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Xbox buying Activision Blizzard is the beginning of the end for video games – Reader’s Feature


Begun, the Acquisition Wars have (pic: Microsoft)

A reader is so upset about Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard he’s worried it’ll be an end to video games as we know it.

January 18 2022 is a day that will live in infamy within the annals of the video games industry. It is the point at which Microsoft gave up any pretence of playing by the rules and after decades of being the least successful console of each generation acted like the equivalent of a surly teenager fed up of losing at Call Of Duty. Except instead of resorting to cheating and using an aimbot, Microsoft opened its war chest and bought itself the industry’s second biggest publisher.

They’d already done the same with Minecraft and Bethesda, and countless smaller developers, but this month the jokes about Microsoft treating the games industry as a pay-to-win business opportunity stopped being a joke and became grim reality.

Except for maybe improving the work environment at Activision Blizzard, there is not a single positive angle to the biggest company in the world simply buying itself a place in gaming – turning a previously independent publisher and developer into a corporate subsidiary.

If you’re a braindead fanboy then I guess you could celebrate that your favourite corporation has more money than its rival, but what this does is take games that used to be available to all and turns them into those you have to buy a specific console for. Oh sure, that’s not what Microsoft is saying right now, but they were the same when they bought Bethesda. At first most franchises were going to stay multiformat, then ‘some’, then none. Within a few months they just up and admitted the reason they bought Bethesda was to get themselves more exclusives.

They’ll probably pretend for a bit longer with Call Of Duty, so the acquisition doesn’t get blocked by the American monopoly investigations, but make no mistake, it will happen. Otherwise, what other reason did they have for spending $68.7 billion (billion!) on Activision Blizzard? Just so Phil Spencer could bring back Hexen? If you think that then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

What frustrates me the most is that Phil Spencer is the person orchestrating all this, someone who has managed to cultivate the image of an enthusiastic gamer and someone you can trust. This is a carefully constructed lie. Well, he may well like games, but that’s not the insidious part. What is, is the constant gaslighting about Sony and in particular their ability to counter Game Pass.

He recently said that a PlayStation Game Pass is inevitable and then preceded to list a number of ‘predictions’ about Sony’s equivalent, in the sure knowledge that they wouldn’t do half of them -thereby setting everyone up to be disappointed when the official announcement is made. Spencer lied about the true reason for buying Bethesda, he’s lying about Activision Blizzard, and he’s lying about anything that doesn’t admit Microsoft’s business plan is simply to buy up or make irrelevant anyone that opposes them.

As is relatively common knowledge, it’s virtually impossible for a foreign entity to buy a Japanese company and in the early days of the Xbox Japanese companies were still dominant in the industry. So what was the codename for the original Xbox? Project Midway. As is in the decisive naval battle of WW2 where America beat Japan.

Microsoft can’t buy Japanese games companies and so everything the Xbox has ever done has sought to marginalise their influence and make them irrelevant. What makes it even worse is Microsoft never even looked for an alternative. It might not be possible to buy a Japanese company but there was nothing stopping them setting one up or encouraging staff to move to America. Even just signing up Japanese developers to make games for them has only happened a handful of times.

I haven’t even got to the worst part of this yet, and the reason why the headline to this article is not hyperbole at all. It doesn’t have anything specific to do with Microsoft, but the fact that now they have started the ‘acquisition wars’ the genie is not going back in the bottle. If there are at least some elements of the Xbox team that care about gaming you can be certain that no one at Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the rest give a flying fig about it, other than as a new source of revenue.

At least if Microsoft did buy up everyone else you’d have everything in one place, now you’re going to get the equivalent of the current mess with TV subscriptions; where each service has just one or two things you’re interested in and almost no one has access to everything. If you thought that was a problem with the current console model, just wait till previously multiformat games start being exclusives to Facebook and Netflix and all the rest.

We’re already hearing that EA are ripe for purchase and since they’re the biggest third party publisher around that means the likes of Ubisoft and Take-Two are just as vulnerable. Over the next few years you’re going to see the vultures descend upon the games industry, buying up every company they can and not having any clue as to what to do with them (the one thing you can’t accuse Microsoft of).

I hope you like indie games because in a few years that’s all that’s going to be left of the games industry we know today. That much was made clear in the Financial Times article that GC highlighted this week. These giant corporations aren’t interested in any kind of console or PC gaming. They think mobile is the most important growth market, that the metaverse is just as legitimate an idea as NFTs, and that game streaming is already commonplace and not at all something that needs a major boost in broadband speeds and reliability to work properly.

So well done Microsoft, you’ve destroyed the games industry. You’ve broken it to such a degree that now the gates are breached the monsters outside are going to stream in, mindlessly consuming everything inside with no thought or plan for the future. Video games… they were nice while they lasted.

By reader Nancho

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk and follow us on Twitter.


MORE : Sony reacts to Xbox deal: says Microsoft must ‘ensure Activision games are multiplatform’


MORE : EA and Facebook were also in the running to buy Activision Blizzard


MORE : Xbox Activision Blizzard deal will prompt US monopoly investigation claim experts

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