2022 has been a whirlwind of events for the video game industry. In mid-January, Microsoft announced it was buying Activision/Blizzard in a deal that cost them $68.7B. Now Sony has announced that it will be purchasing the game development company Bungie.
The acquisition of Bethesda in 2021 by Microsoft and the upcoming purchase of Activision/Blizzard feel like game company warfare warning shots. Especially considering acquiring these companies would add games franchises like Call of Duty, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Crash Bandicoot to the Microsoft family. This list is by no means exhaustive and doesn’t even include the games from Blizzard. With this new announcement, it appears the battle of the consoles has begun.
Some have already taken to the online spaces to make light of the news.
A lot of people think Sony buying Bungie around the same time as the Microsoft / Activision Blizzard deal was fate. Some people think it was a coincidence. I think it was destiny.
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) February 1, 2022
This Ain’t A Scene
The end of January saw Sony strike back, in a related fashion. Announced by Sony on its blog, the studio purchase which cost Sony $3.6B, brings current and long-running franchises like Destiny under Sony’s control. The announcement brought both Hermen Hulst, the head of Sony Studios and Pete Parsons of Bungie together in a joint statement. The bulk of the statement talks about how excited they are for the partnership, but one line stands out;
“… we share a dream of creating and fostering iconic franchises that unite friends around the world, families across generations, and fans across multiple platforms and entertainment mediums.” ~ Pete Parsons, Bungie CEO.
This is promising in general. After Microsoft bought Bethesda, it was suggested that future Bethesda titles would be Xbox exclusive. While nothing is concrete yet, the rapid expansion of console producers snatching up developers and studios is not promising for fans of cross-play and console-neutral games.
Overall, this is still early in the process. While some of these acquisitions seem inevitable, some speed bumps still exist. The FTC is putting Microsoft’s purchase through a review, with Sony’s sure to follow. Though it’s not a certain thing, usually these hearings are entirely ceremonial. The Microsoft situation could still face hurdles though. They not only purchased another studio relatively recently but Activision/Blizzard is arguably a larger acquisition. The risk of monopoly is much greater.
While it likely won’t really cause a problem, it would be silly to ignore the possibility. However, the risk of failure with Sony’s acquisition is much lower. Bungie is a smaller studio, and it would be more akin to when Microsoft purchased Bethesda.
How do you feel about this recent development? Do you think this is the end of the exchange, or are we going to see more studios snatched up by bigger companies? What about Nintendo? Are we going to see the Hedgehog officially be neighbors with Mario?