In 2020, Microsoft bought ZeniMax, which is the parent company of beloved game maker Bethesda Softworks. The more than $8 billion price tag for the acquisition grabbed headlines at the time, adding to the perception that the tech giant founded by Bill Gates is just a monopoly, an evil mammoth that plans to take over the game as a whole.
But that all changed after the company bought Activision Blizzard, one of the world’s biggest game makers, for a whopping $68.7 billion.
It’s no longer a matter of perception, but rather a reality: Microsoft aims to be the biggest monopoly in the history of technology, and gaming for that matter.
As always, the coin has two sides.
Let’s look at the cons first.
A growing monopoly
It’s certainly not the first time that the maker of Windows and Xbox has been accused of being a monopoly.
Even in the past millennium, Gates, then CEO of the company, received the worst possible news.
On November 5, 1999, US Judge Thomas Penfield announced that Microsoft, which was only known as a maker of PC operating systems and peripherals at the time, was indeed a monopoly and very evil on top of that. : a company that uses the power in its hands to crush potential rivals.
“Microsoft enjoys such power in the market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems that if it wanted to exercise that power purely in terms of price, it could charge Windows significantly more than it could charge on a competitive market,” findings of US courts said in late 1999.
“Furthermore, it could do so for a significant period of time without losing an unacceptable amount of business to competitors. In other words, Microsoft enjoys monopoly power in the relevant market,” he said. -he adds.
Since then, much has been said about the malevolence of a company like Microsoft; and Bill Gates himself has also been the subject of many silly conspiracy theories.
But it’s not up to you or me to decide whether Microsoft is officially a monopoly, even if it is clearly monopolistic. Still, it’s up to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to probe the situation and see if what Microsoft is doing with big acquisitions is actually harming competition in the gaming industry or not.
What’s good news for Microsoft is that competition is still fierce in the gaming industry with hundreds of game studios and publishers big and small. Nevertheless, the risk is obvious: in the near or distant future, that the FTC may decide that Microsoft is becoming too monopolistic and that it should split up. But until that happens, the company is in the clear and is sure to make tons of money from its wide range of intellectual property (IP) such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch and more. many other titles that Activision Blizzard, now owned by Microsoft, has in its hands.
But the best remains to be said.
The miraculous Game Pass
Probably the best consequence of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is the possibility that all future triple-A titles released by the latter will be on Game Pass the same day they are released.
Just imagine having access to the latest version of Call of Duty on day one, just because you’re a Game Pass subscriber.
Microsoft will likely bring all new releases from the studios under its umbrella to Game Pass on day one, just like it did with Halo Infinite, the Forza series, and other major titles.
I’m – of course – not paid by Microsoft or anything, but I feel more and more compelled to rent Game Pass every day. It’s just a brilliant idea and the cheapest option to get access to a huge library of games for the fraction of the price of a single triple-A title.
Yes, you don’t own any of the games available to you, but who really cares?
All you need to do is pay a few bucks a month – worth at most two cups of coffee – and have tons of beautiful games ready to be enjoyed legally, at no extra cost.
So, from a consumer perspective, Microsoft’s decision to buy Activision Blizzard is a dream come true.
But before ending this week’s column, one last thing…
Fire Kotick already!
Probably the worst part of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is the fact that, according to the official statement, longtime abuser Bobby Kotick will retain his seat.
“Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will continue to focus on efforts to further strengthen company culture and accelerate business growth,” said Microsoft said in the official statement announcing the acquisition. The statement somehow implied that Kotick could be fired once the deal is done, but that’s still in a gray area.
“Once the agreement is completed, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming,” the company added in the statement, hinting that Kotick may leave his position once the acquisition is fully completed. .
Nevertheless, I would expect courage from a company of Microsoft’s caliber and announce that it will fire Kotick from the start.
Kotick is a well-known workplace bully and sexual aggressor. It’s a shame for Microsoft not to have announced his departure now.
Still, at least for PR purposes, I expect Microsoft to fire him once they take the helm.
I hope they do, so that Activision Blizzard employees can enjoy humane treatment without fear of abuse.
That said, I just hope that the acquisition of Microsoft will benefit consumers and create a better working environment at Activision Blizzard.
But as I have said many times before; Game Pass is a gem that we shouldn’t take for granted, especially for people like me who live in developing countries.
Because without it, gambling would largely be an impossible prospect for millions of people. That’s why I agree with Game Pass dominating the scene and Microsoft being a bigger monopoly than it already is.