Microsoft to Swallow Activision Blizzard for $95 Billion

Microsoft to Swallow Activision Blizzard for $95 Billion
The Activision Blizzard logo, September 2021 photo illustration. (Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto, Getty Images)

Microsoft is acquiring gaming giant Activision Blizzard in a deal worth just shy of $US69 billion (around $95 billion in Aussie terms) — which the Xbox owner says will allow it to gain access to hundreds of millions of gamers and position it as “the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.”

In a press release, Microsoft put the total of the deal at $US68.7 billion, adding, “Activision Blizzard is a leader in game development and interactive entertainment content publisher with legendary games including Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch and Hearthstone. This acquisition will accelerate the growth in Microsoft´s gaming business across mobile, PC, console, and cloud and will provide building blocks for the metaverse.”

Microsoft wrote in the release that in addition to the 25 million subscribers in its cross-platform Game Pass service, which offers a rotating array of titles to both Xbox and PC gamers, the deal will give it access to “Activision Blizzard’s nearly 400 million monthly active players in 190 countries and billion-dollar franchises.” Microsoft added that when the deal goes through, it will have 30 internal game development studios.

Activision Blizzard owns gaming franchises ranging from Call of Duty to World of Warcraft, but it’s gone through a rough patch lately — in July 2021, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued it for rampant sexual harassment, and it reached a separate settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year. Dozens of employees have reportedly walked out.

Microsoft previously acquired Bethesda, the publisher of Fallout and the Elder Scrolls series, in a massive $US7.5 billion deal (around $10 billion) last year.

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in a statement. “We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible to all.”

“For more than 30 years our incredibly talented teams have created some of the most successful games,” Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard, added in the statement. “The combination of Activision Blizzard’s world-class talent and extraordinary franchises with Microsoft’s technology, distribution, access to talent, ambitious vision and shared commitment to gaming and inclusion will help ensure our continued success in an increasingly competitive industry.”