Back in November 2017, Xbox Chief Phil Spencer said Microsoft would move towards starting or acquiring studios. This move is in an effort to shift some focus to Microsoft’s software development and services. A move that’s endorsed by increasing investments in developing video games under Microsoft’s name. Now, the latest rumor comes from Polygon and states Microsoft may be in talks to acquire PUBG Corp., EA, and even Valve. Phil Spencer said
“We need to grow, and I look forward to doing that. Our ability to go create content has to be one of our strengths. We haven’t always invested at the same level. We’ve gone through ups and downs in the investment.”
Microsoft’s Head of Gaming and Xbox Chief Phil Spencer revealed it took winning over the board and new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to bring some focus back into gaming. With the release of Xbox One X and billions of gamers worldwide, it makes sense for Microsoft to capitalize on video games. Another reason is Trump’s recent corporate tax cuts which greatly benefit companies like Microsoft and Apple. Microsoft has money to spend and that is also evident in their purchases of Minecraft and Nokia in 2014.
Microsoft has come under fire from fans and the industry for lack of exclusive games and the unpopular Windows store. In addition, Microsoft is known for shutting down studios in the past such as Lionhead and Press Play. It is for this reason, Microsoft acquiring big companies like EA or Valve is a terrifying idea for some. However, EA in particular also causes upset regularly by bringing sub-par or over-priced products to the market, closing studios and franchises, and ultimately disappointing gamers.
It seems the console wars rage on and you have to wonder if all of these acquisitions would even help bring Microsoft in line with Sony. This year Sony and PlayStation 4 are releasing lots of amazing titles including God of War, Detroit: Become Human, and The Last of Us Part 2.
What would Microsoft purchasing EA, Valve, and PUBG Corp mean for video gaming?
With the volatility of some of these companies decisions, it’s all speculation right now really. However, Microsoft purchasing EA is being called for by gamers due to EA’s failures. Don’t get me wrong, EA makes some great games and even with their faults many of us still play and love them.
But fans aren’t wrong to expect a certain respect and service from a company and business that many of us have supported through purchases for over a decade. Further, there are also many great games that some would say have been destroyed by EA. Command and Conquer, Baldur’s Gate, Mass Effect, Simcity, Earth & Beyond, the Battlefield series, Dead Space, and The Sims to name a few.
The purchase of Valve is a huge claim and still one that some people are in disbelief about. On one hand, Microsoft buying Valve and the Steam service makes a lot of sense. Microsoft is happy to be a monopoly as any corporation would I suppose. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s own services have struggled in some areas including Windows 10 and the inbuilt Windows Store.
A partnership or merging between Microsoft, Xbox, Valve/Steam, and EA could see everything in one big store. Many gamers would like to see that store look like the Origin store. Or perhaps a hybrid of the Steam store and Origin store would be good. Steam has changed its storefront so many times gamers are dizzy. Each new Steam storefront comes with varying performance and annoyances. Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft’s gaming subscription service and collaborating with Steam then making all the games cross platform would make it the Netflix of gaming.
Why Gabe Newell and Valve Corp might not go for a Microsoft buy out
Microsoft is hoping to get some great game titles under their belt. So, a Valve purchase could finally give us Half-Life 3, Left 4 Dead 3, and Portal 3. Still, Gabe Newell is known for his open dislike of his former employer Microsoft for some of the company’s decisions and their effects on the PC industry. The majority of Steam users are running on Windows operating systems but that could all change.
Back in 2013, Newell said Linux would be the ‘future of gaming’ and since then has pushed for Steam and Linux OS compatibility. Moreover, loads of awesome games are now Linux compatible. Games include XCOM 2, Factorio, CS: GO, Ark: Survival Evolved, and Football Manager 2018.
Valve certainly has no financial need to sell with healthy yearly earnings and new additions to their services regularly. Not to mention money making monsters like DOTA, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and of course Steam. Steam really can stand on its own now. Steam is now offering TV show streaming services (recommend Con Man), films, applications, and programs.
That’s still no reason companies can’t compromise and negotiate ($$) to become one giant gaming monopoly. Personally, I’m doubtful it will be as beneficial to gamers and the gaming industry as some others are thinking and hoping. Monopolies usually seem like bad news and I’m inclined to try Linux OS knowing all the games I can now play on that OS.
What about Microsoft buying Bluehole Inc’s PUBG Corp?
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds hit 3 million concurrent players in 2017 and had a successful console launch despite the FPS problems. PUBG’s Xbox launch saw the game sell 1 million copies within 48 hours.
Last year, Microsoft signed the deal with South Korea’s Bluehole Inc. to bring PUBG to Xbox on an exclusive timed agreement. Rumor has it the two companies are now in talks to extend that agreement’s duration. Some people mentioned PUBG could become an Xbox exclusive along with PC. However, there is also talk of PUBG releasing on Sony’s PlayStation 4 at some point in the future. Further, Bluehole Inc. confirmed they do plan to release on PS4 in the future. Chang Han Kim said
“If we have the opportunity, the final goal would be to launch the title on every platform,”
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds issues and threats with Epic Games’ Fortnite
Despite smashing every goal its set so far, PUBG still has some competition in Epic‘s Fortnite. That is clear from Bluehole’s clash with Epic Games over Fortnite using the battle royale game mode. When Fortnite introduced their new Battle Royale game mode it was very clearly named so and they were open about their inspiration. Epic stated in a blog post
“Yeah, we made a PvP mode for Fortnite. We love Battle Royale games like PUBG and thought Fortnite would make a great foundation for our own version. A few months ago Epic’s Unreal Tournament team began experimenting with the mode while the original Fortnite team kept updating the core game…The new Battle Royale mode was so much fun we decided to share it with everyone to get feedback.”
Epic Games and Han Kim issued a press release basically stating their distaste for Fortnite’s move in carbon copying PUBG’s game mode. The press release went as far to say “PUBG is the first standalone Battle Royale survival shooter game” and threatened legal action against Epic Games.
Regardless of competition, PUBG is clearly still thriving. Just last month a player sold an in-game Bandana on Steam for $1866. Prices have since dropped however many PUBG items are still worth quite a bit. Popular and pricey items include the School Uniform Sets, Bandanas, and the Trenchcoat. Recent high marketplace prices are due to new micro-transaction and free-to-earn items being released in the January PUBG patch.