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What Can Sony Do to Compete After Microsoft’s Gaming Acquisitions?
Early indications show that Microsoft may approach the new gaming generation with extra attention towards multiplatform offerings.
00:05 02 March 2023
Early indications show that Microsoft may approach the new gaming generation with extra attention towards multiplatform offerings. Instead, Microsoft acquired some of the biggest publishers and developers in the gaming world, potentially creating major problems for those on Sony's platform. So what happened exactly, and what recourse does Sony have?
No stranger to welcoming other businesses under its umbrella via buyout, Microsoft's first major jump in the latest generation of gaming came in September 2020. Microsoft announced it would purchase ZeniMax Media and its subsidiaries for $7.5 billion (£6.1 billion). This purchase brought it with the IPs of The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom, Wolfenstein, and many more.
Microsoft then followed up on this acquisition in January 2022 with the purchase of Activision Blizzard for $69 billion (£57 billion). This time Microsoft came under the control of series such as Sekiro, Diablo, and Call of Duty. Combined, these two purchases mean that Microsoft now controls the release platform of some of gaming's biggest, best-regarded, and longest-lasting developers. If they intend to, they could wield this power to stop many key releases to their main competitor of Sony, doing major damage to PlayStation as a brand.
Playing a key part in Sony's continued success is the new emphasis on multimedia and multi-platform releases. This is best demonstrated by the hugely popular release of The Last of Us TV series. This game was a hit when it was first released in 2013 for the PS3, and it has been kept fresh with overhauls for the PS4 and PS5, and the TV series looks to drive its popularity in the public eye even further.
Multi-platform releases have further broadened this scope. Traditionally, Sony was a developer that only targeted their own consoles, but recent moves to release former exclusive titles like Uncharted and Horizon Zero Dawn to the PC have again served to attract new audiences and raise Sony's profits. These multi-platform releases were initially rare, but if they become more common, they could be a considerable protective force against Microsoft's new power.
Sony could find greater success by extending its online bonuses to the next level. While it has made progress in this area, it should be noted that compared to something like the iGaming industry, and its casino bonus features, video gaming could fall short. In online casinos, deposit matches on websites like RIZK and LeoVegas draw in new customers. The bonuses can be claimed on mobiles, tablets, laptops, and desktops, which is possible but much clunkier with PlayStation games on Sony’s existing systems. Of course, online casinos have some competition and services to choose from, so innovation between brands here can be much more fast-paced.
Sony has a greater chance with more emphasis on its own titles, and through its extension into the PC market. Sony's first and second-party titles like The Last of Us, which is one of the best-received second-party titles in recent years, expanding their range of consumers.
The best support Sony can hope for comes from the UK government, which has launched a formal investigation into the potential harm that the Activision-Blizzard acquisition could cause. Instigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), this investigation has been carried out over months to understand the implications of Microsoft's new deal. While this investigation is now concluding, the CMA will accept new data until March 1st, 2023. Once deliberations have been completed, the final report is expected by April 26th, 2023.
No matter what real and theoretical examples we can come with up in gaming and related industries, there's no question that Sony is working around the clock on the same ideas. Regardless of what happens in the UK, the challenge Microsoft is presenting is one of the biggest the company has ever faced, where failure could threaten its dominant status.
Make no mistake, the one made by Microsoft makes fantastic financial sense for Microsoft, but a lack of competition in the market is never a good thing for consumers. Considering Microsoft's long and checkered history, it's probably not good for the industry to leave it holding all the cards. Even if you're a diehard Microsoft fan, for the sake of everyone, we have to hope Sony finds a way to stay competitive.