Earlier today, we reported the news that Microsoft was looking into some key acquisitions to get its 2018 gaming year started on the right foot, and an interesting name surfaced as a result – Electronic Arts. Yes, the mega-titan behind such games as Mass Effect: Andromeda, Star Wars: Battlefront II and various sports hits like Madden and FIFA came up as a topic in discussion when it came to bolstering the Xbox brand, according to sources.
Now, nothing is official yet, and Microsoft nor EA have said a word on what's happening. But it's a pretty spectacular union to imagine. That said, there are a lot of positives that can come from it – along with a couple of negatives that will no doubt be hard to overlook.
Let's weigh the pros and cons in terms of what could come from a deal such as this:
Positive: Microsoft Easily Gains More Stature In the Gaming Market
Microsoft struggled last year with its lackluster Xbox One line-up, despite the introduction of the Xbox One X. The cancellation of Scalebound and Fable Legends angered quite a few gamers, and Crackdown 3's delay didn't help either.
By purchasing EA outright, Microsoft would have access to some of the biggest game licenses on the planet, including Star Wars (via a partnership through Disney), Madden, FIFA and countless others. It may continue to stamp them with the EA brand, though, to avoid confusion. (Depends on the fine p
These would mean big things for the Xbox One and Xbox One X, as Microsoft could easily market these as huge "gets" for the console and help improve its sales, not to mention its services.
But then, there's the other side of that…prevnext
Negative: What Does This Mean For PlayStation and Nintendo?
There's no question that EA has been one of the biggest third party developers out there, making killer titles for the PlayStation 4, and starting to gain traction into Nintendo Switch development. If Microsoft picked up the publisher, there would be no guarantees that we'd see EA games on the PS4 and Switch – and that could be bad news for fans of sports and certain franchises.
Now, Microsoft could operate the business separately, as it is with Mojang, meaning that their games could still come to PS4 and Nintendo Switch. But it would obviously save the best assets for the Xbox One version, it seems, and that means those players possibly getting the short end of the stick. That's not a guarantee, mind you, but if you had access to exclusive franchises, would you want to share them with others?prevnext
Positive: Xbox Game Pass Could See a Huge Boost
With the acquisition of Electronic Arts, Microsoft could do something really remarkable with its Xbox Game Pass service. Along with introducing first-party exclusives that would remain with the service, the company could also combine EA Access' services into the program, introducing trial access to upcoming games, as well as a vault which players could access at any time – and we mean a better one than the Game Pass currently has.
Maybe Microsoft would leave both programs as they were, but it sounds like an ideal union between the two, especially if all their features could work together. It'd certainly give PlayStation Now a run for its money, that's for sure – and who knows what else Microsoft could introduce to make it work.prevnext
Negative: What Would This Mean For Game Studios and Business Planning?
There's a question that comes with the business Microsoft would conduct should it pick up Electronic Arts. After all, the publisher has several studios in its fold, and there's no guarantee that they'll stay open. Just look at what happened with Visceral Games.
Microsoft doesn't hold back when it comes to the cancellation of high-profile projects, and, in the hopes of earning profits, it could easily make some decisions to try and focus more on popular brands. This could be bad news for some studios – like, for instance, Respawn Entertainment, which was acquired by EA last year. Titanfall 2 was a big hit with fans, but didn't sell as well as expected. Would Microsoft use this business logic to "trim the fat", as it were, and keep core studios up and running?
This isn't confirmed, mind you, but considering how Fable Legends and Scalebound were treated so late in development, it is something to think about if the deal goes through. And, for that matter, there'd be very little interest in reviving franchises like Dead Space, save for caving in to massive fan demand.
Also, Microtransactions – how would they fare in the shake-up? We know EA cancelled its elaborate plans for loot boxes with Star Wars: Battlefront II at the last second, but Microsoft ran business as usual with its Forza Motorsport 7 system. Would this be something that the company would absolutely require with its future games, or would it consider a more savvy business plan for gamers? It's hard to tell, and, again, something to ponder.prevnext
Positive/Negative: People Would Be Talking Like Crazy About the Deal
There's been a lot of buzz behind the rumored acquisition – so much, in fact, that it's driven EA's stock up a few points as a result. The talk surrounding this potential deal is huge, with everyone asking, "What if?" That buzz could certainly work in Microsoft's favor leading into E3, getting people excited for whatever it has planned next for the Xbox One and Xbox One X.0comments
But there's a flip side to that, as this would also bring up many critiques about how Microsoft is simply trying to "buy a solution" instead of digging deep and coming up with projects that gamers would be excited about. Sure, people would be thrilled with the new FIFA or Star Wars games as they're announced, but, by the same token, they're also wondering if this would push back the new Gears of War or whatever else Microsoft would originally have planned. After all, the company had a fully loaded docket of original games a couple of years ago. Now, you can count their upcoming exclusives – at least, the ones that haven't been revealed yet – on one hand.
This deal has many different questions behind it, but we probably shouldn't think too deeply on it until it actually happens – if it happens, mind you. But one thing's for sure – the gaming industry would never be the same again. And that could be good or bad news, depending which side of the fence you're on.prev