Dating back to the Xbox 360 era, Microsoft’s biggest issue with its gaming division was 1st party studio output. The Xbox 360 was very successful however, a lot of the games we came to love from the console were from 3rd party developers. The lack of 1st party teams became more apparent during the Xbox One era as the “Halo, Gears, Forza” joke was more than just a joke, it was a reality. The Xbox team has changed that narrative as of late as the Xbox Game Studios purchases put them in the driver’s seat to win the current gaming studio arms race.
As we stand today, Xbox Game Studios is currently made up of 343i, Worlds Edge, The Coalition, Compulsion, Double Fine, The Initiative, InXile, Mojang, Ninja Theory, Obsidian, Playground Games, Rare, Turn 10, & Undead Labs. That’s a lot of studios not even counting Xbox Global Publishing which handles the 2nd party exclusive content. On the surface this is a great list of diverse studios who have the capability to pump out some great content, however, this was not enough for Phil Spencer & the Xbox team.
This is where the recent $7.5 Billion dollar Zenimax purchase that shocked the world proves the Microsoft is serious about Xbox being here to stay for the long haul. A company, even a massive company like Microsoft, will not spend so much money if they did not believe in the future & vision of the Xbox brand. This vision moves beyond the physical Xbox box itself. Microsoft’s target is every single gamer, regardless of the preferred platform. Not to say, Xbox will eventually become a 3rd party developer that, however, if you own an Xbox, PC, mobile phone, & soon even just a TV Xbox is targeting you.
If it’s not obvious to you, Microsoft’s key to get you into their ecosystem is Xbox Game Pass. This service is the driving force behind all of the recent studio purchases. Xbox wants to be able to deliver consistent content to the service. Having a steady flow of 1st party content is the key to this. Even services like Netflix would not survive with Netflix Original content. Microsoft realizes this which is why even after spending $7.5 Billion on the Zenimax deal, which is slated to be finalized early this year, they are rumored to be looking for more studios to purchase.
Yes, rumors as always should be taken with a grain of salt. However, some prominent names in the gaming industry including some credible leakers have all heard the same things. That being Microsoft is looking to make another Zenimax size purchase. What this could be has varied. People have heard all types of names including Ubisoft and most noticeably Sega.
If, and it’s a big if, Microsoft is somehow able to secure Sega it would be by far their biggest acquisition. Even bigger than the Zenimax deal. Sega would instantly fill the need for more Japanese titles on the Xbox platform. The impact of this kind of purchase would send shockwaves throughout the games industry as Xbox would instantly own some current PlayStation console exclusive titles like Persona.
With or without Sega, Microsoft is sure to buy more studios both big and small. The multi-billion dollar company is going all on gaming, which is the polar opposite of reports we saw a few years back. This should and will likely scare the competition into an arms race. We have already seen companies like THQ and Tencent step up their studio purchases.
In the end, this is all subjective. Xbox still has to deliver those groundbreaking experience. However, with so many studios it’s hard not to believe Xbox will deliver just that. There is no telling where Microsoft will truly go in 2021 and beyond with Xbox Game Studios purchases but it is truly fun to speculate.
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