The good the bad and the ugly:

Just last week, Nintendo announced the acquisition of longtime development partner SRD. While this news alone is certainly huge, it arguably pales in comparison to other major gaming acquisitions this year. From Sony buying Bungie to Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard, we’re seeing major game publishers grow to almost Disney-like sizes at an unprecedented rate.

Ultimately, this poses a much deeper question about the future of the gaming industry as a whole. How are all the major game acquisitions going to change the whole landscape of the video game industry? Will we see new ideas being introduced into established franchises? Or will the video game market stagnate with less competition and more IP exclusivity?

The good: Acquisitions make some games possible for the first time

A positive result that could emerge from the To fall is the potential to see new games that would never have been possible otherwise. You may have noticed the pun in the previous sentence alluding to my main example: Fallout New Vegas 2.

Fallout: New Vegas

When the RPG Fallout: New Vegas released in 2010, it quickly became a fan favorite. Unfortunately, while developer Obsidian has said they’ve been making a sequel since 2013, they were never able to strike another deal with it. The consequences Bethesda publisher.

However, Microsoft’s acquisition of Obsidian in 2018, followed by its purchase of Bethesda in 2021, makes New Vegas 2 more likely than ever to happen. In fact, VentureBeat’s Jeff Grubb even recently said that Microsoft and Obsidian were both discussing the potential sequel.

Another good sign to come from all recent game developer acquisitions is the promised commitment to keep titles cross-platform. An example comes from Microsoft’s shocking purchase of Activision Blizzard. Topping the list of fan concerns was whether Microsoft would make franchises like Call of Duty Xbox exclusive. Surprisingly, however, Microsoft President and Vice President Brad Smith says otherwise.

Brad Smith, President and Vice President of Microsoft

To be clear, Microsoft will continue to do Call of Duty and other popular Activision Blizzard titles available on PlayStation during the term of any existing agreement with Activision.

Brad Smith, President and Vice President of Microsoft

Additionally, Sony’s long-term goals with Bungie also include cross-platform play. Although Sony is widely known for its PlayStation-exclusive titles, the company has made it clear that it has no intention of stripping down. Destiny 2 cross-platform compatibility. Instead, Sony is looking to use Bungie’s expertise in live service games to develop new titles across multiple gaming platforms.

The Bad: Creativity in the gaming industry may still stagnate

A major concern with all major game developer acquisitions is whether the industry could stagnate. As the big publishers become even bigger commercial powerhouses in the games industry, it is very possible that innovation and creativity will suffer. With just a few large companies dominating the video game industry, we risk seeing an oligopoly driving up prices and lowering quality.

A notable example is New York-based Take-Two Interactive. The giant gaming conglomerate runs top studios including 2K, Rockstar and Private Division. Now, after a $12.7 billion deal in January, the company is adding mobile game developer Zynga to its empire.

Take two and Zynga
Image via ComicBook

The result is that Take-Two is now gaining a significant advantage in the mobile gaming market. And since mobile games, like those owned by Zynga FarmCityare known for their microtransactions, Take-Two will certainly benefit from it.

GTA online shark cards

In fact, the rise of microtransactions in games and the live service model as a whole is already something the company is taking full advantage of. The most obvious example is Grand Theft Auto V. The use of microtransactions via Shark Cards in GTA online kept the latest entry in the series alive far longer than any of Rockstar’s other games.

In fact, more than eight years since GTA V was first released, Rockstar finally announced that they are finally working on a new entry. Another sign of Take-Two’s complacency comes in the form of the quality of play on some of their recent releases. Examples range from mediocre to downright unplayable WWE 2K abyssal games GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition.

The Ugly: New parent companies can turn established franchises into console exclusives

Arguably, the worst-case scenario of all major acquisitions is for the parent companies to break their promises. Going back to Microsoft’s new purchase of Activision Blizzard, many people remain skeptical of the company’s commitment to remaining cross-platform. Although Microsoft has effectively retained Minecraft cross-platform after acquiring Mojang, the company’s track record is far from flawless.

Xbox and Bethesda merger

When Microsoft bought Bethesda last year, they also promised to continue publishing their IP addresses across multiple platforms. However, the company has since backtracked on those statements. Microsoft announced that the two The Elder Scrolls 6 and all future To fall the games will be Xbox exclusives.

Although Smith once again reaffirmed his fears that Activision Blizzard titles are now Xbox exclusives as well, some of his wording suggests otherwise. In his statements, Smith specifies that the games will continue to be released on PlayStation, “under the terms of the agreement”. In other words, once Activision’s current contract expires, there’s no guarantee that Microsoft won’t make its game consoles exclusive either.

The takeaways from game developer acquisitions

Personally, I believe that a mix of good and bad will come out of the game developer acquisition phenomenon. On the one hand, there may finally be room to finally see games like the long-awaited Fallout New Vegas 2. On the other hand, however, seeing a gambling oligopoly rise to prominence could pose major risks to new companies aspiring to enter the fold.

While it’s fair to say that self-publishing has dramatically lowered the barriers to entry for independent game developers, the growing dominance of AAA game oligopolies makes competition extremely difficult. Essentially, the indie video game market is in a near perfect state of competition. While this sounds great at first glance, the sheer scale of competition in the field obliterates any logical economic rules.

The indie game market is currently so oversaturated that its relative value has dropped beyond zero. The result of this near-perfect competition is that indie games simply cannot financially compete with AAA titles. As companies like Microsoft, Sony, Take-Two Interactive and Nintendo increase their tax dominance even further, competition in the larger video game industry will likely be hit even harder.

The 3 biggest video game companies

No matter how current acquisitions play out, however, the trend is unlikely to slow down any time soon. The anomaly of all major game developer acquisitions is primarily the rapid volume at which they have occurred. As a result, the signs point to these companies, and other top game publishers, continuing to expand their empires further.

How do you think we will feel the effects of all game developer acquisitions? Share your thoughts below!