I’m really fascinated with this Microsoft acuisition and the reaction to it. A lot of inches have been devoted to discussing its effect on Activcision Blizzard’s sexual harassment problem but honestly, while that is important, I feel like it’s fairly predictable. Kotick will leave after the deal loses and Microsoft will crack down hard. I’m not seeing a lot of surprises coming there.
Antitrust is a little more interesting. Microsoft has not fallen afoul of the latest antitrust concerns but it could here. They own the distribution, PCs and a console, and are developing a dominance in the content with this acquisition. But I feel like there are other fish for the antitrust warriors to fight. I know that should be fry but then I mixed in warriors. Mixed metaphors are underrated.
Anyway, Sony and even more so Tencent are still going to be much bigger than Microsoft and Apple will still be on its heels. And the key in that statement is that Apple and Tencent are fueled by mobile. Microsoft has no mobile distribution control. So it starts to become harder to make the vertical integration abuse stick. I think the FTC and DoJ have more fertile ground with Meta, Alphabet, Apple and Amazon.
So let’s say the merger gets approved and sometime in early 2023 ActivisionBlizzard becomes part of Microsoft. What happens? At first not much. Microsoft will have to honor Activision’s agreements for platforms, so they won’t be pulling games off PlayStation. And new agreements will be happening for time periods a year or more off.
My guess is that Sony and Microsoft get together and play a game of chicken. A game that Sony will want a certain level of exclusivity on and Microsoft will give if Sony lets something like, I don’t know, Xbox Game Pass, on to a Sony platform.
None fo that will happen exactly but there will be face off and they likely won’t come to an immediate agreement. It’s probable they try to call each other’s bluff and we get some anti-consumer announcements from both sides. Sony has a history of that and Microsoft is not afraid to play.
Then after the requisite amount of Reddit rage has been expressed, they come together on some small thing and a slow peace is hammered out by say 2024 or 2025 with some amount of cross-platform cooperation. If Sony does let Game Pass on PlayStation, look for the deep article on ZDNet or some such outlet about the Azure deal Sony gets. My guess is it won’t be quite as dramatic as that but it will be some sort of cooperation that will surprise people who think in terms of 8th grade playground spats instead of actual corporation strategy.
If you would like to talk about Star Wars?
Garrett, Jennie and I have resumed our show that covers Star Wars in order to recap the Book of Boba Fett series on Disney Plus. We’re experimenting with something here to see if it makes it more possible to sustain the show. The episodes are available on Patreon
only for now. If you can’t back us on Patreon for whatever reason, we will release them publicly after the season is over. Basically it’s like getting early access.
And now I’m off to get a haircut. I mean I’m going to get them ALL cut. Oh Grandpa. You and your jokes.