Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Amazon is not going to make a bid for Electronic Arts – sources (twitter.com/cnbcnow)
68 points by trollied 7 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 254 comments

EA managing to shift its annual sports titles to a single game with updates on a subscription model would at least be more honest than asking people to buy a whole new game each year at least.

This is why I think Disney should buy EA. ESPN is feeling a ton of competition from other streaming/entertainment companies bidding for sports streaming rights. Making it unappealing to buy an ESPN+ subscription.

If they buy EA and bundle their sports games with ESPN+ and ESPN branding. They might have more strength in the bidding wars. It would make subbing to ESPN+ worth it because they now would include the games.

EA also works on Star Wars games. They get popular games like Sims and Apex Legends.

They would also get access to the Frostbite engine, and game engines rendering on a large LED screen seem to the better than green screens in visual effects.

John Carmack disagrees with your rationale: "As long as people are buying it, it means they’re enjoying it" [0]


John Carmack confused sales numbers with positive experiences. It doesn't take a lot of knowledge about recent game launches to see how that makes no sense. And either way it doesn't justify the business practice itself - you could apply the exact same quote to PS5 scalpers.

You could use the same argument to advocate for recreational drugs. Both they and lootboxes hijack the reward loop in our brains. For actual, buy-it-once games, I see his point, but it doesn't apply to the slot machines disguised as games nowadays.

>You could use the same argument to advocate for recreational drugs

...and it would still be accurate.

That's nice for John Carmack

carmack is a brilliant engineer, but he's not really known for empathy or even being a good game designer. supply and demand is not really the best indicator of a positive vs predatory experience

No ones arguing that they aren't enjoying the game.

But don't most sports games do this (sell a full-priced game every year instead of providing roster updates as DLC)? It's not just EA.

Amazon, Ms and Google all want to build game streaming services in family room devices, set top boxes and smart tvs. Buying gaming companies with large libraries that constantly produce content definitely gets them part of the way there and is likely cheaper than attempting to build your own popular video games only to see them fail.

So whether this is true or not I think it makes sense. The negative about ea is I see them as a middle man when it comes to licenses. They own the Madden brand but they still have to pay the NFL to make games for it. Same with all their other sports. Same for Star Wars games.

Amazon, Googl, and the likes need to thread carefully from now on. We don't want an Oligopoly where 5 companies control every facet of human life (food, entertainment, medicine, to name a few).

This is where the line gets trickier:

- Less government on things that matter; - Enough government to avoid big corps from creating monopolies.

Finding this middle ground is proven to be really, I mean really difficult, to say the least.

We risk Buy-N-Large from Wall-E becoming a real thing at this rate

All recent amazon acquisitions are big AWS Customers, its super easy for Amazon to find Cost of running business for a any Technology Company who run majority of stack or provide products using AWS and go behind them for acquisition or build them internally and release as a service.

That's crazy if true, didn't they get in trouble for doing something similar with their Amazon Basics brand?

Jesus Christ. If I was still with EA I might have become an Amazon employee? Bullet dodged!

From what I've heard about working conditions at EA, that's quite the indictment of Amazon!

That was going to be my exact response if someone implied me a hypocrite. Lol. Fittingly I was only at EA because of an acquisition too!

EA has pretty good working conditions for SWEs.

They were notorious for having extremely bad working conditions. While they've supposedly made an effort to improve them, their notoriety won't go away quiet as fast

Correct, with an emphasis on “were”. Things are different now.

Uh, yeah, 20 years ago.

That's not factual. I remember several reports from 2010-2014, so 10 yrs at the very most.

It's a gigantic corporation however, so i don't doubt that some of their teams had good working conditions even in 2002 as you said.

Amazon appears to be putting out offers to tons of companies right now. Forays into health care and now a large gaming vendor.

Jeff: "I need to to acquire everyone."

Amazon: "What do you mean everyone?"


That's a misrepresentation. Jeff was simply implying he liked the novelty of the acquisition.

If you haven’t seen Leon the professional, you definitely should


TIL that Gary Oldman improvised his delivery of that line -- in this short clip[0], he says he was fooling around, doing it that way as a joke, and the director kept it:

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZfqez5qmuA


Remember how that movie ended for Jeff, in this case...

Puts pinky finger to face while petting white cat

Wrong movie

It will be interesting to see how big regulators will allow Amazon to become. They are already crazy large in so many sectors.

No two companies deserve each other more

There is a tremendous amount of human talent in the video game industry that usually does not bleed into the general tech industry or film industry.

I wonder how well such talent is compensated by the incoming tech giants..

Isn’t this approximately equal to what level the bigco will agree to bring them in at? Which in my experience they usually have their thumb on your head.

They are gonna make prime more and more irresistible by bundling all these things and how snap a lock in as you lose a lot by leaving it.

That's fine with me, haven't touched EA games since they started requiring an Origin account or whatever it's called.

So EA Play with Prime...

Now if we only had Amazon in my country...

Twitch Prime is available in many countries through Prime Video where regular Amazon Prime is not available



Would EA engineers get Amazon compensation?

Great, now someone needs to buy Sony Entertainment and we're all set for FAANG to control the game industry.

