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Microsoft’s Activision Buy: A Shift Towards the Metaverse and Crypto?

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Source: Adobe / dvoevnore

Microsoft’s official purchase of the video game publisher Activision has raised more questions about how crypto and the metaverse will influence both companies’ products and operations.

When the acquisition was announced in January 2022, Microsoft claimed it would “accelerate the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business” and “provide building blocks for the metaverse.” A few paragraphs later, the company claimed that “Gaming […] will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.”

Yet much has changed since then: when the transaction was completed on October 13, the metaverse was left unmentioned in a statement from Microsoft Gaming on the matter. In fact, during an interview with Bloomberg in August, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer showed skepticism of the entire concept.

“My view on Metaverse is that gamers have been in the Metaverse for 30 years,” he said at the time. “When you’re playing games, if you’re playing a World of Warcraft game, you’re playing in Roblox, you’re playing in a racing game where everybody’s in a shared world.”

He was later quoted calling the Metaverse a “poorly built video game,” insisting that video games have placed players within 3D spaces for years. “Building a metaverse that looks like a meeting room, I just find that’s not where I want to spend most of my time,” he added.

Microsoft’s Metaverse Plans

In fact, that may be what Microsoft actually had in mind with its Metaverse to begin with. In an interview with the Financial Times in February 2022, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella listed “meetings and gaming” as a single metaverse application they were focusing on.

The company’s metaverse platform Mesh already began previews this month, and includes elements of both business communications and gaming. It states:

“Play built-in interactive games for team bonding within immersive spaces. To get started, you can see a few designated areas to roast marshmallows, throw beanbags, answer fun icebreaker questions, and more.”

While the Metaverse’s place at Microsoft remains questionable, leaked internal documents from the company last month suggested that the company might intend to incorporate crypto wallets with its Xbox gaming device, though no specific details about the integration plan were mentioned.

Though CEO Spencer downplayed the leak, he did not deny its contents. “It is hard to see our team’s work shared in this way because so much has changed,” he said over Twitter at the time. “We will share the real plans when they are ready.”