Microsoft Is The Games Industry’s Disney

Microsoft Is The Games Industry’s Disney

Microsoft’s recent purchase of Activision Blizzard may have dire implications for the gaming industry, as it emulates Disney’s practices in film.

Editor’s Note: A lawsuit has been filed against Activision Blizzard by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which alleges the company has engaged in abuse, discrimination, and retaliation against its female employees. Activision Blizzard has denied the allegations. The full details of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit (content warning: rape, suicide, abuse, harassment) are being updated as new information becomes available.

Disney is widely known for conquering its competition and dominating the entertainment media industry, but Microsoft could become a similar giant when it comes to the gaming industry. Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard generated a lot of interest when it went through, with the company now gaining control of key franchises like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. While there’s still significant competition between gaming consoles and developers, more companies are steadily falling victim to buyouts under more prominent brands. Unfortunately, this is damaging to the gaming industry in the long run and could create an oligopoly similar to Disney’s.


Disney began its takeover with Pixar and continued with its acquisitions of Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 20th Century Fox. Now, most movies in theaters and popular television shows have some connection to the conglomerate in an embarrassing oligopoly. For the past 50 years, its success has accumulated enough profits to ensure Disney could easily purchase any of its limited competition. With amusement parks and hundreds of IPs under its control, Disney is unlikely to receive any serious contender for a long time. Unfortunately, a company of this size and influence bodes poorly for the entertainment industry’s future, as a single entity’s profit margins determine ‘acceptable’ content.

Related: Why Microsoft Should (& Shouldn’t) Have Bought Activision Blizzard

Microsoft appears to be following Disney’s footsteps by acquiring Activision the same way Disney bought out Fox. This deal brought Microsoft up to the third biggest gaming company globally, right behind Tencent and Sony, according to each company’s current value. Despite the Blizzard scandals and workplace misconduct, games like Hearthstone, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft are incredibly profitable IPs. The money from microtransactions and subscriptions can likely provide a steady revenue stream. Additionally, Microsoft’s purchase of Activision only furthers Xbox’s control over the market and deals a decisive blow against Sony’s PlayStation in the console wars.

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Though Microsoft hasn’t created a monopoly over the gaming industry yet, especially with mobile gaming and PlayStation consoles still in the running, it’s succeeding in cornering off sectors of the gaming industry with alarming swiftness. Many FPS titles, like Call of Duty, now belong to Xbox. In an age where console exclusives should be phasing out for accessibility, Microsoft may have made their presence unavoidable in the near future. Despite pledging that current Activision Blizzard titles on PlayStation wouldn’t become Xbox exclusives, there’s no guarantee that this promise will hold.

Disney’s control over entertainment media and acquisition of IPs (like Star Wars) resulted in the cancellation of several unique projects and forceful restructuring to several entities. Unfortunately, it’s possible that Microsoft’s hold over Activision Blizzard and its other gaming assets could present a similar threat to existing franchises. In an age when AAA games have frequently disappointed players with microtransactions, false advertising, half-finished launches, and countless glitches – Activision Blizzard’s included – it’s too early to tell whether or not Microsoft’s acquisition will inhibit these problems.

It remains to be seen if Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is truly good or bad for the gaming industry. Still, given the trends with Disney’s acquisitions, it’s likely that Microsoft won’t stop seeking new assets. While players can look forward to a slew of upcoming game releases in 2022, it’s unknown how Activision’s recent buyout will affect its products long-term, but changes are likely incoming. Xbox’s control of popular franchises like Call of Duty and Overwatch may present difficulties for PlayStation fans in the future, even if for the time being, Activision Blizzard’s upcoming catalog remains multiplatform.

Next: Why Microsoft Just Bought Activision Blizzard

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