Xbox has announced a deal to buy Activision Blizzard, the company behind Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and many other major gaming franchises – coming in at a stupefying $68.7 billion.
Announced on Xbox Wire, the deal means Xbox will soon own the likes of Call of Duty, Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and much more. CEO of Microsoft Gaming Phil Spencer announced that all Activision Blizzard companies would report to him after the deal is closed.
No timescale has been given for how long the deal will take to close, and it’s likely that the deal will be examined as to whether it creates a monopoly before it’s formally approved. Spencer confirmed that Activision Blizzard would continue to run as an independent company until the deal is complete.
Update: In an email sent to Activision Blizzard employees, CEO Bobby Kotick says the company expects the deal to close “sometime in Microsoft’s fiscal 2023 year ending June 30, 2023”.
As expected, Spencer says Xbox will include “as many Activision Blizzard games as we can” in the Xbox Game Pass services. No word has been made about turning the likes of Call of Duty or other mega-franchises into Xbox exclusives, but with the likes of Bethesda’s Starfield becoming a first-party exclusive, it feels more than possible.
Update: Bloomberg sources report that Microsoft plans to continue selling some Activision Blizzard games on PlayStation, but will make some content exclusive to Xbox. We’ve asked Xbox for comment.
A separate press release added that not only does this acquisition bolster Microsoft’s gaming business, but that it “will provide building blocks for the metaverse.” After the deal closes, Microsoft will become the world’s third-largest gaming business by revenue after Tencent and Sony.
Microsoft PR has confirmed that the deal is worth $68.7 billion, many times the $7.5 billion it paid for ZeniMax Media in 2020. As a point of comparison, Take-Two recently acquired mobile giant Zynga for $12.7 billion, which was the biggest gaming acquisition in history. That has been comfortably eclipsed by this deal.
Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in a number of scandals in the last year, many circling around CEO Bobby Kotick. Microsoft initially confirmed that Kotick would remain as CEO until the deal was officially confirmed, and later told IGN that he would retain his position after the acquisition.
Phil Spencer recently said he was “disturbed and deeply troubled” by reports from Activision Blizzard regarding workplace abuses. The company has not specifically referenced those problems in today’s announcement, but Spencer make a point to say that “Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players,” and that “We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.”
Original Post: ign.com