Microsoft went on an acquisition spree over the past few years, where they acquired Bethesda Softwords, Mojang, Double Fine, Ninja Theory, Compulsion, inXile and Obsidian. Though the Microsoft store is a mess which is expected to change with the new Windows 11 but Microsoft itself has grown in transitions as a first-party publisher. Out of these acquisitions, Bethesda being the feather in the cap for Microsoft.
Sony PlayStation studio chief Hermen Hulst, threw a bit of shade at Microsoft over their acquisition spree where he said that “Sony isn’t engaging in an acquisition arms race, as we are very selective about the developers that we bring in.” “It’s not like we’re going around and just making random acquisitions,” Hulst said. “They’re very, very targeted acquisitions of teams that we know well.”
Though Phil Spencer, the Microsoft Gaming VP and Head and Lead of the Xbox brand, has a different set of thoughts from his competitors here where in a recent interview with IGN where he acknowledged that various people might not agree with him, but acquisitions are good for the industry and went on explaining why.
“Starting a new studio—starting any small business, frankly—is a very risky proposition. Starting a video game studio is even more so,” Spencer said. “And if a team actually takes the risk of starting a new company, starting a studio, building that over years, building value in that, to say that they shouldn’t sell, I think is just short-sighted.”
Spencer also said that the possibility to “realize the value of what they have created” through a buyout is one of the reasons why people take the risk of establishing new studious.
“It doesn’t mean every team has to end up selling their studio, but I think it is a natural and healthy part of our industry that certain teams will start a studio—many of them will fail, we know most small business will fail, whether it’s videogames or anything else,” he continued. “But those that make it through—and it’s such a kind of risk-filled journey for them—to get to the point to create real value, I’m always going to congratulate [them] when teams get to where they realize that value through acquisition, or just massive independent success if that’s the path they also start to go on.”
Spencer also added that Microsoft is “always out there looking at what and where we could continue to build our first party capability” while he also hints that it doesn’t mean to be focused entirely on mainstream games.
“When I look at the portfolio, I still think there’s an opportunity for us with more family-friendly content,” he said, “When I think about the geographic diversity of our first-party studios, I think there’s still work for us to do there.”