A couple of weeks ago, rumours were abounding that Microsoft was considering making a buyout bid for either Electronic Arts or Valve. While I cannot see any world in which Electronic Arts would accept a takeover, Valve is a different story. Microsoft needs to make some waves in the gaming industry and buying the legendary company would certainly achieve that. I don’t see Microsoft being able to prise Steam away from Gabe Newell’s company. Although the enormous outlay that it would require to purchase Steam would soon be recouped, Valve has a winner that brings in huge profits for very little effort so are not going to want to part with it. The games side of Valve, though, is a different matter. I believe that with a large enough bid, Microsoft could buy up the game development studio as well as their library of lucrative IPs. What’s more, I think that if this were to happen, everyone would come out on top, let me explain.
Why it works for Valve
Apart from earning huge truckloads of cash, you might think that there would be no advantage for Valve to sell to Microsoft. I don’t think that’s the case though and a lot of that comes down to the way that the game development side of things at Valve has been dormant. It’s as though Gabe Newell is satisfied raking in vast profits with Steam and sees no need to develop a new game. If they were still serious about creating new games, they would have released an exclusive new title when they launched their Steam Machine venture. The last game that Valve was solely responsible was DOTA 2 nearly five years ago. Gabe Newell must get bored of people asking him about Half-Life 3, Portal 3, the next Left 4 Dead game, Team Fortress 3, Counter-Strike 2, and DOTA 3. Selling this part of the business to Microsoft would remove all of these questions and allow them to focus on Steam and counting all their piles of cash.
Why it works for Microsoft
If Microsoft wants to make some waves, this would create a tsunami through the games industry. It would guarantee that Xbox would be the talk of the town for quite a while. The reason that Microsoft would really be doing it, though, is the games. Valve has some of the biggest IPs that gaming has ever seen. Imagine the reaction if at E3 2019 Phil Spencer was to announce Half-life 3, the crowd would blow the roof of the conference hall and gamers around the world would be stunned. Making a game like that a console exclusive would be huge. Add in the other mega IPs that they would pick up and Xbox would be set for first-party games for many years to come. It’s not just the IPs though, if they were able to pick up the game developers as well, that would provide a huge injection of talent to Microsoft Game Studios. These are the guys, and gals, that not only made games like Half-Life 2, Portal 2, Team Fortress 2, and Dota 2 (they obviously like games with the number 2) but also created the Source game engine. Having that technical creativity, innovation, and knowledge under the Microsoft umbrella can improve every title in the Xbox stable.
Why it works for gamers
You might think that this move would only work for Xbox gamers but remember that Microsoft is committed to putting all first-party titles on PC as well as their games console. This means that if Microsoft were to release Half-Life 3, the game would still be available on PC, the game’s original home. This dual platform release is essential to keep fans of the various series happy. If Sony were to buy Valve, all of the games would become PlayStation exclusives, and this would lead to a lot of angry PC gamers. If there was to be a new game in the Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, or DOTA franchises, fans of these series would still be able to play on their favoured format (PC), but it could also bring them to console gamers attention by being on Xbox. PC gamers might also finally get these sequels that they having been wanting for years (and in some cases, well over a decade). So, while some gamers will never be happy that these games are coming out on anything other than the Valve banner, others will finally get to play a game that they have been dreaming about for ages.
I really think that Microsoft should do everything they can to buy Valve. It makes sense business-wise for both companies and has the possibility of keeping gamers on-side as well. The profile of Xbox would instantly improve, gamers would get the games they’ve been craving, and Gabe Newell can avoid any more questions about Half-Life 3 and just go back to swimming in his mountains of cash. I just hope this turns out to be more than just wishful thinking and we get a blockbuster announcement later this year at E3!
Founding Xbox Enthusiast member and serious guitar player. Basically, Steve rocks. Need we say more?