Microsoft has not had an easy time getting into mobile. Whilst they dominate the PC market, with their only real competition being Apple, in the mobile market they’ve had to compete with multiple manufacturers and operating systems. But if the Activision-Blizzard acquisition does go through, their efforts to break into the mobile gaming market may be the main beneficiary.
As Spencer explains “I don’t think anybody needs that quote from us to understand how irrelevant we are at mobile. Right? Anybody who picks up their phone and decides to play a game would see that on their own.” The irony of using that as a quote isn’t lost on us of course, but it’s a great indicator straight from the source of more information about the Activision-Blizzard deal.
The mobile matters
As we noted in a recent article discussing CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella’s, comments about cross-platform play and his defence of the Activision-Blizzard acquisition, Microsoft is indeed lagging behind in the mobile market. So whilst Spencer’s statements may only be a candid confirmation it does offer an indication of where the value in this deal is for Microsoft.
Whilst Xbox Gamepass is an excellent foothold in the mobile market, for the relatively easy format of bringing former console games to a streaming service, to push original games and other projects would take Microsoft basically developing their own gaming division from scratch. Acquire Activision-Blizzard, and much of the legwork is taken out of this solution.
Although much of the attention has been on King, the makers of Candy Crush and arguably the most notable mobile presence in the Activision-Blizzard corporation, Spencer explains it differently. “In addition, the number that’s not in the Candy Crush/King number is Call of Duty: Mobile and Diablo mobile,” by all accounts, Microsoft is not aiming to take over the casual or hypercasual markets, but translate an analogue of their console experience to mobile.
Given that both Activision-Blizzard and competitor Take-Two Interactive have seen their revenue become mobile-first in their recent financials, it’s no surprise that Microsoft want to step into the handheld market. With game streaming and original franchises making waves and money, capitalising on this still emerging market is not an unusual priority to have.