微软于2001年首次涉足电子游戏行业，当时该公司发布了Xbox游戏机。到目前为止，Xbox已经推出了四代，在微软的第三财季销售额上升了14%。由菲尔·斯宾塞（Phil Spencer）执掌的微软游戏部门由23个游戏设计和软件工作室，以及数百款游戏组成。该部门推出的Game Pass包月服务已经吸引了超过2500万用户，同时还有近1000万人使用微软的Xbox云游戏服务。
On closer inspection, however, Microsoft is now more likely to become a leader in meta-universe and gaming. Mark Moerdler, an analyst at Bernstein, said: “Microsoft is in a very good position in meta-universe. But I don’t think this acquisition is purely driven by meta-cosmic strategy, and Microsoft is also seeking depth and breadth in the gaming industry in a broader way. “
Modeler had expected that Microsoft might buy some smaller game studios, but eventually decided to “make a big acquisition, not a bunch of small acquisitions.” The acquisition of Activision Blizzard is Microsoft’s biggest acquisition since Nadella took office.
The deal also requires approval from the company’s shareholders, as well as regulators in the United States and other countries and regions. The deal is not expected to be completed until June 2023.
Microsoft intended to highlight the concept of meta-universe in the news of the acquisition. In fact, Microsoft is talking about a “two-track model” between now and the completion of the deal. In an email to about 181000 Microsoft employees about the acquisition, Nadella said: “Games have been the key to Microsoft since its inception. Today, games are the largest and fastest-growing form of entertainment. With the integration of the digital world and the real world, games will play a key role in the development of the meta-universe platform. “
There is no doubt that gaming is an attractive and profitable industry. According to market research firm Newzoo, the global gaming market has revenue of $180.3 billion in 2021 and will grow to $218.8 billion by 2024. EMarketer estimates that 2.96 billion people around the world played digital games last year, whether through mainframes, computers or mobile devices. This number will reach 3.09 billion by 2022, accounting for about 1 per cent of the earth’s population.
Activision Blizzard and Metasmology
Microsoft first set foot in the video game industry in 2001, when it launched the Xbox game console. So far, Xbox has been launched for four generations, and sales at Microsoft are up 14% in the third quarter. Microsoft’s games division, headed by Phil Spencer, consists of 23 game design and software studios and hundreds of games. The department’s Game Pass monthly service has attracted more than 25 million users, while nearly 10 million people use Microsoft’s Xbox cloud gaming service.
Although Activision Blizzard is not considered a major player in the meta-universe industry, work on defining what a meta-universe is is still under way, and Activision Blizzard’s game products are a good illustration of how the company will participate in meta-universe. In 2004, Blizzard released World of Warcraft. Blizzard was an independent game studio at the time and did not merge with Activision until 2008.
Mike Sepso, chief executive of e-sports ‘s infrastructure platform Vindex, was a former executive of Activision and Blizzard after the merger. On World of Warcraft, he said: “this is a virtual world where your virtual human can walk with friends, build tribes and fight together.”
Sepso also pointed out several other games that incorporate meta-cosmic elements, including Robles, Fortnite, second Life and Microsoft’s my World. On these platforms, players can transfer between many games, create virtual social spaces, even attend concerts, and buy virtual items to enhance the experience. Most of these games need to be equipped with virtual reality headsets and game consoles. This is good for Microsoft, which already offers hardware products such as Hololens and Xbox.
The virtual worlds in these games may not reach the level predicted by proponents of meta-universe. In their view, users in meta-universe can hold meetings, see a doctor, go on vacation, and engage in all kinds of business activities in an immersive manner by mixing real-world technology. Microsoft is already in a strong position with software, cloud computing, gaming and virtual technology, and Activision Blizzard’s gaming capabilities will further enhance Microsoft’s prospects in this area.
In an interview a week before the deal was announced, Spencer said: “I am fully convinced that meta-universe is an extension of the gaming business.” For example, Microsoft game developers are conceiving a virtual work environment, using their experience in video games to drive people to gather online and collaborate to complete tasks.
However, in any case, the meta-universe will be popularized by Generation Z and their next generation. They grew up completely in the digital world and are especially familiar with games. According to a recent study of Generation Z gamers by RazorFish and Vice Media Group, they spend twice as much time with their friends in meta-universe as they do in real life. More than half said they wanted to experience how to make money in meta-universe. 33% of people want a career development experience. Over the next five years, 20% of their entertainment and leisure budget will be devoted to in-game shopping.
The pullback of technology stocks
While US tech stocks are experiencing a pullback, Microsoft remains one of the strongest technology companies after reporting third-quarter results. The strong demand for Microsoft’s cloud computing services and software capabilities is the company’s strength, which are also core components of meta-universe and gaming businesses.
Activision Blizzard’s first-quarter results were flat, mainly due to weak demand for the latest generation of “call of Duty”. However, new investor Warren Buffett (Warren Buffett) said at the recent Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting that he had been increasing his stake in Activision Blizzard. This is an M & An arbitrage because he believes that Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard will be successfully completed. Berkshire Hathaway currently owns about 9.5% of Activision Blizzard.
With the share price of the technology industry falling, Activision Blizzard’s share price is now 20% lower than Microsoft’s offer of $95 a share.
Clay Griffin, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, said call of Duty’s sales figures were lower than expected and went against Activision Blizzard’s fundamental story. If the deal fails and Activision Blizzard is forced to remain independent, the price of the company’s shares could fall to more than $60. However, he also believes that such a situation is unlikely to happen.
Buffett said: “sometimes, I will see the opportunity to trade arbitrage and implement it.” Sometimes, it seems that the opportunity is good for us, but in the end we will lose money in that company and lose a considerable amount of money. It depends on what happens if the deal fails. “
Microsoft and Activision Blizzard declined to comment.
The dominance of the future
In the meantime, the fate of Activision Blizzard’s current CEO Bobby Bobby Kotick is uncertain. Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Department of Justice launched two independent investigations into Activision Blizzard’s practices in dealing with gender discrimination and sexual harassment, and Codick was part of the investigation. Last November, there were media reports that Kodick had handled sexual harassment reports improperly.
This aspect of Activision Blizzard also attracted Spencer’s attention before the deal was announced. According to media reports, in November last year, with more and more relevant news, Spencer told employees that he was “deeply disturbed and troubled” by the terrible events and practices of Activision Blizzard. At the same time, Microsoft is “evaluating all aspects of its relationship with Activision Blizzard and making positive adjustments.”
But in fact, at about the same time, Spencer and Microsoft management began to discuss the acquisition deal with Activision.
“when the deal is completed, Microsoft will become the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, after Tencent and Sony,” Spencer said in a conference call with analysts after the deal was announced in January. ” On the same day, he also said in his official blog: “until then, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Games will continue to operate independently.” Activision Blizzard’s business will be reported to me after the transaction is completed. “
“in most acquisitions, senior management leaves,” says Modeler. In this deal, this is more likely. “
Activision Blizzard has a huge game library, with nearly 400 million monthly active users, and many have already spent money in the virtual world. As a result, there is no doubt about the logic of the acquisition, and no one doubts Spencer’s ambitions.
“this deal solves several problems for Microsoft,” Sepso said. First of all, this will add a large number of quality games and player base to the Game Pass business in the short term. In the long run, these games can be extended to meta-universe. This will put Microsoft in an enviable position on the question of who will dominate the meta-universe. “