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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Everything Microsoft owns after Activision Blizzard acquisition

Microsoft is acquiring Activision blizzard for $68.7 billion dollars. Here's all the games the company has under its name now.

By: Tech Desk | Navi Mumbai |
Updated: January 21, 2022 9:05:39 am
microsoft activision blizzardEverything Microsoft owns after Activision Blizzard acquisition featured. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is in the process of buying Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion dollars, making it the third-largest video game company in terms of revenue. The announcement follows a series of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination cases within the company, leading to public walkout of employees and numerous resignations.

Microsoft had previously made headlines in 2020 when they acquired Bethesda, creators of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series of games. This new buyout, however, marks the largest in the history of the games industry and is partly met with ridicule, owing to the timing and surrounding drama. Activision Blizzard was not involved in The Game Awards last year beyond nominations and continues to be the black sheep within the community.

The acquisition brings a range of games and studios under Microsoft’s belt, adding to first-party titles such as Minecraft, the Halo franchise, Gears of War, and Forza Horizon. Halo merely saw a shift in developers around 2011, when 343 Industries took over the project from Bungie. The latter went on to thrive as an independent developer and continues work on Destiny 2.

Minecraft’s acquisition was a ridiculous one, where the creator Markus Persson put the game up for auction on Twitter because he wasn’t able to manage it alone. At the time (2014), many saw it as a joke, until a few months later, when Microsoft bought it for a whopping $2.5 billion.

Turn 10 Studios was one that Microsoft built from the ground up, focusing solely on the Forza Motorsport series. In 2009, they were asked to collaborate with Playground Games to create a long line of Forza Horizon games. Following successful launches, the studio was fully acquired by Microsoft in 2018, with Turn 10 being asked to continue Forza Motorsport’s legacy. It is worth mentioning that the last Motorsport game was released in 2017, and not much has been heard about a sequel. But, a 2020 E3 presentation noted that the game will be a reboot instead of a new instalment.

The same year, the company invested a lot of money into independent studios creating original single-player experiences. Notable ones include Ninja Theory, which is known for the critically acclaimed Hellblade Saga and Obsidian Entertainment, creators of the space-exploration RPG, The Outer Worlds. The sequels to these titles have now been confirmed as Xbox and Windows PC exclusives.

The Bethesda acquisition added Arkane to the mix, bringing the much-adored stealth franchise, Dishonored to the Xbox ecosystem. The deal also included MachineGames (Wolfenstein) and id Software (Doom), bolstering the count to 23 first-party studios under Microsoft.

Now, with Activision Blizzard joining the squad, we have the Call of Duty brand heading over to Microsoft, creating both positive and negative implications. On the plus side, Microsoft holds the power to change the inner workings so that COD no longer serves as an annual service. This means, developers could focus on implementing original mechanics and creating better games overall, instead of worrying about churning out a lacklustre title year after year.

On the other hand, this is bad news for those on the PlayStation ecosystem, who might have to switch platforms if they ever want to play another Call of Duty game. Up until now, the franchise wasn’t owned by any first-party publisher, and can potentially turn into an Xbox and Windows PC exclusive.

The deal also includes the beloved Call of Duty: Warzone and mobile games, and could soon be expected to show up on XCloud. The service allows players to stream and play high-end games on their smartphone via the cloud, as long as they have an Xbox Game Pass subscription.

Popular MMO (massively multiplayer online game) World of Warcraft is another major addition, though players already had a reason to be bummed with this title prior to the accusations. WOW functions on a recurring monthly payment system, where paying $14.99 (about Rs 1,120) unlocks more levels, characters, modes, and practically the entire game. In order to strike a deal with longtime fans, Blizzard could let Microsoft implement Game Pass into their system. Players who own a subscription will automatically be given access to the premium segment of Warcraft. This would increase the player base and lead to cross-collaborations, where iconic skins and themed cosmetics hailing from other Microsoft properties start popping in-game. It is cheap, it is reliable, and adds 100+ other AAA games to your library.

Overwatch is probably the one benefitting the most from this acquisition. Balancing issues and the overwhelming amount of hero additions quote-unquote killed the game. Every time players complained about some bug or issues with the matchmaking system, the usual response from the developers was to fix it by introducing a new character to the roster. The effects were seen in the Overwatch League (OWL) as well, where, in order to compensate for the lack of sales, Blizzard moved the tournament from Twitch to YouTube. This unfortunately backfired for the company, as evidenced by the drop in viewership and its lacklustre live streaming system, which made it difficult to find matches.

Regardless, the game was fun at some point, and adding it to Game Pass would be a great way to grow. In November, Jeff Kaplan, former VP of Blizzard Entertainment and head of Overwatch left the company as a way to avoid any involvement with the lawsuit. The development team was left unshielded from the corporate issues, adding to the delay of the sequel, Overwatch 2.

Producer Trace Kennedy also alleged that CEO Bobby Kotick played a huge part in the delay, causing months of OW2 development to be lost. According to her statement on Twitter, Kotick would “shove down” insane ideas and projects for the game, for which, the developers would do over time. All ideas would eventually get cancelled with no remorse for the team. As it stands, Overwatch 2 has been delayed inevitably, alongside their LEGO lineup of toys.

Other games to be included in the list are Diablo, Spyro the Dragon, Starcraft, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, which was headed by Jen Oneal of Vicarious Visions. She was promoted to co-lead of Blizzard Entertainment in January 2021, only to step down from the position when the sexual misconduct cases started to pile up. Her partner, Mike Ybarra will continue to lead the company.

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