Microsoft: what future for Activision Blizzard games after the takeover?

Microsoft what future for Activision Blizzard games after the takeover

Microsoft has just confirmed the acquisition of game studio Activision Blizzard. A historic takeover of 69 billion dollars. This news, which seems to upset the world of video games, should have an impact on the studio’s existing and future games…

[Mis à jour le 18 janvier à 16h49] It’s a small tidal wave that has just fallen: Microsoft, already the owner of several development studios, is preparing to acquire one of the biggest studios in the video game industry: Activision Blizzard, through a contract estimated at nearly $70 billion. The Activision Blizzard studio, at the center of many controversies following acts of harassment and assault, would then join other big names in the industry at Microsoft, such as Bethesda (The Elder Scrolls) or 343 Industries (Halo).

This news also raises many questions for fans at Microsoft, but also members of the Activision Blizzard communities. What will happen to the studio’s famous licenses like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, or even Candy Crush? Can they become Xbox exclusives, the flagship console of the Redmond firm?

Activision Blizzard games in Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass?

If it will certainly be necessary to wait several months (or even years) to measure the impact of such an acquisition, it is already possible to project oneself on the effect of this announcement for Microsoft. The Xbox Game Pass (online subscription allowing you to enjoy games from Microsoft) should be the first to benefit from this announcement, while Microsoft has just announced that its service has exceeded 25 million subscribers.

Phil Spencer, director at Xbox Game Studios, commented on the official Xbox blog: “First, we’re going to offer as many Activision-Blizzard games as possible in Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, with old titles as well as new titles from the Activision-Blizzard catalog.”

In September 2020, Microsoft announced the purchase of the famous development studio Bethesda (Fallout, The Elder Scrolls…). Following this acquisition, the multinational announced the arrival of many studio games in the Xbox Game Pass. Many titles such as Dishonored, Doom or even Fallout have since been available in the subscription formula from Microsoft.

If the company pursues its strategy, the Xbox Game Pass will be the first big winner of this acquisition, taking advantage of the arrival of several major Activision Blizzard licenses within its formula. It would therefore be logical for Microsoft to add different Call of Duty (including the recent Vanguard released at the end of 2021), as well as various licenses from Blizzard such as Diablo or Overwatch. However, it will be necessary to consider the question of the online role-playing game World of Warcraft, which has a paid subscription in addition to a purchase price.

Towards an Xbox exclusivity for the next Call of Duty?

Microsoft becoming the owner of the license, logic could indicate that the Call of Duty saga would be fully in the hands of Xbox. However, we must not definitively draw a line under new opuses to come on Playstation consoles. Unlike its main competitor, Microsoft has regularly displayed itself as a fairly open manufacturer for the sharing of its licenses, in particular with regard to its biggest successes (let us note Minecraft as an example).

It is therefore quite likely that Microsoft will continue to allow future Call of Duty games, and other major Activision Blizzard licenses, to be released on PS4 and PS5. The manufacturer would lose a lot to deprive itself of such a part of the video game community. The focus, however, should be on Xbox and PC platforms, where more licenses, like Spyro or Guitar Hero games, might be more available.

According to the Bloomberg site, which was the first to announce the acquisition by Microsoft, the manufacturer should continue to distribute several games on Sony machines, but still keep several exclusives for Xbox and PC consoles. It will therefore be necessary to wait a few more months before being fixed on the fate of the Activision-Blizzard licenses.