Microsoft Agrees To Buy Activision Blizzard

19 January, 2022 - 10:21 am by
About 4 mins to read

In a deal worth an eye watering $68.7 billion, Microsoft have negotiated a full take over of Activision Blizzard in an effort to bolster the number of video game studios in it’s portfolio. This is Microsoft’s biggest acquisition, $40 billion more than they paid for Linkedin and nearly 10 times the amount they splurged for Bethesda last year. It also means that Call of Duty, Diablo and World of Warcraft properties will be under the umbrella of Xbox. The deal is subject to the usual legal scrutiny in the US and isn’t expected to complete until 2023.

Some of the most popular multiplayer games, as well as a few ’90s mascots will now be under Phil Spencer’s team:

  • Call of Duty
  • Candy Crush
  • Crash Bandicoot
  • Diablo
  • Guitar Hero
  • Hearthstone
  • Overwatch
  • Spyro the Dragon
  • StarCraft
  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
  • Warcraft

Much like the takeover of Zenimax last year, Microsoft are not going to be changing any contracts regarding games that have been, or are due for release before the deal closes. This means, for the time being at least, Call of Duty will continue to be a multiplatform release. Going beyond 2023, this may change.

As soon as the buy-out is complete, expect the majority of Activision Blizzards games to find their way onto Game Pass. It will be interesting to see if Warcraft makes the jump, as losing the obligatory subscription and including it as part of the overall cost would be seen as a big benefit to Microsoft, who would be the third largest publisher in the industry.

The deal comes as Activision Blizzard are facing numerous accusations of sexual assault, abusive work culture and general working conditions, which have resulted in a number of staff walkouts, resignations and court cases in the last few months.

Microsoft have announced that for the time being Blizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick, will remain in place, however once the deal closes, the studios will report directly to head of Microsoft Gaming, Phil Spencer. Reading between the lines, it seems Microsoft are planning a much needed top down restructure of Activision as soon as the green light is given.

It seems that Microsoft are using the technologies to enhance their cloud services and hinting that services could eventually make their way to the other consoles:

The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own. Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward.

Phil Spencer – CEO Microsoft Gaming

The continued consolidation of video game publishers is worrying for gamers. Having competition is healthy and inspires developers to strive to produce the best games they can. If Microsoft continues to buy every developer and publisher, this limits the choice to the customer.

Although, we can also see that if these purchases don’t pay off in the way Microsoft expects (rocketing sales of Xbox consoles), we can certainly see them becoming a large publisher who sells access to their games through Game Pass rather than being a platform holder.