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Opinion (Long Read) Platform holders acquiring AAA studios will be good for the industry

NoviDon

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So MS just confirmed they will be walling off their content completely from direct competitors like sony and nintendo to add more value to their platform, and to incentivize gamers to invest in gamepass. And some people are freaking out about this. And yes, those people have valid concerns that effect them as consumers. but their are pros and cons to every action, and I believe the pros of AAA acquisition far outweighs the bad significantly for the industry as a whole, and eventually will payoff for consumers.

So If MS are going all in on this strategy then this is going to be the first step in what some people are afraid of. Competitors have to react to a strategy that puts them potentially at an competitive disadvantage. This sets a precedent for an acquisition spree that will see a large chunk of the big legacy studios being hungry hungry hippo gobbled up by the platform holders. Business is a cold war, and you dont sit around resting on your laurels while your neighboring country is advancing nuclear weapons programs. Investors will not sit around quietly while a competitor is slowly gobbling up chunks of the industry and eating into marketshare. Something has to and will happen.

So I want everyone's opinion on it. Me personally, I think once the dust settles on an AW(acquisition war) in ten years MS will have more AAA studios than sony, simply because they have mote capital to dish out, but less industry leading/quality titles. Sony culturally will only acquire studios that fit the brand image and offer a level of quality gameplay experience synonymous with said brand. I think MS's strategy is to gain as many big time franchise titles as possible and make the xbox brand an unavoidable purchase along with gamepass. So a quantity vs quality experience from both platforms respectably, but both offering insane value propositions that make both next gen systems must haves.

Now, some of these legacy franchises are walled off under one platform, isn't this a terrible thing? I personally don't think it will be demoralizing for consumers. I think this would be like the industry rebuilding after a market crash without the bubble actually bursting. It could make the third party sector more competitive and pro consumer as its been in decades.

the vast majority of consumers play more third party than first party games, so the vaccum left over in the third party market will allow mid sized and smaller developers an opportunity to have upward mobility. New AAA studios will emerge that offer new gameplay experiences and will force the remaining legacy studios to be more creative and daring with their ideas or be left behind. Franchises that walled off to certain platform holders will be replaced with variants to replace them, offering a new take on the genre, because the demand will still be their from the consumers on other platforms.

For example If fallout and elderscrolls are walled off that leaves a studio to create a new, better variant in the third party space, without the bug ridden gambryo engine and shitty writing to hold it back, and without a direct competitor. It could take a middling or smaller studio on the map and raise that studio to powerhouse status. It would be a land of opportunity, a new golden age.

But maybe I'm wrong. What do you guys think? Could this big, aggressive move by MS be a one off affair, or signs of things to come? Will MS or Sony achieve market dominance over the other if an AW is really on the horizon? And what will be the future effects on gamers and the industry. Would love to hear peoples thoughts below.
 
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ACESHIGH

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No, it won't unless said studio is on the verge of closure. I can play Bethesda games since I play on PC but what if Sony ends up buying Square or From Software and makes their games Playstation exclusives? Gamers have nothing to gain from exclusive content. MS seems to be the lesser evil as their games are available in 2 platforms at least, but I'd rather have lots of AAA third party studios releasing games across many platforms.
 

Foorbits

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No, it won't unless said studio is on the verge of closure. I can play Bethesda games since I play on PC but what if Sony ends up buying Square or From Software and makes their games Playstation exclusives? Gamers have nothing to gain from exclusive content. MS seems to be the lesser evil as their games are available in 2 platforms at least, but I'd rather have lots of AAA third party studios releasing games across many platforms.
Sony has been releasing PC games too.
 

Trogdor1123

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I don't agree, a solid industry ( from the consumers perspective) isn't too heavily localised.

I don't know how anyone could legitimately say that eliminating 1/2 the gamers ( not really but you get my point) from playing a bunch of great games is good for the consumer. It's only good for a select group of consumers.
 
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No, it won't unless said studio is on the verge of closure. I can play Bethesda games since I play on PC but what if Sony ends up buying Square or From Software and makes their games Playstation exclusives? Gamers have nothing to gain from exclusive content. MS seems to be the lesser evil as their games are available in 2 platforms at least, but I'd rather have lots of AAA third party studios releasing games across many platforms.
Might as well just kill consoles then, since exclusivity is the only reason why people buy them. Exclusivity isn't an inherently negative thing.

I don't agree, a solid industry ( from the consumers perspective) isn't too heavily localised.

