Neato,
Neato avatar

This is a loss for consumers. Massive consolidation, lack of competition. Get ready for them to pull games from PlayStation as soon as they are contractually allowed to. Get ready for everything to be on Game Pass and possibly not on Steam. Worst case: they disable purchasing some games on Game Pass so you always need a subscription.

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar
  1. They (both Microsoft and ActiBlizz) pulled games from Steam before, and they're both back on Steam well ahead of this deal. I don't see why that would change.
  2. We've now seen through court documents and transcripts what many of us suspected in that many of these games and studios that Microsoft purchased for exclusivity were Sony targets for exclusivity as well, so if we had to pick one, the company trailing in the market sounds like the better one to get them as exclusives.
  3. I can only see this as better for competition than Sony running away with the high-end console market, because then there's realistically only one console to buy.
  4. All that said about the above, fuck exclusivity in general.
Neato,
Neato avatar

so if we had to pick one,

Did we, though? Or maybe FTC could prevent further consolidation that will eventually result (and is already) in anticompetitive practices?

I can only see this as better for competition than Sony running away with the high-end console market, because then there's realistically only one console to buy.

So now your choices will be: 1) pick the console that has more of your favorite games, or 2) now you have to buy BOTH consoles.

Fucking brilliant.

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

If you felt like you had to buy both consoles, that means the market got more competitive.

TwilightVulpine,

Not when there was a whole ecosystem of platform neutral third-party publishers and additional exclusives are taken out of that. You are not getting more and new games, you are just being required to buy an additional device for the same games. How could it be more competitive if the market is consolidated into less companies?

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

Because a third party publisher is a supplemental actor to a console market when they make games for both platforms. If the one getting its ass kicked makes those games more scarce on its competitor's console, it becomes more difficult for you, the consumer, to choose one, which means the market got more competitive. Or you buy both, which means both competitors (Nintendo doesn't really count here) are healthy for each getting your sale. If your default answer was to buy a PlayStation and to hell with Xbox, that's less competitive.

The third party video game market is in no danger of monopolizing, on the other hand. Ubisoft/EA/ActiBlizz/Take Two all put their eggs in fewer and fewer baskets, and now the Devolver Digitals, Anna Purnas, TinyBuilds, Focus Homes, Paradoxes, and Embracers of the world are growing to fill the market voids those big publishers left by putting out fewer games.

TwilightVulpine,

If the one getting its ass kicked makes those games more scarce on its competitor's console, it becomes more difficult for you, the consumer, to choose one, which means the market got more competitive.

Absolutely not. Splitting up the market between mutually exclusive options is not competition, it is cartel tactics. Competition doesn't happen only at the console-maker level, it involves all gaming companies.

Before if I wanted to play certain games I could choose to buy from ActiBlizz and Microsoft or ActiBlizz and Sony or ActiBlizz and Nintendo. Now I can only buy from Microsoft period. There aren't even more games. There is less choice, less competition.

You shouldn't get too comfortable with what Microsoft is doing this just because as a game company it's in third place. Don't forget that in size, overall, Microsoft is larger than Sony and Nintendo combined, several times. It's not even the first time they do it, they did it to Zenimax/Bethesda too.

Sure I do hope that other smaller publishers grow to take that space, but will that space even be available, considering your suggestion that people might choose to buy a XBox and play those same games?

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

Absolutely not. Splitting up the market between mutually exclusive options is not competition, it is cartel tactics.

It's how everyone in the market is competing in a bunch of different spaces, like streaming services. It's still increased competition, even if it sucks. And I do think the market would be worse with one high-end console than two.

You shouldn't get too comfortable with what Microsoft is doing this just because as a game company it's in third place.

I'm not comfortable with it. I'm just less comfortable with Sony having such a wide lead in a market with only one other competitor, and given that exclusives are how Sony made that lead, exclusives are how Microsoft is closing it. It doesn't matter how much bigger Microsoft is. Their success comes from other markets, and they're one of only three companies making a console, so that market can't really afford to lose a company in that race unless we're willing to lose consoles altogether. (The way PC gaming is trending, one day we might be, but that's optimistic.)

