Recently news broke that AT&T
was considering selling the Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
gaming division - WB Games
. Where studios like Rocksteady
, and NetherRealm
, work on properties like Batman
, The Lord of the Rings
, and Mortal Kombat
. With Microsoft
, and Take-Two (2K)
reportedly expressing interest - an analyst at GlobalData
runs through the next-gen case for each.
And it's a fascinating take that adds context to what could be one of the biggest acquisitions in recent memory. Rupantar Guha, Senior Analyst for Thematic Research at GlobalData, notes, "Licenses to develop games based on the DC Comics and Harry Potter franchises are the main prize for potential bidders Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts (EA), Take-Two Interactive and Microsoft. Any companies looking to develop new services such as cloud gaming will be particularly keen to win the race."
For Microsoft's potential acquisition, he covers the company's relationship with AT&T and its cloud-based future.
"Microsoft is expected to be an early bidder - an acquisition would benefit its new Xbox Series X consoles and xCloud platform. Following its partnership with AT&T for 5G, cloud and edge computing solutions, the company will be looking to build on this relationship as part of its strategy to outflank Sony’s PS5 consoles and PS Now cloud gaming service. Microsoft has acquired several game studios in recent years as it seeks to expand its library of first-party games. The DC products acquired through Warner’s gaming unit would allow Microsoft to challenge Sony’s Disney-owned exclusives."
For EA, which also has its own cloud gaming platform in development - this acquisition would sit alongside its relationship with Disney and the Star Wars license.
"EA will be primarily looking to add Warner games and AT&T’s 5G capabilities to its upcoming cloud gaming service, Project Atlas. Its experience of licensing gaming properties from Disney and proven ability to create compelling content around them will be a factor for AT&T to consider."
Here things change a bit, with Activision's potential acquisition acting in a more traditional sense - more games under its banner within specific genres it might have a few gaps.
"Activision Blizzard has less experience than EA in game licensing and lags behind Microsoft in game services, but the company should consider a move for the Warner operation to expand its role-playing games line-up with Mortal Kombat and Batman titles."
Take-Two has big plans for the future and the next-generation across consoles, PC, and mobile. Adding WB Games to its line-up will no doubt bolster its position as a market leader in software.
"Meanwhile, Take-Two Interactive has plans to launch 93 games over the next five years, of which 21 are planned specifically for mobile. With less experience in mobile gaming, it will need titles that can replicate the popularity of Fortnite Battle Royale and Call of Duty Mobile, so the addition of Warner games such as Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Game of Thrones: Conquest to its line-up will help attract users faster than new, non-franchise titles."
It's a fascinating breakdown, and we could see any of the above scenarios happening - that is of course if a sale actually happens. Perhaps the most interesting is Microsoft, where Project xCloud, the Xbox Series X, and Xbox Game Pass for PC, has shown that the company is expanding its portfolio quite aggressively - with excellent services and value for gamers. Going back a few years to its purchase of Minecraft, that has seen that juggernaut remain platform agnostic so even this might not mean an exclusivity deal. Though with Sony's success with Spider-Man, having Batman only on Xbox would be huge.