A New Gaming Era: Microsoft Buys Activision


Photo by Cameron London Morgan

Microsoft stock price.

Demar Munroe, Staff Writer

PlayStation versus Xbox. Sony versus Microsoft. These are the two sides of a long-standing debate known as the Console Wars, in which people try to decide on which console is superior. This debate has been going on for decades, and will probably continue for years to come. However this past Tuesday on January 18th, Microsoft made a big play for the number one spot by announcing that they are buying Activision Blizzard, an American-based video game company, for a staggering 68.7 billion dollars. This means that Microsoft now reserves the rights to classic video game titles such as Call Of Duty, Crash Bandicoot, Guitar Hero, and the Tony Hawk Skater Series. With the purchase of Activision Blizzard came the rights to other games, like Overwatch, Sekiro, and mobile giant Candy Crush. This single, nearly 70 billion dollar deal may have repercussions for years to come. 

What is Activision? How does a deal like this even come to be? Activision Blizzard is a game studio based in California that is a part of the S&P 500 (the top 500 companies on the stock market) and is worth about 70 billion dollars. This high price tag is due to their wide variety of game franchises, such as the aforementioned Call of Duty. So Microsoft buying an expensive studio like this must be a highly beneficial decision, right? Despite the obvious monetary gain from this deal, Microsoft has some problems to deal with. For the past few years, Activision Blizzard has faced multiple scandals, with integral members leaving and constantly doing more damage control within the company than with their games. For example, in April 2021, Jeff Kaplan, director of the hit Activision Blizzard game Overwatch left the company due to alleged corporate issues. Activision has also had to discipline about forty employees over sexual misconduct allegations. Fans have also complained for years that Activision mistreats their older titles like World of WarCraft and Diablo. For Microsoft, to profit from this historic purchase, some internal issues need to be addressed.

Now, what does this mean for people on the other side of the console wars? Sony, the manufacturer of PlayStation, has made it clear that they intend to continue selling Activision games on their platform. In a statement made recently by the company, Sony vocalized their belief that Microsoft will continue to ensure that Activision games will continue to be sold on the PlayStation. Realistically, this is not much of a shock from a financial standpoint. PlayStation is currently beating Xbox in sales, and it has been like that for a while. If Microsoft were to stop selling games like Call of Duty on PlayStation, they would lose more money than they would gain by people buying their consoles for the games. The more likely deal will be that Activision games will continue to be sold to PlayStation users, but Microsoft will keep the majority of the profit. 

Now that Microsoft has ownership over these huge intellectual properties, how should Sony respond to stay on top of the console market? The best thing they can do at the moment is work on the PS5 restock situation. At the moment, there is no reliable way to get a PS5 outside of resellers with absurd prices. This is due to a combination of unreliable restocking at retailers and scammers using bots to instantly buy any online copies. At this moment in time, the easiest way to get one is to constantly monitor a restock update site, or use an auto-purchase bot. Both of these have drawbacks though, with the update sites not being instant, mere seconds can count. The bots are more reliable, but you may end up buying a more expensive bundle containing games you don’t want. The most surefire way for Sony to keep up with Microsoft is to make sure that PS5s become readily available soon. This would give Sony a huge boost, especially considering that the Xbox Series X faces a similar issue. Both consoles are in high demand, with the average consumer just trying to find what’s available. If Sony can find a way to provide easy availability of their consoles to consumers, then they would easily be able to pull ahead of Microsoft. 

The acquisition of Activision Blizzard is a monumental moment in the history of Microsoft and gaming as a whole. This new deal is the first step in a new era of the console wars as well, with Sony having to play catch-up with Microsoft’s newly expanded library. The deal will be finalized by early 2023. All the public can do is wait and see what happens.