Sure I do hope that other smaller publishers grow to take that space, but will that space even be available, considering your suggestion that people might choose to buy a XBox and play those same games?

I don't follow you. Smaller third party publishers are thriving and growing, and they're multiplatform. The larger publishers are shrinking their year-on-year offerings and looking for buyers, of which there are few that can afford such a purchase.

TwilightVulpine,

It absolutely matters how much bigger Microsoft is, that's why it can pull moves like this to begin with. It's also short-sighted to think that it's healthier for Microsoft to approach Sony in such a manner when it comes at expense of the options customers have. The competitiveness of a market is not solely defined by how close the head-to-head is between the 3 biggest console makers. Seems like people are confusing market dynamics with the Console War, which is itself just a marketing gimmick that got ingrained into gamers' heads.

Good for you though that there are two high-end consoles. I don't see why you talk like there would be just one. Microsoft is not going bankrupt. But maybe, rather than letting Microsoft buy their way to the top as if that was any semblance of healthy competition, maybe you should question why they aren't making more appealing games with the studios they already had. Nintendo doesn't need to buy Ubisoft to be competitive, and in fact they can make games alongside them without any acquisition.

Comes to mind now. Why did you even bother couch that mention of consoles with "high-end"? Underpowered as it may be, Nintendo is competing in the same market. We know that there are people who forgo Horizon to buy Zelda. Sure it's better to have three console-makers competing than two, but here we have proof that there are ways to compete without acquisition, even when by all accounts your offering is the "weakest".

I don't follow you. Smaller third party publishers are thriving and growing, and they're multiplatform. The larger publishers are shrinking their year-on-year offerings and looking for buyers, of which there are few that can afford such a purchase.

Frankly I don't see what you are getting at with this. That there are other third-party publishers doesn't change that the third-party market is diminished by ActiBlizz's acquisition. Devolver and Annapurna may be lovely, but they don't have the size and output to replace it. Sounds like you are just downplaying ActiBlizz's importance as if we didn't just have a massive, long-awaited multiplatform release that is Diablo 4.

And so what if large publishers are looking for buyers? They shouldn't be allowed to sell, consolidation is bad for the industry. They can just deal with it and keep making games. even if Nintendo were to go and buy Ubisoft, it would still be bad for us.

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

Microsoft isn't in danger of going bankrupt, but they won't stay in a space where they don't make any money.

I separated them into high end consoles because if Xbox leaves the market, there would only be one console capable of running the latest Assassin's Creed or Street Fighter or what have you. That would effectively be a monopoly in that space.

I mentioned other third party publishers because you seemed to be under the impression that the third party space is under threat for losing one player. It's a large player, for sure, but that space is very healthy.

If you're concerned with the size of Microsoft just in general, which absolutely makes sense, because they're enormous, what happened in today's news is that the FTC failed to prevent the acquisition based on the evidence for this market. Their next course of action will be to see if Microsoft should be broken up after the fact under anti trust, and if that happens, as a non expert, I'll wager the gaming department stays together as one entity.

Neato,
Neato avatar

Competition means there's choice. Segregating titles that were once across multiple platforms (choice) into individual platforms (no choice) is anti-competitive.

I can't really break it down more than that and I thought this was obvious...

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

You do have choice. You have choice between group of exclusives A and group of exclusives B. It's better for competition but worse for the consumer. In order for it to be better for the consumer and competition, you'd need to eliminate the concept of exclusives entirely. And I'm all for that, but I don't know how to make that happen.

Neato,
Neato avatar

It's better for competition but worse for the consumer.

🤨

thoro,

Well since exclusives will continue to exist, imagine if, hear me out here, third party titles remained cross platform and group B developed their own set of games at worst through infant studio acquisitions instead of, idk, acquiring the second largest third party publisher in the world (and thus all their studios).

