The recent news that the UK's CMA has blocked Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard has revealed that the tech and gaming giant was also making inroads into the mobile gaming market.
The final report from the CMA has revealed that Microsoft "attempted" to acquire a mobile game developer (page 394). And despite Activision Blizzard’s stable of mobile-centric games, the report is referring to a different studio uninvolved in the merger.
This is an interesting find considering ex-Xbox head Don Mattrick became the CEO of Zynga after leaving the company after the Xbox One's terrible launch in 2013. Despite only staying with Zynga until 2015, this could be the connection the CMA is referring to.
So, was Microsoft looking for its own FarmVille? We here at Stealth Optional think that all signs point towards Zynga as being the studio Microsoft failed to acquire, with Mattrick likely able to facilitate talks even after his departure.
Make no mistake, this is sheer speculation on our part, but whichever gaming company Microsoft was trying to acquire, we know they were heavily invested in the mobile gaming market.
In the past three generations, Microsoft has gone through a number of acquisition sprees. Firstly, in the early 2010s, Microsoft infamously acquired Minecraft developer Mojang for over $2 billion. Alongside the launch of the failed Windows Phone, this was Microsoft’s way of breaking into the casual worldwide market.
At this point, it makes sense for the tech giant to start acquiring popular mobile companies, especially as its internal teams brought games such as Kinectimals, Halo and more to mobile. With this in mind, it makes sense for the company to have targeted Zynga, Supercell, Rovio or other top-end mobile studios.
Additionally, Microsoft has been on another acquisition spree since 2018, acquiring smaller studios as well as massive umbrellas like Zenimax Media. It also makes sense for Microsoft to be focusing on mobile acquisitions then, especially with its focus on Activision’s massively successful phone developers at King.
Microsoft is clearly interested in breaking into the burgeoning mobile market, so with the Activision Blizzard deal in limbo, could they turn their attention elsewhere again?
We're yet to see how the CMA's blocking of the Microsoft merger affects the overall gaming space, but stay tuned for more in the near future.