Mark Darrah says it could be more damaging in the longer term if the Redmond-based tech firm buys Activision Blizzard King after ZeniMax Media, which owns Bethesda.
Darrah was previously a producer on Dragon Age and has spent a lot of time behind the doors of BioWare. Twenty-three years is not a short period, and he retired in 2021, so he was with the studio at the launch of the SEGA Dreamcast and has lived through SEGA’s exit from the console market, its replacement by Microsoft, and four console generation changes. Speaking of Microsoft, during a YouTube Q&A, the topic of Microsoft’s nearly $70 billion offer to buy Activision Blizzard came up.
“I can say consolidation is probably bad in the long run. Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard hopefully is a good thing in the short term because it seems like, culturally, Activision Blizzard needs someone to go in there with a leaf blower and clean out the dark corners of the thing. But long-term consolidation is usually bad because once you have sufficient control, you start wanting to control costs, which means creativity goes down and risk-taking goes down. So probably bad in the long-term, maybe good in the case of Activision Blizzard in the short-term, though,” Darrah said.
You don’t have to go far to see how right he is! One of the big news stories of 2007 was the merger between Activision and Blizzard (the latter was then part of Vivendi). The French media giant then backed out of the company (Vivendi later tried and gave up on Ubisoft but acquired the mobile “little brother” Gameloft). Activision did hurt Blizzard over time, which at the time seemed untouchable. Still, they have been disappointing (Warcraft III Reforged, Diablo Immortal… and these are just two examples).
And if there is no competition, there is no creativity. And monopoly only benefits the gentlemen in suits, not us at all. Darrah has a point.