How come anti-trust laws aren't being applied yet? Is it corruption or a political decision?

How big a percentage of the video game development and publishing market share will Amazon have after the acquisition, then? And how competition will be left?

(Answer: There is no anti-trust case. Just because Amazon is big doesn't mean it's big in the video game industry. Companies are allowed to be big across multiple industries. It would only become an issue if it already owned a big percentage of the video game industry, or if it buys up other publishers after this, like Activision or Tencent. Speaking of which, Microsoft intends to acquire Activision, which will make it the 3rd largest gaming company behind Tencent and Sony - and Amazon + EA will be trailing behind those still).


The Amazing Amazon


It seems to me that Amazons long term strategy is to become a "Conglomerate of Brands", leveraging the profits from one business unit to buy out unrelated business. This sort of acquisition doesn't, as far as I can see, advance a particular core business unit (I'm aware Amazon have toyed with games publishing, but its not exactly a core business unit).

I suppose it makes sense, investors want their investment to be safe, by diversifying through acquisition they can give that to shareholders.

For the other rumoured purchasers, Disney and Apple, would have a direct affect on their business strategy. Disney as a media asset business, and Apple though the potential to expand their Gaming strategy on their own platforms.

Amazon's strategy is to be a smarter GE, by expanding into new areas that feed power into the Amazon flywheel.

EA would give them control over a core library of content and IP, that they could use to (a) ensure continued access into home consoles for their other products, (b) run as a game on demand service attached to Prime, or (c) make exclusive to launch their own console.

And it seems like the sort of business Amazon likes: good profit margin trend line, but more valuable within the Amazon ecosystem than outside it.

Completely agree, there are synergies in these acquisitions, but it's also the breadth of them as well. Amazon has become a very broad business with vast distances between business units, but with a thread of related interested between them. Much like GE really, GE is routed in "old school" engendering, and thats the synergy that connects the relatively unrelated business it owns. For Amazon that synergy is the Internet, if it uses the internet then thats enough of a connection if the financials make sense.

>> Amazon's strategy is to be a smarter GE

I was thinking Mitsubishi. Powerplants and ships would be helpful to them.

> Mitsubishi

In high school, I was thrilled that my DVD player had the same logo as my friend's motorcycle.

Did Mitsubishi produce motorcycles as well? I know about cars.

They could also use that IP to produce movies and television.

What movie was that where there was only one large company that did everything? Kind of scary that we are almost at that point now.

Lots, but I always think of Wall-E with "Buy n Large" (https://pixar.fandom.com/wiki/Buy_n_Large), it seems to be so close to where Amazon will be in 100 years if we let it. Particularly if you include Blue Origin as part of "Bezos/Amazon".

You're trying to find a media reference, but conglomerates that do everything are already a thing; think of the Samsung group that does everything from heavy ship building to microchip manufacturing, insurance, advertising, and a theme park. See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaebol

And the Japanese equivalent https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaibatsu

Idiocracy ;)

In that movie, Costco pretty much does everything.

"Welcome to Costco, I Love You"

Yes, that is it. :)

Also the TV Show Mr Robot with E-Corp.

after the franchise wars, all restaurants are taco bell.


The Lego Movie

no, really

Umbrella Corporation from Resident Evil?

Alien; the Company.

Yeah, that's Weyland-Yutani.

They tried their own hand at making video games, leading to New World [0] and I believe a few other titles in the works. Limited success, and some massive technical flaws like allowing HTML in comments leading to remote code execution vulnerabilities. But also weird decisions, like simulating all the motions and physics of an axe hitting a tree server-side; that's just silly, all you need is a random success or failure coin flip. You can then do whatever you want with physics and such client-side.

[0] https://www.newworld.com/en-us

This isn't Amazon "long term strategy", it's been their strategy from the very start.

They always wanted to be Sears but in the online world (who had their own credit card, Discover, their own branded product like Craftsman/Diehard/Kenmore/etc).

Amazon feels more like Sears everyday.

They also want to become more involved with live sport broadcasts (NFL and Premier League for example). EA has some major sport licenses (NHL, NFL, FIFA, PGA, F1, UFC)

FIFA they let go, because FIFA wanted to charge them $250m a year if I recall... FIFA wouldn't back down so eventually EA said they'd go out on their own, since they still have to license every specific league separately anyway.

Next year's EA soccer/football game is going to be called "EA Sports Football Club" "EA Sports: FC". It'll be a big gamble, but I think EA is betting that they'll save money in the long term even if they spend a ton on marketing.

I mention this because I wonder how much these sports licenses are worth after the video game is well established.

Those licenses really shouldn’t be allowed to be exclusive.

They are in fact not.

FIFA is not the only football games, PES exist too with fully licensed leagues. Some of them shared between both.

MLB has right now two licensed games (RBI and The Show)

NBA, NHL, and NFL had multiple games between 2K (2K Sports) and EA.

It really comes down to who is willing to pay the enormous fee.

I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon are looking into the longer term Game subscription service, they already have a service for streaming called Luna similar to Stadia.

Stadia is fantastic but it lacks games.

A subscription service that streams games + allows access to it on dedicated gaming hardware such as a console/gaming PC is likely the market amazon wants to attack here.

