Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda has brought about a major shift in power in the industry, with eight studios and several major AAA IP suddenly joining the Xbox Game Studios pipeline. Regardless of how long it will be before we start seeing the proper results of that, there’s no doubting that the results will be felt sooner or later.
We recently spoke with industry analyst Michael Pachter about the same and many other things in a lengthy interview. After speaking about how he thinks the Bethesda deal will impact Sony in the long- and short-term, we asked Pachter if he felt Sony might respond with a similarly big acquisition of a major publisher.
According to Pachter, interestingly enough, should AT&T choose to sell the WB Games division in the future – after recently having decided against it following reports that those assets were indeed up for sale – that Sony could be in a good position to tap up those assets and licenses, and that IP such as Batman and Mortal Kombat could fit very well with their first party portfolio- though he expects that in all likeliness, Sony’s acquisitions will continue to be relatively smaller, along the lines of last year’s Insomniac deal.
“Their acquisitions have been smaller, like Insomniac, and those are the kinds of acquisitions that I would expect,” Pachter said. “I do think Sony is in a good position to buy Warner Bros. Interactive assets should they ever go on sale again. Depending on whether AT&T chooses to sell them, and how. If they just want to license their IP out, they will probably not go with exclusivity deals, because they won’t want the games limited to just one platform, but if they sell perpetual rights to Batman or Mortal Kombat, I think those assets would be pretty cool for Sony to fold into their lineup. They already did it with Spider-Man, so we know they would be interested in something like that. I really hadn’t considered this scenario, since we had heard WB was off the table, but now that Bethesda just got bought for $7.5 billion, you have to think AT&T are thinking, ‘could we get $7 billion?'”
Of course, some have speculated that rather than tapping up publishers, Sony could purchase individual third party IP, with the likes of Metal Gear and Final Fantasy being brought up by several people- which makes sense, given the close association both have always had with PlayStation, and the fact that Final Fantasy 16 is already confirmed as a PS5 launch exclusive. However, Pachter believes that neither of those would hold much value for different reasons.
“Well, Metal Gear without Kojima might not be worth very much, and Final Fantasy, when did the last one come out? 2016?” he said. “I’m not sure anyone really cares there, I think that that’s just a couple of million units we are talking about, that’s not a system seller. It probably is in Japan, but the Japanese aren’t buying Xbox, so Sony doesn’t really have to worry there, especially since all those Japanese games will be on PlayStation anyway, so Sony isn’t at risk of losing those titles.”
“I don’t think those assets are worth much,” he concluded.
Our full interview with Pachter will go live soon, so stay tuned for that.