Why does Microsoft buy game studios?

It seems to make no sense. A studio is just a collection of individuals who work as a team, so bringing them into the corporate Microsoft world could do more harm than good. There is another way and that is to sign up good studios for exclusives. This would cost a lot of money but a lot less than buying them. It also allows for much more flexibility.

Of course this article is prompted by the news that Bungie have done a buyback of the company from Microsoft. You would wonder why Microsoft bought it in the first place when they could have just paid them to do the Halo series. Just as they will now, presumably, pay them to produce more exclusive 360 content.

Also you must look at Rare. This cost Microsoft $377million. You really must wonder if this was value for money. Or, more importantly, what they could have done if they had spent that $377m in other ways.

So do you think that studios work best when they are independent? Or that Bungie are fools to cut the safety net that Microsoft provides?


  1. As a gamer, I generally am against exclusive content. In an ideal world for the community of gamers, all games would be available on all platforms. Exclusivity deals simply reward studios for limiting access to their games, just the opposite of what is best for the overall gamer community. Therefore, I prefer independent studios.

    The one potentially useful exception to this would be a small captive studio that focuses on a limited number of exclusive games created solely for the purpose of demonstrating to the industry the full power of a given console’s technical capabilities. Even in this situation, I would encourage the eventual porting of the games to other platforms.

  2. Hi Evan, thanks for the input.
    Obviously you want every game to be on your platform. But if this were the case then there would be no point in buying different brands. Which is not what manufacturers want.
    The platform holders want to win and platform exclusive titles are one of the most effective ways for them to do so. It is certainly one thing that kept Nintendo going when PS1 and PS2 were at their height.

  3. If all games were on all platforms it would be called your PC 🙂

    Microsoft is working to bridge the gaming gap beween MSN networks and Xbox live so that all gamers on either system can be united.

    If they do that, then, at some point, there really won’t be any point in Xbox, you will just need a PC.

    You can’t play RTS on consoles anyway. You also can’t play FPS as well (certainly not competitively, and I know because I work in the pro gaming community). The only thing analog is good for is some sports games, which are only a small part of the total pie.

  4. i think ms should buy more studios 3rd party support can stop at any given time for the 360. it happend with the xbox dreamcast and gamecube. that and when the next lot of next gen consoles arive there is some thing good on day one. 3rd party games start on the back foot to begin with also. they simply dont have the final specs of consoles before launch as 1st party do. which is why only now are the games form the 3rd party starting to shine.

  5. Thanks for the input.
    Jordan I think that the next generation of consoles with gesture interfaces should be able to play all games better than a PC. Otherwise the platform holders are failing.
    Mark, you can pay to own all the output of a studio more easily than you can pay to buy the studio. Once you own all the output you can give them the same resources as a first party. Microsoft are definitely moving to this model.

  6. I think Microsoft is playing a very good game – in relation to Evan’s post. If they succesfully bridge the gap – they will in ‘x’ years produce a one-stop box that caters for everything you need in the home – combining the ease of a console, with the depth and breadth of a PC – this seems to be a very powerful advantage M$ has over it’s rivals (Sony/Nintendo)

    As for purchasing Studios – well I suppose it comes back to economics, if M$ have to pay ‘tax’ on their profit – they might as well look at putting the ‘tax’ money to good use, by purchasing a studio and growing vertically, through acquisition – this has many benefits, the first and foremost the ability to control the content of ‘said’ studio, the second to cross pollentate other teams within microsoft with ideas from the acquisition – certainly that’s what Codemasters tried to do… Brain In a Jar etc 🙂

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