They did/do have Lumberyard. And I imagine that this means EA games will all use AWS for their cloud functions.

I would have thought its to add a boat load of IP into their "Prime Gaming" play?

This seems fairly broad on the surface, but they've always wanted to own products right as they go pure digital / online distribution. Kindle, prime video, FireTV, etc. I'll bet they feel video games are finally at that tipping point.

With all that impressive infrastructure to get physical product to you overnight or same day, it's still a better and much much more profitable platform for digital goods.

Wild guess, but it could be that Amazon’s strategy involves Twitch somehow.

Data may be their core business.

They have already bought twitch which is more or less related to video games.

1, Amazon runs the platform that sells the games - Amazon

2, Amazon runs the platform that people use while playing the games - Twitch

3, Amazon runs the platform that hosts the servers to play the games - AWS

4, Amazon runs the platform that you play the game on - Luna

5, Amazon runs the platform that creates the games - EA

how is this not anti-competition for anyone running a company that competes in only one of these fields..

Not that I agree with this argument, but I imagine Amazon might claim that Alphabet was essentially doing the same thing with Stadia, Youtube Game streaming, the Play store, and presumably cloud offerings (I don't know that one for sure though).

Though I suspect the claim that "We at least compete with this other giant tech company hell bent on crushing competition" is probably not the most sympathetic argument in the current antitrust atmosphere.

>current antitrust atmosphere

What current antitrust atmosphere? What was the last trust busted?

I think they are referring to the population at large being aware of it instead of actual actions taken

Like with the mainstream media and the fact that no one has put the Murdochs in a rocket to Mars

Also probably the addition of Lina Khan to the FTC who has a more aggressive stance on antitrust than regulators in previous years. See their recent filing against Meta's acquisition of a VR fitness co


Other than Twitch (and maybe AWS, I don't know enough), none of those are monopoly or capable of anti-competition. Even twitch has youtube as alternative

I didn't intend to mean they are the monopoly within their market segment but what's stopping Amazon from creating a game and locking others within their segment out

1) that's only available on Luna sold via Amazon

2) DLC only downloadable with Twitch participation/Prime membership

3) Amazon force EA to use AWS

Instead of making their product compete with their 'competitors', they buy the customers (EA) and force them to use their product. At that point, taking AWS for example, GCP/Azure are no longer 'competitors' and if the end-consumer (me and you), want to play a title, we pay extra because there's no competition in the chain...

Just because there is one other competitor doesn't mean it's not a valid target for antitrust.

If both were to cooperate and segment their markets in secret, it would be highly anticompetitive.

True I guess, but hard to say that Twitch and Youtube is doing that. Even Steam is in this picture I think although they are less relevant maybe?

And Twitch can be replaced / surpassed. Its technology is nothing new, right now it mainly has critical mass due to the amount of people using it.

It only takes one mistake for them to lose a lot of that engagement.

> It only takes one mistake for them to lose a lot of that engagement.

How true is this? Because YouTube and Google have made plenty of mistakes yet it continues to dominate.

Youtube is a library, Twich is about live streaming, so in theory it is much easer to replace.

However, critical mass is very hard to move, because platform switch would be revenue loss for streamers.

>5, Amazon runs the platform that creates the games - EA

"The Games" - No. Some games yes. The people I game with pretty much despise EA and look at them as the company that buys up smaller studios and destroys the culture.

Agreed. I think EA has really popular sports games, however I can't recall the last EA game I played. It might be Titanfall 2?

There's also BioWare - but their last few releases have been disastrous.

Edit: Oh, more recently I loved the Command & Conquer remaster - that maybe counts as an EA game? It was published by them, but I don't think Peteoglyph is owned by EA.

Petroglyph is the old Westwood who left it after the acquisition.

They also have what's basically a renegade sequel

It is a Big Tech consolidation. If the Microsoft, Blizzard and Bethesda isn't an example of consolidation (Which is clearly is) with also Amazon's acquisition of One Medical, then nothing is.

The FTC probably knows it is overdue to break up the Big Tech takeovers, but needs more evidence of this consolidation and behaviour to outright prevent more of this and eventually break them all up.

A large part of it is the political convenience of corporatism. It's easier to "regulate" 1 massive company - hell, they'll do it for you too so you help them guarantee they'll be the only game in town.

It's a lot harder to regulate 1000s or multiples of 1000s of smaller businesses.

Regulation also includes targeted political censorship in this case.

Yeah, the antitrust eyes are clearly blind to the unimportant/unnecessary game industry.

This is vertical integration. Horizontal integration is usually what is considered anti-competitive.

Wasn't Standard Oil vertically integrated?

"Standard Oil dominated the oil products market initially through horizontal integration in the refining sector, then, in later years vertical integration"

Company towns were vertically integrated. I wouldn't call them a bastion of free markets

They were technically horizontally integrated too, since the entire reason they were able to exist is situations where jobs like mining were created in isolated areas with no other places to live.

Workers had no other options but to live in that company town and spend their money in company town stores.

All vertical integration means is that a company has direct control over most/all of the supply chain they need to get their product made and sold. They don't need 3rd parties to supply them with any of the steps in the process.

