According to IDC Analyst Lewis Ward, as reported by Gaming Bolt, Microsoft is not slowing down its aggressive acquisition strategy in the new year. Ward says even with six new studios under its belt in 2018 alone, Microsoft has yet to surpass the developer base of its two console rivals. “This is a signal that Microsoft wants to put out more exclusives for Win10 devices moving forward and we’ll likely see more acquisitions as they continue to bolster their first party lineup by plugging “holes” in genres and subgenres they think will grow relatively quickly over time,” the analyst said.
On the hardware front, Microsoft is going all in as well. With reports stating it is working on several new consoles, the company is eyeing VR as the next step, perhaps motivated by the success of the PlayStation VR. “There’s no reason Xbox One X can’t play Windows Mixed Reality games right now,” Ward says. “I’m not sure why Microsoft hasn’t pulled that trigger on that, but they’ll very likely be in this space with their next-gen console.”
It’s no secret that Microsoft has fallen drastically behind in recent years in terms of rolling out triple A, system-selling platform exclusives. Its two main rivals have been pumping out record-breaking, award-sweeping games for consecutive years now, and the expected lineup for 2019 seems like the quality will continue trending upwards. Though Microsoft has made significant gains on the infrastructure and hardware front, software is still king at the end of the day.
However, in recent times, Microsoft has clearly understood the demands of its fanbase, and realized the implications behind Nintendo and Sony dominating the charts and the awards season every year. Starting this past E3, the company has launched a drastic plan of acquiring multiple developer studios, and consequently, their past and future IPs. In an era where Microsoft can no longer rely on its publishing front to generate big-budget titles, it has now pivoted to an aggregation game, absorbing well-known studios to boosts its exclusive library.
Microsoft still has a lot to do to close the gap in both quality and quantity of content, but these studio acquisitions are a good start. But this also means these purchases have to yield dividends soon, or major titles such as Nintendo’s next Pokemon RPG and Sony’s Ghosts of Tsushima may overshadow the Xbox once again.