Microsoft acquires Activision Blizzard: The future of World of Warcraft
A change at the right time?
With news coming in that Microsoft have closed a landmark deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, many fans are wondering how the deal could affect their favourite franchises. Activision Blizzard have been a near-constant presence in gaming news of late. Substantiated claims of a hostile work environment have led to heavy staff turnover and significant game delays. Could this acquisition right the sinking ship, without too much damage being done to the upcoming slate of games in the process? While too early to say across the board, let’s look at the possible ramifications for Blizzard’s flagship MMO; World of Warcraft.
World of Warcraft at its peak
MMOs are a highly competitive field, with arguably few able to enjoy the kind of long-term security and success that developers may envision. Fewer still are capable of matching the genre-dominating heights that World of Warcraft reached at its peak;bringing in millions of global subscriptions. But not even Blizzard could sustain such a high forever. With opinions on later-day expansions to the game vacillating wildly with each release.
Reviews of the most recent expansion; Shadowlands, have been mixed, not the clear-cut hit that Blizzard were likely hoping for to boost a flagging subscriber count. This could be down to any number of factors, but a consensus has emerged that World of Warcraft has hit a narrative wall. Players were exhausted with Sylvanas Windrunner’s prominence in the storyline and the depths to which she sank in Battle for Azeroth. And this is not the first time that Horde players have been left with a bitter pill to swallow. Some see it as a retread of Garosh Hellscream’s downfall during his reign as the Horde’s warchief; feeling as though their experience with the game is beginning to lack in comparison with alliance players. This is a discrepancy in player experience that Blizzard has always been careful to avoid up until now.
How Microsoft could revitalise World of Warcraft
All is not lost for World of Warcraft. In such a tumultuous time, a change in direction and leadership could be just what the game needs to flourish once more. MMOs like World of Warcraft popularised subscription services for games, and this is an area that Microsoft has significant experience in. Xbox and PC Game Pass are the amongst most popular subscription services for games in the world right now. Microsoft could bring their expertise in this area to World of Warcraft, and more besides. Players have clamoured for console versions of World of Warcraft for years. Could they finally be about to get their wish via the game pass? For this first time, it wouldn’t be too unlikely to expect World of Warcraft to come to Microsoft consoles in the near future.
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