All perfectly reasonable points - I'm not arguing that there aren't good things to come out of M&A, but the more studios fall under the same corporate umbrella (be Microsoft, Sony or Embracer) the more homogenous things become, with more original and wild card projects struggling to see the light of day, because corporates have to focus on ROI and that makes risks harder to justify. It's not uniform: you still get projects like Dreams and Everwild, but they're far fewer and further between.
Ah, agree, to a point... the major-market business will become as homogenous as 1998-2010
ever was, basically.
The major-major-market companies, the Activisions and Squares, they need whale-attracting titles to make billions of dollars (thus, Square Enix selling off brands and studios who "only" make hundreds of millions of dollars, and cost a lot to make that money.) So they have slimmed down to very little but the massive, massive franchises (Activision
was down to only one active brand when it sold; EA
has explored "indie" ventures a bit but outside of its yearly sports it produces only a fraction of the titles it used to.)
The publishers in between (well, I would kind of count them as outside-the-between, but they're kind of top-and-bottom, since I'm talking about both the major-major-major market platform holders like Sony and MS as well as the major market/seeking-major-major companies like THQ/Embracer or even Tencent who produce volumes B-grade titles and gobble up other studios to own a portion of the market,) they want billions too of course, but they're seeking this more diverse portfolio to add an active user base, for different reasons. They are having a hard time achieving get-big-quick through new properties, as you mention, but they do have a large back-catalog of brands to exploit (through either existing for a long time or through acquiring companies who used to exist for a long time.) Luckily for them, the nostalgia market is hungry for its youth, so they can remaster or reintroduce brands from the back-catalog to these oldsters as well as a whole new generation. So these companies are bringing back brands that were shelved for failures, because now the people who were tired of those games are remembering the good times and wanting to go back there.
As an example, Square Enix Europe (aka Eidos) essentially only ever produce tiles for 3 brands out of the Eidos library (Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, and Thief) in the 13 years of ownership (give or take some mobile or whatnot games.) That was how they did business. Now, Embracer seems excited for all 50 and specifically named Legacy of Kain in its press release. Not all of those brands will be valuable to even Embracer, but in the way they do business, those brands have potential for exploitation. There was never going to be another entry in a lot of these series under Square Enix (including possibly Deus Ex and Thief, as those brands were questionmarks for the publisher after their past releases,) but now Embracer is going, "Sweet, we own Fighting Force and
Herdy Gerdy! Imagine the possibilities..."
Problem is, of course, if the market keeps painting over the past generation to sell it to the new generation, eventually the rust underneath the paint will erode and weaken it, and if there are no new things being created, the new generation won't have its own nostalgia to sell back to them and make the generation after this generation. How can the cycle continue if it cannot gain new momentum...