Microsoft Gaming
Company typeDivision
IndustryVideo games
FoundedJanuary 18, 2022; 2 years ago (2022-01-18)
FounderPhil Spencer
HeadquartersOne Microsoft Way, ,
US
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
ProductsSee § Products
BrandsXbox
Services
Number of employees
20,100 (2024)
ParentMicrosoft
Subsidiaries
Websitewww.xbox.com/en-US/

Microsoft Gaming is a multinational video game and digital entertainment division of Microsoft. Microsoft Gaming produces the Xbox brand of video game consoles and services, in addition to overseeing the production, game development, publishing, research and development, sales (hardware, software, and services) of Xbox and the division's three subsidiaries (publishers) worldwide. The three subsidiaries consist of: Xbox Game Studios, ZeniMax Media (Bethesda Softworks acts as publisher), and Activision Blizzard (publishing split between Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, and King), each publish games under their own respective labels.[1] CEO Phil Spencer, who has concurrently overseen the Xbox brand since 2014, is the leader of the division.

Prior to 2022, Microsoft had several areas of video game-related product lines, including Xbox hardware, Xbox operations, and game development studios. Microsoft Gaming was created in 2022 with the announcement of Microsoft's plans to acquire Activision Blizzard to unify all of Microsoft's gaming groups within a single division. With the completion of the Activision Blizzard acquisition in 2023, Microsoft Gaming makes Microsoft the third-largest gaming company worldwide by revenue and the largest video game employer in the United States.[2][3]

Intellectual property owned by the company include some of the most widely popular and best-selling and highest-grossing media franchises of all time, including Call of Duty, Minecraft, Halo, Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls, and Candy Crush.[4]

History

See also: Xbox Game Studios

Xbox brand logo

Up through 2000, Microsoft had only a limited number of video game publishing efforts. With the announcement of the first Xbox in 2000 and its release in 2001, Microsoft established a division for internal development of video games for the Xbox and Windows, then known as Microsoft Game Studios (MGS). The Xbox hardware remained a separate division within Microsoft. After Steve Ballmer's departure as Microsoft's CEO, Microsoft investors attempted to exert pressure on the company to either sell or shut down its gaming business. However, these efforts did not gain significant traction. Microsoft's gaming division, including products such as the Xbox console, has remained a strategic focus for the company. Under the leadership of Satya Nadella, who assumed the role of CEO in 2014, Microsoft has continued to invest in and expand its presence in the gaming market.[5][6] Since 2009, Microsoft's games operations, including Xbox division, are located at Microsoft West Campus.[7][8]

MGS made a number of acquisitions of studios to help build out the Xbox software library over its first decade, including Bungie, Lionhead Studios, and Rare while establishing internal studios 343 Industries for Halo development and Turn 10 Studios for Forza games. In 2014 after Satya Nadella was promoted to CEO (combined with the ascension of Phil Spencer to head of Xbox), Microsoft embarked on a new acquisition strategy, starting with the acquisition of Mojang Studios, the developer of Minecraft, for $2.5 billion.[9] Between 2014 and 2019, MGS also acquired several high profile studios, including Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment. These acquisitions were aimed to help position MGS as the company's premier first-party development house comparable to PlayStation Studios for Sony.

Microsoft launched Xbox Game Pass in 2017, marking a pivotal year in which the company reevaluated its strategy to focus on a service-based business model rather than exclusive titles. This strategic shift allowed Microsoft to distinguish itself from other console manufacturers. By prioritizing a service-oriented business model with the Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft differentiated its approach from traditional console strategies that often relied heavily on exclusive game titles to attract users. Instead of competing solely based on exclusive content, Microsoft aimed to offer a broader value proposition to gamers through a subscription service that provided access to a vast library of games.[10][11] In 2017, Spencer was named Executive Vice President, Gaming at Microsoft.[12]

In 2019, as part of a larger branding, MGS was renamed to Xbox Game Studios (XGS) as to align with the Xbox hardware branding, and further acquired Double Fine.[13] Microsoft acquired ZeniMax Media for $8.1 billion in 2020, the parent company of id Software, MachineGames, Arkane Studios, publisher Bethesda Softworks and others, to further expanding its portfolio of game development studios. ZeniMax remained a separate entity from XGS from its acquisition though overseen by Spencer.[14]

