The Wednesday Inbox is horrified by Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard, but one reader is impressed by Halo Infinite.
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I am really uncertain how I feel about Microsoft’s almost unlimited wealth and simply vacuuming up the world’s gaming resources, little finger to the corner of one’s mouth with a devious chuckle.
Now I am no fanboy and have owned/own a lot of different formats, but this is starting to sit uneasily with my spider senses. That is not to say I even care about the franchises involved but the whole ownership and freedom to evolve a medium, that can literally go anywhere and present anything one can imagine, does concern me.
I welcome the oddities of the entire industry, Nintendo with its secretive weirdness yet wondrous games, Sony with its perhaps formulaic yet imaginative and infinitely playable output. As a primarily PC centric gamer I love Microsoft too.
However, I worry about this culture of infinite wealth controlling all aspects of my life, in particular my favourite pastime.
Thinking about my recent excitement within the gaming universe and the product I am most looking forward to is a relatively simple looking tiny yellow box with a little crank.
If the major players own this industry in its entirety, then this little box of potential would simply never exist and nor will anyone else’s dreams.
Love you as always GC.
Worst news ever
I switched to Xbox for the first time ever this generation because I felt Game Pass was just too good to ignore. I was feeling pretty smug about that decision until today, when news of Xbox buying Activision Blizzard leaked out.
Now I’m experiencing feelings of dismay at what I genuinely feel is one of the worst things to ever happen the games industry. How can people be so blind to the negative aspects of an industry with just one provider?
Creativity in AAA games was already on its last breath. Now start making funeral arrangements. I don’t think its hyperbole to wonder how Sony can continue to compete. Maybe pairing up with Nintendo might work but I’ve never seen any word that could even be an option. Sad day for gaming.
Chris in Belfast
A bad day
If Microsoft does get the all clear to buy Activision it’s the worst thing in the history of gaming, I don’t care how much money they have got, they’re spending to win. Let’s hope they don’t get the all clear.
This is becoming a joke now and it won’t be long till Microsoft owns all the developers and then that’s it, I’m done with gaming.
A vulgar display of capitalism
I’m reminded of the cover on Pantera’s album A Vulgar Display of Power, where a fist is firmly planted on a man’s cheek. There’s probably someone already exchanging the face on it for either Phil Spencer’s or the Xbox logo.
Vulgarity aside it’s a bad day for the industry in my meek and mild opinion.
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I’ve been gaming since the 80s, from the Spectrum to the glitz and glamour of the arcades through to the current gen, and I have to say this is as depressed as I’ve been about gaming. It almost feels like a coup d’etat. Overthrowing the regime of enjoying the diversity of this pastime to installing a totalitarian, one party state where you’re thrown into a gulag if you don’t toe the Microsoft line, with posters everywhere of a pipe smoking Uncle Phil as he’s implementing The Great Gaming Terror.
My one faint hope is that Sony and Nintendo genuinely discuss a partnership to put a huge dent in Microsoft’s ghastly policy of developer consumption and do it out of sheer spite! I’ll be sticking with the two of them until the MSNKVD knock on my door.
Phil Spencer’s holistic video games publisher
When I read that story of Microsoft swallowing Activision Blizzard whole for £50 billion two thoughts passed through my mind.
First, the purchase of Bethesda now seems a bargain. And I thought that was bonkers at the time, not to mention I thought Take Twos acquisition of Zynga for £12 billion seemed even more lunatic!
Second, at least, unlike NFT, they have actually got something tangible for their money. Could you imagine if Bobby Kotick had scammed them and they only bought a digital copy of Activision?
Needless to say, this gives rise, once again, to allegations that Microsoft is blatantly buying up the market in order to dominate. After all, that’s the way these days. Price all your competition out of the market and you can then charge whatever you wish as no one will have any choice but to pay them.
Finally, they nearly made me choke when they mentioned the metaverse and how they want to become the interconnectedness of all things. OK, I got the interconnected bit from Dirk Gently, but it makes his principles seem completely logical!
This metaverse garbage is likely to put off most gamers, but we really aren’t their targets anymore. Microsoft wants the world and will step on anyone to get it. Is it just me that sees Bill Gates in a big swivel chair, laughing whilst stroking the cat on his knee?
Don’t give them any ideas
There’s no denying that Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition is big news but personally I still find myself shrugging my shoulders at their offering. I’m not really bothered if I never play another Call Of Duty and although Overwatch was fun I can easily live without it. Starfield from Bethesda is probably the most intriguing prospect for Xbox but who knows how that’ll actually turn out?
Sony’s exclusives are of more interest to me, with things like Horizon Forbidden West, Returnal, and Demon’s Souls all on my wish list but if we really are heading towards a future of subscription-based services, Nintendo still have by far the strongest content.
