Microsoft has been making quite a few moves in the gaming industry after the Windows giant announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, a company behind some of the most popular games, including Call of Duty and Candy Crush Saga. The deal is valued at around $68 billion. According to Microsoft, once the deal goes through, the company will be the third-largest gaming entity by revenues, falling behind only the likes of Tencent and Sony.
Microsoft is already a big player in the gaming world right now but the acquisition of Activision Blizzard is a huge step that will more or less cement its place as a modern-day gaming monopoly. It's not the first time Microsoft is moving towards dominating this sector. There was a damaging antitrust lawsuit in the 1990s that made it hard for the company to consolidate its holdings in gaming.
Despite this, Microsoft has steadily built its presence in the gaming ecosystem and has made some notable acquisitions in the recent past. For example, the company confirmed the acquisition of Bethesda Softworks, ZeniMax Media, and others. Right now, the tech giant owns at last 23 gaming studios. There is also the gaming console Xbox which Microsoft has built into its brand of gaming services over the last few years.
In addition to the console, the Windows giant has also been rolling out PC gaming solutions. It even launched the Xbox Game Pass, a gaming subscription service designed to help users access a huge library of games through the Xbox console. Just recently, Microsoft said that the subscription service has managed to get 25 million new users, underscoring just how popular it has become.
The addition of Activision Blizzard is a huge move for Microsoft. It means that the company will now have an additional library of massively popular games to offer its customers. But even with that, it is likely that Microsoft will face fresh scrutiny by the US Justice Department over antitrust laws. Although the Activision deal is on the table, it can only go through if indeed the merger is approved. So far, the US Justice Department has not made any comments on the issue.
But recently, the Department of Justice, especially under Joe Biden, has been looking carefully at tech consolidation. There were even talks of putting in place measures to break big tech companies. This is not to say that the deal will fall through. But it will get more scrutiny than you’d expect. It also seems like Microsoft is preparing for more scrutiny.
The company is hoping to get the deal done by 2023, allowing it enough time to go through the antitrust process and to put together the funds needed to get the job done. Despite this, the video game industry has often been seen as a niche in tech. It's not really going to raise a lot of press and may seem innocuous for most people. But it is clear that Microsoft is building up its gaming power and will continue to do so in the near term.