Further information: Acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft

Microsoft announced its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in cash on January 18, 2022. Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer stated that one of the primary reasons for acquiring Activision Blizzard is to enter the mobile gaming market.[15] Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick mentioned that they accepted the offer to access more talent, capitalize on the growing demand in the gaming industry, and to compete with rising gaming companies from China and Japan.[16][17] Microsoft Gaming has entered into several 10-year agreements with gaming companies including Sony, Nintendo, Nvidia, Boosteroid, and Ubitus to bring Call of Duty to their respective platforms over the next decade. Additionally, Microsoft Gaming sold Activision Blizzard's cloud gaming rights to Ubisoft for 15 years due to regulatory pressure from the acquisition of Activision Blizzard.[18][19] After several regulatory challenges, the deal was closed on October 13, 2023. This made Microsoft the third largest publisher of video games after Tencent and Sony Interactive Entertainment. On the day the acquisition was announced, Phil Spencer formed the Microsoft Gaming business, taking over as CEO, while Matt Booty headed Xbox Game Studios.[20][21][22] Spencer's role include all Microsoft's global interactive entertainment business across all devices and services.[12][23]

Shortly after completion of the Activision Blizzard acquisition, Microsoft further reorganized Microsoft Gaming. In this move, the Xbox hardware line was brought into Microsoft Gaming led by Sarah Bond. Matt Booty was made president of game content and studios, which includes oversight of XGS and ZeniMax, while Activision Blizzard also remained directly under Spencer, with Bobby Kotick remaining as CEO until the start of 2024 to help with the transition.[24] Microsoft Gaming announced that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will leave the company on December 29, 2023.[25] Following Bobby Kotick's departure, Activision Blizzard has undergone organizational changes to realign with Microsoft Gaming. Vice chairman of Activision Blizzard, Thomas Tippl; President of Activision, Rob Kostich; President of Blizzard Entertainment, Mike Ybarra; and President of King, Tjodolf Sommestad, now report to Matt Booty, President of Game Content and Studios. The leadership teams at Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, and King remain unchanged. Other Activision Blizzard executives like Brian Bulatao, CAO, reports to Dave McCarthy, while Julie Hodges, CPO, now reports to Cynthia Per-Lee, corporate vice president of gaming human resources. Grant Dixton, CLO, reports to Linda Norman, corporate vice president of gaming. Armin Zerza, CFO, continues reporting to Tim Stuart, corporate vice president of finance. Thomas, Brian, Julie, Grant, and Armin are slated to assist with the transition until March 2024. Executive vice president of corporate affairs and CCO Lulu Meservey will depart Activision Blizzard on January 31, 2024.[26]

Microsoft Gaming laid off 1,900 staff (approximately 8% of its workforce) in January 2024.[27] Additionally, Blizzard's president Mike Ybarra and chief design officer Allen Adham left the company. Blizzard Entertainment reportedly is the organization that is most affected by layoffs. Project Odyssey, a game that Blizzard Entertainment has reportedly been working on for six years, has been cancelled.[28] Toys for Bob and Sledgehammer Games reportedly lost over 30% of their staff due to layoffs. Microsoft Gaming also reportedly laid off the entire internal customer support team of Activision Blizzard and the team dedicated to bringing Xbox games to physical retail.[29]

Products

Video game devices and services

Main article: Xbox

Microsoft Gaming developes and produces the Xbox line of home gaming consoles along with associated peripherals. The company supports the consoles with online services, utilizing the base Xbox network. Since the late 2010s, Microsoft began combining its standard paid subscription service, originally known as Xbox Live Gold, with Xbox Game Pass, which in addition to online multiplayer and matchmaking support, provides subscribers with a rotating library of games to play through the Xbox, on Windows computers, or through cloud gaming.

Video games

Main articles: List of Microsoft Gaming video games, List of Xbox Game Studios video games, List of Bethesda Softworks video games, List of Activision video games, List of Blizzard Entertainment games, and List of King games

Among the video game franchises owned by Microsoft Gaming include Call of Duty, Minecraft, Halo, Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft, Overwatch, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Banjo-Kazooie, Ori, Psychonauts, Conker, Killer Instinct, Battletoads, Perfect Dark, Doom, Wolfenstein, Quake, Rage, Hexen, Dishonored, Prey, Pitfall, Prototype, State of Decay, Pillars of Eternity, The Evil Within, Fable, Gears of War, Forza, Hellblade, Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk's, Skylanders, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Age of Empires and Candy Crush.[4]

