Here at the Lonely Outlet, I think many of us are still somewhat in shock from the recent announcement that Microsoft is acquiring Activision Blizzard for almost $70 billion. There have of course been other news stories since, in all media spaces, but to a large degree these have felt small, insignificant, and vapid in comparison. Seldom is there a story that so greatly captures the attention of nearly everyone interested in gaming. Rarely has there been an event like this that will no doubt impact gamers in such a big way. Of course, there are bigger stories, and more important ones outside of all this fun, pop-culture nonsense, but I have always felt that we (mostly) try to provide an escape, distraction or alternative, from those more complicated and widely reported tales. Back to the gaming sphere though, what does all this mean? I doubt even the most loyal Outlet reader will not have heard or read about the news elsewhere (we are, in typical fashion, rather late in reporting on this), so I don’t think I need to provide a long, descriptive break down of what has happened. The question I keep seeing asked though, is “Is this a good thing?”. This all comes down to who you ask, I suppose – there are certainly positives and negatives to the acquisition. Activision was in a bad place – questionable output quality, sexual allegations and public perception in general was very poor. With Microsoft’s backing, and (hopefully) with head of Xbox, Phil Spencer’s direction, Activision Blizzard can improve. There are so many great IPs that the company has, that have either been left dormant, or badly taken advantage of. Let’s hope most of all, that Acti-CEO Bobby Kotick leaves and the actual working conditions and environment changes. It’s something that’s been needed for a long, long time.
From an Xbox player’s standpoint, this could be fantastic news, with a bunch of new exclusives and “free” GamePass additions. On the negative side, Microsoft – one of the biggest tech companies on Earth – now owns a seemingly big portion of the gaming world. From their smaller studios to the biggies like Zenimax-Bethesda, and now Activision Blizzard. I’m not going into a big discussion over monopolies, or anything like that, but I do sometimes wish that there were more semi-large independent companies, doing their own thing. And of course this could have dire impacts for Playstation gamers – even just the possibility of Call of Duty becoming Xbox (and PC) exclusive is enough to make some shake in their boots. While I don’t think that will happen (I am currently of the opinion that CoD will remain cross-platform, much like Minecraft, though it will be offered for “free” as part of Xbox’s GamePass service, unlike other platforms where you will have to pay full price.), who knows what the future might hold, especially for other, or new IPs.
Speaking of new IPs, Blizzard recently announced that they’re working on a brand new “survival” game, set in a new world. Blizzard has disappointed in the last few years, for several reasons, but I’m quietly optimistic for this title. Maybe with Microsoft backing, it won’t take 100 years for it to actually come out?