Former BioWare developer and games industry veteran Mark Darrah shares his thoughts on the $68.7 billion Microsoft-Activision takeover deal.
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The Microsoft-Activision merger is shaking up the industry and has major implications for the future of the video game market. We’ve heard Sony, Microsoft, and a number of publishers make their points on this through regulatory filings. We have seen a lot of information, including how much Xbox Game Pass and Nintendo Switch Online earned in 2021. But we haven’t really heard the opinions of developers on the front lines of the industry, especially those who have spent decades in video game studios.
Mark Darrah, who spent more than 20 years at BioWare, recently gave his thoughts on the merger and consolidation in general. Darrah’s opinion is notable because he not only delivered several high-profile games, but also did first-hand consolidations – Darrah was at the studio when EA bought BioWare in 2007. Darrah knows about the changes needed not only in the games business, but also in the kinds of things that happen post-acquisition.
According to Darrah, too much control could lead to drastic cost-cutting and potentially reduce creativity. But in the short term, Darrah says the deal could be a necessary step to reforming the damaged culture within Activision-Blizzard.
“I can say that consolidation is probably a bad thing in the long term. Microsoft buying Activision-Blizzard hopefully is a good thing in the short term because it seems culturally Activision-Blizzard needs someone to go with it. with a leaf blower and clean in the dark corners of the thing,” Darrah said in a recent Q&A session on YouTube.
“But long-term consolidation is usually a bad thing because once you have enough control, you start wanting to control costs, and that usually means creativity goes down, risk-taking goes down.
“So probably bad in the long term, maybe good in Activision-Blizzard’s case in the short term though.”