Divisional structure

Executives

Microsoft Gaming leadership[30][31]
Role Name Details
Chief executive officer Phil Spencer
President, Xbox Sarah Bond Director of all Xbox operations
Chief operations officer Dave McCarthy Leading the integration of Activision Blizzard within Microsoft Gaming
Chief financial officer Tim Stuart Responsible for all projects within Xbox, ZeniMax Media and Activision Blizzard and its finances, including Xbox network services
Corporate vice president and Chief marketing officer Jerret West Leading the operation marketing team across Xbox and ZeniMax Media and overseeing the Xbox's hardware and software distribution
President, Game Content and Studios Matt Booty Responsible for overseeing Xbox Game Studios, ZeniMax Media and Activision Blizzard games worldwide
Head of Xbox Game Studios Alan Hartman Head executive of Xbox Game Studios
CEO, ZeniMax Media Jamie Leder Head executive of ZeniMax Media
Vice Chairman, Activision Blizzard Thomas Tippl Head executive of Activision Blizzard
President, Activision Rob Kostich Head executive of Activision
President, Blizzard Entertainment Mike Ybarra Head executive of Blizzard Entertainment
President, King Tjodolf Sommestad Head executive of King

Business segments and strategy

The business isn’t how many consoles you sell. The business is how many players are playing the games that they buy, how they play.

—Phil Spencer on Xbox's business

Microsoft Gaming's strategy in the video game industry is characterized by a commitment to inclusivity and accessibility.[32] The company aims to reach a wider audience and meet different gaming preferences by publishing games on mobile, PC and Xbox platforms.[33] At the center of Microsoft Gaming's strategy is the Xbox Game Pass subscription service. This service offers a variety of game libraries for a monthly fee, emphasizing a shift towards a content-first platform.[34][35] Microsoft Gaming's chief financial officer (CFO), Tim Stuart, has asserted that Microsoft ceased disclosing the number of consoles sold in 2016 because their focus shifted towards content, services, and increased customer spending.[36]

Phil Spencer has served as the CEO of Microsoft Gaming since 2022.

Phil Spencer has expressed that his vision for Xbox has consistently aimed at shifting the brand's focus from being primarily console-centric to becoming a content-first platform, with a strong emphasis on prioritizing player engagement over sheer console sales.[37] Phil Spencer expressed his viewpoint by stating that the essence of the business lies not in the quantity of consoles sold but in the number of players actively participating in and enjoying the games they acquire, as well as the manner in which they choose to engage with them.[38][39]

Game development and publishing

Microsoft Gaming, as of October 2023, is the third largest video game publisher in the industry following Sony and Tencent. Microsoft Gaming owns three major video game publishers: Xbox Game Studios, ZeniMax Media (through Bethesda Softworks), and Activision Blizzard (which includes Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, and King).[40] In addition, Microsoft Gaming also publishes third-party games with Xbox Game Studios Publishing and helps indie video game studios to self-publish their own games with ID@Xbox.[41] Since Microsoft entered the video game industry in 2001, Sony has consistently been viewed as its main competitor.[42] But, Microsoft Gaming has stated that their main competitors are big tech companies, specifically Amazon, Google and Apple.[43][3]

Among the gaming franchises owned by Microsoft, Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time, with 300 million units sold, while Call of Duty is the 4th best-selling video game series of all time with 425 million units across multiple installments sold and $30 billion in revenue.[44] Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that Microsoft Gaming now owns 12 franchises that have each generated over $1 billion in lifetime revenues.[45] Candy Crush Saga alone generated $20 billion in lifetime revenue.[46] Following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft Gaming doubled the number of video game employees, studios and its revenue with the addition of Activision Blizzard to the company.[47][48] In 2023, during an interview with Famitsu, Phil Spencer announced that, leveraging Activision Blizzard's capabilities, they are now planning to release a first-party video game every three months.[49] Phil Spencer also talked about how creative freedom is crucial for Microsoft Gaming, emphasizing that they will not compel a video game studio to create a sequel. Microsoft Gaming will support developers in making whatever they want.[50][51][52][53]