I don't know how anyone could legitimately say that eliminating 1/2 the gamers ( not really but you get my point) from playing a bunch of great games is good for the consumer. It's only good for a select group of consumers.
Not when said select group becomes an even larger group and install base as a result.
 
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Reality Czar

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So MS just confirmed they will be walling off their content completely from direct competitors
Oh they did? Ah, someone should notify them that they are still hosting Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, and Elder Scrolls games on PS Now.

Kind of silly to declare that you are walling off your games from competitors, while you, you know, keep selling games to your competitors. That's a funny definition of "exclusive".

But hey maybe if you Gamepass guys make a few more threads it will come true.
 
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DJ Shalad

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Oh No You Didnt GIF by happydog
 
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Oh they did? Ah, someone should notify them that they are still hosting Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, and Elder Scrolls games on PS Now.

Kind of silly to declare that you are walling off your games from competitors, while you, you know, keep selling games to your competitors. That's a funny definition of "exclusive".

But hey maybe if you Gamepass guys make a few more threads it will come true.
Yes they did, they also clarified that any existing games wouldn't be pulled so enjoy.
 
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Chukhopops

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Oh they did? Ah, someone should notify them that they are still hosting Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, and Elder Scrolls games on PS Now.

Kind of silly to declare that you are walling off your games from competitors, while you, you know, keep selling games to your competitors. That's a funny definition of "exclusive".

But hey maybe if you Gamepass guys make a few more threads it will come true.
This is really the worst possible example you could find, Bethesda signed a deal to make the games available on PSNow for a certain period, they can’t pull out before the deal is finished. No one expected that the existing catalog would be pulled out from the PS store either.
 
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kuncol02

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Might as well just kill consoles then, since exclusivity is the only reason why people buy them. Exclusivity isn't an inherently negative thing.


Not when said select group becomes an even larger group and install base as a result.
Only reason why people buy consoles is fact that they are way cheaper than PC. Now you can't even buy half decent graphic card for price of XSX.
 

NoviDon

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I don't agree, a solid industry ( from the consumers perspective) isn't too heavily localised.

I don't know how anyone could legitimately say that eliminating 1/2 the gamers ( not really but you get my point) from playing a bunch of great games is good for the consumer. It's only good for a select group of consumers.
Because like I was saying in the OP, those games would quickly get replaced by new variants of those games by other studios looking to replace the void in the market that's left from the franchise going exclusive. I would personally love this, I'm tired of playing elder scrolls games it's the same old shit with a new coat of paint with every entry, give me a new take on the first person open world RPG fantasy genre, and this would give developers that were afraid of getting crushed by a big league like Bethesda an opportunity to be the next best thing.
 

ACESHIGH

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Sony has been releasing PC games too.

Yeah, but their approach is not as clear cut as MS yet. If Microsoft releases a game, i know it will be released on PC as well. This is not the case with Sony.
Might as well just kill consoles then, since exclusivity is the only reason why people buy them. Exclusivity isn't an inherently negative thing.

I can't wait for that to happen. Consoles are a hindrance.
 
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Akuji

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All i know is that 7.5billion dollar in new studios and games would perform better then Bethesda.

i don’t get why ms chooses to be so inefficient with their money. Just start studios and create good talent. They shouldve done this since 2013 then by now they would have a few games released already. Waiting till the last moment and then buying a big Corp for games just screams bad management for me. But it will bring good games to Xbox as well just not as many and probably not as good since they seem to be interested in forcing success then actually building it.

my crystal ball says in 10 years nobody talks about Bethesda anymore and just 2-3 studios remain really top tier from this buyout. Hopefully id is one of them.
 

wipeout364

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More acquisitions will likely lead to more new IP and new studios as others rush to fill the vacuum. Some of these will lead to new AAA studios that will then be acquired and the cycle will start again. Lots of studios have disappeared over the years but we are still getting more games than we can possibly play.
 

NoviDon

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More acquisitions will likely lead to more new IP and new studios as others rush to fill the vacuum. Some of these will lead to new AAA studios that will then be acquired and the cycle will start again. Lots of studios have disappeared over the years but we are still getting more games than we can possibly play.
Right and I believe this will keep AAA third party games developers from becoming lazy and complacent. Because an opportunity for smaller studios to grow and challenge the Big Leaguer studios with new and better ideas would force the top developers to continue to offer gamers the best product possible.
 
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SlimeGooGoo

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No, it won't unless said studio is on the verge of closure.
Even worse, what if the "verge of closure" situation was caused by the publisher being an ass?
This is exactly what Bethesda did to Human Head Studios, and who knows if they didn't do it to other companies too (Tango Gameworks, Arkane, etc)
 
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recursive

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Might as well just kill consoles then, since exclusivity is the only reason why people buy them. Exclusivity isn't an inherently negative thing.


