MICROSOFT has a bad reputation for acquiring companies and then their output rapidly declining.

Rare was the king of the N64 era before Microsoft acquired it and forced a pivot to the widely unpopular Kinect.

Tjodolf Sommestad is the president at Candy Crush developer King

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Tjodolf Sommestad is the president at Candy Crush developer KingCredit: King

Then there was the purchase of Bethesda turning Redfall and Starfield into Xbox exclusives, and we sadly saw how that turned out.

However, it hasn’t been all doom and gloom, while the leads at Mojang left following its acquisition, Minecraft has gone from strength to strength under new leadership.

Microsoft purchased the world’s biggest publisher, Activision Blizzard King, last year for a mind-boggling $70billion.

However, King President Tjodolf Sommestad doesn’t think it will change how his company makes games.

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He told us: “We are now part of an even bigger group of game studios or games companies.

“They have a passion for shipping games to players and making the world more playful.

“All of them really have this passion to make games better and learn from others.

“We’re not working tightly with them at all, but have a feeling that we’re part of that environment that creates. 

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“We get the right types of answers, and when we ask for help.

“They understand what we would like to have help with because they’ve seen similar things before and know how the creative process works.”

Before the latest acquisition, King was acquired by Activision Blizzard back in 2015, but Sommestad hasn’t seen as big of a shift this time.

He reflects: “It’s been less of a change. We’re still under Activision Blizzard, but we are running a relatively independent business as King.”

While King’s upper management weren’t in talks with Microsoft concerning the acquisition, it was a large piece of the puzzle.

Microsoft has a sizable chunk of both the console and PC gaming markets, but lags far behind when it comes to mobile games.

Sommestad believes he knows why Microsoft was so adamant in acquiring one of the biggest mobile publishers in the world.

He says: “We’re absolutely the biggest [mobile developer in the Microsoft Gaming group] for sure. But I’m not personally driven by shining within the group.

“Mobile has been growing very healthily for a decade. A lot of companies have moved in, lots of content has been created, and it is maturing a bit.

“The growth rates are coming down. But then in other industries, it’s similar, even declining.

“[The layoffs] are sad to see but there’s been periods where we and many other companies have been hiring very actively.

“It’s potentially a bit of a normalization for us but I can’t speak for other companies. I think mobile is in a great place. The mobile industry is in a healthy place. 

“I’m quite optimistic for the future, but companies need to readjust and make sure that they have the right workforce to deliver for tomorrow.”

Sommestad is referring to the mass layoffs that have occurred within the industry, saying that studios have to hold on to its talent if it wants to grow.

This has been one of Microsoft’s biggest missteps in the past, pivoting a studio to work on a new IP, and laying off a large number of employees once the companies merge.

The latter has already occurred, with Xbox laying off 1.9k employees following the acquisition, including an unknown number of King employees. 

Does Sommestad also believe that King could be asked to pivot to a different area of gaming?

He says: “Not yet at least, but we’re really early. It’s only been a few months, and this first period is about making sure that we can keep delivering to the players through the games that we have.

“We’re starting to establish some relationships with our peer studios, but who knows what will happen.

“I personally don’t think that the type of games that we have at King are good for consoles. So that’s not something we’re actively talking about.

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“I would never say I’m 100% certain because I’m open to learning, open to new ideas and the industry evolves. But the way it is right now, it’s not a priority for us.”

If you want to read more about King, check out how Candy Crush wants to use AI.

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This post first appeared on Thesun.co.uk

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