Amazon Games Boss Sees Even More Industry Consolidation On The Horizon
"In the long run, we're all dead."
Amazon Games boss Christoph Hartmann has offered his take on consolidation in the video game industry, and he believes we're going to see more and more buyouts and mergers in the time ahead.
Mergers and acquisition in the video game industry are already having a banner year, with Take-Two buying Zynga for $12.7 billion and Microsoft proposing to acquire Activision Blizzard for $75 billion. Hartmann said this trend may continue ("Nowadays, the smallest shop has a banker," he says). Looking further out, Hartmann believes consolidation will ramp up even further, to a point where only a precious few companies in the gaming space will be left standing.
"In the long run, we're all dead. Every business, as long as the state doesn't interfere, will end up as a monopoly in some form," he said. "Not that I'm saying [we at Amazon are] going for that. What I'm saying is there are fewer and fewer players. I've been doing this for 25 years, and the amount of game companies I have seen back then to what it is now… now Activision is getting sold. Who's left? Take-Two and EA. Take-Two, I don't know, I think with GTA everyone is steering away because it's an invitation for trouble… And EA, there's all the mumblings out there…"
Speaking of which, there was a recent rumor that suggested Amazon might be making a bid to acquire Electronic Arts. However, this didn't materialize.
Hartmann did get involved in an EA-adjacent deal, however. Amazon Games recently opened a new office in Montreal headed up by veterans of Rainbow Six at Ubisoft. As Hartmann tells it, the core team behind Rainbow Six Siege were about to sign with Electronic Arts before Hartmann caught wind of an upcoming deal and convinced them to come to Amazon instead.
"EA was about to sign them up. [They] called EA and said, 'I'm going to go with Christoph because he seems to get games," Hartmann said.
In terms of other future projects from Amazon Games, Hartmann said he always prefers building teams organically and creating new IP that it wholly owns. It does take longer--and Hartmann isn't closing the door on potential acquisitions in the future--but organic growth is more attractive to him. Acquisitions, Hartmann observed, have a shoddy track record.
"In my experience, when you buy a game company, half of them don't work out. It sounds like so much work. Might as well start from scratch," he said.
GameSpot recently profiled Hartmann, and our piece touches on his roots in Germany, being there in the early days of Rockstar Games, how a dog decided the cover of a Borderlands game, and how he's setting about making Amazon the "Disney of the future." You can read our full interview for more.
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