The console wars, like the culture wars, are kind of silly but they do produce some key advantages for consumers.
The competition between Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo (though the latter sort of marches to the beat of its own drum for the most part) have led to innovation, better hardware and lower prices for games and consoles.
Competition for gamers’ hard-earned cash means better video games. It also means better services such as Xbox Game Pass, which gives gamers the ability to play countless games as part of a monthly subscription. It also allows you to stream many of these games via the cloud—even if you don’t have an Xbox.
Sony’s answer to Xbox Game Pass is a vastly expanded, three-tier PlayStation Plus with a catalog that spans every PlayStation system from the original to the PS5—a huge leap from the three or four free monthly games PS Plus offered before.
But PlayStation Plus, even in its new and improved form, still has a lot of catching up to do when you compare it to Xbox Game Pass. And Microsoft is about to make Game Pass even better—if its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision-Blizzard makes it past regulators.
Yesterday, Xbox boss Phil Spencer announced that not only would Microsoft be purchasing Activision-Blizzard and its valuable suite of AAA games from World Of Warcraft to Call Of Duty to Candy Crush Saga, many of these games would be coming to Xbox Game Pass as free day-one titles.
“We intend to make Activision Blizzard’s much-loved library of games—including Overwatch, Diablo and Call of Duty—available in Game Pass and to grow those gaming communities,” Spencer wrote in a blog post outlining the company’s plans for acquiring Activision-Blizzard (ATVI).
This is a huge win for Game Pass—should the deal go through—and means that Xbox gamers can play some of the most popular cross-platform titles at no extra charge. There’s no reason for Microsoft to make Call Of Duty an Xbox exclusive, either. They’ll still profit from sales on PlayStation (and on PC for those who don’t have Xbox Game Pass Ultimate) while pushing more subscriptions to Game Pass in the process. It’s a huge win for Microsoft and Xbox gamers—without removing the games from other platforms. (Maybe Microsoft could somehow get Call Of Duty onto Nintendo Switch while they’re at it?)
This is good new for gamers on all platforms, but definitely bad news for Sony in the big scheme of things. This will absolutely give Xbox a major advantage in the coming years, bolstering their ace-in-the-hole with Game Pass, the answer to Sony’s excellent crop of exclusive titles that Microsoft has so far been unable to match.
This, on top of news that the PlayStation 5 will actually be getting a price hike, is just more notches in Microsoft’s Xbox Series X|S belt, even if the they remain in third place in the console wars overall still.