What is the future of Activision Blizzard under Xbox?
You've probably all heard about the big-scale Activision Blizzard acquisition by Microsoft, which ran them a pretty penny at $68.7 billion. (For reference, the Zenimax purchase ran them $7.5 billion.) With 30 studios under their belt, Xbox is a powerhouse gaming company with only Tencent and Sony/Playstation outsizing them.
So, the question at hand is: what does Xbox's newest acquisition mean for the future of Activision Blizzard?
For one, it's good to know that the deal isn't immediate. It's going to take some time to hammer out the fine details, which will end up taking until about the 2023 fiscal year. (So we should start seeing some action next July).
For what the future holds for Activision Blizzard, it's no secret Blizzard has had its recent share of fires to put out. (That's putting it lightly.) With lawsuits for gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment, and worker strikes for unionization lighting up the game dev field in general, there's a lot for Microsoft to take on with the new acquisition. Some things seem clear: Public speculation suggests Bobby Kotick (CEO of Activision Blizzard) is out the door when the deal clears, and Activision Blizzard will be getting some restructuring done in the meanwhile.
On the development front, Phil Spencer (CEO of Microsoft Gaming) has expressed interest in revamping some dust-covered IPs from Activision Blizzard coffers. I've seen some hype around HeXen specifically, which was originally developed by Raven Software. For reference, Raven was acquired by Activision in 1997, so people are hoping that Xbox gives its smaller studios like Raven more power to develop their older, well-loved titles. This would be a refreshing change from the typical course of action that sees smaller studios under major publishers run support for AAA "cash-cow" projects. An example of this is the Toys for Bob Studio which went from launching Crash Bandicoot titles to supporting CoD development. I'm hopeful, just as many others are, that Spencer's shiny-eyed talk of expanding older IPs becomes a reality.
Speaking of CoD... I should note that while some cheer the acquisition, others wonder what the future of PlayStation-classics will be now that they are in Microsoft's wheelhouse, with major IPs like Spyro and Crash Bandicoot being squarely in Camp Xbox now. Based on public comments from Xbox and Playstation, it seems like there is no worry about titles like CoD being yanked from Playstation now that Xbox technically owns their studios; what this will do for console exclusives and their slow rise, we have yet to see. I have seen some scrutiny online regarding other major IPs, like Overwatch and Hearthstone, becoming Xbox exclusives down the line since they were conveniently left out of the CoD conversation.
All the above should catch anyone up on the basics of the situation. This is still unfolding and will continue to unfold over the next few years, so we will see what the gaming giant does next!
What are your thoughts on the acquisition deal? Share your hot takes in the comments below!