Arguably the biggest gaming news in a long time broke earlier today. Microsoft has agreed a deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, the publisher in charge of Call of Duty, Overwatch, World of Warcraft and much more for a staggering $70 billion.
While everyone will have differing opinions on how good this is for gaming generally, the main question will be: what does it mean for the games I love?
Well, we've come up with 5 ways Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard could affect Call of Duty, WoW, Overwatch, and all their other titles.
Becoming Xbox Exclusives
This is the obvious one. It may be exciting for Xbox fans out there, but concerning for any PlayStation diehards.
With Activision's slate of studios, which includes Treyarch, King, Infinity Ward, Toys for Bob, and their internal studios, becoming Microsoft first parties, there's every chance that their games become Xbox exclusives.
Call of Duty has boasted PlayStation exclusive content for years now, so it becoming an Xbox excluisve entierly would be quite the u-turn.
The likes of Overwatch, Crash Bandicoot, and Tony Hawk have all had relationships of some kind with Sony's brand too.
The games haven't been confirmed as exclusive, at least not yet, but we expect it to only be a matter of time.
In Microsoft's statment, Phil Spencer wrote: "Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward," so there's hope for PlayStation gamers yet.
Keeping Call of Duty and the like cross-platform releases would be somewhat against the recent Xbox trend, however. As announced in their own acquisition statement, all Bethesda games will be exclsuive to Xbox, once any existing deals are over.
Therefore, we'd expect Microsoft to try and do the same with Activision's properties - even Call of Duty. Since the acquisition won't be complete until June 2023, though, Modern Warfare 2, which is rumoured to be Call of Duty 2022, should still be coming to PlayStation.
Day One on Game Pass
In better and more likely news, any new Activision studios releases should come to Xbox Game Pass and Game Pass for PC on day one, continuing Microsoft's push of the service.
In the statement we mentioned previously, Phil Spencer wrote, "Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog."
Therefore, they're clearly already planning to bolster Game Pass's offering with Activision titles.
Could Call of Duty games from 2023 onwards, Overwatch 2, any new Crash Bandicoot game, or future Tony Hawk remakes come to Game Pass on day one? It certainly seems like the plan is for that to be the case.
The best deal in gaming is only getting better.
No More Annual Releases
Following the underwhelming sales figures for Call of Duty Vanguard, which were made public today, it's possible that Microsoft are considering moving away from the annual release schedules that have always been led by Activision's flagship franchise.
Since Warzone has ensured that Call of Duty is always in the conversation, do Microsoft need to continue pushing new releases out every 12 months?
Taking the Assassin's Creed approach of moving to less regular but higher quality releases could be a good choice.
If appetite for the classic multiplayer, zombies, and campaign modes isn't quite what it used to be (at least for series set in the past) maybe it's time to let excitement build over the course of two or three years.
The balance between profit and fan excitement is something Microsoft will have to work out, but don't be surprised if we see a release schedule change of some kind come in the next few years.
Looking beyond simple exclusivity, could be see certain Activision properties make their console debuts on Xbox?
If it was something that was ever under consideration, we'd likely have seen it by now, but could World of Warcraft come to console for the first time ever.
Microsoft will want to take advantage of their new IP, so translating the series to console has to be a consideration.
Of course, WoW is extremely PC focused, as it has always been, but can Microsoft work out a way to introduce a version of it that'd work on console and would be attractive to Xbox players?
This is where the fun stuff is possible. Master Chief skins in Warzone? Crash Bandicoot things in the next Forza Horizon? Gears of War vs. Overwatch? The possibilities are endless and these kinds of deals make them much easier.
Of course, acquisition deals between massive corporations have huge downsides on the industry, and exclusivity isn't something that benefits gamers, but crossovers do become a lot more simple to organise.
Things that you'd never have thought possible suddenly become so, and that's nothing but exciting.
We still have a lot to learn about what Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard means for the two companies and their games, but the future could be very exciting.