That obviously gives them a competitive advantage, but it doesn't involve directly removing other competitors the way horizontal integration does.

I'm not so sure that vertical integration is much more innocent than horizonal. Once a single company dominates an industry it has negative effects on the competitiveness of that and adjacent markets.

A single company dominating an industry is the definition of horizontal integration. You seem to be confusing what the two terms mean.

Not really, the really nasty ones are the ones leveraging their standing in one market to be dominant in another.

Yes you can stretch anything to fit a narrative. Amazon runs the platform that sells everything so they shouldn’t be allowed to buy anything.

The incentives become perverse once relatively unrelated businesses are combined. History also shows conglomerates don’t out perform the stand alone companies and it hurts competition and innovation.

I think there’s a certain point where executives run out of ideas but have to be doing something. Then you have investment bankers and advisors pushing these ideas and copycatting each other for that sweet, sweet commission payday.

And it’s not so much that these are great ideas, it’s can they sound okay enough to get that payday before everyone realizes it was all a stupid waste of time five years later. That is, after the acquired company gets its souls sucked out, the talent leaves, and the acquirer discards the husk at a discount.

> History also shows conglomerates don’t out perform the stand alone companies

This is a self-correcting phenomenon.

It self-corrects on generational timescales, which is arguably not good enough. The last "fad" of conglomeration happened in the "go go years", and a generation of business and finance types learned it was a bad idea. Now those people are all retired and a new generation is learning the lesson.

It's not stretching the narrative at all, this is exactly how the executives think at Amazon. Everything must be connected and used to showcase the other parts of the business.

> Amazon runs the platform that sells everything so they shouldn’t be allowed to buy anything.

The issue isn't Amazon buying something. The issue is Amazon buying something to force them to use their services hence circumventing competition.

EA may previously have used GCP to host their services because they provide a better service and are cheaper. This forces AWS to do better to compete against GCP and the end-consumer purchasing the game will pay less.

Not a bad idea

None of these are monopolies. Twitch and AWS are biggest players in their fields, but both have healthy competition

I think it would be way easier to make a case that Microsoft shouldn't be able to buy Activision. It seems like major gaming studios are slowly getting acquired by either Tencent or Microsoft

Vertical integration used to be just as strictly limited for competitive reasons. We know it’s bad, just look at how Amazon leverages it’s sales data to compete against products it sells. They undoubtedly do the same thing with AWS and every other business they own.

I'm not saying they are a Monopoly.

Anti-competitive practices are business or government practices that prevent or reduce competition in a market.

Amazon purchasing a company and forcing them to use their services means their services no longer have to compete against their 'competitors'...

Don’t forget the Embracer Group. A nearly silent megalith of game development studios.

They dont have a payments processor yet. Someone tell Jeff

But also: do they disallow competitors to use their services/sell their games? AFAIK antimonopoly litigation requires the existence of an actual market obstruction, not its hypothetical existence.

https://pay.amazon.com/ has been a thing for a very long time. I integrated it into a site back in... the late 2000s, I think?

That's vertical integration and is mostly orthogonal to anti-competitive behavior. A million dollar startup could do those things too.

A million dollar startup could compete with these platforms all owned by Amazon?

A million dollar startup could own their servers, run a social platform, develop games, sell merch and license some IP on the side. I didn't say they would actually compete significantly with Amazon. Just that you didn't have to operate at a monopoly scale to control a significant portion of your business stack.

A million dollar startup can buy EA?

This seems like, at best, intentionally misunderstanding the GP to try to make some political point that isn't even grounded in reality.

It's fairly well established that vertical integration is not only not anti-competitive, but benefits both corporations and consumers.

By which standard or understanding?

I'm going to need some more details before it being accepted as a fact...

Because they don't have a monopoly in any of those things.

Vertical integration should be pursued by any and every company.

Why? I'd argue a world in which succeed to make vertical integration minimal would be a better one, with less manipulation and corporations vying to become states.

A word with minimal vertical integration is a world filled with middlemen and rent seekers.

The alternative to VI is every single piece of your stack is another company seeking its own piece of whatever pie you’re building (and that company in turn facing the exact same dilemma — nobody builds original things anymore, it’s b2b saas Lego all the way down)

There's quite a lot of legroom between a moderate amount of vertical integration where you attempt to own key parts of your supply chain and being a megacorporation which owns absolutely every piece of your stack, including towns for your employees.

I'm suggesting the optimum for human freedom, welfare and prosperity is achieved when striving closer to the former rather than the latter, not that companies should strive to depend on others as much as possible.

(Though my use of "minimal" in the original post might've been misleading.)

Anti-competitive practices are business practices that prevent or reduce competition in a market.

Only if you undertake them to protect a monopoly.

not at all...

It is illegal for businesses to act together in ways that can limit competition, lead to higher prices, or hinder other businesses from entering the market.

That's from the FTC.

I think that's vertical alignment rather than a monopoly.

Can you explain how vertical integration is anti competitive?

If you run a business selling hosting services for game publishers to run their games, is it not anti-competitive for a competitor of yours to buy your customers and force them to use their services instead of yours?

