Microsoft’s $70 Billion Purchase Of Activision Was Inevitable

Microsoft's $70 Billion Purchase Of Activision Was Inevitable

Phil Spencer

Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN (Getty Images)

Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard was new capital today, both in terms of the magnitude of the case and its shock value. But we shouldn’t be too surprised. It was inevitable. A handful of companies have always wanted to own it all, and nothing will stop them.

The proposed sale – the technicalities dictate that I must remind you that it has yet to be approved – involves some shocking numbers. $70 billion is counterfeit money, a fictitious sum normally reserved for national budgets and defense agreements. The union of these two companies, with all these properties and all these games, alongside a home console and a massively popular subscription service, instantly changed the entire shape of the video game industry.

But a deal like this was always going to happen sooner or later, and if it wasn’t Microsoft and Activision, it would have been Sony and EA, or Tencent and Ubisoft, or someone else buying something else. Because that’s how it works. Video games are trapped in the same hellish systems as everything else on this planet, and are subject to the same cruelly unfair, almost dystopian rules.

It’s all about money. All. It’s all about steady growth, rising stock prices and dividends, while everything for us as people who love to play games gets worse, from exploitative microtransactions to shoddy launches in going through the looming threat of NFTs.

It’s like Microsoft just can’t help it, despite the fact that they’re already literally the second richest company on the planet, a company that already makes video game consoles, was already a publisher of games, already owned game studios and had already made some of the biggest games on the planet. They couldn’t help it because there is no rest for the rich. Corporate inertia means that there is no satisfaction in being big enough, or powerful enough, or rich enough, when there is always the possibility – and shareholder demand – of having more.

It’s almost comical that Microsoft spent $70 billion on a company called Activision Blizzard King, the result of mergers between three previously independent (and hugely successful in their own right!) companies coming together just to make money for some investors. , only for this company. eventually redeemed. There is always a bigger fish!

Remember that this is not a normal purchase. There is simply no precedent for a sale of this magnitude in the video game industry. Biggest previous acquisition before this one was the $12 billion paid by Take-Two for Zynga… earlier this month. The biggest before that was the $8 billion Tencent paid for Supercell. Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard is in a whole different stratosphere.

To put it into perspective, both financially and culturally, it’s a “Disney buys Pixar and Star Wars and Marvel” storyline. Disney’s monolithic domination of popular culture over the past decade has been absolute, and it sucks. He was there for all to see for all these years, screwed up everything from the rest of the film industry to the theaters and that’s the kind of large-scale deal that’s now happening for games as well video, like this grim reaper meme going door to door.

Look at the ongoing consolidation in other industries. Amazon is devouring every store in America and crushing entire cities under its feet. Google and Apple know everything about you, sell all the ads on the planet, and kill the media along the way. Almost anything you buy at a grocery store owned by only ten companies.

It’s boring and it’s dangerous (monopolies are ironically terrible for a free and open market), but even gloomier than the economic realities is the fact that in a system where only the pursuit of profit matters, there is no there is no room for justice. Bobby Kotick deserved to be kicked out of Activision with nothing. Instead, he’s going to leave at sunset with more money than we could ever hope to spend – for on top of the obscene sums he’s already made– and will not suffer any repercussions for his role in promoting and protecting a company-wide culture of harassment that lasted for decades.

What really pissed me off today, however, wasn’t this deal itself – as I said, it was happening, regardless of who was involved – but what it means. It’s not a shock one-time purchase, where every other company involved in video games just sits back and thinks, wow, that’s bad news for us, but we’re just going to carry on as if nothing happened and hope for the best. No, because this system is sick and deranged and the only impetus left for competition is to do the same, consider this:

It’s the future. There’s no way boardrooms everywhere from EA to Ubisoft to Sony won’t be full this week with panicked executives talking about their options for something similar, because their only instinct will be to match that. To keep up, make the stock price go up, until there are only 2 or 3 companies left at the top of the food chain, and things get a little worse for the rest of them. ‘between us. Because they don’t know anything else.


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