Microsoft surprised the video game industry when the tech giant announced they were claiming Activision Blizzard, one of the world’s major video game companies, for $68.7 billion with a post-money valuation of $95 per share.
When the agreement is completed within the year 2023, Microsoft will be one of the biggest gaming businesses in terms of sales, only outdone by China’s Tencent and Sony.
Amidst all the controversies surrounding Activision Blizzard, Microsoft aims to diversify the Xbox Game Pass with exclusive deals, including all of the best Call of Duty games and a subscription to Blizzard’s greatest hits. This also means that Xbox has a powerful trump card up its sleeves when it comes to dominating the future of the video game industry, especially with all the hype surrounding Metaverse.
About Activision Blizzard
Activision is known for the best-selling action game series of all time: Call of Duty. However, they also published some of the highest-grossing modern games as well including Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the Crash Bandicoot remake and Spyro the Dragon remake. In 2012, Activision acquired Blizzard, popularly known for beloved games such as World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, Hearthstone, Diablo and Overwatch.
Today, the company’s official name is Activision Blizzard: two of the biggest names in video games merged into one corporation. However, throughout the last quarter of 2017 up till today, Activision Blizzard has been in hot water after a series of bad controversies, including the sexual harassment of the superiors towards female employees, made-up stories regarding equality in their esports, and generally being out of touch with their fans such as unwanted spin-offs and unnecessary sequels. Not to mention, sales in the latest Call of Duty games have been dwindling, especially with the latest one in 2021: Call of Duty Vanguard.
Saving a Company in the Brink of Trouble
Everyone knows how gigantic Microsoft is, but nobody saw them coming with the purchase of Activision Blizzard. This led to some mixed receptions as some say this is the much-needed turn of events for Activision Blizzard to improve while others say nothing will change. Yet, Microsoft may have something else in mind in preparation for the next decades in gaming and outperforming the competition.
Keep in mind that Microsoft also acquired another game publisher: Bethesda Softworks – well-known for publishing smash-hit games including The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Fallout series, Doom (2016), Wolfenstein: The New Order, and Deathloop. This move results in all future Bethesda games to be exclusive on the Xbox and PC, reducing the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo’s chances for Bethesda titles to release on their platforms as well.
The same can be said for Microsoft on acquiring Activision Blizzard. This could mean that mega names like Call of Duty, Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 will only release on the Xbox Game Pass and PC.
Microsoft recently shared their view on Metaverse, mentioning all the positive impact it will affect on today’s gamers and the next generation. According to current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella,
“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms. We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible to all.”
Entering the World of Blockchain Gaming
Companies today seek more profit and innovation with blockchain technology. Names like Meta, Tesla, Microsoft, NBA, FIFA, and Ubisoft have all shown their support for the blockchain as it provides new cutting-edge technology that will further improve businesses and the overall livelihood of everybody.
The gaming industry is now embracing blockchain to provide gamers with a unique experience and newer ways to play games. This includes blockchain-powered games, decentralized exchanges for in-game assets, and digital collectibles that can be traded between users online.
Since blockchains provide transparency, it is straightforward for users to track assets that they own and also to claim any lost or stolen items. Furthermore, players would also be able to trade or sell their game items easily. For example, if you are playing a multiplayer game and your character gets killed, you could get back the in-game items that were lost through blockchain technology.
Even though this would help gamers all over the world play games with ease, new problems will arise. Suitable platforms for these games will have to be created as well as the integration of blockchain. Not to mention, a lot of issues regarding fraudulent activities and security might come up since the technology is still in its early stage.
In 2022, it is said that there will be a “Blockchain Game Alliance” with blockchain companies and Dapps developers joining hands together to promote the use of blockchain technology. By then, gamers would be able to track their game assets easily and claims any lost or stolen items. Furthermore, they will also have a very convenient way of trading or selling their in-game item. However, with the emergence of blockchain games, new problems such as creating suitable platforms for these games and integrating blockchain will arise.
Brewing Up the Competition
Although companies Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony are competing in many ways – hardware specifications, exclusive games, and multimedia capabilities – it seems that their most persuasive selling point is their online subscription services. These services serve as the foundation for their entertainment ecosystems where users gain access to movies, TV shows, games, music and more through subscriptions or purchases with both companies’ proprietary currency.
Gaining access to entertainment content is the key element in deciding which company consumers will purchase their next console from.
Microsoft offers a variety of ways for users to gain access to this content through their entertainment ecosystems whereas Sony only provides limited means of gaining access to content by limiting it to its own television shows and movies offered exclusively on its service. Meanwhile, Nintendo keeps offering new online services for their players with a monthly subscription to everything including online play, exclusive games from past Nintendo consoles including the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube.
As of 2022, it seems that Microsoft is winning thanks to their decision of expanding the Xbox games to more people: the Xbox Game Pass. Think of it like a Netflix subscription but swap the movies and TV series for video games, both Microsoft-exclusive and non-exclusive titles. This allows monthly subscribers to play their games anywhere from the Xbox Series X, to the PC, even to their internet TV and mobile devices. This decision brought in positive feedback from subscribers thanks to the wide variety of high-quality games and exclusive latest titles for the current year.
Sony and Nintendo have not come that far yet, although Sony has made a move of turning some of the most beloved PlayStation exclusive become available for the PC. These games include the award-winning God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Death Stranding, Days Gone, and Uncharted 4. With Microsoft diversifying and expanding their games beyond their own platform, PlayStation plans to do the same. It won’t be long until we find something like PlayStation Pass to become available for everybody. As for Nintendo, they still prefer to keep everything exclusive.
The Current State of Decentralized Games
As of right now, there are dozens of games that run on the blockchain including Axie Infinity, Terra Worlds, Illuvium, Age of Rust, Lost Relics and My Neighbor Alice. Of course, their gameplay styles are a bit unorthodox and even extremely niche at times, but Axie Infinity’s success proves that decentralized gaming can be a thing, given that it provides enough fun for its players rather than feeling like a chore within work.
Yet, there is still some negative feedback from the gaming community, just like the announcement of Ubisoft releasing NFTs for their current games. This sparked anger within the community and that is a reasonable reaction since this form of technology is still new for many people. Not everyone is keen to change and some fear that gaming will turn into a job rather than a hobby used for relaxing after doing actual work.
Microsoft aims to normalize blockchain gaming with the help of Activision Blizzard. Obviously, there will be some monetary schemes involved but they will attempt to create new games using existing Intellectual Properties to help their current fans slowly accept NFTs in video games. Suppose the mid-2000s ushered in the introduction of DLCs (downloadable content) in video games. In that case, the 2020s may be the period where gaming companies start implementing NFTs, whether their community likes it or not.
They have every power to keep these in place and the only way for this to fail is if the entire community of gamers will not purchase any of the NFTs in future games.
Microsoft has also made deals with Enjin: a blockchain technology that focuses on empowering game developers to mint their digital items into monetary assets within the metaverse. This move, along with the purchase of Activision Blizzard, will lead Microsoft into pioneering NFTs to the general audience.
As Microsoft continues to dominate the gaming industry, their acquisition of Activision Blizzard will only make them bigger, reducing the Sony PlayStation’s library of diversified games. This move will also result in Microsoft publishing unique games within the Metaverse in the future, while allowing gamers to slowly accept NFTs and blockchain technology as normal features in video games. After all, Microsoft was the first company to introduce microtransactions back in the day, so it won’t be a surprise if they will pioneer the introduction of NFT gaming to the masses.