No. No one should be forced to use a product.

Will there ever be a point where as a society we agree to put an upper cap on the size of companies? Does Amazon really need to absorb even more? Doesn’t that stifle competition?

I understand that enforcement is hard as the rule wouldn’t be global, but still curious.

If regulators that controlled anti-competitive behaviours existed, they'd forbid such acquisition.

> Will there ever be a point where as a society we agree to put an upper cap on the size of companies?

it would be great if we could first put a cap on the biggest culprit: government.

There is a cap on the biggest culprit, and it's renegotiated and voted on often by elected officials.

what is the cap and what’s the independent regulator’s name in the US?

This government represents the people. Companies represent the interests of their owners.

This point would make more sense if I could vote for the leadership team at Amazon.

Amazon is still tiny compared to the enormous size and width of Samsung, that spans, Electronics, Electro-Mechanics, SDI, SDS, Engineering C&T, Heavy Industries, Life Insurance, Fire & Marine Insurance and more..

Okay well break them up too.

Exactly. They also need to be broken up as well.

They are broken up, as separate companies that cooperate between them.

Because of limits like these India economy has lost 4 decades of growth.


Wouldn’t that point more to an issue with the implementation of the limit rather than the existence of the limit? Are all implementations equally bad?

Ah... a classical argument of the "communism was never truly implemented" :).

Perhaps. Perhaps initiatives likes these are bound to fail. Not sure how many lives have to be destroyed until people get "statistically significant" results.

If it’s not the implementation that is to blame then one should use an argument that consists of more than one example provided by the highly corrupt governing structures common in India.

That's not even close to what we have today in the US. Antitrust basically doesn't exist in the US.

> Does Amazon really need to absorb even more? Doesn’t that stifle competition?

The burden of proof is on you. How does this stifle competition? Why can't Amazon own EA? A gut "they'll be too big / successful / profitable" is not enough.

Antitrust law does exactly this. If Amazon owning EA overly concentrates market power/forms a monopoly, it'll be rejected and the deal with fail.

Why would you want to put an upper cap on the size of companies? It feels like stifling innovation and productivity, which will be overly negative for everyone.

I think I agree with your point that antitrust laws should focus on preventing monopolies rather than on limiting size per se. Ideally, a company should be able to grow to any size so long as it doesn't prevent competition.

In practice, large companies have been able to use their leverage to influence political outcomes and antitrust laws have not been enforced. It's good that we have laws to ensure a free market, but they're not much use if they're ignored.

In this case, I'm not sure that Amazon acquiring a video game company does much to hinder competition. There are lots of indie video games and I don't see that Electronic Arts has any particular technology that locks in customers or excludes other vendors.

As a society we absolutely should be vigilant against concentrations of power, foremost of which are the big tech companies. But when it comes to monopolies, there are more significant things to worry about than this particular acquisition.

> It feels like stifling innovation and productivity, which will be overly negative for everyone.

From a business perspective that might be partly true. But anti-trust / anti-competition policies are not just to provide a level playing ground for businesses but also consumers. A giant conglomerate might have a higher productivity, but that doesn't mean that benefit will be passed to the consumer unless they have rival businesses to compete with. Competition promotes more innovation and is more socially beneficial to both businesses and consumers than giant conglomerates that just become obese and unhealthy after a point.

Amazon owning EA will absolutely stifle innovation, especially given their history in the gaming space.

I’m not disagreeing with the general jist of your argument, but EA hasn’t exactly been a hotbed of innovation in years.

Honestly, whilst very successful, they’ve become so inessential I have forgotten what they actually make anymore.

Why will Amazon stifle innovation? All EA do is release the same games every year with slightly different content (FIFA, Battlefield, Madden, Sims, etc).

What am I missing?

A whole bunch of innovative games? Skate 4, It Takes Two, Star Wars Squadrons, Jedi Fallen Order, Apex Legends, A Way Out, Fe, and arguably battlefield 5.

Yes, plenty of annual sports games, though even those evolve over time with different career modes and gameplay. But EA is still making moves in the space.

It seems to me most innovation comes from increased competition and upstart companies. Do large conglomerates provide the main driver of innovation?

True, and I agree, but an 'upper cap' wouldn't be used against just the companies that we don't think provide innovation (such as Amazon in this scenario). The caps would also be used against Tesla and Apple, two very big drivers of innovation, and probably many others. The world would be a worse place without Tesla, and without Apple. Arguably the world could be a better place without Amazon, but that is surely down to consumer voting with their wallet, the executive team, and shareholders encouraging Amazon, rather than the government not restricting Amazon. Amazon aren't buying EA, only because they can.

Once again, how can someone define an 'upper cap', is it market size? Is it revenue, or employee count? Market share? The unintended consequences of an upper limit doesn't seem to me something we should be encouraging.

I could be wrong, it just feels like we shouldn't be restricting everyone because of one bad actor.

From my perspective for every large innovator like Apple there are several like Comcast. While Apple would not exist in the hypothetical world where max size exists for companies who knows what other innovations would exist or would not have been quashed by large companies. There are unintended consequences with the status quo. It’s easy to overlook those because we are used to the system in place. Are those unintended consequences worth keeping? I don’t know but it’s worth exploring other options.

