As one of the world's biggest tech firms, Microsoft is keen to jump on critical tech trends. The company is looking for a first-mover advantage and hopes to find it in the metaverse.
Following the lead of fellow Big Tech firms, Microsoft pulled off one of its biggest moves yet.
Gobbling Up Another Giant
In mid-January, Microsoft announced it had finalized a deal to acquire Activision Blizzard - one of the world's biggest game developers. The deal, valued at an estimated $69 billion, will see Activision's titles added to Microsoft's gaming suite.
Activision is one of the biggest, most legendary game developers. The company is behind such incredible titles as the "Call of Duty" franchise, "Candy Crush," "World of Warcraft," and "Overwatch." As part of the deal, all Activision gaming titles will be added to the Xbox Game Pass - Microsoft's foremost gaming offering.
Microsoft expects to finalize the acquisition sometime in the 2023 fiscal year. Once complete, Microsoft could become the world's third-largest gaming company by revenue, trailing only Tencent (the Chinese company behind Riot Games) and Sony (developers of the wildly popular PlayStation consoles).
The tech giant plans to expand to 30 internal game development studios and improve production and publishing capabilities for areas like esports and streaming.
In a statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the Activision acquisition will offer proper support for the company's services across multiple platforms - including PC, mobile, and cloud gaming. Nadella also pointed out that the move will provide the building blocks for Microsoft's metaverse plans.
"Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms," Nadella pointed out.
Metaverse, Here We Come
There is no doubt the acquisition is part of Microsoft's move to build a competitive edge with the metaverse. Gaming is a huge part of entertainment, one of the key areas governing the metaverse itself. By beefing up gaming capabilities, Microsoft could become a necessity as the metaverse unfolds.
The Activision acquisition also brings top talent and developer strength to Microsoft. One of the world's foremost game developers, Activision's 10,000 highly experienced employees will now move to Microsoft in preparation to build the company's metaverse.
As far as acquisitions go, the move is as practical as it gets for Microsoft - a win-win.
Giving Fans a Sneak Peek
Microsoft's metaverse plans aren't new. The company was among the first to jump on the metaverse trend, following the likes of Meta (formerly Facebook).
In November, Microsoft announced updates to its Xbox gaming console and Teams video conferencing software. The company also launched a new product - Dynamic 356 Connected Spaces.
The Teams update - called "Mesh" - will allow users to build personalized digital avatars and create spaces to meet in the metaverse. The update is accessible to everyone without the need for special equipment. Down the line, companies will be able to build customer spaces for their events - from meetings and workshops to parties and social mixers.
The Connected Spaces feature will enable companies to combine artificial intelligence and metaverse technology with operations. Microsoft claimed that Spaces can be used to gather and implement data from cameras, creating a "hybrid work environment."
"With the power of your existing cameras, harness computer vision and observational data to help complete the picture—giving a new perspective into people, places, and things," the company explained.
Now that Microsoft is diving head-first into the metaverse, it will be interesting to see how it plans to optimize and offer a unique experience. In light of competition from other Big Tech firms, Microsoft will have to bring its A-game to maintain its standing.