• Graphics: Gaming giants are building a studio empire

First Zynga’s acquisition by Take-Two, then the $69 billion mega-deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard King, and now Sony buying Bungie, the developer of the popular hybrid massively multiplayer online shooter Destiny 2 , for an estimated $3.6 billion: 2022 is already shaping up to be a tumultuous year in the video game industry with major players expanding their portfolios and building their in-house studio expertise. When it comes to uniting video game developers under their umbrella, Microsoft leads the pack – especially if Activision’s Blizzard King acquisition passes FTC antitrust scrutiny.

As our chart shows, the successful conclusion of the deal would bring the number of Microsoft-owned game studios to 32, 17 of which were acquired over the past two years. Although this number may seem high, it is the result of two large forfeits. Activision Blizzard King itself is the parent company of nine studios. ZeniMax Media, which Microsoft bought in 2020 for $8.7 billion inflation-adjusted, comprises eight studios, including Bethesda Game Studios, known for its hit Elder Scrolls franchise, and developer Doom Id Software. While Electronic Arts may not be a direct competitor to giants like Microsoft, Sony or Tencent in terms of revenue, it has nevertheless also purchased 21 game studios over the years, the latest being game developer Glu Mobile, which it acquired for $2.4 billion. in 2021.

When it comes to the biggest names in the business, Nintendo has the least direct subsidiaries or first-party studios. Only seven companies work under the umbrella of the parent company, although Nintendo EPD is divided into ten production groups developing games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Mario Kart. Tencent, on the other hand, has acquired 14 studios since its inception, focusing heavily on online games. This can be seen in acquisitions like Turtle Rock Studios, developers of the multiplayer shooter franchise Left 4 Dead and more recently Back 4 Blood, as well as Riot Games, which is responsible for League of Legends, one of the biggest eSports titles in the world. world.

Sony’s acquisition of Bungie alludes to one of the biggest trends in the video game industry: the emphasis on live service games, i.e. multiplayer games that continuously receive more content updates for many years and requires no subscription fees to play, but rather periodic purchases of content packs. or “seasons”. This way, even older games can continue to be monetized, and the resulting community development encourages players to stick with one game instead of looking for alternatives. This strategy is corroborated by Sony itself. “Bungie’s success in multi-format publishing and live game services will help us achieve our ambitions to take PlayStation beyond the console and grow our potential audience,” said Sony CEO Jim Ryan. Interactive Entertainment. Seen from another angle, it could also be seen as a kind of return on investment: Bungie is the studio behind the first games in the Halo franchise and was 100% owned by Microsoft until 2007.

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