Generally speaking, videogame trailers are a promotional, sometimes informative type of thing: "Here's our new game, here's what it looks like, here's when it comes out," and all that. But today we've got something different to share with you: A trailer celebrating Microsoft's $68 billion swallow-up of Activision Blizzard, which finally happened today following the long-awaited green light from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority.
The trailer is essentially a mash-up of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard's greatest hits: There's Master Chief, there's Captain Price, there's Forza, Sea of Thieves, Diablo, and Starfield. But then we cut to a pair of toothy bois from World of Warcraft, and the schmaltz begins: "So... this is home now," one says. The other replies, "Home... family."
It builds from there. As "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" slowly crescendos in the background, Price tells Gaz, "I can get us an army." But not just an army: A family. "It's about time," StarCraft stud Tychus Findlay (not Jim Raynor!) growls as his visor slams shut. A Vault Boy dances with glee; Crash Bandicoot screams "woo hoo!" And then Ghost grabs at those heartstrings, and pulls hard: "We're a team. All of us," he intones as a pair of United Colonies space jockeys stand and salute. "No one fights alone."
There's more, but you get the idea. It's a lot to take in. What makes it particularly weird for me, though, is that beneath all the Dom Toretto-esque invocations of "family," what's really being celebrated here is the triumph of capitalism uber alles. The FTC and the CMA both threw a thumbs-down on the proposed deal, which will see the world's largest independent videogame publisher swallowed whole by a literal trillion-dollar company, and it was only through drawn-out courtroom battles and a touch of political pressure (the UK's government was openly critical of the CMA's decision to block the deal, while a number of Republican legislators in the US called on the FTC to drop its opposition) that any of this happened at all.
My guess is that in the short term, gamers won't notice too much of a difference: Microsoft had to make some promises about not making its big new games Xbox exclusives in order to ram the deal through, and those will no doubt hold, at least for a while. But longer term, who knows? Media consolidation hasn't really worked out super-well so far, and frankly I'm not thrilled about the apparent impotence of regulatory agencies who are supposed to serve as a bulwark against creeping corporatocracy—a feeling that isn't in the slightest relieved by song-and-dance routines about how swell it is that the gang's finally all together.
But back to the trailer. I maintain that it's weird even when removed from all the "capitalism will kill us all" subtext, but apparently videos trumpeting the glory of big-money takeovers aren't all that uncommon. When we first watched this video my esteemed colleague Joshua Wolens joked, "They should do videos like this when arms corporations buy aerospace firms." And, uh, well, it turns out they do:
Anyway, Microsoft owns Activision Blizzard now, Bobby Kotick is on the way out (eventually), governing bodies are helpless in the face of zillion-dollar mega-corps, and everything is fine. More than fine: It's family.