It’s no secret that Microsoft is lacking the first party department, and they haven’t really succeeded at releasing a first party title in recent years that matches the critical acclaim that many of Sony’s or even Nintendo’s exclusives tend to get. And in response to this, Phil Spencer has said fairly recently that Microsoft is shopping around for developers in order to increase its first party output. However, if brand new rumors are to be believed, Microsoft may be aiming higher than a few popular indie devs.
According to rumors that some analysts claim are unsubstantiated, Microsoft has at the very least been looking at EA, Valve, and PUBG Corp. Out of those three, it would make a lot of sense for Microsoft to look into acquiring PUBG Corp, after all PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is one of the biggest games on Xbox right now and at least one thing they can hold over Sony, but eventually the game will go to PlayStation. Buying the developer would put Microsoft in a position to cancel any PS4 plans and maintain PUBG’s status as an Xbox and PC title.
On the other hand, Valve both does and does not make any sense. It does make sense because Valve is one of the worlds most renowned game developers and currently very big thanks to Steam. They have a lot of great IP’s under their belt, but the reason why this doesn’t make much sense, at least these days, is because Valve doesn’t really make games anymore. They’re far too preoccupied with maintaining Steam and updating their already existing slate of titles while experimenting with VR. Many writers who’ve worked on past Valve titles have left the company and they seemingly aren’t particularly interested in developing full scale games anymore even if the Source 2 engine exists. The only thing Microsoft would really gain from this deal would be the IP’s, but without a Valve that’s staffed and organized to make games, they’d need to find developers and I’m not sure fans of those series would be happy with anyone, but Valve touching them.
And then there’s Electronic Arts, one of the most despised publishers out there today. It’s no secret that EA is chasing that money train right now, making all sorts of business decisions that consumers have yelled at them for. From the microtransactions that completely screwed up Battlefront II’s progression system(and turned people off of the game way before it even released.), to Mass Effect: Andromeda’s rushed development(In all fairness, they had give or take 5 years to make the game, which definitely isn’t a rush, but news that broke afterwards suggested the game had only been out of the R&D phase for 18 months, not even two years, by the time it released. EA wanted to cash out before the game was ready to be out.), Anthem being nowhere close to a traditional Bioware game(Yet. Once they show the story, and if it’s substantial, I’ll take back what I’ve said. But it smells of Destiny/The Division/other shared world games that often put gameplay ahead of story, and story/characters are the heart of Bioware games.), Dragon Age 4 having been rebooted for more of a “games as a service” approach, and Visceral’s Star Wars game having also been rebooted because apparently linear action RPG’s aren’t as lucrative as open world games with more opportunities for financial gain.
If Microsoft were to buy EA, it would likely be nothing, but a good thing because popular franchises wouldn’t be run into the dirt with their respected developers being shuttered soon afterwards due to outliving their usefulness. Microsoft would gain access to devs like Bioware, DICE, and Criterion. Due to their past relationship, Microsoft would likely be interested in reviving the Mass Effect series at Bioware, roll Dragon Age back to a standard model, and give Anthem as much time as it needs since it was part of the Xbox One X’s reveal and subsequent promotion. With DICE, Battlefield games would likely move to a three year or more dev cycle, more than the two years each game currently gets. The list of potential ways that Microsoft could handle EA’s devs goes on.
Of course, one thing many would be wondering is: Would EA’s Star Wars deal transfer to Microsoft in the event of a buyout, or would Disney take the license back and begin shopping around for partners again? I don’t really have an answer for that question since I’m not the most knowledgeable on subjects such as that.
As of right now though, none of this is more than rumor and speculation. If it ever becomes anything more, we’re sure to find out, and the gaming landscape will surely change if it does.