Apr 26, 2023

Wired Speaks to Professor Emeritus Steve Weber About Blocked Activision-Blizzard Acquisition

From Wired

Microsoft’s Cloud Gaming Dreams Are Falling Apart

By Morgan Meaker and Chris Stokel-Walker

IN THE WINDOW of Microsoft’s London flagship store on Oxford Circus, there’s a bigger-than-lifesize all-terrain vehicle—a souvenir of the company’s 2000 takeover of Bungie, creator of Halo. In 2021, the company paid $7.5 billion for ZeniMax, owner of game publisher Bethesda, and creator of The Elder Scrolls. A year after that deal closed, Microsoft launched an even more ambitious play—a $69 billion bid for Activision Blizzard, owner of some of the game industry’s most valuable intellectual property, including Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.

It was the biggest cash deal in tech, and it wasn’t just about buying titles that would help move Xboxes. On one level, it was a way to underpin Microsoft’s move beyond the console, to become a “Netflix for games” that meant customers were no longer tethered to a single device, but bought into a gaming ecosystem on the cloud. But it was more than that. Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, said he expected the acquisition to play a “key role” in the company’s metaverse platforms—its forays into virtual worlds beyond just gaming.

“The technology that allows you to play Activision Blizzard [games] is the same technology that allows a process engineer to walk through a virtual oil refinery, turn pipes, move different levers, and see what happens,” says Steven Weber, a professor at UC Berkeley's School of Information. “So to be good at gaming is to be good at the metaverse...”


Steven Weber is a professor emeritus of the I School, retiring last year. He previously served as the faculty director at the Center for Long Term Cybersecurity (CLTC).

Last updated:

May 3, 2023