Microsoft-Activision deal: What will it mean? Talking Tech podcast

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Hey there, listeners. It's Brett Molina. Welcome back to Talking Tech.

You likely heard me a couple days ago talking about Microsoft's huge deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, which is the video game publisher that makes a ton of big titles, including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft through Blizzard, and a host of others. The big concern for some video game players, particularly owners of a PlayStation, is whether they should be worried that one of the industry's biggest games and Call of Duty may no longer be on the platform. I write about this in a story that you can read on tech.USAtoday.com. It's about what it means for PlayStation owners, other fans of Call Duty, other consumers.

I've talked to analysts, talked to experts about this. The one big takeaway I got is if this happens, the deal itself is not expected to close until no later than June 2023, which means it's about a year and a half from now, before Microsoft gets this done. And even then, regulators are going to be looking at a lot of things. Among them is a franchise like Call of Duty, which is massive and sells a lot of games, whether it is something that is going to remain on PlayStation devices. Again, obviously Microsoft spending the 68.7 billion they did on this franchise and on this studio, they're going to want to take advantage of that for their own Xbox platform as well as PC. And the reactions when this deal came out were obviously PlayStation owners nervous about, "Does this mean I'm going to stop playing Call of Duty?"

I think the big takeaway right now is if you own a PlayStation, you don't have to worry about it right away. Again, it's going to take at most 18 months for this to get done, which means that you're not going to see your Call of Duty games go away anytime soon. And one analyst I talked to mentioned that it might be a big issue with regulators, because again, you're tying this big name to one platform. Is that something that regulators are going to think is fair?

Microsoft has said that they're going to keep making some Activision games for PlayStation consoles, but keep some content just for the Xbox. This is according to report on Bloomberg. And Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft gaming during that interview with Bloomberg, said this quote: "I'll just say to players out there who are playing Activision Blizzard games on Sony's platform, it's not our intent to pull communities away from that platform. And we remain committed to that."

So one possible place to look as far as what could Microsoft do with Activision Blizzard if this deal goes through is what they've been doing with ZeniMax Media. They own Bethesda Game Studios. That studio has made a ton of hit games, Doom, Wolfenstein, the Elder Scrolls, Fallout. Right after they announced that deal, they put a ton of those games on Xbox Game Pass, which I think is one of the big reasons why we've seen Microsoft make these acquisitions in the video game space. It gives them a huge advantage as far as a subscription service.

I mean, imagine that you're spending $15 a month and you're getting access to all these different games. Imagine spending 15 a month and you get to play the Elder Scrolls, you get to play Call of Duty, you get to play Halo. Remember, there are also all those Microsoft games that they have as well. Forza. There's a lot there. And on the PlayStation store, there are still a lot of Bethesda games there that you can purchase.

Here's the big thing, though. The next game coming out from Bethesda, it's called Starfield. It's this huge role playing adventure. It's from the creators of Fallout and the Elder Scrolls Five Skyrim. That's going to launch only on the PC and Xbox. So it is possible that we see something similar, where Call of Duty right now, all the current games are going to be available. Stuff like War Zone, things like that. Releases maybe for this year and maybe even next year, we're still going to see on PlayStation, but it might come a time where, say, Call of Duty on Xbox Game Pass. And maybe that's the only streaming service where you can get it. Not to mention, it is possible after 2023 that you could see Microsoft say, you know what? We have this big property. Why not make it something just for PCs and just for Xbox?

Short term, it seems like if you own a PlayStation, you're fine for now. But in the next couple years, it is possible things could change. We'll see. It seems like from all the statements we've seen so far, Microsoft seems like they're committed to not breaking up those communities who have played Call of Duty for this long, but we'll see what happens. Again, they spent a lot of money on this, so it'll be very interesting to watch how they respond and what that's going to mean in three, four years down the road if this deal gets done. It's still a big if. It's still got to get approved by regulators. So we'll see happens.

Listeners, let's hear from you. Do you have any comments, questions, or show ideas? Any tech problems you want us to try to address? You can find me on Twitter @BrettMolina23. Please don't forget to subscribe and rate us or leave a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, anywhere you get your podcasts. You've been listening to Talking Tech. We'll be back tomorrow with another quick hit from the world of tech.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Microsoft-Activision deal: What will it mean? Talking Tech podcast

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