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Five Studios and Publishers Microsoft Should Consider Buying

Microsoft have opened the warchest and it’s been a long time coming. With confirmation that further studio and publisher purchases could happen, it’s exciting to think about who could be next.

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Some online speculation has just gone for the obvious: “EA would be a good buy – think of FIFA!”. But there’s more to it than that – there needs to be a connection in ideas, a benefit for both sides.

Here are five purchases big and small Xbox could make. It’s important to note that this list isn’t necessarily studios we want to see bought, but that would benefit from how Microsoft operates. With that said, let’s begin.

SEGA

Let’s get this one out of the way straight off the bat. SEGA has been a rumoured Microsoft purchase for as long as Microsoft has been in the video game business, and it hasn’t happened yet. Each year, at about E3, the rumour rears its ugly head again, getting everybody excited and then running off into the night.

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That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen one day, and this year’s rumours are as tasty as ever. From Microsoft marketing head Arron Greenberg sharing video of hedgehogs while “When You Wish Upon a Star” is played to an exec wearing a Sonic shirt in an official video, it’s enough to make a conspiracy nut go mad.

There are barriers. SEGA is part of a massive business called SEGA Sammy, and it seems unlikely they’d just sell up. Also, American companies buying Japanese companies is difficult to say the least.

With that said, if I’m buying a multi-billion dollar company, you can be sure I’m willing to work around any hurdles that might come up. If it was easy everybody would be doing it.

Here’s the deal: SEGA isn’t just a nice purchase. There are strategic advantages to buying them. You get a massive backlog for Gamepass, including mascot Sonic. You get an incredible PC team who put out titles like Total War and Football Manager and an in important in with Japanese titles like Persona, which will go down massive on xCloud.

Something is happening with SEGA. It might just be an EA-style partnership, but there’s too much smoke to go along with the fire. But what is it? Time will tell – and whatever it is, it’ll be well worth it.

Likelihood of Deal: 8

Kojima Productions

Keep with me on this one. I know, suggesting Kojima stop working on PlayStation is akin to suggesting the Pope take up Buddhism, but there’s logic in there.

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Kojima is probably the most mainstream “weird” developer there is. You have a couple of other mainly Japanese contenders – SWERY being the obvious one – but nobody who has had such a big impact on Western gaming.

None of this automatically makes him a match for Microsoft. In fact, his working relationship is so good with Sony, I’d expect him to stay independent in name only, working on PlayStation as a rule and maybe porting to PC. It worked for Death Stranding.

The beauty of Gamepass is that the barrier of entry is removed from a game. This is important. Kojima can’t just come up with a mad idea and put it out into the world. Whatever he does, he needs to be able to justify a $70 entry. Death Stranding needed to be mainstream enough to make its money back, and it did – just.

That doesn’t have anything to do with it being a good or bad game, but it does mean compromises have to be made at some level. A Microsoft purchase would give Kojima a blank cheque to do what he needs to do, and nobody would have to pay a single penny extra on it. Good or bad, there is no demand for a direct return of investment.

Maybe that wouldn’t be a good thing for Kojima, who, like all great creatives, probably benefits from someone brave enough to tell him no. But it would be freeing, and I’d love to see what he’d bring to the service.

Likelihood of deal: 4

Konami

If there’s only one thing to say about Konami, it’s that they’re wasting their potential.

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Metal Gear, Silent Hill and Castlevania, as well as countless other popular IPs, are sitting in the Konami vault just waiting for someone to free them.

There have been multiple rumours in the last few years, the most persistant one being a Silent Hill exclusive for PS5. I say it’s mostly wishful thinking, but it would be a good match.

Whatever happens, someone should be taking advantage of these great characters and worlds, preferably in a fantastic way, and preferably on everything.

But if I was in charge of the money at pretty much any other major gaming publisher, I’d be trying to get a deal on Konami. I don’t think they’d sell and I think Sony stands a better chance if they did, but the conversation would definitely be had.

Likelihood of deal: 3

Asobo

Asobo has been around for forever – they made a PS2 game based on the Mummy cartoon. That’s how long they’ve been around.

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But you’d be forgiven for having only just heard the name. They’ve had a bit of a breakout lately with A Plague Tale and Flight Simulator. Other titles they’ve been involved in have included Zoo Tycoon, Disneyland Adventure and ports of The Crew.

Asobo are an all-around studio who seem to be able to capably handle anything thrown at them, regardless of genre or even medium. They would be a good studio to have on side, and would give Microsoft another European base.

Even without an outright purchase, you can be sure Asobo and Microsoft will continue working together in the future.

Likelihood of deal: 10

Techland

Dying Light 2 definitely exists, and that’s about all we can say on that.

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Back in May, Techland said they were in the last stretch of development on the title, which was originally announced in 2018. It was indefinitely delayed earlier this year, with no new release date in place.

Senior PR Manager Ola Sondej flat out denied rumours of a Microsoft aquistion, but the rumours still won’t go away. There’s no doubt that something is happening at Techland, but it probably isn’t this.

What happens next will largely rely on Dying Light 2 and what exactly is causing a delay.

Likelihood of deal: 5

 

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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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