Not when said select group becomes an even larger group and install base as a result.
Exclusivity is hardly the only reason people buy consoles. Lower price, convenience, 4k bluray player, etc factor in as well and I would argue are bigger factors. Exclusives might away a design to a particular platform.
 
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Trogdor1123

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Because like I was saying in the OP, those games would quickly get replaced by new variants of those games by other studios looking to replace the void in the market that's left from the franchise going exclusive. I would personally love this, I'm tired of playing elder scrolls games it's the same old shit with a new coat of paint with every entry, give me a new take on the first person open world RPG fantasy genre, and this would give developers that were afraid of getting crushed by a big league like Bethesda an opportunity to be the next best thing.
I wish you were right but if that was true it probably would have happened already and it will take a really long time for it to happen. Again, I don't see how that happens. I do hope I'm wrong and you are right though.
 
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Trogdor1123

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Might as well just kill consoles then, since exclusivity is the only reason why people buy them. Exclusivity isn't an inherently negative thing.


Not when said select group becomes an even larger group and install base as a result.
What select group is getting larger? I only see people getting excluded. I think I'm misunderstanding your comment.
 

NoviDon

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Yeah, every time a big developer gets purchased by a bigger publisher their games always improve. Rare, BioWare, etc
Never stated they would. That wasn't the focus of my OP if you were to read it. But I'll entertain this. I expect sony to carefully curate their acquisitions, while ms will throw money at big developers with massive franchises under their belt. I expect some to thrive and stick while others will be shut down as a result of that strategy. Both studios will create casualties from their acquisitions, but the pros will outweigh the cons. Their void left will create a boom for others to make a name for themselves! More studios will grow and be created from the acquisitions in the third party sector. Which means more new games and experiences.
 

NoLootBoxDev

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So business as usual? Did we all miss the PS2 generation where Nintendo and Microsoft got scraps while Sony feasted?
Yes, it is business as usual. I blame all of them for that, how many IPs that I love are now in limbo because they:

1) Won't sell them.

2) Won't do anything with them.

3) Won't let anyone do anything with them (public domain)

Yes, maybe I am salty about it, and I know it is what it is.
 
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NoviDon

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I wish you were right but if that was true it probably would have happened already and it will take a really long time for it to happen. Again, I don't see how that happens. I do hope I'm wrong and you are right though.
And it's not like these companies would be bought up all at once, companies still have to want or need to be acquired. It would be a slow gradual process over many years. Speaking of a specific variant of a game being developed, It would only take a AAA developer to green light making for example a elder scrolls like game from one of their 30 studios to make it. It would probably get made quicker than elder scrolls 6. Bethesda is still having fun pumping out remasters to give a shit.
 

Majukun

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of course any exclusively sony oor nintend player is gonna be screwed over.

one way it could be good is if being exclusive gives access to said games to more funds and time, and not be microtransactions riddled messes
 

Bonfires Down

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I don't agree, a solid industry ( from the consumers perspective) isn't too heavily localised.

I don't know how anyone could legitimately say that eliminating 1/2 the gamers ( not really but you get my point) from playing a bunch of great games is good for the consumer. It's only good for a select group of consumers.
That won’t be the case for long. Dedicated hardware that only plays games from one platform holder is going the way of the dodo. But more likely people will just stream whatever games they want straight to the TV.
 

BbMajor7th

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I think there's a difference between buying out developers and working with them to develop new IPs and just wholesale buying out publishers and their intellectual properties.

So you have huge multi-platform IPs like DOOM and The Elder Scrolls, suddenly walled off from ecosystems they're previously thrived in. I don't hate it - but the reality is that the Bethesda buy out is less about adding something to MS's portfolio (all these games were already slated to appear on MS platforms) and more about depriving competitors of something they previously had.

The headline isn't "The Elder Scrolls VI coming to XBOX!!", it's "The Elder Scrolls VI will NOT be coming to PlayStation!!"
 

Elder Legend

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Might as well just kill consoles then, since exclusivity is the only reason why people buy them. Exclusivity isn't an inherently negative thing.
Very dumb and ignorant statement.

Sure, exclusives help sell consoles but majority of the people are also casuals who do not want to deal with buying and building expensive ass PC parts and then pray that they did not fuck anything up during the building process. On top of that they have to spend $ on expensive monitors. Don't forget about constant game or system crashes and updates drivers to maintain your pc.

