Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard King is scheduled to be completed by Friday, October 16th. After many setbacks, the Redmond-based tech giant is on track to take over the publisher and its numerous long-running (and dormant) IPs including the huge Call of Duty franchise and all that entails. Microsoft's strategy with acquisitions so far has been to leave its purchases alone, and let them continue to function as they have been with the only real change being their titles will now be released on Xbox Game Pass.

While it is easy to see why Microsoft may want to continue this trend, this would be a mistake for the Xbox brand and its new subsidiary. Not only could this continue the downward trend of first-party titles but it could further erode the struggling reputation of ABK. Additionally, there are several simple improvements Microsoft could make to Activision Blizzard King to find a return on its investment.

Earlier this year, Microsoft released Arkanes's Redfall to near-universal apathy with the Xbox version only receiving a 56 on the review aggregate website- Metacritic. Due to the negative reception, Xbox CEO Phil Spencer had an interview with the YouTube group Kinda Funny to address some of the issues that occurred when developing the title. While several primary takeaways were mentioned that could have been implemented to get the game in an acceptable shape, Spencer stated a specific lesson that he learned.

Microsoft Acquisition, ABK Gives, Xbox, Activision

He acknowledged that Microsoft should have been more active early in the development process so that it could have foreseen some of these problems before they occurred and provided resources for Arkane to meet expectations set forth for how first-party titles need to be perceived. Many fans agree with this sentiment and it is the correct lesson learned but now Microsoft needs to prove it can correct its previous missteps and it has the perfect chance to do so due to its purchase of ABK, especially given the publisher's recent struggles.

Microsoft’s offer came at the perfect time for Activision Blizzard as it has found itself in a tough spot over the past couple of years. Despite Call of Duty being a massive source of revenue, generating a combined lifetime sales of 425 million copies, its massive weight was starting to put pressure on the publisher. Before Microsoft's acquisition, ABK's stock price relied on releasing a new entry in the shooter series every year, which spelled trouble for the publisher as game development cycles continued to lengthen over the previous and current generations. Their solution was to add a third team (Sledgehammer Games) to the franchise alongside developers Infinity Ward and Treyarch.

This allowed the games to be on three-year cycles, instead of the previous two-year development times, and while this worked for some time, these new time constraints were quickly stressed as well. Unable to add an entire fourth developer, ABK started adding teams from inside the company including Crash 4 developer, Toys for Bob. While this strategy may be the most beneficial financially, this has destroyed the company's reputation from a creative lens. Its sole focus on Call of Duty has led its other beloved franchises to gather dust including Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot. While this may have worked for ABK as a stand-alone publisher, Microsoft did not spend almost 69 billion dollars to put Call of Duty on Game Pass. ABK's value to Xbox stems from its entire catalog of games it has released over its 25-year history.

Many of Activision's published games are fondly remembered by its fans. Before it became known as the COD publisher, it had a long line of successes with the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series standing out as one of the most notable. In 2020, ABK released a remaster of the first two titles in the series to incredibly positive fan and critic reception.

However, since then the publisher has abandoned the series despite the third entry's status as arguably the strongest of the franchise. When Microsoft's purchase goes through, it should immediately commission a team to get to work on remastering the third and fourth entries. A remaster would be much less expensive and lengthy than a brand-new game, but it would be a huge boon and add a lot of goodwill to both Xbox and ABK at a time when both companies need it. It would also be perfect to drop onto Game Pass during a lull in AAA releases as it has a built-in fanbase that will generate excitement for the release to such an extent that the game could carry a slower month on its own.

Microsoft Acquisition, ABK Gives, Xbox, Activision

Another forgotten set of IP Activision once held was Marvel Comics. Before Insomniac created one of the best superhero games as a PlayStation Exclusive, Activision released a decent amount of games starring the web-head. While they may not have the sheen and polish of the upcoming PlayStation 5 exclusive, certain entries such as Spider-man 2 are still regarded as a pioneer of the superhero genre and a remaster would give Xbox fans an adequate (though not exact) substitute. While this remaster may be trickier due to the licensing issues, Microsoft is a big enough company that it could work with Disney to get these issues resolved. After all, if Xbox can get a brand-new Indiana Jones exclusive, and Star Wars can have a majority of its legacy titles remastered for modern consoles, why can’t Spider-man?

Activision Blizzard King is a behemoth of a company and its acquisition is one of the largest deals ever made, not just in the video game industry. Due to the complicated nature of the purchase, it would be easy for Microsoft to leave the company alone, but this would be repeating the mistakes made following its buy-out of Bethesda. Furthermore, this would continue the downward spiral ABK finds itself in with the Call of Duty franchise. The best thing Microsoft could do is remaster some of those forgotten titles to not only bolster its Game Pass service but also see where interest lies for new installments. ABK has a library of beloved but neglected series Microsoft can revisit to recoup that 68 billion dollars and I think Phil Spencer knows this. We also saw the Hexen shirt, Phil. It is time to get to work.

Simon Estey
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Activision
Developer(s): Infinity Ward, Beenox
Genres: First-person Shooter
Themes: Military Shooter
Release Date: 2020/03/31

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