Today it was reported Microsoft will buy Activision Blizzard for 70 billion dollars. The news lit the Twitterverse on fire, prompting every video game pundit, commentator and industry leader in a tizzy. This is the biggest acquisition by a video game of another video game company, and the speculation, opinions and thoughts will be running rampant until we know more details. What we do know is Activision Blizzard has had a bad run over the last few months. A lawsuit by the state of California filed last year detailed a work space and culture that was deeply abusive (mostly to women), was actively harmful to the people employed and overall just plain disguising. The news broke and the video game industry brought in their two cents. I will say that I fully condemn the actions of the people that carried out these abuses, and fully support the victims and their right to be heard and their right to work in a non-toxic environment. No company has a right to treat their employees the way the lawsuit described. Activision Blizzard is a multi-billion dollar company. We have a lot of these companies these days, and it must be of the upmost importance for these companies to take care of the people that make the product that turns into the multi-billions. The problem is there is such a disconnect between the people making all the money and the people making the actual product. While I hope the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft will fundamentally and totally change the culture and workspace of the company, I fear there is another issue looming; a lack of diversity with the projects themselves.
Firstly, I’ve seen the image of the gaming leadership team at Xbox, and while it is a very diverse bunch, it doesn’t necessarily means that much diversity for video games at Xbox moving forward. It’s not like Activision Blizzard is now going to make a Call of Duty with a transgender lead. We are still going to get the same games we always get because at the end of the day, it’s all about making money. This is another way to bolster the Xbox Game Pass lineup which at this point has tremendous value but will it always be like that? I remember when I paid $7.99 for Netflix a few years ago. Then after the streaming service started to produce more and more original content, the price went up and up and up. I have to imagine Game Pass is not always going to be the lovely price it is right now. Call of Duty costs a lot of money to make. World of Warcraft and (soon to be released) Diablo 4 have an emphasis on online multiplayer which costs money to maintain. I don’t doubt Microsoft has the funds for everything, but does it have the means of creativity to expand these studios? Are we going to get new IPs that bring people in like me. There is not one thing on Xbox Game Pass that has made me want to be a part of their ecosystem. Not Bethesda, not Id Software, not any of the titles that drop day and date on Game Pass. And even if there was, I don’t need access to 100 plus games. I play about 8–10 games a year all the way through, and maybe play another 8–10 just to dabble. And I know what you’re gonna say. You’re gonna say well you’re spending more money than if you just got Game Pass for the year. But then sometimes I’m not going to want to play video games and then I’m paying for something I’m not using. When I buy a physical game, there’s always the possibility of me trading it in for something else, or keeping it to build up my collection. With Game Pass neither of those things are possible.
I don’t know what this means for Playstation. I feel like they don’t really care that much. I’m a Sony Pony, and if I don’t care that much, they probably care less. What I do care about is the consolidation that is happening in all the entertainment industries. When Disney bought Marvel Studios, Fox and the Star Wars license, I was troubled. It seems like these studios and entities just want to have a lot of stuff so that you’ll go to them. All of it is diluting the art that comes out. It’s building a template that it is forcing artists to use, and if you’re one of the ones that wants to do your own thing, you’re shit outta luck. I don’t know what the future holds for video games, but it doesn’t seem great with the way things are going. It doesn’t seem like these studio acquisitions are moving things in the right direction. All they’re doing is giving us more but creating less.