Activision, the beleaguered publisher of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Diablo, is being bought by Microsoft. Activision will be valued at $68.7 billion, significantly more than the $26 billion Microsoft spent for LinkedIn in 2016. When the transaction is completed, Microsoft will be the “third-largest gaming firm by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony,” according to the company.
Once the acquisition is finalized, Microsoft wants to add many of Activision’s titles to Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft will soon publish properties such as Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Call of Duty, and Candy Crush thanks to its acquisition of Activision.
“At the end of the day, we’ll offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, including both new releases and games from Activision Blizzard’s tremendous portfolio,” says Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s gaming CEO.
Microsoft continues to buy studios to grow Xbox Game Pass’s membership base, which presently stands at 25 million.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says, “We’re investing heavily in world-class content, community, and the cloud to usher in a new age of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive, and accessible to everyone.”
Microsoft’s agreement comes after Activision Blizzard was accused of sexual harassment for months. Activision Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in July for encouraging a “culture of continual sexual harassment.” Since then, additional workers have come forward with complaints of sexual misconduct, and the corporation settled with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for $18 million in September. The deal is being challenged, and almost 40 Activision Blizzard employees have purportedly “left” the firm since last July, according to sources.
Microsoft doesn’t indicate how it plans to address these concerns, but it does declare that Bobby Kotick will remain CEO of Activision Blizzard for the time being. However, it appears that Kotick will not be retained once the acquisition is completed and the transition time to Microsoft has over. Spencer, who was formerly the president of Microsoft’s gaming division, is now the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, and the Activision Blizzard business will report directly to him, according to the firm.
“As a company, Microsoft is committed to our path toward inclusiveness in all aspects of gaming, among both workers and gamers,” Spencer said. “We place a high priority on the cultures of particular studios. We also think that creative achievement and autonomy are inextricably linked to treating each individual with decency and respect. This is a promise that we hold all teams and leaders to. We’re excited to bring our proactive inclusion culture to all of Activision Blizzard’s fantastic teams.”
Microsoft’s massive Activision Blizzard transaction comes nearly a year after the corporation paid $7.5 billion for Bethesda (ZeniMax Media). That purchase brought the total number of first-party Xbox game studios to 23, which was considered as a big boost for Xbox Game Pass at the time.
Microsoft now expects the Activision Blizzard merger to “close in fiscal year 2023,” which indicates it might take up to 18 months for the transaction to be authorized. That’s a long time for a transaction to finalize, but Activision Blizzard operates in several regions, which might complicate Microsoft’s regulatory clearance process.