Xbox Could Be Gaming's Disney. That's Not A Good Thing
Xbox may have just changed the gaming industry forever.
It's bizarre to say something like this without a measure of hyperbole, but now that Xbox is lined up to buy Call of Duty and World of Warcraft developers Activision Blizzard, it's a strange reality we're yet to grow accustomed to.
This huge revelation has brought on cheers of glee from Xbox users, and a pained whimper from camp PlayStation and neither fanbases are particularly wrong for it. Xbox is potentially geared up for a whole new wealth of exclusives that could bolster Xbox's library massively (especially for those on Game Pass), and PlayStation fans have every right to worry that their beloved Overwatches and Crash Bandicoots are about to jump ship for good.
Competition may well be healthy in any business, but this may be a step too far. Microsoft may have bitten too much off the gaming industry, and they could have started a grim new precedent, regardless of how great this can be for consumers. Microsoft could be the gaming industry's Disney, and we're not afraid enough of that suggestion.
Xbox's Gaming Monopoly May Have Just Begun
Naturally, a purchase as magnanimous as Xbox's acquisition of Activision Blizzard takes time - but in this context, we should be glad that the big buy has such time to breathe. The purchase itself is still expected to be investigated by the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice. This is likely as a result of a potential exclusivity deal for Call of Duty, as the franchise is so lucrative and brings with it such a pulling power that it could seriously harm a big point of income for Sony.
Though this is alarming alone, the purchase also runs the risk of starting a new precedent in the industry - buy, buy, buy, until you reach the top by default. If you own the competition, what's the need to try?
This massive purchase has led the conversation to turn to Sony, and what exactly they can do to get a leg up on Xbox - and many of the suggestions come simply to "buy a big studio". Is this the industry we're looking for a matter of large acquisitions until two or even three companies own the lot? The industry runs the risk of becoming entirely monopolised, leaving little room for excitement about video games overall. Choose Xbox, or choose PlayStation.
The worst part is, it's working. PlayStation has just snapped up Bungie, the team behind the inception of Halo and the still-popular Destiny games, with more acquisitions set to come. Seemingly, this has arisen as a result of Xbox's half-threat to snap up the industry, and with each small purchase, we move closer and closer to a monopolised gaming industry. We might be having fun playing fresh original titles on consoles, but we're still feeding one of two titans, and encouraging a business that could yet favour exclusively those with the fattest wallets.
And even now, the hostility in the industry that once came with the "console wars" is starting to kick up stronger than ever.
The Console Wars Are About To Get Volatile
Once upon a time, the console wars were brutal, and often, a player would just opt for whatever console their mates had. After all, there was no way to play with them otherwise - but thankfully, we've begun to say goodbye to this era of gaming. Cross-play has changed the way that we play, and finally opens the door to players across consoles and allows the consumer to finally choose the console that services their tastes best, rather than worrying about who else has picked the one you don't want.
You'd think that vitriol in the industry from behind Xbox or PlayStation lines would finally be done away with now that gameplay barriers have finally been dissolved, but these new revelations in the industry are getting some shoulders up. Fans are already forging their allegiances and setting up in their camps ready to fire insults at each other. It has already begun on Reddit, it continues on Facebook, and suddenly, players are at each other's throats once again in a bid to prove they're better. Hell, people are probably annoyed in this article's comments. It's becoming a predictable and depressing indication that divisions in the gaming industry are sewn by the actions of the titans who control it, and chances are, it's only going to get worse.
Xbox Is Taking Disney's Formula - And Endangering The Gaming Industry
Xbox seems to be taking the Disney approach to the industry - keep on buying until there's nothing left to compete with, and wait for players to concede to your iron will. And as a result, PlayStation is jumping on the ladder to join them at the top. If you've got your console allegiances, fine - but this isn't something that's likely to turn out well for gaming at large.
It's even more glaring now that gaming, despite its occasional sincerities, is still a capitalist's game, and money will always guide its decisions.
We should all be worried about the precedent that Xbox has set with this bold swing, even if Xbox players have the chance to see Overwatch come to Game Pass. The gaming industry needs more loving developers, not more sales to bolster the kings in their castles. Gaming could be in trouble - and it needs moderation.