Microsoft’s Cheat Code: Buying Its Way To Gaming Dominance

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer speaks about what the company is planning next.

With the video game industry on track to make $200 billion in 2022 and reach a worth $435 billion by 2028, it’s no surprise that its biggest players are jocking for power.

While the number one revenue slot still belongs to Chinese conglomerate Tencent  (TCEHY) , Sony (SONY) – Get Sony Group Corporation American Depositary Shares Report holds position #2 thanks to the $18.28 billion it raked in over the course of 2021.

Microsoft  (MSFT) – Get Microsoft Corporation Report came in at number four in 2021. But it’s aggressively pushing for a higher ranking — which is a large part of why it announced its intent to acquire video game publisher Activision Blizzard  (ATVI) – Get Activision Blizzard Inc Report in 2022 for $68.7 billion. Activision Blizzard has a full slate of major name hits in the video game world, from the “Call of Duty” and “Diablo” franchises to “Candy Crush Saga,” which is gained ownership of when it purchased mobile developer King in 2016.

However, the path to such a mammoth acquisition has been anything but easy. Activision Blizzard dealt with its own share of scandal in 2021, with CEO Bobby Kotick tangled up in allegations of sexual harassment and facing accusations of trying to ditch the company in the Microsoft sale to dodge liability. The harassment claims have since been settled.

The Microsoft/Activision deal also went on pause after the U.K. Competition Authority, which initially launched a probe into the deal, moved its investigation into phase II.

TheStreet’s Martin Baccarat reports, “They’re very worried about the impact it would have on the broader competition conditions in not only the U.K. economy but around the world for video games. So, it not only increases the likelihood that Microsoft will have to make some remedies to make those watchdogs happy, but also that other competition authorities around the world will want to put their oar in the water on this deal before it closes next year as well.”

Now, Microsoft has made clear that it has no intentions of slowing down on its quest for glory (and well, money).

Microsoft Intends to Keep Buying Companies

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer seems unphased by the potential slowdown of the Activision Blizzard acquisition, instead focusing on his future goals for the division.

“This is such a competitive market, I don’t think we get to press pause on anything,” Spencer said in an interview with CNBC. “Tencent is the largest gaming company on the planet today and they continue to heavily invest in gaming content and game creators. Sony is a larger business than we are today and they continue to invest.”

While Spencer didn’t get specific about what Microsoft may want to acquire next, he made it clear that his plan is to continue pushing the company forward.

“We strive to be a major player here. We want to deliver great content for our players. And we’re going to remain active, whether that’s investing in our internal teams that are already building great games that we know and love, whether its building new partnerships…the work for us never ends. I want to make sure Xbox is at the forefront of innovation and competition.”

Previously Microsoft has acquired an impressive list of game studios, including Mojang (“Minecraft”), 343 Industries (“Halo”), and ZeniMax Media (“Fallout”).

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