Consoles you pay one single price, set it and forget it and enjoy gaming at a high visual level. So no, exclusives are not the sole reasons why consoles exist.
 
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MonarchJT

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I don't agree, a solid industry ( from the consumers perspective) isn't too heavily localised.

I don't know how anyone could legitimately say that eliminating 1/2 the gamers ( not really but you get my point) from playing a bunch of great games is good for the consumer. It's only good for a select group of consumers.
lol....the consumer have access to everything they just need to buy supported.devices. No we are not talking about buying a second car
 
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CamHostage

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Because like I was saying in the OP, those games would quickly get replaced by new variants of those games by other studios looking to replace the void in the market that's left from the franchise going exclusive.

Wassup Gameloft!!!!!!

Oh, you want to play Halo but you only have a phone? Try N.O.V.A.!

Want to play GTA? Try Gangstar!

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Black Ops? That's not a thing, but Modern Combat: Blackout is!

Starcraft? Try Starfront Collision!

Uncharted? Shadow Guardian!

Farmville? Green Farm!

Max Payne? 9MM!

Angry Birds? Cannon Rats!

...Every racing game ever? Asphalt!
 

The_Mike

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lol....the consumer have access to everything they just need to buy supported.devices. No we are not talking about buying a second car
This. So much this.

People are sometimes acting like its only possible to own one console. Many people said there was no reason in owning an Xbox. Now there's a reason and then that's also bad.

I know it's not the same people, but that's what the loud crowd says.

Consoles might be expensive now. But in a year or two the prices has lowered. And then there's really not much of an excuse other than brand loyalty.

Of course, not everyone can afford in an investment like this. But it's not the end of the world.
 

MonarchJT

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This. So much this.

People are sometimes acting like its only possible to own one console. Many people said there was no reason in owning an Xbox. Now there's a reason and then that's also bad.

I know it's not the same people, but that's what the loud crowd says.

Consoles might be expensive now. But in a year or two the prices has lowered. And then there's really not much of an excuse other than brand loyalty.

Of course, not everyone can afford in an investment like this. But it's not the end of the world.
Many on gaf (or on resetera) want to pass the idea that by default the console to own is the PlayStation. Nothing could be more wrong especially after Microsoft has staked everything on hw and releasing a 12 tf console, on services ... releasing gamepasses where users can have all the First party and many third parties for 9.99 euros per month and above all after they invested so much in acquiring First party studios making ms the largest First party publisher on the market.
 
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NoviDon

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I think there's a difference between buying out developers and working with them to develop new IPs and just wholesale buying out publishers and their intellectual properties.

So you have huge multi-platform IPs like DOOM and The Elder Scrolls, suddenly walled off from ecosystems they're previously thrived in. I don't hate it - but the reality is that the Bethesda buy out is less about adding something to MS's portfolio (all these games were already slated to appear on MS platforms) and more about depriving competitors of something they previously had.

The headline isn't "The Elder Scrolls VI coming to XBOX!!", it's "The Elder Scrolls VI will NOT be coming to PlayStation!!"
Right. But like I was saying in the OP, these companies are always at war, they have been in a cold war/cease fire, but MS just built a nuclear weapons facility and sony would be dumb to not start stockpiling weapons themselves. This is the start of a crazy new era imo, and consumers will be in the middle reaping benefits in the long term.
 

Zeroing

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Right. But like I was saying in the OP, these companies are always at war, they have been in a cold war/cease fire, but MS just built a nuclear weapons facility and sony would be dumb to not start stockpiling weapons themselves. This is the start of a crazy new era imo, and consumers will be in the middle reaping benefits in the long term.
What benefits??? the nuclear bomb bomb analogy is terrifying so... wipe out competition, force us stay on their platform for games who once were available everywhere. yeah sounds like a wonderful future for gaming.

If nintendo brought a bunch of studios I am sure everyone would be wondering why are they doing it and what are the consequences.
 
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Depends on which studios go where. If most of the major players are snapped up by Sony and Microsoft, a lot will depend on whether certain "types" of developers are picked up preferentially by one or the other platform holder or whether it's a disorganized free-for-all. If Sony consolidates the Japanese devs, for instance, while Microsoft picks up EA or Activision, we could see a return to the fourth and fifth generations where the different consoles had meaningfully distinct libraries in terms of genre (e.g. PS1 for JRPGs, Saturn for shmups), as opposed to the current situation where the PlayStation library is just straightforwardly better in all respects.

