Microsoft rumored to be buying...... [2020-04, 2020-07, 2020-11]

Discussion in 'Console Industry' started by Nesh, Apr 18, 2020.

  1. eastmen

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    Don't forget Ultima online almost 25 years of constant revenue
     
  2. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    I've listed the studio acquisitions by year that I could find below - along with the tiles the companies were known for at the time of acquisition. I've included Halo for Bungie because Halo was almost complete and getting major buzz - it's why Microsoft bought Bungie, not for Marathon!

    This show's Microsoft have been consistently more active in acquisitions than Sony. By 2005 - when the Xbox 360 launched - both companies had acquired five studios - remembering Sony entered the video game business a generation earlier than Microsoft.

    I would argue that Sony's acquisitions have not been predicated on on acquiring IP. With the exception of Wipeout, most of the IP the studios were known for were quickly dropped after acquisition, or the rights already owned by Sony (e.g. Insomniac). Microsoft have a distinct record here with more games in from acquired IP like Halo, Fable, Minecraft, Hellblade, State of Decay, Forza Horizon - and presumably Doom, Wolfenstein, Elder Scrolls, Fallout etc.

    Microsoft acquisitions
    1. 2000 Bungie (Marathon, Halo)
    2. 2000 Digital Anvil (Chris Robert’s founded company)
    3. 2001 Ensemble (Age of Empires)
    4. 2002 Rare
    5. 2006 Lionhead (Populous, Black & White, Fable)
    6. 2011 Twisted Pixel (The Maw, ‘Spoon Man)
    7. 2014 Mojang (Minecraft, Scrolls)
    8. 2018 Ninja Theory (Heavenly Sword, DmC, Enslaved, Hellblade)
    9. 2018 Undead Labs (State of Decay)
    10. 2018 Compulsion Games (Contrast, We Happy Few)
    11. 2018 Playground Games (Forza Horizon)
    12-17. 2020 Zenimax (id, Bethesda, Arkane, AlphaDog, MachineGames, Roundhouse)

    Sony acquisitions
    1. 1993 Psygnosis (Wipeout)
    2. 2000 Eidetic/Bend (Syphon Filter)
    3. 2001 Naughty Dog (Crash Bandicoot)
    4. 2002 Incognito Games (Twisted Metal)
    5. 2005 Guerrilla Games (Killzone)
    6. 2006 Zipper Interactive (SOCOM)
    7. 2007 Evolution Studios (WRC)
    8. 2007 Bigbig Studios (PSP games)
    9. 2010 Media Molecule (Little Big Planet)
    10. 2011 Sucker Punch (Sly Cooper)
    11. 2019 Insomniac Games (Spyro, Ratchet & Clank, Resistance, Spiderman)

    It's just business.. :yep2:
     
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  3. liams

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    100% agree, what I was trying to get at is that Microsoft studio management/growth strategy, until recently, was lackluster
    Listing the acquisitions that each company has made by year is hugely informative, thanks for doing that!

    I must admit that I thought the lionhead acquisition happened earlier. I think what the data you posted actually shows the opposite of what your saying, "microsoft has been consistently more active in acquisitions than sony" isnt reflected in the data that you posted, as you say both companies where even on the acquisition front in 2005, (and thats still the case in 2006, where they both acquired someone) but since then microsoft hasn't invested materially into its first party, aside from twisted pixel, which didnt really do much for the state of first party software on xbox, until 2018. This is a bit of a weird position on my part admittedly, but I dont consider Mojang to be an xbox game studio when thinking about comparing sony and xbox's strategy. Mojang wasnt acquired to help xbox in any way, in reality it was acquired to push office/windows in an educational environment, (among other related things), not to make first party games for xbox. I realise this is a weird stance because they are in fact a game studio that microsoft acquired, but its what I think.

    So in my view microsoft didn't acquire anything of substantial note for xbox between 2006 and 2018, a period of 12 years. During those 12 years they closed down studios that they already had, and failed to grow the teams that they did have. This is in stark contrast to sony, who between 2006 and 2018 acquired four game developers, the standout in my opinion being sucker punch, who most recently made Ghosts of Tsushima. And built their existing teams, like Naughty Dog, and Guerrilla games, into the power houses that they are today. The only xbox studios that exist today that where around in 2006 are Rare and Turn 10, the rest are newer than that, and thats crazy.