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

Then that would be decidedly less competitive between the two consoles.

thoro,

Yeah the poor trillion dollar company couldn’t possibly compete with the billion dollar company by organically building an attractive portfolio. It’s not like they did it before and only lost their position due to their own mishandling of studios and misunderstanding of the market.

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

They seemingly can't compete, so this is how they're making up for the ground that they lost, because right now the console market is not particularly competitive.

Hdcase,

Microsoft creates demand for their system largely by buying up publishers and turning all their future games exclusive, that would otherwise have been multiplatform.

Sony and Nintendo create demand for their system largely by making great games in house, that otherwise never would have existed.

So yes you’re right but one is much shittier than the other.

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

The games made in house are functionally identical to buying a studio that already existed. It's a game that can't be played anywhere else for arbitrary business reasons. I'd consider Sony's shittier, because I have to wait two years for a PC port, and Nintendo's shittier still because those games will never legally leave their platform.

Katana314,

The “pick one” mentality may come from the inherent freedom of Activision’s owners. They don’t see any further way for the publisher to grow, so they seek the next logical outcome for themselves: Acquisition. That’s always going to come from a company large enough to be a major force in video games.

“Pick neither” is telling them they are not allowed to do anything with their company.

Neato,
Neato avatar

They could grow by making more games that sell well. More offshoot studios so they can have more parallel production.

If the ONLY way they can grow is to consolidate, then they are as big as they are going to get then. Tough titties. They have a minor duty to shareholders to turn a profit, not to grow at all costs. That's the problem with current capitalism and will lead to effective monopolies.

EvaUnit02,
EvaUnit02 avatar

I'm opposed to this acquisition but let's be clear: Activision doesn't have a "minor duty to shareholders". They have a fiduciary duty to shareholders.

Neato,
Neato avatar

Yes. But the duty is to put the best interests of the company first. This is ambiguous because it can mean long-term health and stability, or as is more common lately, companies have decided that short-term profits over all else.

So there is no duty to "grow at any cost". They can be profitable and stable and define that as the best interests of the company.

TwilightVulpine,

I'm getting sick of how the law mandates in favor of companies pushing for unreasonable, untenable and sometimes even destructive growth.

TwilightVulpine,

I see a lot of people using argument #2 and it's really short-sighted to treat acquisition the same as exclusivity deals. However much I don't like either, acquisitions are clearly worse. If you had to pick one, why would you wouldn't just leave it as case-by-case exclusivity deals?

Say, SquareEnix and Atlus are fully capable of releasing games for other consoles even with all the exclusives they release for Playstation. And nothing stopped Microsoft from waving a wad of cash their way to change their minds.

There is absolutely no way such a large acquisition will be better for competition. The publishers become unable to make their own platform decisions, no matter what benefits there are. You are losing sight of the market as a whole and the independence of studios by focusing exclusively on who gets the #1 console crown.

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

If you had to pick one, why would you wouldn't just leave it as case-by-case exclusivity deals?

A case-by-case exclusivity deal for a big publisher like Activision is just exclusivity on about 4 franchises. Let's be real. They don't make much more than that these days, which is why those big publishers are looking to sell now that they've thoroughly un-diversified themselves. I don't get to pick which option Microsoft went with, but functionally, it's not any different.

There is absolutely no way such a large acquisition will be better for competition.

I don't know you, but there's a pretty good chance you own a PlayStation 5 and not an Xbox Series X/S. They play almost exactly the same games basically exactly as well as one another, but PS5 is running away with the market. There's no world where PS5 having so little competition from Xbox is good for anyone. We're closer to a world with zero consoles than we are to a world where another competitor can break into the market anyway, so I say burn down the way exclusives and consoles work in general (like their own little monopolies on their digital storefronts), but this will result in a more competitive console market than we have now.