I think it depends. Bell labs famously invented many of the foundations of modern computing while Bell was a monopoly. It's also hard to do capital intensive research (e.g. semiconductor manufacturing) as an upstart. You need the resources of an Intel.

Meanwhile, companies that leverage existing technologies in new ways can be innovative with much fewer resources - e.g. your typical web startup.

One can find examples in support of either position. What is the overall benefit of one side vs. the other? I don’t know the answer and it isn’t clear to me which is the better option. There are pro and cons to both positions.

> put an upper cap on the size of companies

How would you measure “size”?


What do you mean by "cap" then? Would you force the company to be broken apart into smaller independent companies if it exceeded whatever cap is defined?

Simple. Revenue. Tax a company's revenue progressively. (Of course it's complicated to implement this with companies owning companies, but you get the gist.)

In the US at least, corporate taxes are progressive.

Taxes are on earnings though, not revenues (you could be unprofitable and as such, pay no taxes).

Question: so are you suggesting then that just because a company's revenues (I think you mean "earnings") have exceeded X, that they should be completely broken up as a company?

> so are you suggesting then that just because a company's revenues (I think you mean "earnings") have exceeded X, that they should be completely broken up as a company?

Yes. But I meant revenues. If we want companies to become smaller, taxing their revenue progressively would compell their owners to split them up into independent entities. Think about it as a progressive VAT.

Number of people employed.

If you can rake in billions using a team of 50 people, that is great, and should be allowed.

Also, a company like Apple should be allowed. What should not be allowed is for Apple to own its entire supply chain (which would not be possible if company size was limited by number of people).

Employee as the metric doesn't work.

Consulting businesses are literally in the business to resell their employed talent. Their "product" is their employees.

As such, they type of business by its very nature have a disproportionately large number of employees. E.g. Accenture employees 700,000 people, Tata Consulting 600,000.

Consulting businesses could be an exception.

Revenue or balance sheet

What happens if the company is unprofitable?

Do you mean "earnings"?


Does a company need to be beneficial to an organized society, or does a company need to grow at all costs in order to accumulate wealth? I'd argue the first, but America doesn't really have a clear stance. Certainly no consensus. I think this detail confuses the conversation a lot, because when we talk about growth, we could be talking about hard metrics like GDP or stock price, or we could be talking about soft metrics like livability, success, substance and quality, and happiness as a society.

It doesn't need to do either. This is a false dichotomy. A company needs to be legal, and be useful enough to its customers that it is sustainable. That is what a company needs. There is no "useful to society" as there is no monolithic "society".

When we're talking about laws we're specifically discussing the interaction between companies and "our society" or our communities. Broad strokes like "society" just make it easier to talk about.

A company as big as Amazon exists across thousands of communities, and in contexts that don't even include communities. It can afford to harm some contexts while profiting on others, because it is a monolith. That's why when we talk about business law we need to consider more than just the simple economics, because companies can have greater impacts than that.

Anti-competitive laws are just that, they're not about increasing simple metrics, they're about managing the harder to measure externalities of bigger companies like the ability for a market to be competitive, promote innovation, and to make sure customers have enough choice to choose with their wallet.

> Broad strokes like "society" just make it easier to talk about.

I'd say they make it easier to make mistakes in reasoning. Just as unilaterally deciding what "we're" talking about is also a mistake.

Positing that Amazon is too big to buy a computer game company is just wrong. This in no way creates a monopoly on computer game creation, which is one of the best industries on the planet in terms of lack of lock-in in the forms of regulation, machinery, or IP law. Have computer, download Godot, get going.

Also, Amazon is a silly company to level that charge at. They in no way control a significant amount of the game creation industry. You may be thinking of Microsoft.

I don't think AGS will be better than EA as a publisher. I can't believe I can say that.

Seeing how they handled New World and how they currently handle Lost Ark...

For anyone unaware, Lost Ark has a serious bot problem and the answer from AGS is to act in a way where the primary impact is felt by legitimate players.

Lost Ark makes RuneScape's history of botting seem minor in comparison.

I was thinking of trying out Lost Ark this weekend. Is the botting bad enough that it affects someone soloing their way through the game?

The impact on the economy of the game makes it very difficult to play the game for free and even at the 50$/month mark you would be having a rough time because of the market.

The game is fun until you reach the point where the botting becomes impactful. Up until that point you can enjoy it for free with minimal impact from bots minus the inability to farm some horizontal progression content.

Not really. I enjoyed soloing the game.

Is it that unbelievable? EA are a very successful publisher

EA has been increasingly anti-consumer for years, notably through the proliferation of microtransactions, loot box mechanics, “Season Passes”, and half-finished base games with expensive DLC “expansions.” Highly unpopular brand, despite their commercial success.

World of Tanks copies all that goofy stuff. Having been on the game for 12 years, I just ignore that stuff. They are free to play but have crap tons of loot box and season pass hoopla. I use the "free to play" term loosely. I have spent a lot more money on that game than any other I have ever played, and I'm not a big spender by any means.

Key difference is that EA still charges full price up front, too.

