It was revealed on Tuesday morning, January 18th that Microsoft will be purchasing Activision Blizzard in a staggering $67.8 billion (yes, you read that right) all-cash deal that is guaranteed to shake up the video game world. The deal is far and away the biggest yet for Microsoft; the largest for the tech giant up to this point had been its $26.7 billion purchase of LinkedIn a few years back.
With this monumental acquisition comes a slew of subsidiary companies and intellectual properties, some of them among the biggest in the industry. This in addition to last year’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media – owners of Bethesda and their popular IPs Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, etc. – may lead some to declare the ninth generation console war over. Whether or not that proves to be the case, it is clear that Microsoft is determined to strengthen its position in the gaming space as it continues its buying spree into the new year.
Arguably the most notable of Activision Blizzard’s IPs is of course Call of Duty. This prolific FPS series has long been one of the biggest and best-selling franchises out there, and with Microsoft’s acquisition comes, presumably, Xbox exclusivity for the series moving forward, which will be a huge feather in the Xbox cap. Whether that would be enough to sway longtime diehard PlayStation fans to the Series X/S is too early to tell.
However, what we may see is Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot (not to mention the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series), classic franchises traditionally associated with PlayStation, finding new homes on Xbox. These are interesting times we live in, indeed! And while no one can yet say whether underserved classic series such as these, which arguably have been somewhat neglected in recent years, will see more daylight once Microsoft takes ultimate ownership, the prospect has to be an intriguing one for any old school gamers out there who grew up on the sony’s original console, no matter which side of the console divide they place themselves on.
MMO phenomenon World of Warcraft will also be included in the purchase, which will be another big deal for Microsoft. Another popular roleplaying game series, Diablo, will come under the Microsoft banner. As will multiplayer first-person shooter and esports sensation Overwatch (on a side note Microsoft will now also own Major League Gaming).
Microsoft will also be poised to strengthen its position in the mobile games market considerably as it gains ownership of King, an Activision Blizzard subsidiary and maker of Candy Crush Saga. Bubble Witch Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, and Farm Heroes Saga are other popular games made by the Malta-based developer.
Geometry Wars will once again find its way back into the Microsoft fold as part of the deal. The Guitar Hero series, as well as DJ Hero, will also come under the company’s ever-widening umbrella, though no one can say what Microsoft might do with the defunct rhythm game franchise, if anything. The iconic adventure game King’s Quest will now belong to Microsoft, Activision having bought the rights to the franchise from Telltale Games back in 2013.
Starcraft is another legendary franchise of Activision Blizzard, and one that out of all the properties included in the deal – the Call of Duty juggernaut notwithstanding – would seem uniquely at home within the Microsoft family. (And wouldn’t it be crazy if Starcraft Ghost was to happen after all these years?). Other additions to the lengthy list of IPs that will come with the deal include Zork, Skylanders, Quest for Glory, Phantasmagoria, The Lost Vikings, Hearthstone and so many more.
While it is all but certain some of these IPs will never again see the light of day (looking your way, Zork) you can rest assured that many of them will. Who knows – there may even be a few surprises in store for gamers down the road, and no doubt with today’s news many are already dreaming of that Gun remake, or of renewed hopes that titles like Timeshift, Singularity, or Blur might finally get the second life they so truly deserve.
There is no question that this gargantuan acquisition of Activision Blizzard will change the gaming landscape, not only in the console realm but also in the PC and mobile gaming markets. But what impact this will have going forward for the ninth console generation and beyond, only time will tell. One thing is for sure though: Xbox fans are smiling wide this morning.