A recent report has linked Microsoft and WB Games, who are looking to be sold off by AT&T. Microsoft, along with other companies like Activision and EA, seem to be in the early stages of intrigue. WB games division is best known for the Batman Arkham series developed by Rocksteady. WB Games also owns the rights to Mortal Kombat developed by NetherRealm. Along with these solidified IP’s, there have been rumors of a Harry Potter RPG being developed under the Warner Bros. studio Avalanche Software.
It is too early to say if Microsoft is just doing due diligence or if they are serious about an acquisition. In our opinion, Microsoft need to be aggressive and buy WB games no questions asked with or without the IP.
Content is King
The three most interesting IP under WB games is the Batman/DC IP, rumored Harry Potter RPG, and Mortal Kombat. Starting off with the two biggest IP’s, there is no chance that if Microsoft acquired WB Games that they would gain full rights of the Batman and Harry Potter IP for games.
It is possible that if Microsoft does acquire these studios that they could license the IP for a certain amount of time, similarly to how EA signed a decade long deal with Disney for Star Wars. IF, and this is a big IF, Microsoft could pull off that deal, it would be a tremendous get for the Xbox team. Having the rights to Batman AND Harry Potter would be a groundbreaking haul, and would make Xbox even more appealing than it is right now.
Microsoft might also look to acquire the rights to Mortal Kombat, and they would have a fighting game to rival Sony’s exclusivity deal with Street Fighter. Having Mortal Kombat as an Xbox first party, either as a multi platform game or as an exclusive, would be a massive acquisition. There’s even the possibilities of a Mortal Kombat v Killer Instinct crossover that sounds almost too good to be true.
There’s also a outcome where Xbox is unable to secure the rights to those IP, and could only grab a few or all of the studios from the AT&T sale. In this scenario, Microsoft should still try and make a deal happen.
Having a studio like Rocksteady under the Xbox division would be a huge add, and it would instantly make them one of the best studios in the first party lineup. Other studios like NetherRealm would be a huge addition for Xbox, and would add a veteran fighting game studio to the lineup. There are also many other studios like WB Montreal who are currently developing a Batman game would be a great talent add for Xbox.
Absorbing some or all of the studios and developers that are currently under WB Games would be a gigantic undertaking for Microsoft, but they should absolutely make a deal happen if possible. Microsoft has been spending a lot of money over the past few years adding studios to their first party lineup. Even though they do have many studios, adding even more talent could seriously put some pressure on the competition and give Microsoft an incredible stable of talent and potential IP.
GamePass is the key
We have yet to talk about the most important factor in all of this, GamePass. If Microsoft is able to add more first party studios and games to the Xbox team, it would bolster GamePass and make the service even more valuable. Microsoft likely sees their future as a Netflix or HBO, where they have undeniable content on their service and will be a must have for any consumer.
Talent like Rocksteady, NetherRealm, and the many other studios available for sale do not come along often. If Microsoft are serious about being the best ecosystem in gaming, they should be offering up their money for WB Games and solidify their lineup as the best in the business.
While their current first party lineup is very impressive, they will need to continue to add talent to make sure there is never a moment where content is lacking. They can continue to build studios like The Initiative, or buy smaller studios like Obsidian and Ninja Theory. Studios of the caliber currently for sale by AT&T are rare, and Microsoft cannot let this opportunity pass. They need to get this deal done, and they have the capital and assets to do so.