People have been talking about the possibility of Microsoft leaving the video game industry entirely or stopping making all of its games available on day one for Game Pass. This topic has received a lot of attention over the past few weeks due to the fact that there has been a lot of discussion about Microsoft losing its grip on its Xbox business. I am unsure of the level of seriousness with which these comments were made; however, it is clear why they have surfaced now, rather than at any other point in the recent past, as Microsoft makes a spectacle of itself in its failed attempts to acquire Activision Blizzard.
I have no idea whether or not the deal will actually be completed. I had the impression that it was a foregone conclusion that they would get what they want because of their extraordinary wealth, but it appears that they are, at the very least, being asked to work hard for it. It seems that the most likely consequence is that they will be compelled to make even more concessions to Sony, which may result in the agreement no longer being worthwhile despite all of the effort that was put into it.
Even if it is successful, they will have squandered the past year working on it, and as a direct result, their game selection will be far inferior. You could say it’s a coincidence that Microsoft has not launched any noteworthy games when all the Activision Blizzard stuff has been going on, but the other constant news story over the past year has been about terrible management across numerous Xbox studios. Whether or not this is true, there is now no production going on, and I have the impression that Microsoft is starting to lose control of the issue.
Suppose for a moment that the Activision Blizzard purchase does not go through and that Microsoft has spent all of that time, money, and effort on something that would ultimately amount to nothing. As was pointed out last week by one of our readers, boss Phil Spencer has been in command of Xbox for over a decade at this point, so I would assume that he is going to be subjected to some severe interrogation in the coming days. Although though he normally says all the right things, the reality is that he has very little to show for the period he spent in charge, other than a group of new developers who have not yet released anything.
At the moment, Microsoft as a whole corporation is completely preoccupied with ChatGPT and the realization that Bing is at last becoming useful and is being utilized by people. It is easy to overlook how enormous Microsoft is, as well as the fact that gaming is a negligible part of the company’s overall operations and contributes virtually nothing to its revenue. I believe that very serious concerns are going to be asked, just as they apparently were following the failure of the Xbox One, if Xbox continues to show minimal growth and the risk on buying Activision Blizzard does not pay off.
Selling the Xbox business to Sony would be the straightforward response I would give to these questions. Even though they are a lot smaller firm than Microsoft, they are more than capable of affording the Xbox division, especially if it is being sold off because it is in difficulties. You might suggest that Microsoft should sell it to Google or Amazon or another megacorporation, but keep in mind that those companies are Microsoft’s direct competitors, while Sony isn’t one of them. As a relatively minor actor on the international stage, Sony ought to be Microsoft’s ally rather than its adversary. Microsoft developed the Xbox because the company did not want Sony to “take control of the living room,” but this idea is now entirely out of date and no longer relevant.