Microsoft has officially completed its biggest acquisition in the gaming industry, buying Activision Blizzard for a whopping $68.7 billion. The deal, which was announced in January 2021 and faced regulatory hurdles in the US and UK, gives Microsoft ownership of some of the most popular franchises in gaming, such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Candy Crush. Here are three reasons why this acquisition is a huge win for Microsoft and its Xbox brand.
Xbox Game Pass becomes more attractive than ever
Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft’s subscription service that offers access to hundreds of games for a monthly fee. The service has been praised as one of the best deals in gaming, as it allows subscribers to play new and old titles from Microsoft’s own studios and third-party publishers. With the addition of Activision Blizzard’s games, Xbox Game Pass will become even more appealing to gamers who want to play a variety of genres and experiences.
One of the biggest draws of Xbox Game Pass is that it includes all new games from Microsoft’s first-party studios on the day of release. This means that subscribers can play blockbuster titles like Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, and Starfield without paying extra. Now, they will also be able to play future games from Activision Blizzard’s studios, such as Call of Duty, Overwatch 2, Diablo 4, and more.
This is a huge advantage over Sony’s PlayStation Plus service, which offers a smaller selection of games and does not include new releases from Sony’s own studios. PlayStation users will still be able to play Activision Blizzard’s games, but they will have to pay full price for them, while Xbox Game Pass subscribers will get them for “free”. This could potentially sway some PlayStation fans to switch to Xbox or at least subscribe to Xbox Game Pass on PC or mobile devices.
Microsoft expands its reach and influence in the gaming industry
By acquiring Activision Blizzard, Microsoft has significantly increased its presence and power in the gaming industry. The company now owns 23 game studios and has access to some of the most loyal and passionate fan bases in gaming. Activision Blizzard’s games have millions of players across different platforms and regions, and Microsoft can leverage that to grow its own ecosystem and services.
Microsoft has also gained a competitive edge over its rivals in terms of cloud gaming. The company already has a robust cloud gaming service called xCloud, which lets users stream Xbox games to their mobile devices or web browsers. With Activision Blizzard’s games on board, Microsoft can offer more exclusive content and features for its cloud gaming subscribers.
For example, Microsoft has struck a deal with Ubisoft to sell some of Activision Blizzard’s cloud gaming rights to the French publisher. This means that Ubisoft will be able to offer cloud streaming versions of Call of Duty and other current Activision Blizzard games outside of the EU for 15 years. This will boost Ubisoft’s own subscription service, Ubisoft Plus, which is integrated with xCloud. In return, Microsoft will get a share of Ubisoft’s revenue and access to Ubisoft’s games on Xbox Game Pass.
Microsoft can improve Activision Blizzard’s culture and reputation
One of the biggest challenges that Microsoft faces with this acquisition is dealing with Activision Blizzard’s toxic culture and tarnished reputation. The company has been embroiled in a series of scandals and controversies over the past year, including allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, labor abuse, and poor management. The company has also faced backlash from fans and developers over its handling of some of its franchises, such as Warcraft, StarCraft, and Hearthstone.
Microsoft has pledged to make significant changes to Activision Blizzard’s culture and practices, promising to uphold its own values of diversity, inclusion, and respect. The company has also stated that it will support Activision Blizzard’s ongoing investigations and lawsuits regarding its workplace issues. Additionally, Microsoft has confirmed that Bobby Kotick, the controversial CEO of Activision Blizzard, will step down from his role by June 2023.
Microsoft has a track record of improving the quality and creativity of the studios it acquires. For example, since buying Bethesda in 2020, Microsoft has given the studio more resources and freedom to work on its projects, such as Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6. Microsoft has also helped revive some dormant franchises from its other studios, such as Fable, Perfect Dark, and Psychonauts.
By applying the same approach to Activision Blizzard’s studios, Microsoft can potentially revitalize some of their franchises and foster a more positive and productive environment for their developers and fans.