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What Does The Activision Blizzard Deal Mean For Xbox?

What Does The Activision Blizzard Deal Mean For Xbox?
Xbox | Activision Blizzard

Written by 

Joseph Kime

Posted 

18th Jan 2022 16:19

Blimey. Today, on what seemed like yet another quiet Tuesday, the biggest gaming acquisition in the medium's history took place. Microsoft is gearing up to purchase Activision Blizzard. You might remember it's the gaming company that helmed controversy and a grim sexual harassment case.

Still, Microsoft is touting Activision Blizzard for an eye-watering $68.7 billion dollars. That's billion, with a B. When the deal closes in early 2023, Xbox will own the likes of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch (among a litany of others). More than this, it will take ownership of characters who were once known as the faces of PlayStation, like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon.

This purchase is genuinely one of the biggest payouts in gaming history, and serves as a reminder of just how dedicated Xbox is at grabbing the very best the industry has to offer, as suggested by the then-massive purchase of Bethesda in 2021.

But, this all leaves the question - what does this mean for Xbox? What does it mean for Activision Blizzard's studios, and what does it mean for the consumer?

Xbox Could Course-Correct Activision Blizzard's Grim Trajectory

What Does The Activision Blizzard Deal Mean For Xbox?
Activision Blizzard

Though this deal may seem incredibly exciting as it happens before our eyes, it's impossible to forget just how twisted Activision Blizzard has been revealed to be. The stomach-churning results of the "frat boy culture" revealed that racism, sexual harassment and assault, and workplace bullying are commonplace in many of the company's studios.

All of this is overseen by CEO Bobby Kotick, who according to a WSJ report, knew for years about sexual misconduct allegations inside the company. It's alleged that Kotick did nothing, as well as threatening to have a former assistant killed in 2006.

Though reports suggest that Bobby Kotick will maintain a role after the finalisation of the deal, Microsoft will find itself in a position to genuinely make a change in the company.

They can oust Kotick, meet the demands of striking staff members (who have now been going at it for seven weeks - solidarity), and finally end this saga of misconduct. The gaming industry now looks to Xbox for change.

We sincerely hope that Phil Spencer can follow through with his promise to workers that they'll "feel safe, supported and engaged in every aspect of their work going forward" (per today's Microsoft earnings call) with action that could set an example that reverberates through the entire industry.

Activision Blizzard Games Will Become Xbox Exclusives

What Does The Activision Blizzard Deal Mean For Xbox?
Activision Blizzard

Though it may seem obvious that Xbox is keen to get some exclusives under its belts after the Bethesda acquisition, it looks like a wealth of titles owned by Activision Blizzard will be sticking with Xbox alongside its PC and Cloud offerings.

There's no telling which games will be sticking with Microsoft, but unlike with Bethesda, we have confirmation (via Bloomberg) that "Microsoft plans to keep making some of Activision's games for PlayStation consoles but will also keep some content exclusive to Xbox."

It'd be a surprise to see Call of Duty become an Xbox exclusive, but it's not entirely out of the question - after all, if they can do it with The Elder Scrolls VI... the sky's the limit.

Xbox Game Pass Is Going To Get A Lot Bigger

What Does The Activision Blizzard Deal Mean For Xbox?
Sledgehammer Games

The official statement revealing the acquisition also revealed that it "bolsters Microsoft's Game Pass portfolio with plans to launch Activision Blizzard games into Game Pass, which has reached a new milestone of over 25 million subscribers."

It's truly no surprise that Xbox wants the many games at the company's disposal to hit Game Pass, as it is proving to be the greatest selling point of the Xbox Series consoles and make enough money to be truly sustainable - much to the surprise of the subscription service's naysayers upon launch.

Day one launches are likely to become the norm for Activision Blizzard titles, probably even with the games that will also be launching on PlayStation. Game Pass has had an incredible January so far, and this announcement could make it even better.

We guess, that given the wealth of content on the horizon, a price change or new pricing option will be coming to Game Pass. Frankly, it's par for the course, and there's every chance it won't make much of a difference because Game Pass is too good a deal - even with a couple of quid thrown on top. No wonder Phil Spencer isn't nervous about a PlayStation competitor.

Esports Is About To Get A Biblical Buff

What Does The Activision Blizzard Deal Mean For Xbox?
Unsplash Sean Do

Now owning Major League Gaming, there's potential for Xbox to helm esports events and take them to the next level. Though a lot of esports already seems massively expensive, there's the chance that Xbox's influence could take them to an unknown height we've never before seen.

The Microsoft deal could stoke conversations after mentioning MLG by name in the acquisition announcement, as well as having their fresh stake in the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League.

New prize pools, new locations, new events and management - the sky is truly the limit. All Xbox needs to do is write the cheque, and the change will come.

Xbox Will Dive Headfirst Into Mobile Gaming

What Does The Activision Blizzard Deal Mean For Xbox?
King

Microsoft has already expressed its interest in engaging with mobile markets, which is proven by the insane sum of games made available on mobile using the Cloud via Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. But, now they own King. That means they've got Candy Crush. Xbox has every mum in the world in their pockets.

Not only are regular games owned by Activision Blizzard likely coming to mobile (with Overwatch 2 speculated to already be optimised for it), but there's a chance that the new addictive puzzlers could be an Xbox Game Studios outing. They now have the means to conquer a whole new market, and they'd be bonkers not to do so.

Xbox's Future Is Impossibly Bright After Activision Blizzard Deal

What Does The Activision Blizzard Deal Mean For Xbox?
Xbox | 343 Industries

Though it might seem scary upon taking a step back that Microsoft is buying such a massive company, this means good things for the future of Xbox. More people will be inclined to pick up a Series X|S, more people will lunge for Game Pass, and there's a chance that Microsoft can heal many of the rifts in the industry created by Activision Blizzard.

Staff deserve to feel safe at work, and as exciting as the implication of the company's games coming to Game Pass is, this is by far the most important part of the whole acquisition. Not only can Microsoft make a lot of money (wahey, capitalism!), they can make a change that will bring justice and peace of mind to the company's workers.

Xbox users are set to have a very good year thanks to this purchase, and if the relative offerings are similar to that of the Bethesda deal, then resisting an Xbox console is about to get much harder.

We'll have to wait and see what's next for Microsoft and Activision Blizzard, but if this is a sign of things to come, the future's bright, the future's green.

 

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