Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard, the maker of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, in a stunning, industry-shaking deal worth $68.7 billion.
The deal, which is expected to be approved in 2023, was confirmed by Microsoft in a blog post from Xbox boss Phil Spencer.
The monumental acquisition – by far the largest ever in video games and the largest in Microsoft history – means Microsoft will own blockbuster franchises such as Call of Duty, Spyro, Guitar Hero, Crash Bandicoot and Tony Hawk from Activision, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and StarCraft from Blizzard, as well as Candy Crush from the King arm moveable.
Microsoft will take over Activision, Blizzard and all of its subsidiary studios – including Beenox, Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Major League Gaming, Radical Entertainment, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob and Treyarch. This represents approximately 10,000 employees.
The deal comes after a turbulent time for Activision Blizzard, following numerous reports of employee misconduct and toxic working conditions and intense pressure on the company’s hugely controversial boss, Bobby Kotick. For now – at least until that date in 2023 – Kotick will remain in place, but Spencer had this to say:
“Until the closing of this transaction, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently,” Spencer wrote. “Once the deal is completed, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO of Microsoft Gaming.
In a Microsoft declarationthe company also said, “Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will continue to focus on efforts to further strengthen the company’s culture and accelerate the company’s growth. Once the deal is complete, Activision Blizzard will report to Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming.”
“As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey of inclusion in all aspects of gaming, among employees and players,” Spencer continued. “We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand in hand with treating each person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams and leaders to this commitment. We are looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to larger teams at Activision Blizzard.”
Spencer’s blog also included the following image showing Xbox’s leadership team:
In an investor call, Microsoft boss Satya Nadella echoed much of the above, saying Activision must “continue to improve the lived experiences” of employees, that progress requires leadership. who “not only talk but walk”, and that Microsoft knew it would have some work to do after its acquisition was approved.
As for the game’s exclusivity – the main issue that plagued Xbox in its acquisition of Bethesda – Spencer said the following:
“At closing, we will be offering as many Activision Blizzard games as possible in Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog. We also announced today that Game Pass now has over 25 million subscribers, and as always, we look forward to continuing to add more value and more great games to Game Pass.
“Activision Blizzard’s fantastic franchises will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, enabling more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and computers. “other devices you already own. Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue supporting these communities in the future.”