Goodbye Drama – Hello Activision

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It’s possible that by the time you’re reading this, the Microsoft/Activision merger will be practically closed. We have one foot over the finish line. And yet we never thought it was going to happen. Experts put the potential for this actually getting past regulators at about 20 per cent at one point. Now Microsoft practically own Call of Duty.
And I realise I may well be talking out of turn. Yes, this has been that kind of story. Every guess, every logical conclusion has been wrong. The deal has been scuppered when it was supposed to be plain sailing more than once. Both the UK’s CMA and the USA’s FTC surprisingly moved to block it on apparently spurious terms. Yet Microsoft kept fighting and now, for better or for worse, it seems like it’ll be sorted in time for Autumn. And if not, in time for Christmas. There’s even a chance the next Call of Duty will come to Game Pass, which would be unexpected six months ago and a very welcome addition for the end of the year. When I look back on the original post I wrote about the merger, it feels a very, very long time ago. I’d never have guessed that it would take the best part of two years to get to this point. The facts were and are in Microsoft’s corner. Even after this merger, they will be way behind Sony in the gaming industry. Even with further purchases, that would be true. And further purchases are coming. Whether this closes within the week or if it closes within the year, Xbox will start shopping around for their next acquisitional target. Activision plugs some nice gaps in Microsoft’s catalogue, but there are areas still lacking. They’ll want to sure up their PC and family-friendly offerings. We know they’ve been looking at SEGA and Paradox, both almost humble in the wake of Activision’s purchase.
That is a topic for a different article. The truth is that while the Activision purchase has been frustratingly news-consuming since it was announced in January 2022, it has been fascinating to watch. There will likely never be a purchase as big as this within this industry ever again. Not unless Apple or Amazon (or Microsoft!) decide to snap up Nintendo. Short of that, this is it. Thankfully the end of an era.
I will genuinely miss the discussion, and the theorising, and the glimpses into a world of law and regulation that gaming rarely ever crosses into. This has been a groundbreaking moment in our industry. It will continue to have massive implications for many years to come. Now we can return to the more humdrum questions. Which games will go to PlayStation? Which games are coming to Game Pass? Who will be working on Call of Duty, and will it remain a yearly release? Is there any chance at all that we get a new Spyro game? And, for the love of God, will Toys for Bob get to work on Banjo?
It’s funny to think in the coming few months, most of these questions will be answered.