Microsoft’s success in the gaming market has been nothing short of astounding. From starting out as a company with little knowledge about how the market works to becoming the leading console maker for over a year, Microsoft has cemented itself as a major player.
However, the one thing the company is missing right now is a deep first-party game lineup. 343 Industries will undoubtedly help with the Halo 4 launch, and every now and then, something good comes out of Microsoft Game Studios, but I think it’s about time the software giant acquires a major publisher.
Of course, acquiring a major publisher won’t be cheap. Microsoft will need to once again dig down into its massive cash coffers and dole out billions just to get its hands on a major company. But in so doing, it can go a long way in finally establishing itself as a credible threat in software.
Don’t think that doesn’t matter. Part of Nintendo’s success, even during its current downturn, is due to its ability to deliver compelling first-party games. Although the third-party lineup hasn’t always been up to par on Nintendo’s consoles, franchises like Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda have kept it propped up.
Microsoft right now really doesn’t have that. As noted, it has Halo, but it needs more. And acquiring all or at least part of a major game publisher could help it become more like Nintendo in all of the right ways.
Luckily for Microsoft, it might have an opening. According to a recent Bloomberg report, Vivendi is considering dumping its equity stake in Activision for $8.1 billion. What’s more, the company has reportedly already talked to Microsoft about it.
Whether Microsoft should take the deal is decidedly up for debate. But it underscores a broader point: there is a market out there for major companies, like Microsoft, to invest heavily in gaming and get some real value for its cash outlay.
Of course, Microsoft has been spending a serious amount of cash as of late. The company acquired Skype for $8.5 billion and offered up $1.2 billion for Yammer. Add that to the cash it’s spending on patents, and Microsoft appears to be willing and ready to write checks.
Unfortunately, the company really hasn’t done enough in the gaming space. It’s about time for the software giant to find a suitable target and start spending some money.
The issue is, which company should Microsoft consider acquiring? It’s not as easy as one might think. Electronic Arts is probably off the table and Activision Blizzard can’t be bought outright. Ubisoft might be a suitable choice, but who knows if it’s willing to be let go. Perhaps Take-Two Interactive, which would come in more cheaply, could be a fine option.
Exactly which major publisher Microsoft should acquire is up to the software company. But it’s time for Microsoft to make a choice.