Ex-BioWare developer and games industry veteran Mark Darrah shares his thoughts on the $68.7 billion Microsoft-Activision buyout deal.
The Microsoft-Activision merger is shaking up the industry and has major implications for the future of the video games market. We've heard Sony, Microsoft, and a number of publishers argue their points on the matter through regulatory filings. We've seen lots of information, including how much Xbox Game Pass and Nintendo Switch Online made in 2021. But we haven't really heard the opinions from developers on the front lines of the industry--especially those that have spent decades at video game studios.
Mark Darrah, who had spent over 20 years at BioWare, recently gave his thoughts on the merger and consolidation in general. Darrah's opinion is noteworthy because he has not only shipped multiple high-profile games, but also gone through consolidations first-hand--Darrah was at the studio when EA purchased BioWare in 2007. Darrah is familiar with the shifts required not only in the games business itself but also the kinds of things that happen post-acquisition.
According to Darrah, too much control could lead to rigorous cost-cutting and potentially reducing creativity. But in the short term, Darrah says the deal could a required step in reforming the damaged culture within Activision-Blizzard.
"I can say that consolidation is probably a bad thing in the long run. Microsoft buying Activision-Blizzard hopefully is a good thing in the short term because it seems like culturally Activision-Blizzard needs someone to go in there with a leaf blower and clean out the dark corners of the thing," Darrah said in a recent Q&A session on YouTube.
"But long-term consolidation is usually a bad thing because once you have sufficient control, you start wanting to control costs, and it means typically creativity goes down, risk-taking goes down.
"So probably bad in the long-term, maybe good in the case of Activision-Blizzard in the short-term though."