An interesting paradigm shift has happened in gaming recently, with the whales hoovering up smaller whales in a move uncomfortably close to a monopoly. The acquisition that grabbed all the headlines was, of course, Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard for $69 billion. What made this particularly interesting in our sector of the games industry is the quote by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella:
“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.”
A clear interest in blockchain has been made public, but to what end is currently unclear. Many major players in gaming have uttered similar vague interest, such as Square Enix and Ubisoft, albeit with the latter actually dipping a toe in NFT waters, which was promptly bitten off.
GameStop and Immutable X
GameStop, the dying star that was warped back to relevance thanks to Reddit and Ryan Cohen, had been working towards something involving NFTs for some time. Then, just this month, GameStop launched an NFT marketplace with gaming blockchain frontrunner and L2 protocol, Immutable X, with a $100m $IMX fund made available to creators.
This was big news for both parties, and although met with a lot of derision from anti-NFT folk, is a promising union. However, it has fired up the rumor mill with whispers about a giant that dwarfs both GameStop and Immutable, and these whispers have some compelling, albeit far from conclusive, evidence.
The Lurking Whale
Microsoft has been floating around, sucking down plankton-sized games studios for some time, but asides from a nod towards the metaverse during the $69 billion acquisition, they haven’t yet scooped up any web3-centric companies. Though, there are rumblings that it’s about to change.
It’s a tenuous link, but hear me out. Microsoft has stated their intent towards web3 when buying Activision Blizzard. Microsoft now owns Hearthstone, a declining TCG. TCGs have been a success story of early blockchain gaming as cards are a perfect fit with NFTs.
I know, it’s a stretch and likely almost impossible to retroactively fit blockchain to a game of that age, at least smoothly, but it’s a perfect use-case example of how Microsoft could utilize the GameStop marketplace on Immutable X. I have seen Twitter conversations suggesting it would be an easy update, but with onboarding so clunky presently, it would probably need GameStop’s marketplace on Immutable to have a singular user experience.
It’s an exciting time and messages on Discord like the above only add to the anticipation. It seems that Microsoft making a visible move into crypto is inevitable, the question is whether GameStop, Immutable X, and Microsoft will forge a holy trinity or not.