If, on the other hand, it's all totally random and devs are being bought up opportunistically consumers aren't going to be able to sort themselves effectively between the consoles. This might open the door for the remaining third parties to create imitation franchises to meet the pent-up market demand of consumers caught in the "wrong" ecosystem. For instance, if Souls is only on PlayStation and Elder Scrolls is only on Xbox and I like both franchises, if I'm an Xbox owner I'm going to be very interested in Nioh and if I'm a PlayStation owner I'm going to be very interested in Dragon Age.
 
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The_Mike

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Many on gaf (or on resetera) want to pass the idea that by default the console to own is the PlayStation.
Sony is in heavy favor of brand loyalty. And because of that it is easier to get people on the bus because everyone tells everyone its PlayStation you should own.

There are people who dont even care about exclusives, and plays fortnite fifa and CoD, that only buys a ps because that's what you just play on.
 

MonarchJT

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Sony is in heavy favor of brand loyalty. And because of that it is easier to get people on the bus because everyone tells everyone its PlayStation you should own.

There are people who dont even care about exclusives, and plays fortnite fifa and CoD, that only buys a ps because that's what you just play on.
trust me I know this very good, for my work. And I honestly don't understand why Microsoft doesn't bomb media like newspapers or TV with advertising
 

The_Mike

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trust me I know this very good, for my work. And I honestly don't understand why Microsoft doesn't bomb media like newspapers or TV with advertising
I guess word of mouth are stronger than advertisement.

I mean who do you trust most? Your friend or an ad from a company?

Talking about the average consumer and not fanboys of course.
 

NoviDon

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"Monopolies are good for you, here's why."

It's like Voost Kain never left.
MS and sony beefing up their first party offerings is not a monopoly. It's not like they are going to buy every AAA developer out there. It doesnt make financial sense to completely eliminate third parties. And every company doesn't want or need to be bought. But I do see them cherry picking juggernaut studios from here on out. I could see each company having two new devs under their umbrella, by the start of next gen. but that still leaves dozens more still independent.
 

Sub Boss

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I disagree on the base that i don't believe its necessarily a good thing for all gamers.

This is business and we all understand companies must add value to their platform, but a healthy market should have enough space for companies that make awesome games for ALL formats, as well as first party exclusive ones, no matter wich system you play on you have access to cool games from many many companies, i don't really want to see 3 bloodthirsty dinasours constantly outspending each other to absorb companies just with the intention to take away content from other systems (that were already available on their platform anyways) and honestly kinds of weirds me out to see so many fans thirsty for more acquisitions 🤷‍♂️ if there is no need let them be.

Imagine if for example Sony aggresively buys Square Enix or Capcom tomorrow, does anybody benefit from not seeing those classic series on the portable Switch format? Or on GamePass? Maybe not even on PC anymore

Thats just my opinion, just want to see great games available on many platforms, within reason of course 👍

👇And good point not everybody can even afford 3 or 4 systems to play games(plus all upgrades) gamers will naturally pick their favorite, and wish for/demand ' their'company to buy their other favorite companies, kind of incentives more console fanboy wars :^S 🙄
 
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Woo-Fu

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I didn't see anything in the original post that would be good for the industry as a whole.

The starry-eyed dream of multiple consoles with must-have content compelling people to buy more than one console is comfortably ignoring that it doesn't matter how many consoles you want, it matters how many you can afford.
 
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NoviDon

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I disagree on the base that i don't believe its necessarily a good thing for all gamers.

This is business and we all understand companies must add value to their platform, but a healthy market should have enough space for companies that make awesome games for ALL formats, as well as first party exclusive ones, no matter wich system you play on you have access to cool games from many many companies, i don't really want to see 3 bloodthirsty dinasours constantly outspending each other to absorb companies just with the intention to take away content from other systems (that were already available on their platform anyways) and honestly kinds of weirds me out to see so many fans thirsty for more acquisitions 🤷‍♂️ if there is no need let them be.

Imagine if for example Sony aggresively buys Square Enix or Capcom tomorrow, does anybody benefit from not seeing those classic series on the portable Switch format? Or on GamePass? Maybe not even on PC anymore

Thats just my opinion, just want to see great games available on many platforms, within reason of course 👍
I think that's a bad example. Japanese companies would improve under sony and would allow them to regain marketshare in japan. its a win win for buyer and seller. This is actually likely to happen. If sony bought either of those companies they would restructure them, make them more efficiently churn out games and make them more profitable. No more waiting 10 plus years for a mainline final fantasy.