    Really I think the biggest material difference between Microsoft and sony until recently has been what they think a team is capable of, sony has always believed (at least from an outside perspective), that a team can always better itself, and even if the game franchise that they are currently working on is successful, that even more success could be around the corner. The prime example of this is Naughty Dog with uncharted, I guarantee that if Naughty Dog was somehow a xbox studio from the beginning that they wouldn't have moved on from uncharted, because microsoft didnt believe that its teams were capable of more, and would have been scared that whatever new ip a studio was making wouldnt be received well. Thankfully this point of view has been thoroughly killed at microsoft, the old management would never have let Playground games make an open world RPG, because it wouldnt be 'in their wheelhouse'

    There is no reason that FASA interactive couldn't have been an amazing developer standing beside other first party studios, but microsoft didn't invest into the team and closed them down in 2007, what a waste. (I'm salty that we dont have any new MechWarrior, or Crimson Skies games, or a shadowrun sequel :/)

    I agree, the only thing I would push back on slightly is State of Decay and Forza Horizon weren't IP acquisitions, microsoft already owned the IP when they acquired the studios
    As I said above, thanks for listing things out, it really helps to see more clearly what acquisition each company has made.

    I think gist of my view point is that the reason that Microsoft, atleast right now is acquiring big name IPs is because they dont have a decade to build up a new IP from an in house team, they need to "fight fire with fire" as it were with sony, and sony has big IPs. The other part of this imo, is that Microsoft wants experienced teams that have a history of well executed games developed in a timely manner, it just so happens that basically all the game developers that fit that description also have big IPs. As an example, I think its fair to say that Microsoft didn't acquired obsidian solely for its pillars of eternity games, that was incidental, now admittedly pillars of eternity isnt the biggest IP ever.

    In fact, recently, as in since 2018, I would argue that Microsoft hasn't predominantly been acquiring companies for their IP, aside from Ninja theory who is making Hellblade 2, and of course zenimax, the other teams they acquired dont have big IPs attached to them. Aside from Zenimax's IPs I would argue that the studio with the biggest IP that Microsoft acquired was Playground with Forza horizon, but Microsoft already owned that IP

    in my opinion, I think Microsoft is largely done buying developers with big name IPs attached, now that they have a very solid foundation IP wise I expect them to pivot to something more akin to what sony has historically done, which is to acquire solid medium-ish size team and then grow them from their (insomniac aside). If microsoft goes down this route I dont think it will be as fruitful as what sony has achieved, mostly because of how hands off Microsoft apparently is, but I expect them to do this in greater numbers than sony has, so will likely net more success in an overall NET sense.

    I would love to be a fly on the wall at the strategy meeting that both xbox and playstation are having internally, to see where xbox wants to grow next into new markets, and their growth strategy, both organic and inorganic. And playstation to find out their plans for doubling down on the big AAA releases they are known for and expanding into other forms of media, and to see what they think of game pass, and if they feel like they need to materially respond to it.

    Its a very exciting time in the video game industry thats for sure
     
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  4. Eolirin

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    Ultimately it's £8 instead of nothing, though right? Or they end up with enough stuff that you feel that a Series S is worth investing in. At which point there's a real possibility that you start shifting your attention more to their platform.
     
  5. Silent_Buddha

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    Some of this takes me back. Just some interesting footnotes for those that weren't around at the time. The Digital Anvil acquisition happened because the company was about to go bankrupt and MS wanted Chris Roberts on board. They weren't terribly interested in the IP itself. However, once they got Chris Roberts on board, they discovered that he was bad at meeting deadlines and Chris Roberts wasn't keen on being forced to meet deadlines, so Chris Roberts ended up leaving. Without him at the helm, the development team kind of dwindled away.

    A similar situation happened with Lionhead. They weren't interested in the IP, but were very interested in getting Peter Molyneux and his development team on board. This was an acquisition more for the talent and reputation (Peter Molyneux was a legend in the gaming world at the time) than the IP (Black & White). What luck, he also ended up being incredibly bad at meeting anything resembling a deadline. And MS games studios can thank him for the increased oversight from MS up until Phil Spencer was put in charge.

    It's notable that Phil Spencer predates the Lionhead acquisition and the lockdown that occurred with MS Game Studios after that happened (he started as an intern with MS back in 1988). It's likely that one of his first priorities when he took over was to return MGS back to how they operated before the Lionhead acquisition when internal game studios had far more independence.

    We'll have to see where they go with their most recent purchases, but (IMO) they were again acquired more for the talent than their IP. Compulsion games for example, doesn't exactly have an eye catching IP lineup. Playground Games, I don't believe are being required to make another Forza Horizon game. Hellblade 2 was already in the works when they were acquired, but they likely have the freedom to make whatever they want afterwards, although that may change if Hellblade 2 ends up as a huge blockbuster. Basically, the acquired teams have been told they can make whatever they want with few restrictions.

