Edge

What Could Microsoft Buying Activision Mean For ‘Call Of Duty,’ Game Pass, And Sony?

Microsoft is on its way to adding Activision Blizzard to its growing list of companies under the Xbox umbrella. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it was purchasing Activision Blizzard for a record shattering $68.7 billion. Not only is this a jaw-dropping amount of money, but it’s a move that is going to impact the entirety of the games industry.

Microsft and Activision Blizzard are two giants in the industry. There was no scenario where these two joining forces wouldn’t have ripple effects, because many of the IPs, services, and competitors involved are behemoths themselves. We’re going to be seeing the impact of this deal for years to come, but until that comes to fruition, all we can do right now is speculate on what we think is going to happen.

With all that in mind, these are three areas across the industry that we wanted to focus on.

Call of Duty

Arguably the biggest yearly franchise in gaming, Call of Duty is a behemoth. Millions play it every year, it is frequently among the highest selling games of the year and has one of the most popular battle royales in Warzone. This has been the flagship title of Activision for well over a decade and suddenly it’s going to be going into the ownership of Microsoft and Xbox. This isn’t the same as when Microsoft purchased Bethesda and started selling their games exclusively on the Xbox. Call of Duty is the kind of franchise that extends beyond console and it would be a monumental — and really, really harmful — change if it suddenly went Xbox and PC exclusive.

Call of Duty fans not only buy and play the game, but pay for skins, loot boxes, and all the other extra bells and whistles that so many companies make money off of these days. Removing that income source for a chance at exclusivity, in this day and age, would just be bad business, and it stands to reason that Microsoft would understand this and not make CoD a console exclusive. There’s just too much money in it being available for all gamers.

Having said that, over the last decade, we’ve seen a lot of Activision’s branch companies get folded into the giant brand that is Call of Duty as support studios. Instead of allowing them to develop games, they ended up becoming more fuel to fund a giant. While we don’t expect that support for Call of Duty to end, ideally some of these branch companies allowed to expand and make their own games, maybe even spin-off from Call of Duty. The Xbox umbrella allows for more creativity, and hopefully, we get to see it.

Game Pass

We’ve spoken at length about how Game Pass is the best deal in gaming right now. No service gives players a larger catalog of games to play at no additional cost than Game Pass. The deep library of current and older games makes it a must-have for anyone that’s even remotely interested in gaming outside of their comfort zone, and to top all of this off, every single Microsoft-published game releases to Game Pass day one.

That last tidbit is where the purchase of Activision Blizzard gets very interesting. Yes, there’s now a huge library of games that could come to Game Pass from franchises like Warcraft and Diablo, but have we considered that every single game under the Activision Blizzard name could be a Game Pass release? Overwatch 2, every Call of Duty, and any new Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games could all potentially be available at launch through the service.

We’ve known for a long time that Game Pass was Microsoft’s plan to push the Xbox branding in the future, but as it continues making moves to bring gigantic IP’s to the service, it’s never been more clear that Microsoft does not plan on fading back towards selling the console as their main branding strategy. Obviously, consoles are still extremely important, but getting people into that Game Pass ecosystem is the obvious goal and Microsoft is willing to keep on spending to make it happen.

Sony

Materials to meet the high demand for the PlayStation 5 have become such a problem that Sony has extended the lifespan of the PlayStation 4. There was some excitement over a rumored service upgrade to PlayStation Now meant to compete with Game Pass, but Tuesday’s news has made that a daunting task for something it’s already behind on, and to top it all off, one of the highest selling games on the console is now under the umbrella of its biggest rival.

We can still expect Sony to conduct itself with the same level of confidence it always has. Part of why Microsoft has had to seek out these deals is because its first-party exclusives have, for a long time, been weaker in comparison to the ones that Sony has traditionally published. With Horizon Forbidden West and God of War: Ragnarok expected to debut in 2022, a big year is on deck for Sony despite Tuesday’s news.

Unfortunately for Sony, many of the things it has been pushing back against for so long are starting to become the norm. Crossplay, PC gaming, and cloud gaming are all services that Microsoft embraced. Their services beyond a great console and great games need to be improved and we would not be surprised to see that become a focus.

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