Wargaming sells tanks in game. Each one costs as much or more than a full box game off the shelf/download. Most sticky players have bought several.

Dead Space is literally coming back just now after they EA-ified Dead Space 3.

What PC games do not have serious botting or cheating problems? We need better kernel mode attestation systems.

Alexa will watch to make sure you pay those micro transactions. And if you don’t, get ready to fight the roomba they send after you!

HAHA! enjoyed visualising that ... thanks ... (I am assuming you're joking here, but ... hmmm on seconds thoughts. Give it 10 years and ...).

Your thoughts have been reported for containing hate speech against Amazon.

You must enter the Amazon Voluntarily Submission Chamber. You have 30 seconds to comply. /Robocop nightmare.

Edit: Can't believe you got downvoted :(

I don’t understand the downvotes. I feel like your comment is very salient. It’s a joke now. Given how things are going, it might not be in the future.

Surely this will be the Rubicon for FTC to take a serious look at the gaming industry, assuming this actually gets announced?

Consolidation doesn't equal monopoly. A monopoly is defined as "the exclusive possession or control of the supply of or trade in a commodity or service" - As long as indie game studios exist, the FTC will pay the gaming industry no mind. As long as games, as a commodity, can be created out of "thin air" (code), the FTC will pay the gaming industry no mind.

Huge companies buying every major studio is definitely a "dick move" (lack of a better term), but it's not a monopoly, and it never could be. Some of the most impactful games of the past 5 years were released by small teams and amassed cult followings.

FTC has more powers than investigating monopolies. It can investigate and sanction both unfair competition between businesses and deceptive, anti consumer practices. And there is a lot of practices in gaming industry that could potentially be investigated (console exclusives, lootboxes, platform commissions, etc).

Good point. +1

I'm not an expert on the law on this subject (or any subject lol), but I wonder how much a strict definition of the word "monopoly" actually matters? I would assume that the important thing is for the FTC to take action against businesses/practices that harm consumers, rather than focusing on the narrow definition of a single word.

Also, where did you get that definition of "monopoly" you quoted? There are a lot of definitions of that word flying around the internet, so I'm curious if you got that from like the FTC's website or something? I'm wondering because back when antitrust law was created, the issue at the time was railroad companies monopolizing transportation; however, what you're saying about indie games could also be said about transport: trains are not a monopoly, and they never could be as long as horses still exist!

> As long as games, as a commodity, can be created out of "thin air" (code)

Games are not created out of "thin air", they're created through very expensive labor, which is not only programming.

Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Amazon, Google, Meta, Steam... that is more companies and thus competition than there are movie studios or streaming services.

TTWO, UBSFY, Epic, Gameloft, ...

Tencent Games; forgot them

Embracer Group, too

or you know… amazon

Given that it hasn't been investigated yet, I don't see why this change specifically will make a legislator wake up. It's more of the same.

No one can making any money except platform holders. 30% commissions are egregious. These aquisitions are just the side effect.

We need a commission cap on all platforms that do over $1billion in annual sales. The Apple vs Epic trial revealed 80% margins for Apple on the App Store:


A cap of 10-15% should do it.

I don't think a cap is the right solution. Better would be regulations, controls, etc to enable competition for marketplaces (at least for those of a certain size)

Like on iOS, if there was actual competition for app stores, Apple would face pressure from a competitive market to reduce their commission percentage. Developers will not want to put their apps/games on Apple's store if they continue to charge outrages fees, and they have alternative, realistic distribution options.

However, I don't know what regulation would look like there. Even if Apple is forced to allow third-party stores, it could still end up like the browser wars, where one company manages to secure a monopoly anyways. If we can't even fix the browser situation, I don't have high hopes for the appstore market.

Mandating payment provider or store competition has no clear end result, with significantly more overhead for everyone.

Countries around the world already regulate pricing on things like Credit Card transaction fees. This should be no different. In Australia for example:

"Each scheme's average interchange fee, weighted by the value or volume of transactions in each interchange category, is required to be below a benchmark of 0.50 per cent for credit cards, and 8 cents for debit and prepaid cards."


It is getting harder to stay out of Amazon's view. I am setting up a new VLAN to contain my partner's Peloton, also on Amazon acquisition list, and the kids game boxes to ensure those devices can't probe my devices on the network.

They are being smart about which ones they are acquiring. They are not into game development or even own any gaming platforms, so going after EA most likely won’t be blocked. However I don’t know how the strategy of buying unrelated businesses will hold up over time. The CEO will not have any coherent strategy across business units and they will just have to be run as independent brands with their own individual CEOs. Is this a hedge against market corrections? I mean if one business is in recession may be the others help?

Significantly more discussion on the dupe: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=32605949

We'll merge it hither. Thanks!

I sometimes wish Hacker News had emoticons, so I could add a sad face instead of just an upvote.

HN generally prefers insightful conversations over reactions, so if you feel "sad face", why not make a comment describing your feelings and why you feel like that instead?

Here's one for you: :(

Yay even more monopolies in the gaming market.

"more monopolies in $industry" is a contradiction

How does this create a new monopoly?

