Could Microsoft buy majority of Activision Blizzard?

Activision Blizzard is the biggest third party game publisher in the world. The success of the Call of Duty franchise on the Activision side and games like World of Warcraft, StarCraft II and Diablo III in the Blizzard division have helped make that happen. Vivendi, the company with the largest stake in the publisher is reportedly thinking of selling off its interest in Activision Blizzard.

Reuters reports, via unnamed sources, that Vivendi has made some unofficial inquires with a bank to look into selling its 60 percent stake in Activision Blizzard. The unnamed bank is also reportedly looking at companies with some deep pockets that could purchase Vivendi's shares. One of the companies that was mentioned in the list was Microsoft. Certainly, the company has a pretty massive game publishing business of its own with franchises like Halo, Forza Motorsport, Flight Simulator, and many others. That's not even counting the entire Xbox 360 game hardware console business.

Other companies mentioned as possible candidates include Time Warner, which already owns Warner Bros Interactive, and China's Tencent. Private equity firms like KKR, Providence, and Blackstone might also have the cash and the interest to buy Vivendi's shares.

Source: Reuters

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Remember back in the late 90s when all the hate sites were around for Gates? You know the one where he was satan, had horns, and flames all around him ( I think clippy got this treatment as well)? Well, finally, for Diablo III you could fight Bill 'Satan' Gates in an upcoming xpac!

I'm kidding of course. Never understood those sites. Gates is a classy guy along with his wife and all the charitable things they do. Vaccines and philanthropy in general ftw.

I'd prefer Microsoft over Time Warner Cable, or some Chinese company, as listed in the article.

Maybe they can turn that horrible company around. Wishful thinking.

In the past, they buy a company destroyed the management / creative teams that made it what people like and run it as MS run things... usually in to the ground.

Ex. Shadowrun (when they had rights) would of been perfect setting for MMO, adventures, RPG,.... they made a online FPS out of it. Thank god the original creators got the rights back and via the kickstarter projecting making 3rd person perspective sand box rpg.

They also hired the creator of Wing Commander had him make a Wing Commander style game... that did not go well at all.

They got Rave (Golden Eye 64) and haven't been able to do much with them...

And even bungee (halo) eventually split due to vision difference's but at least has a partial good run with them.

If they learned there lesson, buy activation, keep existing psudo-Independence in place, don't go the "exclusive" route and just make sure any product activation came out with play nice with all the current MS technologies / products.

Edited by Jason Stillion, Jul 11 2012, 9:26pm :

ShMaunder said,
Probably say bye to Blizzard's Mac support and no chance of Linux support. I think Microsoft own enough stuff.

Microsoft has been a pretty big supporter of Apple and Linux in the past. No reason they wouldn't continue offering that same service if they did buy Activision Blizzard.

Sranshaft said,

Microsoft has been a pretty big supporter of Apple and Linux in the past. No reason they wouldn't continue offering that same service if they did buy Activision Blizzard.

I noticed when Bill Gates effectively retired from running Apple / Linux / Open standards did a 180.

Jason Stillion said,

I noticed when Bill Gates effectively retired from running Apple / Linux / Open standards did a 180.


are you kidding me? they worked and designed their own Unix and Linux kernels. They made tons and tons of open technologies, they worked together with countless of groups and other companies to make standards actually a standard. except for their core business, which they do not share (does Apple share its entire OSX? only the parts GPL force it to) Google only had android to give source. Well on the contrast, MS has Singularity as an open source OS (and another one, forgot name) they actually have 2 open source OS's.

Oh and this is all under the leadership of Bill Gates.

Yeah no. I don't think MS could buy a major game publisher without running afoul of antitrust.

Because you know Sony would file a complaint for the business they lost because of it.

And as Kwanza said, a lot of their operations would go up in smoke. It wouldn't be worth it.

randomevent said,
Yeah no. I don't think MS could buy a major game publisher without running afoul of antitrust.

Because you know Sony would file a complaint for the business they lost because of it.

And as Kwanza said, a lot of their operations would go up in smoke. It wouldn't be worth it.

Anti-trust for what? It seems people like to toss that word out when talking about MS yet it seems like they don't know when it applies. MS doesn't have a monopoly on gaming, not on the PC and not on the console for sure. Them buying a big game publisher wouldn't be antitrust violation in the least. Sony could moan all it wanted, it wouldn't matter.

If the number one investor in a company is looking to dump their shares to someone else, shouldn't that set off alarms? If Activision / Blizzard is making the boat loads of cash everyone thinks they are, why are they leaving?

Sranshaft said,
If the number one investor in a company is looking to dump their shares to someone else, shouldn't that set off alarms? If Activision / Blizzard is making the boat loads of cash everyone thinks they are, why are they leaving?

Because Vivendi is having many financial issues due to the European crisis. And their main line of money is TV broadcasting and Telecom. The sale of Activision for 10 Bn would help them pay their 15 Bn debt.

sviola said,

Because Vivendi is having many financial issues due to the European crisis. And their main line of money is TV broadcasting and Telecom. The sale of Activision for 10 Bn would help them pay their 15 Bn debt.

