviously showing its financial might, and tilting the balance somewhat.
It will be exciting to see just what Xbox can bring to the table against the AAA titles coming in the future from PlayStation, and there is where the battle will be lost and won for the invested console players.
There is also no ruling out that Sony makes a big purchase of their own. It might not be on the level of a mega-publisher like Activision Blizzard, but if the Japanese giants can bring the likes of a Square Enix or even Konami on board, more ammo is always going to be better than nothing when going up against Microsoft and Xbox.
This article was first published in Geek Culture.