What does Xbox do now without Activision? | Opinion

Was I the only one hoping that Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard would be approved in the UK?

Not because I had a strong desire for the deal to close in any certain way. But only to make the whole situation end. Of course, the EU and FTC will have more to say, but the CMA has always been the regulator most likely to oppose the transaction. The hardest challenge would have been over if they had said it was okay.

Instead, we are now. The best part of the year has been watching the two console gaming titans trade blows in press statements and legal filings. The most repulsive parts of both fanbases have seized on every claim and charge, using them as brand-new ammunition in the tiresome 'battle' over whose console is superior.

The deal that was being rejected ultimately had nothing to do with PlayStation, which is ironic.

I've spoken to both Microsoft and Sony over the past 12 months, and the agonised looks on their faces confirmed that I'm not the only one who wants this to be finished. Both consoles are going to have a strong year this one. However, if you bring up Hi-Fi Rush, Redfall, Starfield, Spider-Man 2, PlayStation VR 2, or Final Fantasy, someone will always bring up the dreadful spectre of the Activision Blizzard agreement.

Maybe I'm selling it too much. But let's just say it hasn't been enjoyable.

Microsoft is going to appeal. The tale will go on forever. But the chances have undoubtedly changed. As demonstrated by Microsoft's unsuccessful attempts to do just that over the previous three months, the CMA is not a group that changes its mind frequently.

It was inevitable that the more intriguing questions would be asked afterwards. How will Activision Blizzard be merged if the acquisition is approved? Will Microsoft continue to favour the limited integration strategy? Or will it try to enlist the development and marketing know-how of Activision?

While Activision has a history of creating billion-dollar series made up of large games that come on time and on budget, Xbox has a proven track record of effectively launching games of various sizes that make the most of the most recent technology. It seems like more close alignment would be advantageous for both businesses.

What will Xbox do, though, if the agreement falls through? That is where we stand right now. since the Xbox generation hasn't exactly been a classic one. The Xbox Series platforms are moving in the opposite direction this year as PS5 stock floods the market and sales soar. Although there hasn't been a Game Pass subscriber update in a while, experts have noted a decline in subscription growth. Regarding the games, we haven't had a significant Xbox exclusive in a while.

On one hand, the business appears to have followed the appropriate procedures. Powerful Series X console, reasonably priced Series S, and excellent Game Pass service... Microsoft has the appropriate hardware, the right value proposition, and the right services. It hasn't made any of the errors that caused it to lose so much market share when the Xbox One was first released (nearly ten years ago).

However, in this industry, regaining market share requires more than simply what you do; you also need your rival to make errors. And except from a few minor incidents, PlayStation hasn't provided Xbox with a path to recovery.

Finally, Xbox hasn't gotten it right when it comes to the games, which are the greatest and most crucial component of creating a successful platform. It's inaccurate to claim that the platform lacks games because Xbox this generation has a wide variety of excellent, fascinating games. In January, there was Hi-Fi Rush, and Redfall is getting a lot of good buzz for next week. Service-based games like Sea of Thieves and Grounded continue to produce top-notch content.

However, Xbox has had trouble with those large system-shifting blockbusters. Halo: Infinite just failed to deliver. Although it was a fantastic game, it debuted late, lacked key components, and had trouble keeping existing players engaged, let alone attracting new ones.

Starfield, a significant new IP from the creators of Fallout and Skyrim, is Xbox's next big hope. This one is comfortable. There is a lot of anticipation for it. Furthermore, if it meets expectations for quality (and given Todd Howard and his team's track record, I have little doubt that it will), it should generate a lot of interest in Microsoft's gaming consoles and Game Pass.

However, it will reportedly compete with Sony's Spider-Man 2. One of the first truly next-gen games for the PlayStation is said to be that one; there have been others, but this is unquestionably the biggest. It's the follow-up to one of Sony's best-selling games and one of the most well-known entertainment brands, created by one of the company's most consistently outstanding developers.

Neither title is competing against the other. They are on entirely distinct platforms and represent different genres and experiences. The fact is, though, that even when Xbox has something that might increase interest in its system and services, its competition has something else—possibly something even bigger—to counteract it.

While Xbox's PC business is expanding away from consoles, it could use a few more PC-specific games to complement popular PC games like Age of Empires and Microsoft Flight Simulator. Additionally, it is hardly present at all on mobile.

All of this was made available to Microsoft through the Activision Blizzard agreement, which included IP like Diablo, Warcraft, Candy Crush, and, yes, Call of Duty. The acquisition would have possibly unlocked a lot of what the company is searching for because acquisitions, even successful ones, don't usually go as anticipated. I'm not sure what else could move Game Pass if Call of Duty couldn't.

What does Microsoft do in its place, then? aimed to make smaller, more precise acquisitions? Wait for its teams to catch up and begin providing games at a higher level of consistency? Coming soon are some exciting games. I'm intrigued by the possibilities of Fable, Perfect Dark, and Indiana Jones, and as a longtime admirer of Rare, I'm intrigued by the enigmatic Everwild. But before we start seeing some of those, we have to wait at most 18 months.

The worry is that Microsoft will get tired of it all, which is a common one that has been mentioned since the release of the first Xbox. Its primary business is not gaming. These days, AI is everything. It might simply be easier to sell everything off if things aren't going as planned.

Microsoft has never indicated that it would ever act in that manner. But the strain is mounting. The platforms, services, and technology are all available on Xbox. It features a well-known subscription service, a potential streaming solution, strong hardware, and a large number of really intelligent individuals. Now all that remains is for it to deliver on the most crucial—and difficult—aspect: some really great, incredibly large video games.

Those games would (and still could) be instantaneously available from Activision Blizzard. The business will just have to search elsewhere without them.

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