It’s no secret that Microsoft’s push to enter the video game space early on was in response to the threat posed to the PC (and therefore Windows) by Sony’s successful PlayStation line. Bill Gates saw the potential for home consoles to become a gateway and nexus for all home entertainment, which could eventually replace the personal computer.
A decisive blow?
Flash forward two decades later. After a fairly successful start, the Xbox brand looks set to take the lead in home consoles like never before, with a flurry of high-profile acquisitions over the past few years, including ZeniMax Media (which owns Bethesda). and of course more recently from Activision Blizzard, creator of popular franchises like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and others.
While dominating the video game industry would be a nice extra feather in Microsoft’s cap, there are wider implications at play here, with media consumption at a level never seen before and a shift in the way whose entertainment media are distributed and consumed – i.e. streaming. Today’s gaming audience dwarfs that of just a few decades ago, and the current generation of gamers are the first to grow up with internet-enabled gaming machines, something that was introduced not long ago. before Microsoft entered the fray in the sixth console generation with the original Xbox.
This current generation of gaming is one that is defined by a gaming-centric culture, with other forms of entertainment such as movie and TV streaming revolving in a sort of orbit around gaming. And here we get to the heart of why big tech is so driven to enter the gaming space: as an entry point into our entertainment lives and a beachhead to grab not only our dollars from gaming, but also our music and TV streaming dollars. .
Readers have almost certainly become familiar with the term “metaverse” lately. It is a reference to the digital worlds which, according to some, will be the future of the Internet, with digital life integrates with real life in the physical world. While some may find this notion baffling, it is in this direction that some believe big tech is heading things with the concept of a metaverse, as each tech giant vies for a central role in it. And video games have become the gateway to our living rooms, and from there to our digital spaces, with more than 2 billion people on the planet now playing video games regularly.
It’s all part of the vision that Microsoft management saw all those years ago, at the turn of the 21st century, when the internet was just beginning to take off and change our lives in unchanging ways, with video games starting all just to take advantage of the potential of the net. . The fight between Sony and Microsoft has been fierce and certainly interesting over the years, with the two vying for center stage in the show. It’s too early to tell where all of this will take us in terms of media experience and impact on our lives as digital citizens.