I would equate the three to the TV streaming services. For me Nintendo are like Netflix, with the most exciting and original content acting as my main service. Sony are like Disney+/Now TV with some solid blockbuster offerings that I like to watch from time to time and Xbox are like Amazon Prime, which despite some big money has never managed to pique my interest enough to actually bother with.
Now, if Microsoft buy Capcom, FromSoftware, PlatinumGames or Square Enix they’d have my attention but as it stands buying another Western games company who I haven’t played a game by in six years just doesn’t turn my head.
All will suffer
As someone lucky enough to own a PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S, and a Switch, as well as rarely playing any Call Of Duty, the recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft doesn’t affect me particularly.
However, I can’t help think this could be a bad thing for consumers in the long run. Call Of Duty has seen a downturn in fortunes with the latest instalment, Vanguard. Now that Microsoft have taken them over could this see them rest on their laurels? Personally, I think the series has been stale for a while, this takeover might not drive the developers to push the series forward and innovate.
I can see why Microsoft are investing in outside companies to recoup lost ground, but this could be a step too far.
Call Of Duty is a massive franchise and for many casual players I imagine a deal breaker when deciding on a new console. Sony are probably too big of a deal to exit the game industry altogether but look at what happened to Sega in the early 2000s. I’m sure some Xbox fans are gleefully rubbing their hands right now, but I think Sony need to remain strong to keep Xbox on their feet otherwise I think us as players will be the ones to suffer.
Xbox Monopoly Edition
Been a reader for a long while, but never felt obliged to share my opinion on something until now, but…
I am really shocked by this latest purchase; Xbox buying Activision was beyond my imagination.
I feel it’s time the American equivalent of the competition and markets authority stepped in. Microsoft seem hellbent on getting every single developer it can get its grubby mitts on. If it’s not stopped now it will turn into a monopoly for console gaming. I doubt Nintendo will ever get back into consoles properly now, their success lays elsewhere, and Sony don’t have the reserves to stop Microsoft’s actions.
I imagine there will be very few AAA titles left not in Microsoft’s exclusive control by the time this deal is done, no doubt Ubisoft are next on the list.
I’m for the end of Activision but splitting the company and selling off the studios would be so much more preferable to this.
Warm regards and everyone keep well.
GC: There has been some talk of an investigation by the Department of Justice but we’re not sure they’re likely to stop anything.
Out of order
Just be wary of pre-ordering things on Amazon with insurance as I pre-ordered the Amiga mini console in early August 2021, as I am an Amiga fan and used an Amiga up until 2001. When I ordered it I ordered three years insurance with it and what I didn’t realise until recently is the insurance started from the date I ordered in August and not from the date it actually comes out, which is Friday 25th March 2022. So technically I have lost 6 months because I haven’t even got the Amiga yet!
I pre-ordered it as I wanted to show my interest for it and also I didn’t know if it would sell out like the SNES, NES and Mega Drive Mini. I am going to contact Amazon and the insurance company to complain about this problem, will let you know how I get on.
Microsoft dun good
I’ve just finished the Halo Infinite campaign and have to say, I REALLY enjoyed it! There are lots of positives to take from it, but I’d call-out:
Mix of open world and traditional levels kept things feeling varied.
Especially in the open world, later in the game, there were lots of approaches to taking the different objectives. For example, going in with a Wasp from a FOB and taking things from above, rolling in with a Scorpion or picking enemies off from afar with a sniper rifle.
Each weapon now fills a role and all of them (except a couple, i.e. Ravager, Plasma Pistol, Sentinel Beam) are fun to use.
Graphics and sound design are great.
Ran flawlessly! No glitches, bugs or crashes in the entire playthrough.
Story was really interesting to me as a long standing Halo player. It was the first time since Reach that I cared about the characters, the implications and what comes next (the bit towards the end with Weapon and Escherum especially were good).
Overall, loved it and would like to play through some parts again on co-op. In the meantime, will continue to play the PvP which is superb.
Hats off 343, I think this is a fantastic game which I’d definitely recommend.
So who do we think Microsoft’s next purchase will be? Enron? Nestlé? Herbalife? EA? Blackwater? Theranos?
So when Microsoft said it was thinking of breaking ties with Activision last November, because of the abuse scandal, what they actually meant was ‘This fallout is a godsend, they’ll be much cheaper to buy now!’ This whole business is gross on so many levels.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Rackham, who asks what was the last physical game you bought and why?
Digital game sales are now in the majority, but do you still buy physical copies as well? And if you do, what was the last one? If you’re now 100% digital, then what was the last physical game you bought and did that have anything to do with your decision?
If you’re a mix of the two methods, what is it that decides which you’ll go for? Are you generally happy with digital sales taking over and what would be your concerns if physical copies went away entirely?
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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