Last month, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Bethesda's parent company ZeniMax Media in a massive $7.5 billion cash deal. Since the news broke, many have been wondering: how will Sony respond? In other words, will Sony respond with its own acquisitions? If so, who will they snag? Konami? Sega? Square Enix? Capcom? EA? Ubisoft? Well, the answer to many of these is probably not. Some of these companies are simply out of Sony's price range. However, one company they could probably afford is WB Games.
Earlier this year there were reports that AT&T was looking to offload WB Games in order to chip away at its debt. However, as of September 1, the reports are WB Games is no longer for sale due to it being too valuable of an asset for AT&T.
That said, according to industry analyst Michael Pachter, Sony "is in a good position to buy Warner Bros. Interactive assets should they ever go on sale again."
"Their acquisitions have been smaller, like Insomniac, and those are the kinds of acquisitions that I would expect," said Pachter while speaking to Gaming Bolt. "I do think Sony is in a good position to buy Warner Bros. Interactive assets should they ever go on sale again. Depending on whether AT&T chooses to sell them, and how. If they just want to license their IP out, they will probably not go with exclusivity deals, because they won't want the games limited to just one platform, but if they sell perpetual rights to Batman or Mortal Kombat, I think those assets would be pretty cool for Sony to fold into their lineup. They already did it with Spider-Man, so we know they would be interested in something like that. I really hadn't considered this scenario, since we had heard WB was off the table, but now that Bethesda just got bought for $7.5 billion, you have to think AT&T are thinking, 'could we get $7 billion?'"
Pachter brings up a good point. For one, everybody is for sale. Everyone is available for acquisition at the right price. The fact that many involved with Bethesda just made a serious payday in an absolutely massive $7.5 billion deal will have many companies of similar size thinking about whether they can cash out in a similar fashion. The question is, could Sony afford such a deal? Sony is a massive company, but it's nowhere near Microsoft massive. Sony could have bought up Bethesda, but it would have been incredibly risky. For Microsoft, it's still a risky investment due to how much money is involved, but Microsoft can eat the losses if the risk doesn't pay off in a way Sony can't.
While WB Games may not be actively on the shelf anymore, it's obvious AT&T would consider a bid if the bid was high enough. Of course, the question this begs is: how much is this hypothetical bid? Unfortunately, for any potential future suitors, this new Bethesda deal just drove up the cost.
Elsewhere in the interview, Pachter was also asked about PlayStation taking Konami's IP -- Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania, Silent Hill, Contra, Bomberman, PES, etc. -- and whether it would be a shrewd move by Sony. To this, Pachter pointed out that arguably the most valuable of this IP, Metal Gear Solid, isn't worth anything without Kojima, who PlayStation hasn't tied down. In the same statement, Pachter also weighs in on PlayStation's third-party deals, such as the one that will see Final Fantasy 16 release as a PS5 exclusive. To this, Pachter suggests that these types of deals aren't major plays.
"Well, Metal Gear without Kojima might not be worth very much, and Final Fantasy, when did the last one come out? 2016?" said the analyst. "I'm not sure anyone really cares there, I think that that's just a couple of million units we are talking about, that's not a system seller. It probably is in Japan, but the Japanese aren't buying Xbox, so Sony doesn't really have to worry there, especially since all those Japanese games will be on PlayStation anyway, so Sony isn't at risk of losing those titles. I don't think those assets are worth much."
As always, feel free to leave a comment letting us know what you think. Do you agree with Pachter? Should Sony try to acquire WB Games?