Microsoft Gaming's video game development business holds a strong position in the video game industry, regularly developing widely played titles. In certain video game genres such as first-person shooter (FPS) and role-playing games (RPG), Microsoft Gaming has held market dominance, owning popular FPS franchises like Call of Duty, Halo, Doom, Quake, Rage, and Overwatch, as well as RPG franchises such as The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Fable, Wasteland, Pillars of Eternity, Warcraft, and Diablo.[54][55] Starfield has become the biggest Bethesda game launch of all time.[56] Eleven of the twelve best-selling video games released in the United States in the last thirteen years were from the Call of Duty franchise. Microsoft also has a strong presence in the real-time strategy (RTS) sub-genre, platformer genre and racing game genre with popular franchises such as Forza, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Banjo-Kazooie, Age of Empires and StarCraft[57][58] Microsoft Gaming holds a significant position in the multiplayer gaming, serving as one of the leading publishers of multiplayer and live-service games along with Take-Two Interactive, Electronic Arts and Tencent. Popular multiplayer titles under Microsoft Gaming's umbrella include Sea of Thieves, Call of Duty: Warzone, Grounded, Fallout 76, World of Warcraft, Overwatch 2, Diablo IV, Halo Infinite, State of Decay 2, The Elder Scrolls Online, Hearthstone, Minecraft, and many others.[59]

Microsoft Gaming has had difficulties finding success in the third-person shooter (TPS) and single-player genre, finding it difficult to compete with industry leaders like Sony, Take-Two Interactive, Nintendo, Capcom, and Square Enix in this space. Despite intense efforts, the company faced difficulties in establishing itself and gaining the same level of recognition and market share as its competitors.[60] This competitive landscape presented challenging obstacles that prompted Microsoft Gaming to re-evaluate their strategy and potentially explore other genres or approaches to improve their market position. Microsoft Gaming attempted to gain traction in the third-person single-player genre by developing titles like Gears of War, Quantum Break, Sunset Overdrive, Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, and Marvel's Blade. However, despite these efforts, the company continues to face challenges in competing successfully in this genre, struggling to match the market dominance of competitors such as Sony and Nintendo. The development of these high-profile games signals an earnest push into the genre, but Microsoft Gaming is still navigating difficulties in establishing a significant presence and capturing the attention of players in a highly competitive landscape.[61][62]

Microsoft Gaming has stated that its acquisition of Activision Blizzard reflects a strategic effort to tap into the growing Metaverse trend in the gaming industry.[63] For Microsoft, the Metaverse concept involves creating social playgrounds where users can interact, similar to popular games like Grand Theft Auto V, Fortnite, Star Citizen and Roblox.[64] Microsoft aims to incorporate strong social features and effective monetization strategies within games like Call of Duty, Minecraft and World of Warcraft to establish a competitive presence in the evolving landscape of virtual environments. According to Microsoft, this acquisition is not solely about expanding Microsoft's gaming portfolio but also about leveraging Activision Blizzard's established franchises to enhance the overall gaming experience.[65][66] The move aligns with industry trends where companies are exploring ways to create immersive and interconnected virtual worlds, combining social interactions with in-game purchases.[67] Microsoft has been observing the success of other Metaverse games. The company appears to be strategically positioning itself in the Metaverse trend, evident in its efforts to strengthen its gaming portfolio and explore opportunities for social interactions and monetization strategies within virtual environments.[68] Microsoft's strategic positioning through acquisition of Activision Blizzard to play a significant role in shaping the future of gaming by integrating Metaverse elements into its gaming ecosystem.[69] Microsoft Gaming plans to remain competitive in the evolving digital entertainment landscape.[70]

Phil Spencer emphasized that for the Xbox brand to remain relevant, it must establish its presence on mobile, PC, and console platforms simultaneously.[71] With the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft Gaming has become a significant player in the mobile gaming industry.[72] It owns one of the largest mobile game developers and publishers, King, and publishes popular mobile games such as Candy Crush Saga, Fallout Shelter, Diablo Immortal, Warcraft Rumble and Call of Duty Mobile.[73] Phil Spencer has reiterated multiple times that Microsoft Gaming desires to launch a new storefront in the mobile game industry to rival Apple and Google and break the mobile duopoly.[74] In 2023, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft Gaming is in talks with video game publishers for a partnership to launch a mobile store aimed at competing with Google Play and App Store in the mobile gaming market.[75]

Xbox console hardware and software

Xbox Series X on the left side and Xbox Series S on the right side – Microsoft Gaming's latest gaming consoles.

