Microsoft buying Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard for nearly $70bn

Eurogamer - Tue Jan 18 13:31

Microsoft is buying Call of Duty and World of Warcraft maker Activision Blizzard in an astonishing deal worth $68.7bn.

The Wall St Journal today broke the news that Microsoft was "near" a deal to buy the embattled publisher. Shortly after, Microsoft confirmed its acquisition plans in a blog post from Xbox boss Phil Spencer.

The monumental acquisition - by far the largest ever seen in video games - means Microsoft will own blockbuster franchises such as Call of Duty, Spyro, Guitar Hero, Crash Bandicoot and Tony Hawk from Activision, Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Hearthstone and StarCraft from Blizzard, as well as Candy Crush from mobile arm King.

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.

The deal comes after a turbulent period for Activision Blizzard, after numerous reports of employee misconduct and toxic workplace conditions and intense pressure on the company's hugely controversial boss Bobby Kotick. There's no explicit mention of what will happen to Kotick in Microsoft's announcement, but Spencer did have this to say:

"Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently," Spencer wrote. "Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

"As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players. 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.

Spencer's blog also included the following image showing Xbox's management team:

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As for game exclusivity, post-merger, Spencer said the following:

"Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard's incredible catalogue. We also announced today that Game Pass now has more than 25 million subscribers. As always, we look forward to continuing to add more value and more great games to Game Pass.

"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."

More to follow.