Microsoft, with Activision Blizzard wants to go beyond the consoles

The treasure of Microsoft it is almost unlimited. With revenues that can rival a small nation’s GDP, the company has enough funds to buy whatever it wants. And when it does, it acquires other gold mines. The latest piece in his collection is video game company Activision Blizzard, that Microsoft announced that he wants to buy on January 18, 2022 for an impressive 68.7 billion dollars, much more than the 26.2 billion dollars he paid to acquire LinkedIn in 2016 and nearly 10 times the $ 7.5 billion paid out in 2020 for ZeniMax Media, the company that owns Bethesda. Microsoft now owns Call of Duty e Halo. She owns The Elder Scrolls e World of Warcraft. Check it out Candy Crush, and they are his too Diablo, Overwatch, Spyro, Hearthstone, Guitar Hero, Crash Bandicoot e StarCraft. Microsoft has done its fill, only not with consoles.

Beyond the war of the consoles

It would be easy to consider the acquisition as the last shot fired in the war of the consoles, a maneuver aimed at exploiting the boundless catalog of Activision Blizzard to sell Xbox. But it would be a short-sighted view. Rather, the deal demonstrates how Microsoft is a lot more interested in acquiring players (under the agreement, the company will get four hundred million monthly active players) compared to moving console. “Activision Blizzard’s fantastic franchises will also allow us to accelerate projects for Cloud Gaming – explained the company in press release announcing the agreement –, allowing more people in more places around the world to join the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own“The goal is not to push you to buy a device, but draw you into an ecosystem.

When it comes to online gaming services like Stadia, Sony’s PlayStation Now and Microsoft’s Cloud Gaming, experts often resort to the same definition: Company X is the “Netflix of video games“. The goal of each service is to become the reference hub for gamers, month after month. Phil Spencer, who with the acquisition was promoted to CEO of Microsoft Gaming, often uses this comparison: “When we watch Netflix, I don’t know what device you are using and the same goes for you, but we can still discuss the programs we watch. – had said to Wired in 2020, I want the gaming industry to evolve in the same way“.

An indicative statement, especially as it betrays Spencer’s apparent indifference to where users play Microsoft’s titles. In itself it is an act of rejection of the war of the consoles, historically linked to the devices of Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. These “fenced gardensi “- said Spencer – I am a”construct of the nineties“, which the new CEO of Microsoft Gaming would like to dismantle. The acquisition of Candy Crush on the part of Microsoft fits into this vision, guaranteeing the company an immediate presence in the mobile gaming sector that transcends the discussions around the Xbox X Series.

They are not leaving the console industry, they are trying to ease their constraints on the Xbox – explained Joost van Dreunen, a professor of economics at New York University and author of One Up, a book dedicated to the global gaming sector –. This will be just one of the access points to them ecosystem“.

A much larger ecosystem

Microsoft’s goal is to create a simplified service, and Activision Blizzard’s historical catalog is the lure to lure users into that space. It might take twelve to eighteen months to finalize the deal, but at that point Microsoft will be able to “offer as many Activision Blizzard games as possible within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from the Activision Blizzard catalog“Spencer said in the statement announcing the acquisition.”It is clear that they view gaming as a access point which leads to a much larger universe – ha spiegato van Dreunen –. The Game Pass service has benefited a lot“.

Focusing on Game Pass can trigger a advantageous domino effect for Microsoft. Generate a “they fly“explained Alex Connock, a research fellow in business management practices at Oxford University,”where more subscribers fund more content, bringing in even more subscribers“. The subscription models, Connock wrote in an email, are.”much more reliable than one-time software acquisitions. “Game Pass has just passed 25 million subscribers: the acquisition of Activision Blizzard could bring many more.

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