Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard in a deal valued at $68.7 billion USD (about $85.96 billion CAD).
Activision Blizzard is the troubled publisher behind many popular games, including the Call of Duty series, World of Warcraft and Diablo. The deal far outranks most of Microsoft’s other acquisitions, both in gaming and beyond.
The Activision deal is significantly more than the $7.5 billion USD (about $9.4 billion CAD) purchase of Bethesda, and it’s larger than the company’s previous biggest acquisition, the $26 billion USD ($32.5 billion CAD) it paid for LinkedIn in 2016.
Microsoft says (via The Verge) that when the deal closes, it will be the “third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.”
Further, the company plans to add many of Activision’s games to Xbox Game Pass once the deal closes. Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that Microsoft would “offer as many Activision Blizzard games as [it] can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalogue.”
Moreover, Bloomberg reports that Microsoft plans to keep making some of Activision’s games available for PlayStation consoles. However, some content will also be exclusive to Xbox.
Mixed reports on whether Bobby Kotick will remain as Activision CEO
The deal follows months of sexual harassment claims against Activision Blizzard, which most recently saw dozens of employees exit the company over the scandals. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has also been under intense scrutiny after reports alleged he was aware of the “frat boy culture” at the company and actively worked to keep it quiet.
The Verge reports that Microsoft hasn’t detailed how it plans to deal with the issues at Activision Blizzard. However, Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO. However, The Wall Street Journal reported that people familiar with the company’s plans said Kotick is expected to leave after the deal closes.
“As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players,” says Xbox chief Phil Spencer. “We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.”
Microsoft’s acquisition will further bolster its Game Pass subscription service, which has 25 million subscribers. The Bethesda acquisition was seen as a massive win for the number of popular titles it brought for the service — the Activision deal stands to bring even more.
Update 2 – 1:03pm ET: Added details about Kotick departing following the acquisition.
Update 1 – 01/18/2022 at 10:20am ET: Added a paragraph detailing reported plans regarding Activision titles for PlayStation.
Image credit: Microsoft