Why Monopolies In Gaming Must Not Be Allowed

Monopolies will be the downfall of this industry.

Story Highlights

  • Right now, there does not exist a single monopoly in the video games market.
  • But at the rate, these companies are assimilating, that probably won’t be true for long.
  • Preventing monopolies from forming is important for both creators and consumers.

A lot of people like to throw the word “Monopoly” around without actually understanding what it means. It doesn’t have a loose meaning that can be applied to many situations; it is in fact used to describe a very specific balance of power within a marketplace.

So if we were to go by the very definition, then at this moment in time, a monopoly does not exist within the video games industry.

But that also doesn’t mean that one can’t exist in the blink of an eye. Somewhere over the horizon, we can all imagine a future where one of these so-called gamer-friendly conglomerates gets so big and powerful that it dwarfs everyone else.

And as consumers and gamers, I think we should all fight to make sure that something like this never actually does come to pass.

Some Of The Biggest Players

Tencent Offices
Tencent Is One of The Biggest Players In The Market. (Image Credits: Tencent)

Right now there are a handful of players within the industry that could potentially be monopolies someday, and it should come as no surprise that at the top of this list are Microsoft, Sony, and Tencent.

All three have been on massive spending sprees over the past decade alone, with Microsoft in particular making some incredibly high-profile acquisitions as recently as last year to bolster its lineup of first-party studios.

Buying up the likes of gaming giants like ZeniMax Media and Activision Blizzard were industry-defining moves, since not only do these publishers employ thousands of people, and generate billions of dollars worth of revenue each year, but they were also holders of some of the biggest IPs of all time.

And with these acquisitions, all of these IPs have effectively come under the Microsoft Umbrella, meaning that they now own some of the most iconic and high-profile franchises of all time like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, World of Warcraft, and yes, even Call of Duty.

For the Activision Blizzard sale to get approved in particular, Microsoft had to make deals to keep the Call of Duty franchise on other platforms for the next ten years, but that is still a temporary agreement.

Eventually, the time limit on this deal will run out and the company will no longer be under any obligation. And at that point, you’re only gonna be able to play Call of Duty on Microsoft platforms and nothing else.

The other two companies haven’t been as aggressive with their acquisitions as Microsoft, but they’ve still been plenty busy.

Sony made news in 2022 when it decided to acquire Bungie for $3.6 billion, and Tencent has slowly been acquiring stakes in developers left and right.

A Bleak Future

Sony Exclusives
Sony’s Prestige Lineup. (Image Credits: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Now why is this bad for the industry you might ask?

While on a surface level, it simply seems like all these corporations are doing is trying to make more and more games, the reality is that that’s very optimistic thinking. Because at the end of the day, these are just that, corporations.

No matter how much of a friendly face Phil Spencer puts up, that doesn’t change the fact that Xbox has barely produced any interesting new IPs or big hits in almost a decade, and their past is littered with shuttered studios and mediocre titles like Halo Infinite.

Sony, on the other hand, manages to release a couple of big exclusives every few years, most of which seem to fall into the category of cinematic PlayStation “Prestige” games. These aren’t bad in themselves, but at some point, you have to explore other directions, and the live service route they’ve chosen is not quite it.

And Tencent, well, they aren’t directly involved with as many studios as the other two, but they have stakes in multiple big publishers around the world, including the likes of Ubisoft and FromSoftware. The argument to be made of their overreach is another matter altogether, but not one we have time for here.

Monopolies In The Making

Microsoft Revenue
Microsoft Keeps Getting Bigger And Bigger. (Image Credits: Dazeinfo)

And with the pure amount of capital they have at their disposal, none of these companies are going to stop growing either.

If they have their way, they will keep investing, and keep getting bigger, until eventually, the only ones left to acquire are each other. And as impossible as that sounds right now, it might not be in the near future.

There’s a reason why there are anti-trust laws regarding the formation of monologues, and regardless of your political affiliations, I think we can all agree that they are bad.

Once a singular company manages to establish itself as the dominant power, all other bets are off. They can manipulate the market as they please, and they will do anything to stay in that position of power.

In terms of video games, imagine if Microsoft was the only company in control of making say, first-person shooters. I mean, they already own Call of Duty.

Now Imagine if they made it so that the only way you could ever play that genre anymore was on an Xbox console. Would you be happy with that? Would you think it’s fair? Probably not.

Do not ever presume that these companies will not try to do anything other than gain complete control over the market. And do not ever get complicit because you’ve picked a side in the console wars or anything arbitrary like that.

Always remember: These companies are not your friends, and they will take you for every cent if they can.

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Feedback From Our Fellow Gamers

Simplistic arguments, missing the point. Monopolies are naturally bad, but even worse is the use of money generated outside of the gaming arena to create a irregular competition. Microsoft is fueling its gaming division through the profits generated in cloud and OS divisions. This is the issue. No gaming company has such deep pockets.

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Jawad is a News writer at eXputer with a lifelong interest in video games and industry journalism. He is dedicated to delivering engaging, unbiased, and well-informed gaming news. Jawad has one year of experience in gaming journalism and is currently pursuing an MBBS degree.

Experience: 1+ Year || Covers News Stories on eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Medicine and Surgery.

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