Microsoft has officially completed its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the gaming conglomerate behind some of the most popular franchises in the industry, such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, and Candy Crush. The deal, which was first announced in January 2022, is the largest in the history of gaming and one of the most expensive tech acquisitions ever.
Microsoft gains a huge advantage in gaming
The acquisition gives Microsoft a huge boost in its gaming division, which includes Xbox, Windows, and Game Pass. Microsoft now owns 30 game development studios and more than 400 games. The company also gains access to Activision Blizzard’s loyal fan base of over 400 million monthly active players. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella said that the deal would “create the most diverse, creative and community-driven platform for all gamers”.
Microsoft faces challenges and controversies along the way
However, the deal also faced some challenges and controversies along the way. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) initially blocked the deal in April 2023 over concerns that it would harm competition and innovation in the cloud gaming market. Microsoft had to revise its offer and agree to sell Activision Blizzard’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft, a rival game publisher based in France. The CMA approved the revised deal on Friday, October 13, 2023.
Another source of opposition came from Sony, the maker of PlayStation and Microsoft’s main competitor in the console market. Sony feared that Microsoft would make Activision Blizzard’s games exclusive to Xbox and Windows platforms over time, reducing the appeal of PlayStation. Sony reluctantly signed a 10-year deal with Microsoft to ensure that Call of Duty, one of the best-selling game series of all time, would continue to be available on PlayStation.
Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick remains in charge until 2023
Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick, who has been under fire for his handling of a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit against his company, will remain in his position until the end of 2023. He will report to Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming. Spencer said that he was “incredibly excited” to welcome Activision Blizzard to Xbox and that he had “some of my most memorable gaming moments” from their games.
The deal marks a major milestone for gaming
The deal marks a major milestone for Microsoft and Activision Blizzard, as well as for the gaming industry as a whole. It remains to be seen how the integration of the two companies will affect their games, their employees, their customers, and their competitors. One thing is certain: gaming will never be the same again.