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Opinion: The Microsoft/Activision acquisition-is this Hell or a new path?

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are in Hell, playing Russian roulette with a wheel controlled by Death from Final Destination (Spoilers?). Fun? Damn right! I’m ecstatic!

Why? Well of course it’s the AMAZING news we got yesterday morning at the crack of dawn. Microsoft is acquiring Activision Blizzard! Whoo freaken hooo. Am I adding yet another thing to my “will not support list?” I’m not sure yet.

Granted, the monetary price tag is no small chunk of change- $68.7 billion, considered the biggest acquisition in the video game sector, certainly the biggest for Microsoft itself. By comparison, TakeTwo bought Zynga last week for $12.7 billion, and that was considered big money. Activision Blizzard is currently valued at over $84 billion. So Microsoft is kinda getting a steal.

However, from a business standpoint, it could be one of the biggest gambles of our time, or the best. A glance at the stock market agrees, as Activision’s went up and Microsoft’s went down. Twitter blew up with speculations of whether Sony would follow suit as the console wars rage. P.S., that’s probably a “No.”

Joyous tiding or warnings of doom?

Players took to social media to express their understandable excitement as the prospects of Call of Duty and Diablo joining GamePass. There was alot of chatter about the still on-hold Overwatch 2 and improvements to World of Warcraft. And there are definite positive possibilities of new strides in game development. Joyous tidings, indeed.

There was also an overwhelming anticipation of what this could mean for the accessibility divisions within both companies. Microsoft is working on amazing developments in that department, while Activision Blizzard continues to explore their options in a good way. So, the joint work of both companies could create opportunities for disabled gamers on a scale we have yet to discover. That is a reason to celebrate.

Suddenly it seems Activision has new life, all thanks to The Collector- Microsoft.

Marvel’s The Collector had a bad habit of keeping trophies that could harm him. Credit: Marvel Comics

One can’t deny that is what Microsoft seems to be heading towards: the eccentric white-haired nutball who thought putting Dark Elves and Kree in glass prisons was a good idea. News flash, it isn’t.

Likewise, Spencer seems to be collecting the nasties of the gaming industry, first Ubisoft+ and now Activision Blizzard. Add Riot and we’d have a full house of sexual harassment, discrimination, and underhanded practices. Yay.

Microsoft and Kotick’s mixed messages

I would be more optimistic, but you see, they can’t seem to get on the same page already. It started making sense yesterday morning, as I tried to process that I’m living in some freaky episode of “What If?” why Spencer had made such BS statements during his interview last week. The whole “oh we can’t call the kettle black” kind of attitude, shrugging off the struggles of the victims with the broiler-plate language I am absolutely sick of hearing, dosed me with cold water. I’m not the only one as some took to Twitter to remind everyone what is really at stake.

When I read an interview from today by GamesBeat with Bobby Kotick and saw his explanation of why the merger is happening, well… the words “Phil and I know each other well, and we have a great relationship, and the company has a great relationship,” says a whole lot that Spencer did not. Sources who spoke with The Wall Street Journal said the buyout was happening mostly due to shareholders feelings of insecurity over the drop in stocks and the mountian of lawsuits. The contradictions are a homing beckon, and it certainly seems like there is a dark underbelly neither want us to see. The idea is terrifying.

Kotick’s narrative throughout the interview was “we’re starting to think about all these skills that we need, that we don’t have and that were really necessary, we realized that we should be thinking about ways to get that talent. This was an acknowledgement and recognition.”

Frankly, I’m a bit numb to his repeated garbage. Apparently, he thinks all those allegations are things of the past. Or perhaps, these are the words of a panicked CEO who knows his time is up. The news that Kotick wanted to”change the public narrative about the company, and in recent weeks has suggested Activision Blizzard make some kind of acquisition, including of gaming-trade publications like Kotaku and PC Gamer, according to people familiar with him,” shows the actions of a desperate man. There is no room in the lifeboats for him. At least that’s the word from Microsoft’s end, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Facts are few, but that’s telling too

I am operating off knee-jerk reactions right now. The facts of the entire acquisition are still murky. We do know that Microsoft and Activision will stay as separate entities until after the buyout is complete. That is supposed to take place by the end of the fiscal year, around July 2023. After that, the teams at Activision and Blizzard will report directly to Microsoft.

And yes, Kotick will not be a part of those teams. F’en FINALLY. There is a sense of vindication? Relief? Hell ya? I don’t know exactly how to express it, because along with that is a dark shadow of trepidation. The lawsuits are still unsettled. Raven Software is still on strike. The victims of Activision Blizzard are still uncompensated.

Nothing feels changed and yet everything may be. Hours after the buyout was announced, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trades Commission, in a livestream said they are launching a joint review of anti-trust merger guidelines. FTC chair Lina Khan explained that this is “to improve the ability of antitrust agencies to assess “unlawful mergers” and enforce regulations.” However, apparently the investigation has been a long time in coming and is not directly because of Microsoft and Activision’s deal.

Accountability hangs in the balance on a wire thin line. And the questions about what happens now are monumental.

Accountability and the treatment of women in Microsoft and Activsion Blizzard hangs in the balance. Credit: healthmindpower.com

It is very possible this is just another slight of hand by a big corporation while they get a slap on the wrist, and we all forget when they throw new shinies at us. It is a wonder from a legal standpoint, why a company like Microsoft would buy something so deeply mired in scandal. The legal fees will be substantial. However, it will take months before the paperwork is signed. So, it is quite likely the case will be settled before Microsoft takes over. And raising Activision Blizzard from the ashes like a phoenix would be an epic feat in gaming history.

It could be Microsoft is hitching itself to the Titanic and will sink in the cold depths with Activision. Unlikely, but since it feels like we’re living in a bad night at Freddy Fazbear’s at the moment just waiting for that 6 am, who the fudge knows? The answers are not forthcoming yet, so this is only speculation.

Continuing the watch

Presently, the ABetterABK will continue their work helping those who are victims of the injustices Activision has tainted our industry with. Microsoft doesn’t have a great track record with treating women appropriately either, and while Spencer says they have been working on it for years now, this really is a time will tell situation. Recently they came out against NFTs because of the environmental impact. Will they place the value of human rights up on the same level as the environment? I don’t know.

Part of me is exhausted from thinking about it. But side of me who understand what is at stake will keep on keeping on. For now, all any of us can do is wait and issue this word of caution: Microsoft- tread very carefully. And perhaps get your stories straight.

Alicia Graves

A bit nerdy, a bit punk rock princess, and a whole lot of mom, I'm constantly in motion. I have an enthusiasm for gaming and the cultural complexities of entertainment, both past and present. I don’t believe in limiting myself to one kind of genre in books, comics, manga, anime, music or movies. I prefer to seek out hidden gems in panned pieces, uniqueness in the mundane and new outlooks on nuances.
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