If this was where the story ended it would be easy to say that PlayStation was still at an easy advantage in the video game space. While we don’t have exact console unit sales, PlayStation is still estimated to be a few million units ahead of Xbox in current gen sales, with almost double the download base of last gen. That’s with the Xbox Series X|S outpacing all other Xbox consoles as well.
Fortunately for Xbox and its fans that isn’t where the story stopped. Just yesterday it was announced that Xbox would be acquiring Activision-Blizzard-King for almost $70 billion. Nearly 10 times the price of the ZeniMax buyout. This won’t close until sometime during the 2023 Financial Year, but once it does Xbox will have control of historic Intellectual Properties such as Call of Duty, Diablo, Warcraft, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Tony Hawk, and many more. This move will also see Activision-Blizzard games brought to the Game Pass service, both new and old titles being included.
Even with this purchase it only brings Microsoft and Xbox up to the number three slot in largest gaming entities by revenue. They’ll still be behind Tencent and Sony themselves, but the value they’re adding is still incredible and certainly positions them to tackle their goals head on.
This purchase is even more divisive than that of ZeniMax, largely due to the popularity of Call of Duty, and the concerns surrounding the workplace lawsuits and allegations that Activision-Blizzard-King is dealing with currently under CEO Bobby Kotick.
While Microsoft hasn’t detailed any plans of action for the ongoing situation, it had reworked its current Xbox level C-Suite with Phil Spencer now gaining the role of CEO of Microsoft Gaming, and that once the deal closes all of Activision-Blizzard-King will report to him. However, according to people familiar with the proceedings, it is believed that Bobby Kotick will be leaving Activision-Blizzard once the deal closes.
The way that Microsoft and Sony are leveraging acquisitions are unique from one another in many ways. Microsoft is looking at providing more world class talent than they could have previously, while bolstering the offerings of Game Pass along the way. Whereas Sony is looking for developmental support of their preexisting studios, and signing on proven exclusive talent in an official capacity. It’s great to see such fierce competition between two of the giants of the video game industry, and it’s likely that this is just the beginning. PlayStation could eventually feel the need to scoop up a major player to battle the acquisitions by Microsoft, and we have still yet to see news on the rumored “Project Spartacus” Game Pass competitor that is meant to combine and expand on PS+ and PSNow.