We all know that video game companies often buy out smaller developers, either adding them to their own staff or shutting them down altogether. Classic examples of this include Microsoft’s assimilation of Bungie (Halo), or EA’s destruction of Westwood Studios (Command & Conquer).
Now, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Putting comptetitors out of business via corporate takeovers (hostile or otherwise) may be good for the company’s bottom line, but it’s very bad for the gamer. Sure, you could argue that a bigger company buying a smaller one will give the smaller company the resources of its new parent, but that doesn’t always come to pass. More often than not, the little guy is simply absorbed. Less developers mean less competition, which means less quality games. Why bother to make a better game than your competition, when you can just buy them out then keep releasing the same dreck?
I realize there’s hundreds of development studios out there right now, but the number is dwindling as the competitive nature of the gaming business increases exponentially. While it’s certainly not a problem we’ll see in a year or two or three, eventually, we may be stuck with just a few giant publishers overseeing everything. It’s happened to many other facets of business, so don’t think that the video game industry is somehow exempt.
Business may gain…but we lose. So do your part, and keep supporting the underdogs!