TwilightVulpine,

I really don't see how your arguments contribute to your point. Even if Activision Blizzard only had 4 franchises, an acquisition would still be much more drastic than an exclusivity deal. It is not the same as making deals for all franchises.

For an example, as much as Final Fantasy XVI is exclusive to PS5, the new Dragon Quest Monsters will be exclusive for the Switch. SquareEnix can choose what platforms to release what games for, including all of them if they want to.

And to be clear. No, Activision Blizzard doesn't only have 4 franchises, it has a whole portfolio of franchises, plus many studios under their umbrella. Even if the argument is that they aren't making games for some franchises, Microsoft could still hire them to make games for different franchises as an exclusive, without acquiring them.

Yes it would be good if Playstation had more competition from XBox, but I have absolutely no confidence that they will get there just by acquiring publishers. They already acquired Zenimax/Bethesda and Redfall turned out to be a disappointment. Same for Halo Infinite. I also remember how pretty much every Rare franchise died, they only have a single game going. Microsoft doesn't need to buy their way into becoming competitive, and there is no good that will come from doing that, it will only come at an expense of multiplatform games. What they need is to actually fund and make good games. Sony is making God of War and Last of Us with their own studios, they don't need to buy exclusivity for that. Same with Nintendo making Mario and Zelda. What is Microsoft making? What good would it be to let them have even more publishers and franchises?

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

Even if the argument is that they aren't making games for some franchises, Microsoft could still hire them to make games for different franchises as an exclusive, without acquiring them.

They aren't making games for most of the franchises they own. Current market forces certainly aren't inspiring them to do so. Contracting them to make a new Metal Arms, for instance, means they're allocating personnel away from their money makers, which raises the price of that contract to make up for the opportunity cost.

Yes it would be good if Playstation had more competition from XBox, but I have absolutely no confidence that they will get there just by acquiring publishers.

I have absolutely no confidence that they'll get there without it. And to be clear: I hate that. I hate that when Sony gets an exclusive game, it means I have to wait two years to play it on PC. I hate that my friends hate the new PS5 controller but have to use it because that's where you play God of War. But exclusives dictate a console's success, as much as I wish they didn't. So even if Xbox has quick resume and doesn't arbitrarily make its old controllers incapable of working on newer games that don't use the new controller features like Sony does, two friendlier features in the Xbox camp that would influence a purchasing decision in a perfect world, the customer is hardly ever going to pick Xbox, because the market decided exclusives matter that much.

They already acquired Zenimax/Bethesda and Redfall turned out to be a disappointment.

A game that was in production for a long time before it became a Microsoft product.

Sony is making God of War and Last of Us with their own studios, they don't need to buy exclusivity for that.

There is no functional difference between this and buying other studios, especially since Naughty Dog was also a studio acquisition. Given enough time in the rearview mirror, Activision-Blizzard and Bethesda games will be treated the same way as you just treated that one.

What is Microsoft making? What good would it be to let them have even more publishers and franchises?

We just saw a ton of games that they're making. And games these days just take so much longer to make, at least at the scale that Microsoft, Sony, and very few other companies insist on making them. Rocksteady has been working for 8 years on one game. The average AAA game has a 5+ year dev cycle now, which is absurd. The next game from Sony Santa Monica likely won't come out until there's a PlayStation 6. The likes of InXile, Obsidian, and Double Fine will have quicker turnaround times than most, and even those will take 3+ years. So with that perspective, the Microsoft acquisitions are fairly recent and are only soon going to start bearing fruit like Hellblade; not even Starfield counts in that discussion.

TwilightVulpine,

I have absolutely no confidence that they'll get there without it.

They already have Zenimax and we haven't much to show for it. It was releasing more games before it was acquired. But I'll grant that not enough time has passed, though I'd say if Redfall wasn't up to shape they could and should have changed the release plans.

But for Rare plenty of time has passed. What do they have to show for it? Sea of Thieves and a Killer Instinct game for the whole of the last decade. Banjo has been declared dead, Perfect Dark keeps getting postponed, and nothing else new. It doesn't bode well.

