When Microsoft acquired Bethesda, many gamers wondered at just how deep Microsoft’s pockets really were. Now, the gaming giant has shocked the world by reaching an agreement to acquire Activision Blizzard in one of the biggest moves in gaming history.
Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer confirmed this news today via the Xbox Wire. The acquisition isn’t cheap, though: it’s worth a staggering $68.7 billion. Microsoft paid less than a tenth of that amount with their similarly shocking acquisition of Bethesda in 2020.
Nothing is finalized, yet, and both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard are continuing as separate entities for the moment. However, gamers have been marveling over the sheer number of IPs that Microsoft will own once the acquisition is final. By adding Call of Duty and Overwatch to Halo Infinite, Microsoft is very nearly cornering the market on FPS titles. And taking control of Spyro and Crash Bandicoot means that beloved properties once associated primarily with PlayStation will now live in the house that Master Chief built.
Perhaps most interestingly, though, is that Microsoft is acquiring beloved Blizzard titles like Hearthstone and World of Warcraft. The latter still has nearly five million active subscribers, most of whom are paying a $14.99 per month subscription fee. Combine this with Microsoft’s impending ownership of Candy Crush and this expensive acquisition may be turning a profit for them sooner than you think.
Also, it can’t be overstated that Microsoft wants to make Game Pass an even more enticing subscription for gamers. Spencer confirmed that 25 million players already subscribe to Game Pass and that Microsoft would bring as many Activision Blizzard titles as they could to Game Pass for Xbox and PC as soon as the deal closes. Just like that, Game Pass (which was already the best deal in gaming) gets even better.
One thing that is less clear is what this acquisition will do to the corporate structure of Activision Blizzard. It seems unlikely the company would have sold to Microsoft at all if not for the California lawsuit against the company that brought horrifying news about discrimination, sexual harassment, and more to light. Activision Blizzard has already let several key employees go in an effort to reform their public image, but this hasn’t stopped high-profile events such as employee walkouts from happening.
However, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick (who allegedly knew about the rampant sexual misconduct issues in his company for years and has been accused by multiple women himself), remains CEO for the time being. But Spencer went out of his way to say that Microsoft is devoted to “treating every person with dignity and respect,” that “we hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment,” and that “we’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.”
Reading between the lines, such “proactive inclusion” may ultimately exclude Kotick from the company altogether. Only time will tell what Microsoft ultimately does with the existing Activision Blizzard leadership once this acquisition finalizes.