Is Xbox Chasing Quantity Over Quality?

Massive news today with Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming. Announcing that Microsoft has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard for the staggering price of AUS $97B (Approx. $70B US) Adding probably the biggest line up of IP's and talent to the Xbox Studios banner to date. 

Is this a good thing or are Microsoft and Team Xbox chasing quantity over in built quality? 

It wasn't all that long ago that Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo stood united against the ongoing issues causing ongoing grief and poor working conditions within Activision Blizzard. This is still an ongoing matter with no clear outcome as yet as the case continues to go through the court system and Activision rebuild their own in house culture. Little did we know this acquisition was bubbling away in the background. But we're not here to talk about that shady side of the industry today.

Activision Blizzard are home to some of the most popular franchises in gaming history. Call of Duty, Overwatch and Warcraft to name a few along with amazing, talented and dedicated people across Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, Beenox, Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Major League Gaming, Radical Entertainment, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob and Treyarch. 

Phil Spencer writes the below: 

"As a team, we are on a mission to extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet. We all know that gaming is the most vibrant and dynamic form of entertainment worldwide and we’ve experienced the power of social connection and friendship that gaming makes possible."

"The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own. Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward."

"As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players. We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard."

"Around the world, there is no more exciting venue for fun and connection than video games. And there has never been a better time to play than right now. As we extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone, we look forward to welcoming all of our friends at Activision Blizzard to Microsoft Gaming."

For the teams at Activision Blizzard this sounds like a fantastic opportunity. There seems to have been an issue with working conditions at Activision Blizzard for some time now and unfortunately with recent releases it has begun to show. Just look at last years Call of Duty Vanguard which compared to other releases has been a big flop...

Bobby Kotick, CEO Activision Blizzard released the below via internal email 

"In considering possible partners, all roads ultimately lead to Microsoft. Like us, they have been making games for a long time. Microsoft has already distributed games to hundreds of millions of the world’s computers and computing devices and has technologies and innovation that will support the next generation of games.
Microsoft also will support our journey to further strengthen our culture. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, has been a passionate advocate for caring as the currency of leadership. Inspiring people through empathy is a powerful motivator, and one we embrace as we renew our resolve – and in the work we are now doing – to set a new standard for a welcoming and inclusive workplace culture.

Importantly, Microsoft wants you – your talent, your creativity, and your dedication to each other. Activision Blizzard’s success throughout the years can be directly attributed to each of you. Microsoft recognizes the commitment to excellence and creative independence that sets us apart, and we anticipate minimal changes for our workforce following the close of the transaction. Microsoft’s diverse operations will give us access to valuable expertise, technology, and tools and provide even greater opportunities for learning and development.

No organization’s culture, including ours, is without need for improvement, and thanks to your input, we are making strides in improving ours. My commitment is to continue evolving our culture so that come closing, Microsoft is acquiring an exemplary workplace."

All good things, if they come to be.
The deal isn't completely done yet. It is looking to be completed end of financial year 2023 so a little bit of time away. Until then, Xbox and Activision Blizzard will be operating independently and continuing to build on what they have begun. 

So let's go back to the initial question. 
Is Xbox chasing quantity over quality? 
Given what we have seen recently there are always going to be two schools of thought. While a lot of the games in the Xbox family are fun and well made, they lack that polish, gameplay and story that I so dearly need. 
Plus there is the concern that the majority of titles won't be playable on other systems ie Playstation & Nintendo.
Phil has said he intends to continue supporting the communities on those other platforms but we've heard that before with Bethesda and now, everything is exclusive.
Only time will tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing for the gaming landscape. 
All I know is the next few months / years with everything on the horizon gamers will have a plethora to play, wherever it is that they want to play. 

Pat Clifford (Snoogs)
The Aussie Gamers Experience


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