The Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard merger is in a weird place right now. The FTC is suing Microsoft to stop it from happening, while also so are private citizens, but the weird thing is that by and large gamers actually want this merger to go through. So, in this article, we'll explain what's going on with Microsoft buying Activision-Blizzard.
Why Do Gamers Want the Merger to Go Through?
Essentially, Microsoft has built a reputation in the gaming space for being a fairly respectful, likable company. The brand isn't known for horrifying working conditions or especially terrible practices, and in fact, thanks to things like Game Pass or the low-cost Xbox Series S, gamers generally have pretty warm feelings about Microsoft in the modern-day.
This isn't by accident, of course, as Microsoft has adopted its sort of gamer-first outlook since the original announcement of the Xbox One which was widely reviled by gamers and broke a lot of the trust gamers had built up with Microsoft throughout the Xbox 360 era.
Policies from Microsoft like allowing Minecraft to remain multiplatform or being generally fairly generous when it came to supporting Bethesda IP on other platforms, or Microsoft picking up beloved development studios like Obsidian and giving them the budget and freedom to do their thing have also massively contributed to how gamers feel about Microsoft.
Activision-Blizzard, on the other hand, is unanimously considered to be a cesspool of a company by gamers and non-gamers alike. Whether it's the absolutely disgusting working conditions at the company or how employees were forced to deal with sexual harassment at the hands of executives or Activision-Blizzard's widespread, predatory monetization policy, gamers just cannot stand the company.
Whether it's lootboxes in Call of Duty, the destruction of the Diablo franchise via Diablo Immortal, or any number of other things, Activision-Blizzard just has an absolutely awful reputation in almost every respect. So, accordingly, many (if not most) gamers see Microsoft's acquisition of Activision-Blizzard as great news for everyone.
The thinking is that Microsoft will let the talent within Activision-Blizzard do their thing all in the context of better working conditions and likely less egregious and predatory monetization policy. Basically, a win-win situation: Microsoft gets to make some money, employees suffer less, and gamers get better video games, too.
Why Are People Suing Microsoft Over the Merger?
Well, Microsoft is a huge company. That may sound obvious, but Microsoft is actually many, many times larger than perceived competitors like Nintendo or Sony. Thanks to Microsoft's myriad of other products and businesses, it's already a massively successful international conglomerate that's active in many different tech markets.
What's more is that in recent years, Microsoft has acquired many different game developers as well as gone through with huge acquisitions, lthe brand did with ZeniMax. So, Microsoft is basically a huge company with what seems like an infinite appetite to grow even huger. Of course, this causes concerns.
With so many developers ending up under the control of the Microsoft umbrella, a company that has much more money to acquire companies than competitors like Sony or Nintendo, there's the ever-present fear that a large percentage of the gaming market might get swallowed up by Microsoft and end up exclusive to Xbox and PC, shutting out competition.
Related: The Best Gaming Content on YouTube
Microsoft is also a little wishy-washy when it comes to exclusivity. At first, with Bethesda, it seemed like exclusivity wouldn't be a thing, but over time, it became clear that games would eventually become exclusive to Xbox and PC, like the upcoming Starfield or the next Elder Scrolls game.
So, even though Microsoft is going of its way to try to make agreements with different platform holders from Nintendo to Sony to even Steam promising to keep Activision-Blizzard games on their platforms, many are skeptical that one day the huge slew of Activision-Blizzard games out there might end up exclusive to Microsoft platforms.
On a fundamental level, companies growing too gigantic isn't good for the market at large, and considering how big Microsoft actually is, it acquiring one of the biggest gaming companies out there can and does sound at least a little scary to people. Unfortunately, in some ways, folks would argue that a badly managed company with bad practices is better than one megacompany with good practices because competition is ultimately good for the consumer.
Related: You Don't Have to Worry About AI Art
So, while it still looks pretty likely that the merger will go through, and while that may be good news when it comes to specific company in question being acquired, how large Microsoft is becoming is definitely a cause for concern.