Default Prime


Speculatron 9000: What if Microsoft Buys Activision?


Recently a news report has come from Reuters stating that Vivendi is now shopping Activision around, and one of the buyers that could be interested in the the 61% controlling stake of Activision (last known value 8.1 billion dollars) could be Microsoft.

So, with that said, put on your tin foil hats videogame conspiracy theorists, it’s once again time to fire up the Speculatron 9000 and take a look down the road at what this could mean for the future of our favorite hobby.  While we will travel down Dooooooom Street, not all of this could be viewed as bad, for the record, this is not an all anti-Microsoft article, and is purely speculation.

1)This one is probably where the biggest impact would be felt.  With the acquisition of Activision, it’s game over.  Microsoft wins next gen before next gen even officially begins.   Right off the bat it would probably be safe to say goodbye to a ton of titles that would have normally been multi-platform, becoming fully exclusive to the Xbox-8, or 720, or Infinity, or whatever it’s going to be called.  Sony and Nintendo would be hurt in a major way by the loss of these titles, the biggest of which, financially anyway, would be the yearly iteration of the cash cow franchise Call of Duty.

Other notable franchises in Activision’s house are the latest titles for James Bond, Marvel (including X-Men, Spider-Man, and the Ultimate Alliance series), Prototype, the strangely popular Skylanders games, and should they decide to revive them, the Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk franchises (yes Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD comes out soon, but no, I don’t consider that reviving the franchise) amongst other titles.

2)Microsoft gains major domination on PC gaming as well, with the addition of Blizzard’s properties.  Microsoft would also become the proud owners of the World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft franchises.  Owning these popular titles, and looking ahead to their next gen console, would this mean we’d see versions coming to the Xbox-8?  It’s not unheard of for an MMO to be both console and computer based, and while RTS games kind of suck on a console, Halo Wars anyone?  With any luck we won’t see a third-person Diablo hack-n-slash game come out though.

These are two highly likely scenarios that could occur if Microsoft does acquire Activision.  The Speculatron 9000 knows no bounds, however, and allows us to travel a bit further down Dooooooom Street and see what else could become of this…

3)Microsoft would be the owner of a lot of intellectual properties that have gone to the wayside over the years, and could potentially bring some of these back into the fold:  After Burner, Altered Beast, Crash Bandicoot (what a slap in the face that would be to Sony), Interstate ’76, Pitfall, Rampage, True Crime, and more.

As with much of Hollywood running out of original ideas these days, and the proven fact that sequels make money, it would certainly not be out of the realm of thinking that any of these could make a return rather than take a chance on a new IP.

Worst case scenario here?   Microsoft could re-release Activision’s entire Atari 2600 library in HD, built specially with Kinect in mind.  Imagine that E3 presentation:  “Now you can fight spiders in your living room with Spider Fighter, where you are the controller, coming out later this year.”  Wow… I was cringing just typing that out right now…

4)THQ unfortunately is not looking so stable these days, and both Activision or Electronic Arts have been rumored in trying to acquire them.  While nothing has yet come to fruition, could this mean that Microsoft would become an interested party?  Or, after acquiring Activision, would they not be interested, paving the way for EA to buy out THQ on the cheap?

5)Activision just partnered with Rovio for Angry Birds Trilogy to bring the birds to consoles, but while we think of this popular mobile title, in the future, what would stop Microsoft from refusing to publish all future Activision mobile titles on anything but the Windows Mobile platform?


Based on the Speculatron 9000’s findings, the future could be very win-win for Microsoft should they acquire Activision with very little downside other than fanboy rage from the other two console makers.  At a minimum, they would instantly acquire a major library of console exclusive titles just in time for them to start reaching into the next generation of consoles, as well as some fantastic PC games that they could potentially port over, and on the less likely side of things, they could lock down exclusives for their mobile platform, as well as revive some old franchises.

The unfortunate side-effect to this acquisition, however, is the reality that money drives everything, and any studio that can’t pull a profit doesn’t tend to stick around, meaning Microsoft could consolidate many of the studios acquired and gamers as a whole could potentially lose out on some fantastic new IP that may never see the light of day.

A part time gaming journalist and radio practitioner, and one of the first editors here at Default Prime, Mike has been gaming since birth, starting back with the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64, on through to the PS3, PC, and whatever comes next. He is educated in communications and is a project manager by trade.

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