We just saw a ton of games that they're making.

It wasn't all that many, and most of it likely came at expense of what would previously be multiplatform games. Zenimax would still be releasing games if they hadn't been acquired. Sure, exclusives benefit them but this "competition" was really a net loss for players who don't have Microsoft platforms. It came at expense of the third-party market.

There is no functional difference between this and buying other studios, especially since Naughty Dog was also a studio acquisition.

There is a marked difference in scale. If they just bought Treyarch or Toys For Bob that wouldn't be a big deal. But they are bulk buying publishers along with all their studio subsidiaries. Activision Blizzard by itself is the 6th largest publisher. This is not just getting a studio. The comparisons being made to excuse Microsoft's tactics are really glossing over what a drastic sweeping takeover they are doing, All the while they whine about how tiny and feeble they are, because this massive company doesn't dominate the gaming market also.

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

But for Rare plenty of time has passed. What do they have to show for it? Sea of Thieves and a Killer Instinct game for the whole of the last decade.

Killer Instinct was a Rare property but not developed by Rare. And you're underselling how hugely successful Sea of Thieves has been. (Not that I understand it; the game seems incredibly shallow, but it found a huge audience.) We have a pretty thorough accounting of what Rare's been doing, and Sea of Thieves happened under new management at Xbox that wasn't running the show post-Nuts-and-Bolts.

It wasn't all that many, and most of it likely came at expense of what would previously be multiplatform games. Zenimax would still be releasing games if they hadn't been acquired. Sure, exclusives benefit them but this "competition" was really a net loss for players who don't have Microsoft platforms. It came at expense of the third-party market.

The same is true of Sony's acquisitions.

If you want to talk about scale, the industry in general, especially the type of game that sells these consoles, is so much bigger than it was in the 90s. If you're buying a studio in an attempt to compete with a console outselling yours 5:1, you're not buying a studio with a few dozen people who sold a few hundred thousand copies of a game. You're buying a company with hundreds or thousands of people who sell millions of copies and a large percent of those customers buy DLC and microtransactions, because that's what moves the needle. A large portion of those customers, by the way, only bought a PlayStation for that game, because that game was associated with PlayStation in the marketing, even though it was also available on Xbox.

Katana314,

Oh shit, Microsoft nabbed Bubble Witch Saga and Gabriel Knight. Competition is over.

TwilightVulpine,

A Gabriel Knight comeback could be pretty cool tbh

MoogleMaestro,
MoogleMaestro avatar

They (both Microsoft and ActiBlizz) pulled games from Steam before, and they're both back on Steam well ahead of this deal. I don't see why that would change.

There's a lot of tangible reasons for Microsoft to pull the plug on Steam game sales.

  1. They want to focus Microsoft products as "Cloud-First" wherever possible, and selling copies on Steam hurts this initiative.
  2. They would probably prefer to not give Valve 30% revenue on every game sold for IPs that they own and have their own means of distribution (and even more now that they own Battle.Net) For all businesses, this is simply a case of maximizing profits.
  3. They aren't happy that Valve are essentially letting people run native windows applications on non-windows platforms.
  4. They view the Steam Deck as a potential competitor to the Xbox or other mobile game initiatives they might have.
  5. They would still love it if we all used Windows Store for downloads wherever possible, which is why they have lately been streamlining the process of getting products on that storefront.

Those are reasons. I don't know if they would actually follow through and there are reasons for them to not do it, but every decision is a case of weighing the negatives and the positives. It really depends on if Microsoft cares about the public perception of forcing people to use their own store or not. Currently, they do care about forcing people onto clients, but that might not always be the case forever.

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

They did care about people using their own store, and it was an undeniable failure, which is why they're back on Steam, where they make more money. They'd have to decide to unlearn those lessons to take their games back off of Steam again.

asteroidrainfall,
asteroidrainfall avatar

There are people who would be okay if it were Sony making the acquisition, but I want to believe that most people who are against it feel that no large company should be allowed to buy another large company.

