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The last year and a half has been a roller coaster of emotions for anyone interested in the competitive balance between Xbox and PlayStation following Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Ever since it became clear Microsoft is trying to bring all Activision Blizzard properties under its hat, people have been wondering whether that’d make Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive and strip it from PlayStation, whether Microsoft’s increased portfolio of games would give it an unsurmountable market advantage, and whether all that is even legal.

The last question has finally been answered conclusively now that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has lost its appeal to block Microsoft’s Activision acquisition. Therefore, it’s finally time to ponder the now-unavoidable issue of whether this acquisition spells the end of PlayStation’s rule in the console market.

What Exactly Did Microsoft Acquire?

When most people hear about Activision Blizzard, they usually think of a few key gaming franchises – Call of Duty, Diablo, StarCraft, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and a few others. Of course, there are quite a few others, including some major titles many wouldn’t immediately think of, such as Candy Crush, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Spyro, Farm Heroes, Crash Bandicoot, and Guitar Hero.

That’s a lot of gaming titles to suddenly jump under the exclusive umbrella of one of the world’s biggest gaming console makers. It’s not surprising that the acquisition cost Microsoft a stunning $69 billion or that many people were outraged by it. However, let’s focus on the “exclusive” part of the deal to see precisely how much of a problem it will be for Sony.

Are All These Going to Be Xbox Exclusives From Now On?

The most significant question about the whole deal and why the FTC tried to appeal the acquisition is that should all Activision Blizzard gaming franchises become Xbox exclusives, it could severely unbalance the market and give Microsoft an unfair competitive advantage.

So far, Xbox hasn’t signed agreements with other companies about games such as Diablo, Crash Bandicoot, Overwatch, or Spyro. This means that all of those and most others in Activision’s portfolio will likely become Xbox exclusives soon – exciting news for Xbox fans, but not for anyone else.

What About Call of Duty?

It has been confirmed that Call of Duty will remain available on PlayStation for at least ten years. However, while ten years is a lot, especially from players’ point of view, Sony is undoubtedly thinking further ahead, too. If and when Call of Duty eventually stops coming out on PlayStation, this will be a massive problem for Sony, assuming that CoD is still as popular at that point and that PlayStation has nothing to replace it with.

A similar deal was struck with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty over to the Switch platform, but no such agreement has yet been signed by Valve.

Activision Blizzard Will Likely Become Available Through Cloud Gaming but Not Through Microsoft

The next topic of discussion for many people is cloud gaming. Indeed, the Activision acquisition does mean that many, if not all, of its titles should eventually become available on cloud gaming services. However, in order to get the approval of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Microsoft had to agree to give the cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard games over to Ubisoft.

Still, this can be seen as good news for many players, as it means they will get many new great games on cloud gaming services sooner rather than later. Cloud gaming can be an excellent alternative for people tired of constantly having to upgrade their devices or dealing with disc issues and other hardware problems.

Activision Blizzard Games Will Eventually be on Xbox Game Pass, but Not Quite Yet

Another question many players have is when Activision Blizzard games will become available on Xbox Game Pass. Although no official dates have been given as of yet, the official statement from Activision Blizzard so far is that once the deal goes through (which it did), “We anticipate that we would begin adding games into Game Pass sometime in the course of [2024].”

So, Xbox players likely will have to wait a good while before Activision’s games start appearing on Game Pass, but that should happen sooner rather than later.

What Will the Long-Term Ramifications Be for Sony and PlayStation?

The public position of Sony is that they don’t feel threatened by Microsoft’s Activision acquisition and that they are confident in PlayStation’s future. Yet, a recent document leak by Insomniac Games’ hackers revealed much of Sony’s internal communications, and it’s clear that the acquisition has people worried over there. Granted, things should be safe for the company in the short term, particularly with the assurance that Call of Duty will be available on PlayStation for years to come. The long term, however, seems to be up in the air for Sony.

Regardless of what happens going forward, it seems clear that Sony fears the potential market disruption this acquisition might eventually grow into. The good news for PlayStation is that whatever happens likely won’t be immediately impactful but will have a more gradual effect. This may give Sony enough time to answer the acquisition with a move of their own, even if it isn’t clear right now what move they can make that’d be as impactful to the market as the acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

Still, these types of disruptions aren’t unheard of, and any marketing specialist worth their salt should know that immediate action is needed if Sony is to stay competitive in the long run. After all, such disruptions have happened countless times over the centuries in virtually every industry – from the reveal of the first iPhone back in 2007 to something as simple as US-friendly casinos that offer no deposit bonuses. As a result, one could imagine that PlayStation eventually losing Call of Duty also necessitates immediate action by Sony.


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