Microsoft entered the home video game console market in 2001 with release of the first-generation Xbox console, and since has manufactured three successive systems, as of 2023, as part of the Xbox brand. Microsoft's latest gaming hardware, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, were released in November 2020. The Series X is a high-performance console with powerful hardware for native 4K gaming, while the Series S offers a more affordable option with a focus on digital gaming at lower resolutions.[76] Xbox Series X/S consoles sold 21 million units in total by 2023.[77] Phil Spencer emphasized that Microsoft Gaming is selling consoles at a loss, losing $200 per unit sold. However, Microsoft Gaming is compensating for this loss by taking a 30% cut from sales of third-party games on its platform.[78][79]

Microsoft and Sony have been longstanding rivals in the console hardware market since 2001. The competition reached a peak during the seventh console generation, with the Xbox 360 emerging as the primary competitor to Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3). In the subsequent generation, Sony's PlayStation 4 (PS4) outperformed Microsoft's Xbox One, selling twice as many consoles.[80] During the eighth generation of gaming consoles, the PlayStation 4 sold 117 million units, the Nintendo Switch sold 133 million units, and the Xbox One sold 58 million units. Sony's success is attributed to its exclusive game catalog and marketing techniques. Microsoft initially prioritized multimedia features over gaming capabilities; Sony has managed to exploit the perceptual gap. PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch have surpassed Xbox One due to their design and large portfolio of first-party games.[81][82] In 2017, Xbox began rethinking its tactics and placing more emphasis on exclusive content and gaming-focused methods to better compete in the market. The Xbox Series X/S consoles continued to face challenges in competing against the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5 (PS5).[83]

The console gaming market is defined as the combined total of console hardware, console game content, and console subscriptions. As of 2023, with a 45% market share in PlayStation system hardware, games, and services, Sony remains the worldwide industry leader, followed by Nintendo with a 27.7% market share and Microsoft with a 27.3% market share.[84] Sony has a 70% share of the global high-end console market, while Microsoft has a 30% market share as of 2023.[85][86]

At a bilateral trade discussion between the United States and Japan, United States senator Maria Cantwell from Washington raised concerns regarding what she perceived as a dominant market position held by PlayStation.[87] The senator specifically highlighted the perceived monopoly by PlayStation and expressed support for Xbox as a competitive alternative. During a Senate Finance Committee hearing featuring U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Senator Cantwell highlighted concerns about high-end game market in Japan, asserting that PlayStation holds a 98% monopoly in this sector in Japan. Cantwell expressed disapproval of what was characterized as Sony's anti-competitive behavior facilitated by exclusive deals and payments to game publishers. The senator further criticized Japan Fair Trade Commission for purportedly neglecting to investigate Sony's conduct, referring to it as "exclusionary." Cantwell sought insights into how Japan aimed to establish a "level playing field" in response to these perceived issues.[88]

Microsoft Gaming manages numerous software services, including Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Xbox Network, Microsoft Store, and Battle.net. The Xbox Network experienced substantial growth, with 120 million monthly active users as of December 2022, marking a notable increase from 46 million at the beginning of 2016.[89][90] Microsoft shut down Bethesda Launcher in 2022.[91]

Xbox Game Pass and xCloud

Microsoft created Xbox Game Pass in 2017. Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service that offers a vast library of games for a monthly fee. This includes a mix of first-party titles, third-party games, and titles available across PC and console platforms. The service has been praised for its value and has become a significant part of Microsoft's gaming strategy.[92] In 2022, Microsoft announces Xbox Game Pass surpassed 25 million subscribers.[93] Microsoft Gaming is investing over $1 billion in the gaming market annually to expand the Game Pass library by bringing in third-party games.[94]

Microsoft Gaming launched Xbox Cloud Gaming for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers on September 15, 2020. Xbox Cloud Gaming is Microsoft's cloud gaming service designed to allow users to play high-quality video games via streaming on a variety of devices. The service uses cloud technology to enable gaming on devices such as smartphones, tablets and PCs without the need for high-end hardware.

Film and TV series production

Microsoft Gaming oversees the management and licensing of esteemed gaming franchises, such as Halo, Fallout, and Minecraft. Microsoft Gaming also owns a motion picture production company Activision Blizzard Studios. The Halo franchise has been licensed to Paramount Global for the creation of a Halo TV series available on Paramount+. Simultaneously, the Fallout TV series is currently in development, with Amazon Prime Video is involved in its production.[95][96] Additionally, Microsoft Gaming has announced its collaboration with Warner Bros. for the production of a Minecraft movie.[97] Microsoft Gaming has expressed that these partnerships are aimed at bringing the beloved gaming universes to a wider audience through the medium of television.

