The games created by Activision Blizzard’s developers provide the centerpiece of Microsoft’s strategic thinking around the acquisition. The titles are some of the most popular in the world. And those Activision Blizzard properties extend well beyond Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush. In discussing some of the intellectual properties owned by Activision Blizzard, Spencer’s excitement may have mirrored the enthusiasm of a “StarCraft” player noticing the long-dormant franchise’s logo in Microsoft’s acquisition announcement. “I was looking at the IP list, I mean, let’s go!” Spencer said. ” ‘King’s Quest,’ ‘Guitar Hero,’ I should know this but I think they got ‘HeXen.’ ” “HeXen,” indeed an Activision Blizzard property, is a cult hit first-person game about using magic spells.
Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard also means owning the rights to many creations from gaming’s past, including Crash Bandicoot, the original Sony PlayStation mascot. There’s also the influential and popular Tony Hawk skateboard series and beloved characters like Spyro the Dragon. Toys for Bob, one of the studios working under the Activision Blizzard banner, successfully launched games like “Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time,” but was later folded into supporting Call of Duty games. Spencer said the Xbox team will talk with developers about working on a variety of franchises from the Activision Blizzard vaults. “We’re hoping that we’ll be able to work with them when the deal closes to make sure we have resources to work on franchises that I love from my childhood, and that the teams really want to get,” Spencer said. “I’m looking forward to these conversations. I really think it’s about adding resources and increasing capability.” Spencer said he’s concerned about tech companies unfamiliar with the gaming industry barging in to the space, as opposed to the current, experienced competition against Nintendo and Sony. “They have a long history in video games,” he said. “Nintendo’s not going to do anything that damages gaming in the long run because that’s the business they’re in. Sony is the same and I trust them. […] Valve’s the same way. When we look at the other big tech competitors for Microsoft: Google has search and Chrome, Amazon has shopping, Facebook has social, all these large-scale consumer businesses. […] The discussion we’ve had internally, where those things are important to those other tech companies for how many consumers they reach, gaming can be that for us.”
He added: “I think we do have a unique point of view, which is not about how everything has to run on a single device or platform. That’s been the real turning point for us looking at gaming as a consumer opportunity that could have similar impact on Microsoft that some of those other scale consumer businesses do for other big tech competitors. And it’s been great to see the support we’ve had from the company and the board.”
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