The Console Cold War

In an unprecedented turn of events, Sony has bought Bungie Studios for $3.6 billion in the wake of Microsoft announcing its plans to acquire Activision-Blizzard for a record breaking $68 billion dollars. If successful, it would be the largest merger in gaming history besting Take-Two Interactive, who had bought mobile game developer Zynga for $12.7 billion just weeks prior. This isn’t the first time that Microsoft has bought out well established game studios to add to their arsenal.  Just last year, Microsoft acquired ZeniMax and their studios (most notably Bethesda Studios)  for $7.5 billion dollars and added their IP’s (or Intellectual Properties)  to Xbox Game Pass like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Doom. 

Activision-Blizzard has created some of the most popular and profitable franchises such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush. 

Since late November 2020, both Microsoft and Sony have struggled to sell their next-gen consoles to consumers due to various technical issues involving the proper materials essential to their production. When both the Xbox One and PS4 were the new consoles on the block, Sony won the console war by selling over 116 million PS4 units, more than twice as much as the mere 50 million Xbox One units. Through Microsoft’s acquisitions of studios, there lies the possibility that many of its acquired IP’s become console exclusives to give them an edge in the console wars. 

Despite these advancements, Sony is still struggling to catch up, and it’s impossible to say who will come out on top in the next few years.

With the Series X and the PS5 still struggling to come out, there’s not enough data to determine if this move will affect sales on either end. 

However, this does add complexity and risks to consumers in the coming years. Both consoles are extremely pricey, leading to consumers being forced to choose sides if they don’t have the income to purchase both. Series like Fallout, Starcraft, and Elder Scrolls could see their fanbase divided with this buyout. Failing to do research on what studios own what games could lead to regret further down the line. 

This might not happen for a while though, as both Microsoft and Sony have been discussing their franchise’s future.

“Had good calls this week with leaders at Sony,” Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s gaming division, said. “I confirmed our intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard and our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. Sony is an important part of our industry, and we value our relationship.” 

Despite his affirmation to work with Sony there is no guarantee that this deal will hold once the agreement is over. As such, PLNU students looking to buy a single console should be wary, and do accurate research before purchasing, as their favorite series may not be available on their console after a few years.

Written By: Caleb Leasure