    I'm reminded of an interview with Brian Fargo last year where he mentioned that he floated an idea for a game that he thought might not get approved. However, not only was it approved, but the person in charge of the process (I can't remember his name) even told him that he didn't want to know too many details. The less details he knew, the less chance he might feel tempted to offer suggestions that might alter the direction of the game.

    So, all the new studios have almost complete freedom to make whatever they want. I do wonder if the existing studios also have more creative freedom. For example, does the Coalition have the freedom to make something other than Gears if they wanted? Or is it a case, that the team is so passionate about making Gears games that they want to keep making it?

    Would Bungie be allowed more creative freedom now WRT to IP if they were still with MS? This is the question that's high on my mind. I'd like to think that they would have been allowed to make some other IP while a team (343i) was created to take over the development of Halo. Maybe if Bungie were still in the fold, albeit working on a new IP, then 343i wouldn't have completely fucked the Halo IP by attempting to change it to make it incorporate contemporary political topics into its story. Grrrrr, I'm still so angry at 343i for fucking up Halo so badly.

    Anyway, the one big notable exception to MS's recent acquisitions being more about the talent than the IP is Bethesda. And even there the talent was likely just as important as the IP. The IP certainly made the price of the acquisition eye watering, however.

    Hmmm, I think I've rambled on long enough. I feel like the old man on his porch regaling young whippersnappers as they walk by about the glories of the old days. :p

    Regards,
    SB
     
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  6. SmooTh

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    Yeah was fun to read :D
     
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  7. Eolirin

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    Ninja Theory has already disclosed that they're working on a not Hellblade experimental game with a working title of Project Mara. So yeah, they're not being forced into Hellblade always and forever. The Hellblade 2 team is actually pretty small by industry standards, though it's twice as big as the Hellblade 1 team. So they're still not reaching for AAAA style stuff there.
     
  8. eastmen

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    They are working on 3 games ATM.

    Most of the studios are expanding under MS . I"m not lying when I say MS wants to have big game drops every few months and you need a lot of studios to do that
     
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  9. see colon

    see colon All Ham & No Potatos
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    I think Microsoft really just wants new releases for Gamepass. They are positioning Gamepass to be the Netflix of games, and if you look at the Netflix library, there's plenty of original content there that's pretty... Well I don't want to wound mean. But there is stuff on there that I find tough to watch. Not because of genre or anything. Just that the quality or acting, direction, production is pretty rough. But with that in mind, I know people who think some of those shows are the best thing on there. So I think MS will greenlight any project as long as it can be finished and shipped to gamepass.
     
  10. eastmen

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    Your right there is a lot of trash on netflix. Most people will watch it because its filler and they are already paying. But video games and tv are different. I can do the dishes when a bad netflix horror movie is playing or fold laundry or go on the spin bike. When doing those things the bad show doesn't really have my attention. But when playing games i'm devoting much more attention to the game and if it isn't good I wont want to invest time in it. I'm not saying it has to be a 90+ metacritic but it needs to still be a good game.
     
  11. see colon

    see colon All Ham & No Potatos
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    But some people LOVE it. It's not that different in games. Look at all those jank filled indie survival games on Steam hitting the top 10. Microsoft just needs content, and I don't think they are intentionally going to rush out a bunch of C tier games or anything, but I do think they have faith that you can make a game that's a bit unconventional and it can find an audience on Gamepass.
     
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  12. eastmen

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    A lot of indie games hit high on steam because of price and the fact that they are willing to do unique things or string together diffrent things that have worked into something new. They also have short lives. Everyone was talking about valehliem for a few weeks and poof its gone now. I think MS needs more than that type of stuff. They need stuff people will want to keep coming back to
     
  13. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    You are overlooking Sony entering the videogame business a whole generation earlier and have been in the industry six years longer. Even ignoring the Zenimax acquisition, Sony acquired 11 studios between 1993 and 2019 (26 years), Microsoft acquired 11 studios between 2000 and 2018 (18 years).

    If you include Zenimax - and we should - Microsoft acquired 17 studios in 19 years. On average Microsoft have acquired a studio almost every year they have been in the videogame business. On average Sony has acquired a studio not-quite every two years they have been in the videogame business. Pro-rata on the number of years in business, Microsoft are acquiring more than twice as many studios as Sony. This is not an opinion, it's math, it's a fact.