It there any way this would pass anti-trust? Especially in this tense political climate when it comes to Big Tech (I'm thinking both of Europe and especially fo the US).

Of course it would pass. Amazon does not have significant market share in the video game market, much less a monopoly.

Yes, can't see the government looking at this. This isn't two gaming companies combining.

US anti trust looks at harm to consumers, meaning does this reduce competition amongst game makers, and the answer is obviously no. This isn't two gaming companies merging. This is one unrelated company acquiring another. Us and European anti trust don't look at the size of a company as a factor.

> Us and European anti trust don't look at the size of a company as a factor.

That has been changing very fast, this Economist article back from the start of this year touches on that aspect (among other things): "The growing demand for more vigorous antitrust action" [1]

[1] https://archive.ph/grBbQ

Why would it not pass? There's not a shortage of competition in the gaming sector.

Nope, its very quickly consolidating into a few big companies.

I don't think it's only about the gaming sector per se, it's about not allowing an already big behemoth (Amazon, in this case) to get even bigger.

There's no law on the books against that, so you'd have to get congress to write one first.

There has been no law until now, but these are different times, there doesn't need to be any specific law in place. But, we'll see.

Only if Amazon were to be a big gaming publisher / developer themselves already - say, if they also owned Sony Interactive, Tencent Games, Nintendo, Microsoft, NetEase, Activision Blizzard, etc. The ones I listed are all bigger than EA (by revenue), by the way.

All ea games past and present require prime sub, but on the other hand a mass effect TV series would be nice if they don't fuck it up

A big part of the fun of mass effect is the immersive choose-your-own-adventure decisions it gives you. So no idea how a television series would work unless they could effectively explore moral dilemmas like older star trek, unlike new trek which tells you what to think.

That was their objection to licensing it before, but it could be done, just need to get the story right

> a mass effect TV series would be nice if they don't fuck it up

After what they did to Halo I'm not holding my breath.

What do you mean? Master Chief is best known for taking off his helmet at any and every opportunity, and for sleeping with Covenant spies while Cortana watches.

Edit: I also didn't expect them to use the people who did voice acting for the game, but it's bizarre to me that they decided to get Jen Taylor to voice Cortana but didn't decide to cast her as Halsey. Would have made more sense to just have the lady who played Halsey voice Cortana as well, since Halsey modeling Cortana after herself tells you a lot about her character and her overinflated opinion of herself.

I can't wait the the marathon series on paramount plus I'm sure it would make more sense after they redo Halo to actually follow the story and it's cyberpunk! Which is sooo hot right now

well quite, hence the bit at the end :D

They couldn’t even stop from fucking up the games. Plus has Amazon studios released anything good?

Reacher maybe? But they somehow had the self-control to follow the book pretty closely for that one, which seems like a rarity for the sorts of people who get put in creative control of productions at Amazon, Netflix, etc.

Fair, and I'm not sure about anything they've made themselves, but some stuff they've published is ok, perhaps they can get a qualified professional to do it

Microsoft has acquired Bethesda, will probably acquire Activision-Blizzard, and has purchased other, smaller studios in the past already.

I wonder what’s driving the desire to buy up video game publishers. There probably aren’t many left at the scope of the ones already bought or in a deal that are practically purchasable, even for big tech players.

A cynic might suspect it’s the same reason traditional media is bought and has value. By controlling video games, you control an important media influencing children profoundly. You teach them from a young age the lesson you want taught, it will be more impactful than school which is boring, and you get to shape them up to be good consumers for when they grow up.

Or you know, it's to get licensing rights for large, popular IPs to make more money.

There is a lot of money in video game publishing business, given how video games are slowly becoming persistent and ongoing. Companies like Microsoft and Amazon have the means to handle such publishing, and they would surely want control on that cash cow.

Global video game revenue (including mobile gaming) is more than the top 4 sports in the US + Hollywood + music industry. Getting a hand into that pie is going to be very lucrative, especially as gaming has nowhere near the cultural mindshare that these other things do.

Well, for Microsoft it makes sense. They build game consoles. Owning game studios and game publishers is a good way to get preferential treatment for your console platform.

Amazon probably wants game publishers so they can harden their monopoly on game streaming with Twitch.

Maybe they want to get into the Cloud gaming space too.

Don't forget Sony recently bought Bungie, too. It seems like it's just another wave of consolidation

I realize most have already made up their minds that VR will still be a gimmick with no market in the year 7000 AD, but I just can’t shake this crazy feeling that we’re going to sort it between now and then. My answer is VR. At least a hedge in case Zuckerberg turns out not to be a clown.

If only he had a track record to weigh.

I think that's a bit of a straw man. The technology is just not quite there yet. At least it's a lot better than the last go round with Virtual Boy.

The killer app that would make VR desirable doesn't exist yet either. Maybe that will be the Metaverse? But I kind of doubt it. We'll see.

Is that what y'all call hyperbole 'round hyea.

How could I have know in advance that it would have been a strawman of your opinion? I didn't know you existed until a second ago.

Although I am strongly suspicious of Amazon...

I can hope this means an improvement, maybe EA will finally allow some older games to be open sourced or fixed.

Been trying to convince EA for years to do something about SimCity 4.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2023

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact