Report Reveals How Activision Blizzard Merger Would Quickly Make Xbox a Live Service Juggernaut

EA is currently the most popular games publisher across PlayStation and Xbox by monthly active users (MAUs), according to new data from Ampere Analysis. But Xbox stands to surpass it if the Activision Blizzard acquisition goes through.

According to Ampere Analysis, EA has consistently been the top publisher across PlayStation and Xbox based on share of MAUs since September, which is when Ampere Analysis started tracking. Speaking to IGN, analyst Piers Harding-Rolls says he suspects EA's dominance has gone on "for some time" prior.

Since September, EA has consistently held above 16% of the market share of MAUs. Epic and Activision Blizzard have battled over second place, hovering between 9% and almost 15% of MAU market share, with Activision Blizzard overtaking Epic in October and November thanks to the launch of Overwatch 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Epic, of course, continues to rely primarily on Fortnite.

Xbox retains a surprising lead on PlayStation

As for the first-party platform holders, Microsoft has held between 6% and 8% of the MAU market share during that time, trailing Take-Two. Sony has been on Microsoft's heels, though it did overtake Microsoft briefly at the end of last year around the release of God of War: Ragnarok.

Why is Microsoft largely beating out Sony for MAUs when it has fewer console sales and thus fewer users to play its first-party games overall? According to Ampere Analysis, it's because of Minecraft, which is available on PlayStation and many other platforms.

"In pure volume terms, around 35% of Xbox and PlayStation users playing Microsoft games are on PlayStation," says Harding-Rolls.

So if acquisition goes ahead, that means Activision Blizzard will vanish from the graph, and Microsoft may stand to challenge EA's lead, "potentially having a share over two times that of Sony."

EA wins out

For now though, EA's succeeding thanks to a diverse portfolio that includes games like Apex Legends, Madden NFL 23, UFC 4, Need for Speed Heat, The Sims 4, and Battlefield 2042. And it doesn't hurt that its subscription service, EA Play, is bundled in with Xbox Game Pass.

EA's crown jewel, of course, is FIFA, and not just the most recent one either. While FIFA 23 was the highest ranked game by daily engagement for February, Harding-Rolls points out that three older generations of FIFA were in the top ten games by MAU. Apparently, more people played FIFA 20 in February across both PlayStation and Xbox than played the new Dead Space remake, which came out at the tail end of January.

As for whether or not Activision Blizzard will ultimately bring its live service prowess to Microsoft's fold, the jury is still out. Recently, the Japan Fair Trade Commission approved the deal last week, and the UK's Competitions and Markets Authority is actively making statements that it's less concerned such a move would harm competition.

But the deal still has to win approval in other countries, including the US, where legal experts IGN spoke to were divided as to whether or not the Federal Trade Commission would grind the acquisition to a halt when hearings begin this August.

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.

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