Microsoft’s Activision purchase: The future of gaming is ‘a content war’
Things are about to get a lot more consolidated
When Valve set up Steam back in 2004 for the launch of Half-Life 2, no one really expected to see it evolve into multiple subscription fees and a total vying for control by the other companies around them.
The list is dense of services and storefronts, which doesn’t even begin to touch the multiple app stores available on Android or Humble and its competitors.
Gaming has seen the approach the entertainment industry took and decided that this is the way.
These are the ‘content wars’.
No longer happy with exclusivity, companies like Microsoft and Sony will straight up just buy a company to have the property under their roof, or in Sony’s case, buying a porting studio to ensure that their stake in Epic is built upon as they allow games onto the PC for the first time.
A microcosm of it, but from another perspective happened with the series Neon Genesis Evangelion. In the west, Netflix has the rights to it for streaming which must have pricked the ears of Amazon, who then bought the rights for the highly anticipated finale of the Rebuild of Evangelion series of movies – with the fourth one delayed since 2013 – along with the three other movies, plus a documentary.
So to watch the complete experience, you need to swap between two subscription fees, all so one couldn’t have the other and thus, all the subscription money.
It is bizarre. Most bizarre is the celebration every time a company is bought out. When Microsoft bought Bethesda, that wasn’t a win for anyone but Microsoft. While Microsoft plans to dominate almost every space with the Game Pass and Xbox branding through streaming, it corners those without the cash to pay for yet another subscription or with good enough internet to ever get hold of these games.
Now? Activison-Blizzard. A company so riddled with disgraces that they just let go of nearly 50 people in a mass purge in an attempt to clean up their act, with certain members of staff pointing to the very top of the leadership, Bobby Kotick, being the worst to deal with.
It took a whole 24 hours of a news cycle to get the news out that he wasn’t going to stay, which is bizarre in of itself.
But as pointed out by Nathan Brown on Twitter (ex-editor of Edge):
It has eventually come out that Microsoft essentially scoped out the situation regarding Activision’s lawsuit and proceeded to get themselves a bargain based on the back of the loss of value in the company as a result of the ongoing lawsuit and investigation:
The original point of this post when I wrote it up this weekend in preparation for an eventual WePC shift was that it was weird that an industry so determined to play nicely with accessibility for once in its meagre existence has found a way to lock things behind large technological and economic walls, immediately removing any form of accessibility in the general, broadest sense of the word.
But post-Activision acquisition by Microsoft and seeing 20 billion dollars being wiped from Sony’s overall stock value – which means nothing in the very, very long run – this post has turned more into a massive warning – and reminder – to those who are claiming that it is “good for the business” or things along the lines of “Xbox Won”, that these companies are not your friends. They don’t care for you, they don’t care about you.
They do however care where you place your money and if that means you go above and beyond by joining every Discord server in a pandemic that has wiped out a majority of electrical manufacturing due to shortsightedness by the car industry, creating a rat race scenario where everyone dives deep into queues with little results.
This isn’t the same playground games or forum flaming that it once was, as it is now a very serious issue that the industry is rapidly consolidating itself into a blob of just a few companies who own everything. If the Activision deal goes through in 2023, it opens up questions of where it ends, where a governing body actually steps in to question whether things are getting way out of hand.
Stop treating the industry as such.
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