    I'm not sure if you're suggesting that some Microsoft acquisitions, including some of their most expensive, don't count because you don't think they added value to the Xbox ecosystem, but let's stick to facts because discussions regarding the subjectivity of people's value of IPs is a waste of time. But also because you're seemingly dismissing the value of Fable, and Fable is great! Fable is coming back. :yes:

    I don't know the deal with the State of Decay's IP but Undead Labs were founded in 2009 and didn't partner with Microsoft until 2011. They had been working on that game for two years. So whether Microsoft scooped up the IP before their 2018 acquisition or not, they wanted that IP.

    I not seeing the relevance, of studios closures. Sony also shut down a bunch of studios, so what? Psygnosis became Studio Liverpool: closed 2012. Evolution Studios: closed 2016. Zipper: Closed 2012. Incognito: Closed 2009. Bigbig Studios: Closed 2012. Not to mention closing satellite studios. Guerrilla Cambridge: Closed 2017.

    I'm just putting out data that shows actual game studio acquisitions. If you don't like the data, just ignore it.
     
    #973 DSoup, Apr 25, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2021
  14. liams

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    I should have been more clear sorry, I was disputing specifically " Microsoft have been consistently more active in acquisitions than Sony." Microsoft have indeed acquired more than sony, but the point I was trying to make is that Microsoft have only had two periods of time where they acquired things (early/mid 2000s and 2018 to the present), whereas sony has typically had a more consistent pace of acquisitions, until they had a break from 2011-2019. I wasn't disputing that microsoft had acquired more, just how you phrased that statement



    I didn't realize that undead labs had started working on state of decay before partnering with microsoft, I thought the partnership with microsoft was the start of them working on it, my mistake


    Yeah your right, I went on a bit too much of a tangent, what I was trying to get at was that a lot of these more recent acquisitions are in my mind being made to right prior wrongs. Not in the literal sense that for instance they acquire obsidian because they closed down ACES game studio, but that if they hadn't closed the studios down that they did, and kept growing and supporting them like sony has done with great success with studios like Naughty dog, they wouldn't have needed to acquire as many studios as they recently have.

    But your right, my point here isn't relevant, I have a knack for going on tangents

    The reason I don't consider mojang of relevance, even though it is indeed a game company that microsoft acquired, is that mojang's games are not leveraged to improve xbox. If minecraft had been leveraged to sell xbox consoles or subscriptions I would consider it relevant, but it hasnt been, and is on essentially every platform that can support it. Mojang is essentially a separate entity within microsoft really, I mean minecraft isnt even on PC game pass! I realize that this is an bit of a pedantic stance from me on this point, but I am happy to agree to disagree on it

    I'm not dismissing Fable! Playground games giving Fable a triumphant return is the game from xbox that I am most excited for, when I said between 2006 and 2018 xbox didn't acquire anything of note for the xbox ecosystem, I meant between in the literal sense, ie 2007 - 2017 inclusive of those years


    Not dismissing the data at all, sorry if it came across that way, I was just trying to add to the discussion around the perceived strategies between the two companies. Sony has acquired and grown studios for a long time, (and closed studios) so they have some amazing teams that while they did acquire them, are now above and beyond what they were when they were acquired. Microsoft really hasn't done this, and closed/divested in every acquisition aside from Rare that they made at the start of xbox, so for Microsoft to have a credible, comparable first party to sony big acquisitions of well known, talented developers are a requirement, because sony has a lot of them.
     
  15. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    The distribution of acquisitions do not support this. The data point ts that would support this are looking at the longest gaps without any acquisitions. The longest gap was 8 years (Sony 2011 - 2019) then 7 years (Sony, 1993 to 2000) and the next was 5 years (Microsoft, 2006-2011).

    Your opinion wilfuly disregards Microsoft's wider interests in gaming which is not confined to their Xbox hardware. The point of xCloud and streaming is make the hardware irrelevant so why should acquisitions only count if it continues to one, and only one, of Microsoft's platforms? Minecraft is one of the biggest game phenomenons of the last two decades and having it inside GamePass on Xbox is definitely important for Microsoft.
     
    #975 DSoup, Apr 25, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2021
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  16. see colon

    see colon All Ham & No Potatos
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    I don't totally disagree. But I don't know that it matters. If you can line up a flash in the pan success every month you will keep people subscribed, and that's sort of the point. Valheim's situation is like many early access survival games, and it's been falling off for sure, but they've been mostly in the 30-100K daily users range for the last few weeks That isn't too different from a game like Warframe that does 50-75k. It's hard to tell where Valheim's going to land, it might have a comeback like Rust, or it might disappear forever like Fear the Night.

    Any game can find an audience, even if it's a "bad" game. You really don't know until you put it out there.
     
  17. eastmen

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    true but how many duds are released on steam for everyone flash in the pan
     
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