Microsoft’s massive acquisition unlikely to hamper growth in PC gaming

After devouring Minecraft, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom, and more, Microsoft just became the future owner of Call of Duty, Diablo, Overwatch, and Warcraft. Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s consolidation of game studios is starting to look a bit like a freeze in the film industry, resulting in Disney’s simultaneous control of Marvel, Star Wars and James Cameron’s Avatar, its crown jewel.

For now, I’m comparing my feelings about Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard with the discovery that both Purina Dog Chow and Cheerios are made by NestlĂ©: A slight discomfort slides into resignation. It’s true that Disney’s Star Wars and Marvel movies feel basically the same, but is this a result of Disney ownership, or are they the result of a massive mass-market phenomenon that only a mass-market company like Disney can own ? It’s hard to worry that Spencer will somehow violate the sanctity of Call of Duty and Overwatch, and Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick won’t. Would it be better if General Mills made Cheerios?

Right now, Activision Blizzard doesn’t appear to be in lunar orbit.

The amount of PC gaming legacy and game development prowess Microsoft now has does raise some concerns. There’s a danger that decisions at the top of Microsoft are now so overrepresented in PC gaming that they subtly homogenize the entire scene by pushing it in a direction we don’t necessarily like. For example, what post-launch monetization scheme does Microsoft prefer? Will it have a different attitude towards WoW addons?

From the outside, World of Warcraft’s biggest uproar in recent years seems to be related to World of Warcraft Classic, a celebration of the MMO’s past. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

However, I don’t want to overreact. Right now, Activision Blizzard doesn’t appear to be in lunar orbit. I don’t think even World of Warcraft diehards would claim that it’s in the prime of its life, and that Call of Duty’s massive Warzone success is the second attempt (after Black Ops 4’s battle royale mode) to follow others to start years trend earlier. No one knows what the next big thing will be, and in the face of competitors like Riot, Epic, EA, newcomers like Amazon, Amazon now has its own MMO in the new world, and indie developers and modders will continue to frantically Come up with new and exciting concepts, and Microsoft will have to manage its acquisitions well to make it worth $69 billion.