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Monday, August 8, 2022

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I'm feeling pessimistic about the Activision Blizzard acquisition

“We’re re-evaluating our relationship with Activision” *buys Activision*

When I saw the news about Microsoft’s potential acquisition of Activision Blizzard, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel. I’m not someone who often concerns myself with the ins and outs of the corporate world (I don’t really even understand most of it, to be honest with you), but the implications of this story are too big to ignore.

We’re in the midst of an arms race, and one in which Microsoft is desperately trying to catch up to Sony’s lead. While Sony’s strategy was quality over quantity, it seems that Microsoft is just trying to throw whatever they can at the wall to see what sticks. $68.7 billion, the biggest deal in the history of this industry, seems like a huge dice roll to gain even more money than the absurd amount of money that Microsoft already has (they are in fact the second wealthiest company in the world pre-acquisition). But I guess that’s how you become the second wealthiest company in the first place, isn’t it?

There are a few aspects of the deal that might be okay, like the talks of Microsoft reviving some of Activision’s older franchises. It might be cool to circle back to some old classics, and I’d certainly be interested to see what the 2022 take on Guitar Hero would be.

There’s also the small chance that Microsoft saved Activision Blizzard from folding altogether in the wake of the allegations, but there was only a small chance of that happening in the first place, and it’s all hypothetical at this point anyway.

[Image Source: WIRED]

What I’m left with, then, is all the bad. As I try to articulate my feelings about the whole thing, I keep struggling to find the words. It’s all kind of formed together into this amorphous blob of uncertainty. I’m worried that games will continue to be watered down by too much corporate oversight. I’m afraid already mistreated Activision Blizzard employees will be subject to shutdowns and layoffs. I’m frustrated beyond belief that Bobby Kotick is likely getting a huge payout from all of this.

I wish I could say any part of this deal makes me hopeful about the industry in any way, but when I really think about it, it doesn’t. We really are entering a new age of pseudo-monopolies in the entertainment and tech industries, which is scary in its own right. Maybe it’s just my general existential dread creeping in, but I can’t shake this sense that things are only going to change for the worse. Am I being a bit too pessimistic here?

Probably. But I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than let down.

At this point, my news feed has become a flurry of speculation, and I guess you can add this post to that list. Just when it seemed like we were making headway in making this industry a safer, more welcoming, more creative place, this deal came in the middle of it like a wrecking ball. I wish I had something conclusive to leave you with other than my frustration and worry for the future of games, and that even in a best-case scenario, this whole Microsoft/Activision/Blizzard mess all feels like a net loss.

[Featured Image Source: The Guardian]

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