Microsoft finally acquired Activision Blizzard after 21 months of struggle

Microsoft has officially acquired video game giant Activision Blizzard for a record-breaking $68.7 billion, marking the largest company buyout in the history of the video games industry.

The long-awaited deal, which faced nearly two years of regulatory approvals and legal challenges, has finally concluded, receiving the green light from the UK just hours before the formal acquisition. With this monumental acquisition, Microsoft now owns Activision, encompassing renowned franchises like Call of Duty, Spyro, Skylanders, and Guitar Hero. Blizzard, the creator of World of Warcraft, Diablo series, Overwatch, StarCraft, and Hearthstone, is also under Microsoft’s ownership. Microsoft gains control of Activision Blizzard’s mobile division, King, known for the highly successful Candy Crush Saga, contributing over $20 billion in revenue.

For Activision Blizzard’s 17,000 employees worldwide, this acquisition signifies a new chapter in the company’s history. However, current CEO Bobby Kotick, a controversial figure amidst harassment and misconduct allegations, remains at the helm until the end of this year.

In a blog post, Xbox boss Phil Spencer expressed enthusiasm about the acquisition, stating, “As one team, we’ll learn, innovate, and continue to deliver on our promise to bring the joy and community of gaming to more people.” He emphasized Microsoft’s commitment to a culture of empowerment, inclusion, and gaming for everyone.

He sent this message to Activision Blizzard employees:

Today I am thrilled and honored to welcome you all to Team Xbox.

I’ve long been a fan of the incredible games and stories that your teams have created, and admired the impact that you’ve all had on gaming, entertainment and pop culture. Whether it was late nights spent playing the Diablo IV campaign with friends from start to finish, gathering the entire family in the rec room for our weekly Guitar Hero night, or going on an epic streak in Candy Crush, some of my most memorable gaming moments have come from experiences your studios have created.

Bringing our teams together represents an incredible opportunity for us to learn from one another, unlock a world of possibilities, and continue doing what both of our companies have always done – create stories and experiences that bring players together. Thank you to everyone who contributed to making this moment possible.

By combining Xbox with your teams’ skill and talent, energizing passion, and amazing legacy of games, we will bring the joy and community of gaming to even more players around the world. Our goal is to keep nurturing what makes you great, support you in doing your best work building groundbreaking games, and prioritizing our shared commitment to putting culture at the center of everything we do. We want to learn from your centers of excellence, exchange ideas and best practices, and empower you to bring your visions to life.

As of today, we couldn’t be more excited that Activision Blizzard employees are our colleagues, co-workers, and teammates. As mentioned in Bobby’s email earlier, he has agreed to remain in his role through the end of 2023, reporting directly to me, to ensure a smooth and seamless integration. We look forward to working together as a unified team and we will share more updates on our new organizational structure in the coming months.

Through this integration, we remain committed to being transparent and sharing information wherever possible. We have a dedicated team ensuring that you feel welcome, have opportunities to ask questions, and that we are creating a culture of trust, inclusion, and collaboration with you. Earlier today, I sent a note to Microsoft letting the rest of the company know that we can now officially welcome you. And there, I reiterate that we hold ourselves to a high bar in delivering the most inclusive and welcoming experiences for players, creators, and employees. We are one team – Team Xbox.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be visiting the Activision, Blizzard, and King offices, along with members of the Xbox Leadership Team. There, we’ll have the opportunity to address questions and hear from each other. We also look forward to welcoming you alongside Team Xbox at our next virtual all-hands. More to come on these.

Welcome to Team Xbox. It’s a good day to play.

Phil

Phil Spencer also announced the completion of the acquisition from his X account: 

Contrary to immediate expectations, the deal’s completion doesn’t trigger an instant influx of Activision Blizzard games into Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft anticipates a gradual integration, with newer titles expected to join the platform no earlier than 2024.

The strategic move by Microsoft, signaling its intent to dominate the game industry, follows a series of high-profile acquisitions, including Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax, for $8.1 billion in 2020. The acquisition of Activision Blizzard reaffirms Microsoft’s commitment to bolstering its first-party video game output, positioning itself as a major player in the gaming market.

Questions loom over the future of Activision Blizzard’s games on various platforms, exclusivity agreements, and how Microsoft plans to leverage this acquisition in the long term. The US Federal Trade Commission, while unable to block the deal’s progress, still plans to investigate further.

Microsoft now embarks on a journey to integrate Activision Blizzard into its portfolio, aiming to bring beloved franchises to Xbox Game Pass and other platforms. The acquisition is expected to reshape the gaming landscape, unlocking new possibilities for players and developers alike. For better or worse, we, the gamers, will have to wait to see how it will reshape the game industry. In the meantime, we can enjoy the trailer that the company created for the completion of the acquisition.

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