The Good and the Bad of the Microsoft/ Activision Blizzard union

The Microsoft/ Activision Blizzard union has important consequences for the video game market


Photo: Activision Blizzard

LatinAmerican Post | Juan Manuel Londoño

Last week, a bomb shook the video game market: Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard, one of the colossi of this industry. Activision Blizzard has some of the most popular intellectual properties in this medium, such as “Call of Duty”, “World of Warcraft”, “Starcraft”, “Diablo” and “Candy Crush” which are assumed to be owned by Microsoft. What consequences could this purchase have? In this article, we explain it to you.

The good

Perhaps the best thing about this union is the possible resignation of Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. Kotick had been the target of scandal after scandal over the past few years and was creating a culture within the company that is seen by many as "unsustainable."

Among the controversies of this CEO are:

  • Covering up multiple accusations of sexual harassment in the company for years.
  • Receive a $200 million bonus the same month your company laid off 200 employees.
  • Employ multiple anti-union practices, including non-recognition of unions.

Of these, perhaps the most damaging controversy for the company was its poor work culture. The company environment was described as a "fraternity" where male employees drank "copious amounts of alcohol" as they made their way through cubicles, often "behaving inappropriately with female employees."

On the economic side, the company released a new "Call Of Duty" game every year, which were bestsellers, but brutal for the working hours of the employees. During the most demanding work periods, employees worked 64 to 70 hours per week, over six days. These schedules endangered the physical and mental health of the workers, who had few resources to defend themselves against these abuses.

Also read: The Good Side of the Microchip Shortage

It is expected that with the purchase of Microsoft, these internal problems of the company will be improved, or at least those responsible for them will be fired.

The bad

This union could also bring several problems, not only for the company's workers but for the consumers themselves.

For example, games like "Call Of Duty" or "Overwatch" could become exclusive to the Xbox console, which would force fans of the series who have a Playstation to switch to this console. In this sense, the accumulation of intellectual properties by Microsoft could be problematic for gamers in the future.

On the workers' side, there is a possibility that layoffs will increase throughout the year, as some roles will become redundant or no longer have such importance.

But perhaps the greatest danger is that the change in the company's work culture will be minimal or non-existent. Perhaps the purchase of Microsoft will only put a "new coat of paint" on the problems that have been occurring in Activision Blizzard without attacking the root causes.