If the Activision-Blizzard buyout deal closes, then Microsoft will focus even more on distribution of games, content, and services while simultaneously running its Xbox platform in parallel.
Today Microsoft outlined a big part of its post-merger plans and how it relates to its Xbox games division. Approval of the Activision merger will see Microsoft become more focused on expanding content to as many devices as possible, as evidenced by the significant 10-year Call of Duty deal it has offered to its competitors Nintendo, Valve, and Sony. Microsoft is no longer solely focused on expanding the Xbox storefront per say, but the Xbox ecosystem, further evolving the Xbox platform into a combination of games and services.
Here at TweakTown I've been saying for years that Xbox is no longer a console, but a service that bridges multiple platforms together. The inclusion of Activision Blizzard Kind games will supercharge Xbox's evolution as a broadly accessible platform-market-ecosystem hybrid that delivers a wide variety of content across multiple access points, whether it be platform availability, or distribution model (digital, physical, or subscription).
In short, Microsoft isn't just disrupting the games industry with major value-oriented services like Xbox Game Pass, but it's trying to satisfy every addressable market by any and all means possible.
We've seen Microsoft not only embrace cloud gaming, but redefine it through delivery on PC, mobile, consoles, and directly on TV sets in a way that's wholly synergistic with Xbox Game Pass. This is a nascent avenue but it's still a potentially lucrative one, and despite Sony's pioneering efforts, it's Microsoft who has really tapped streaming's potential with its organic business model and frictionless game availability.
Now Microsoft wants to bring major Activision games to platforms that they haven't been for many years, namely Nintendo, whose last Call of Duty game was Ghosts released in 2013 on the failed Wii U.
This signals that Microsoft is backing up its claims on gaming for everyone, everywhere, however they want to access it.
Xbox gaming exec Phil Spencer echoes this sentiment in today's Bloomberg interview:
"Our intent is to become more relevant on more screens. We have a pretty good idea of how to build a win-win relationship with Nintendo, and, frankly, Sony," Phil Spencer told Bloomberg.
This has been Spencer's messaging from the get-go and Microsoft's plans have moved ahead without Activision content, however the inclusion of the publisher's eight separate billion-dollar franchises will undoubtedly supercharge content value.
Even during the Wall Street Journal Live coverage, Spencer said that Microsoft was more interested in Call of Duty Mobile than the $30 billion+ mainline console franchise:
"The thing that made us really interested in Activision Blizzard King is the great work the teams have done to build such large mobile followings,"Spencer said.
"A lot of that with the King studio that they have, with the Candy Crush franchise...but also if you look at Call of Duty mobile, which to me in a strategic rationale of this deal, is more interesting than what's happening on console between Xbox and PlayStation."
The inclusion of Call of Duty on Nintendo hardware is another big move towards this goal, but it won't be the last. Much to the dissatisfaction of Sony, who has based most of its anti-merger arguments on exclusivity, Microsoft wants Call of Duty to be everywhere...and if the deal closes, it will be.