You know what would be great? If every time Sony got ahead Microsoft....created something to counter them. As opposed to just buying companies.
That's really my only problem here. I think it shows a lack of skill, talent, and creativity on MS's part to just buy companies (Many of which have no association with the company and some even had closer ties to Sony in the past) rather than doing what the competition did in the past to gain their market dominance. Nintendo dominated the console market because of innovation in design and technology paired with many of the most iconic and successful IP/Franchises/characters in the history of the medium. Sony dominated the market by appealing to a broad audience by making their first two consoles easy to develop for and embracing media in all its forms while also cultivating an incredible first party lineup. Microsoft has repeatedly only gotten success because they have infinitely deep pockets and can afford to drop billions on a mistake and just keep rolling.
The first Xbox was fine, and the only reason the 360 did well was because of Sony's hubris. Even with the red ring of death - which to this day STILL baffles me it was allowed to go out like that - they still sold a bunch. the One had a disastrous launch and basically flopped its second half while the Series has not really had much in terms of identity, yet in spite of them never being the market leader they still have infinite money to buy companies. bought Rare and basically did nothing with them for 20 years. Bought 23 studios since 2016 and the only one that's actually producing material consistently is Obsidian. 7 years since the acquisition blitzkrieg and we're still seeing almost no fruits of that.
I have a problem with the idea that they can basically strong-arm the industry due to their ability to just buy everything instead of actually learning from mistakes or giving people what they want. I don't like the idea of them having so much power if they genuinely aren't that good at using it. That's my problem with the whole thing. I don't think Microsoft buying Activision-Blizzard is going to hurt Sony or Nintendo, I just don't like the idea of them being able to hold such a large market share despite not really doing anything within the gaming sphere to deserve it. All their money comes from computer software. GamePass is a money pit. The RRoD and the backlash from Kinect and the terrible launch and subsequent whimpering end of the One should have sunk the company, but they can just shrug it off and keep influencing the market.
They Just aren't good at it. and I wish they were. but history is not on their side and I feel they need to earn their place in the hearts of the medium before they should be allowed to do this sort of thing. Ethically, not legally. If they have 68 billion dollars to burn through, then use that money to support the 23 studios they already have. Invest in potentially risky games or indies or quality titles like they did with the 360's early years. Make their own VR. Spend money and find a way to stream Xbox games to your phone. Make a better controller. give Xbox an identity other than raw american power. I wanna see them make something risky and unique like Returnal. Or something pure fun like Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart. I want to see them making games with impact on the medium like God of War or Horizon. I want to see people talking about Xbox games beyond just 'man, the latest update for Halo Infinite sucks'. I want them to have recognizable characters like Link or Mario or Kirby or Samus or Pikachu. Right now they have Master Chief and his games haven't been iconic since 2011 or something (Whenever Reach came out). 4, 5, and Infinite were fine, but they lack the impact the Bungie-made games had.
I can't over-emphasize this enough. Microsoft buying Activision is bad for the industry. Not because of a monopoly or for lack of competition, not because of some weird false balance or what-have-you, but because it means that Xbox can 'win' through sheer brute force instead of actually offering us what we want.
Disney is similar. They bought Lucasfilm and Marvel and Pixar and tonnes of other companies for their banner....and while you certainly see people complaining about it I don't personally have an issue with it because, at the very least, they're at least making something out of it. Star Wars movies continue to be mega popular, Pixar and Disney Animated movies continue to be outstanding, Marvel is the most successful film franchise in history with most of their movies not only being insanely popular but successful and well reviewed. I don't like Disney as a corporation either, but when they buy up something they actually do something with it (most of the time). They show that even though they're a mega popular super corp, they still make good products.
The last decade or so (2013-now) Shows that Microsoft just ain't good at this, and rather than actually proving their worth or having something of value to offer they're just buying things up so they can control the medium.
If they were good at this I wouldn't care and would be cheering them on. I think competition is good, and the heavily western-based style of Activision games is a great fit for Xbox, but that's just not the reality of the situation.
I'd say Disney has done a good enough job with their more recent acquisitions, but personally I'm not really a fan because of the direction they've taken many of them. It's not that they've done a bad job, just the thought process for plots and messaging in the films is not really my cup of tea. What MS has done with XB is just tragic, as you imply. It's too bad they haven't been able to properly compete and make great, strong long lasting entertainment.
It's almost like MS didn't create XB and keep bailing it out because they're so into gaming, it's almost like they're doing it to keep a leash on PS so it could be kept off of Bills yard. We'll never know though because it's not like they'll ever basically admit it in a documentary about themselves.
At least we can count on the regulators to keep things fair. Like comparing XB to PS and showing how little market share XB has does prove a good point about how poorly XB is doing. Problem is, why isn't MS and Sony really being taken into account, especially when it comes to funding XB and PS? Aside from early on when they obviously both needed funding, much of what PS has purchased has been from their own gaming profits, where as the majority of XB purchases have been funded by MS, including ABK still. It's not like PS is a 100 year old company vs 22 year old XB, since PS only has 1 gen more under their belt than XB. MS just may have spent more on ABK than Sony and PS have both spent together on console gaming in total, and that's not worth taking into account?
The best we can really hope is that consumers won't be swayed by this in big enough numbers. If this works well enough to gain a lot more Game Pass subs, then MS will keep doing it. If it fails and Game Pass doesn't grow enough based on the $80 billion+ investment, MS will slow down or stop with acquisitions and probably change directions once again, or will 180 and make many of these newly owned XB titles exclusives.
It would be nice if they actually succeed, and much more naturally. I've been a Halo fan since the start, and didn't mind Gears either, but both have gone downhill. When someone like Bungie seems to want to keep their distance from you (leaves ABK somewhat recently, then MS buys ABK coincidentally), you can't help but wonder if they're ever going to honestly be able to compete, or if they'll just have to take the industry by brute force eventually.