It’s like, does no one remember what Microsoft did in the 90s? They were literally forbidding PC manufacturers from not selling any systems that didn’t include windows.

This deal is bad. It rewards shitty individuals and shitty companies, and hurts consumers and employees. This deal will be a calendar marker of when the gaming industry started to fall. Like when Disney bought Marvel and LucasArts.

Saganastic,

This can't be any worse than the pile of shit blizzard became, and Activision had always been.

Neato,
Neato avatar

If they are truly a pile of shit, then they should fail. MS just wants 2 things: 1) big name games to drive purchase of their console, 2) that sweeeeet MTX money from CoD and King.

Saganastic,

Maybe MS will make starcraft 3. That's the dream.

Stovetop,

Warcraft 4 would be nice, too.

ArugulaZ,
ArugulaZ avatar

Nah, I don't see things this way. Microsoft has been generous with its IP, in contrast to Sony, which keeps its games (and third party games, as was the case with Street Fighter 5) exclusive. Microsoft has licensed its biggest titles to the Switch and even the Playstation 4, and it has a history of cross-platform publishing that goes back decades. For instance, games in the Banjo-Kazooie series were released for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. There's no reason to believe Microsoft will change that strategy, especially with the Xbox Series lagging so far behind its competitors in sales.

If Microsoft suddenly tightens the reins on its IP, consumers will spite them for it. After the Xbox One debacle, they know better than to force unwanted changes to the status quo of this industry.

TwilightVulpine,

They already changed their strategy, Starfield will be exclusive.

Neato,
Neato avatar

Oh you're right. I thought I read it has a contract with Sony. Must've been something else.

Neato,
Neato avatar

Nintendo is not a competitor for MS or Sony. They operate in different spheres of gaming and Nintendo has no intention of competing with them.

Is Halo on Playstation? Of course not. MS has already said future Bethesda games (not Starfield, it has a contract) will NOT be coming to PlayStation. MS has even "lamented" that exclusivity is how you compete in current console markets.

ampersandrew,
ampersandrew avatar

Halo isn't, but Minecraft still is, as well as its spinoffs.

TwilightVulpine,

I don't think that's correct. Sure neither of the others is making something Mario, but they are making open world action games and JRPGs, something that Sony also does. The perception of the Switch as a casual device compared to the PS5 and XSX is something that only exists in small hardcore gaming communities, it doesn't represent the general console-buying public.

A mobile game maybe doesn't compete with MS or Sony. Nintendo absolutely does.

TwilightVulpine,

Microsoft went P2W when it shoulda just git gud smh

Hdcase,

I wonder what the first high profile “Starfield” like exclusive will be.

Sabata11792,
Sabata11792 avatar

With how shitty Blizzard has been the past few years, this may be a positive. I'm not saying I trust Microsoft but I certainly don't trust Blizzard to anything outside of Warcraft anymore. They even mess that up every other expansion.

TwilightVulpine,

The one good thing that might come from this is a change in their abusive work environment

Madison_rogue,
Madison_rogue avatar

Isn't Kotic out after this is all done?

At the very least, that sounds positive.

MadCybertist,
MadCybertist avatar

Yes. He’s gone if this goes through.

phi1997,

He's going to have a golden parachute

Madison_rogue,
Madison_rogue avatar

He stands to make $520 million from the sale to Microsoft. He currenly owns over 4 million shares.

Katana314,

Yes - he had that parachute well before the sale started, so nothing new there.

At the very least, even if the toxic mass of bile continues to exist, it won’t ruin the workdays of people working on Activision games.

parrot-party,
parrot-party avatar

He was going to get it no matter what. There really was no path where Kotic got fucked

Raji_Lev,
Raji_Lev avatar

I'm just going to go ahead and assume that nothing will change for the better.

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