Public relations

Xbox at Gamescom

Gaming events and transparency

In terms of international engagement, Microsoft Gaming has actively participated in key gaming expos worldwide. The company has been a notable presence at events such as E3 and Summer Game Fest in the United States, Gamescom in Germany, Paris Games Week in France, the Tokyo Game Show in Japan, and CCXP in Brazil.[98][99][100] They organizes major gaming conventions such as BlizzCon and QuakeCon, and also have other shows, including Developers Direct, Xbox Partner Preview, Xbox Games Showcase, Inside Xbox and Xbox X0.[101]

Phil Spencer emphasized that participating in large gaming expos and maintaining transparency is essential to connect with their business partners, fans, consumers and various gaming communities, showcase their latest innovations, and engage with fans on a global scale.[102] Following the troubled launch of Redfall, Phil Spencer, in an interview with Kinda Funny Games, has apologized to the fans and pledged to provide a more robust roadmap for releasing high-quality games.[103][104]

Criticism and controversies

Monopolistic tendencies

Microsoft Gaming has faced criticism from video game journalists and industry observers regarding its strategic acquisitions. The company's move to acquire major gaming publishers, including the notable purchase of ZeniMax Media and Activision Blizzard, has sparked debates about potential monopolistic tendencies.[105][106] Critics argue that such acquisitions may concentrate too much power within Microsoft, raising concerns about healthy competition within the gaming industry. Various Video game journalists have criticized Microsoft Gaming of attempting to create a monopoly by acquiring two significant gaming publishers.[107][108] The concern centers around the potential impact on market competition, with skeptics worrying that the consolidation of major titles under one umbrella might limit choices for gamers and stifle innovation.[109]

Mismanagement of gaming studios and layoffs

There has been controversy surrounding Microsoft's mismanagement of their gaming studios. Following the failed launch of Halo Infinite and Redfall, critics have started to criticize Microsoft for this issue.[110][111] There have been reports about Everwild and Perfect Dark also being in development hell.[112][113] Most of the criticism was directed at Matt Booty, President of Game Content and Studios, for his past management of Xbox Game Studios division.[114]

Microsoft Gaming has faced criticism on multiple occasions for video game layoffs. In 2022, 343 Industries lost over 60 employees due to layoffs, leading to public criticism from several former 343 Industries employees regarding Microsoft's leadership and management policies.[115] In 2024, Microsoft Gaming underwent another round of layoffs, with Microsoft laying off 1,900 employees. Additionally, during this time, Microsoft canceled Blizzard Entertainment's new game Project Odyssey, which also garnered criticism from fans and journalists.[116]

Toxic work environment

In 2022, an investigation by Kotaku shed light on Undead Labs' studio environment that is plagued by sexism. The studio's new leader, Philip Holt, who succeeded Strain, and the then-Head of HR, Anne Schlosser, were both implicated in fostering this problematic culture. Following a Microsoft HR investigation, Schlosser was subsequently removed from her role. Despite her departure, the persisting toxic work environment led to a significant turnover of experienced staff. The amalgamation of these issues, coupled with a lack of a clear design direction, resulted in substantial delays in the development of State of Decay 3.[117] Employees also pointed fingers at Microsoft for not promptly addressing reports of abuse, claiming that the company fell short of its diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives.[118] There have also been concerns about whether Microsoft will address the toxic work environment at Activision Blizzard following the acquisition.[119] Microsoft pledged to address the toxic workplace environment at Activision Blizzard after the acquisition.[120]

In June 2023, Microsoft and the Communication Workers of America (CWA) announced a labor neutrality agreement. This agreement enabled Activision Blizzard employees to freely establish a union, and Microsoft committed to recognizing and accepting that union.[121][122]

Subsidiaries and studios

Microsoft Gaming has a major global presence and studios located across the world. Globally, Microsoft owns over 40 studios.[123] While the majority of Microsoft's gaming activities are based in the United States, the company has strategically expanded its reach internationally. This global approach allows Microsoft to collaborate with diverse talent and develop a wide range of gaming experiences for a global audience. In addition to the United States, Microsoft has established and acquired studios in various countries such as United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, France, Spain, Mexico, Germany, Poland, China, Japan, Ireland, Malta, and Australia, contributing to the company's status as a key player in the worldwide gaming industry.[124] In the United Kingdom alone, Microsoft Gaming owns four video game development studios and employs over 1,000 people. Playground Games, Rare, Ninja Theory, and King are among the studios owned by Microsoft in the UK.[125] In Canada, Microsoft Gaming owns five video game studios, including The Coalition and Beenox, making it one of the largest video game employers in the country, alongside Electronic Arts and Ubisoft.[126]

Microsoft Gaming
Xbox Game Studios ZeniMax Media Activision Blizzard
Activision
Blizzard Entertainment
King
Major League Gaming
Activision Blizzard Studios

See also

References

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