Ah, well that makes sense then. I hadn't heard about Vivendi's financial problems. The more you know...

Most of you guys seem to forget that Activision makes so much money because they release their games on every single platform.

Microsoft probably doesn't want to push games to PS3, Wii, PS Vita, 3DS... etc, and if they don't do that Activision probably isn't so much of a cash-cow.

No ?

Kwanza said,
Most of you guys seem to forget that Activision makes so much money because they release their games on every single platform.

Microsoft probably doesn't want to push games to PS3, Wii, PS Vita, 3DS... etc, and if they don't do that Activision probably isn't so much of a cash-cow.

No ?

Didn't MS just released a game for iOS, recently?

Kwanza said,
Most of you guys seem to forget that Activision makes so much money because they release their games on every single platform.

Microsoft probably doesn't want to push games to PS3, Wii, PS Vita, 3DS... etc, and if they don't do that Activision probably isn't so much of a cash-cow.

No ?

That means that more people would be forced to buy Xboxes to get the games that they wanted, particularly in the next generation when the purchase would likely kick into effect.

Kwanza said,
Most of you guys seem to forget that Activision makes so much money because they release their games on every single platform.

Microsoft probably doesn't want to push games to PS3, Wii, PS Vita, 3DS... etc, and if they don't do that Activision probably isn't so much of a cash-cow.

No ?

That still leaves the PC, future Xbox and mobile as well. Besides, most mutlitplatform games sell more on the Xbox than the others. I doubt lots of people bought CoD for the Wii, but maybe that's just me.

At first I was all excited, but I stopped to think.

Blizzard's IP is World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, and Diablo 3. Of those three, only Starcraft 2 isn't slowly dying.

Activision is known for things like Guitar Hero 89, Call of Duty 15, and a bunch of various IP without much worth.

They're all older franchises, and the only notable one that is still fresh is Starcraft 2. I just don't see it as a good buy... Microsoft already has a great game publishing arm, they don't need a 2nd.

greenwizard88 said,
At first I was all excited, but I stopped to think.
I was less impressed because I could only think of Blizzard with regards to bringing in money for Microsoft, but reminding me of COD changed that. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 raked in over a billion dollars in less than 16 days.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technolo...rs-record/story?id=15146084

I can't see how that qualifies as a dead franchise, particularly if they can make it an Xbox exclusive rather than letting the PS3 get it too. This would be a huge win over Sony.

If they did look to MS for an offer I'd place one. Regardless if you like or hate the games they're big money makers and if MS could get them as console exclusives (still with PC versions of course but not on any other console I mean) then that'd be a huge win for them.

Based upon what Microsoft did with Halo, Alan Wake, Halo Wars and Gears Of War the first thing they'd do would be to scrap the PC versions. And would anyone really rather have GFWL than Steam?

Microsoft buying Activision would be a disaster for the gaming industry.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Based upon what Microsoft did with Halo, Alan Wake, Halo Wars and Gears Of War the first thing they'd do would be to scrap the PC versions. And would anyone really rather have GFWL than Steam?

Microsoft buying Activision would be a disaster for the gaming industry.

You wouldn't have GfWL, you'd have Xbox Live on Windows 8. Maybe windows 7 users would have to use something like GfWL but that's their issue. And besides, I don't use Steam either. I just play the game and don't care about the rest of the bells and whistles steam users get.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Based upon what Microsoft did with Halo, Alan
Microsoft buying Activision would be a disaster for the gaming industry.

I disagree. I think at the very least Microsoft would change up (hopefully) how Blizzard treats Linux users for one. Second, with how nerfed some games are, having Microsoft who knows their Xbox LIVE infrastructure in and out can improve all those games for the LIVE experience.

GP007 said,

You wouldn't have GfWL, you'd have Xbox Live on Windows 8. Maybe windows 7 users would have to use something like GfWL but that's their issue. And besides, I don't use Steam either. I just play the game and don't care about the rest of the bells and whistles steam users get.

Except in order to pass certification, every application in the Windows 8 app store MUST work on a tablet. World of Warcraft, simply would not be able to be optimized for touch in a way that works. This is a huge problem that Microsoft is completely overseeing, they're limiting their Windows 8 games to casual touch screen games, when it makes so much more sense to at least let some games require a mouse and keyboard.

GP007 said,

You wouldn't have GfWL, you'd have Xbox Live on Windows 8. Maybe windows 7 users would have to use something like GfWL but that's their issue. And besides, I don't use Steam either. I just play the game and don't care about the rest of the bells and whistles steam users get.

The problem isn't the name “Games for Windows Live”, it's Microsoft's philosophy about PC gaming. That is to say, they don't care about it. They can't charge for multiplayer or Hulu and Netflix on PC, so they'd rather sink money into their Xbox division then promote PC gaming. I mean, when was the last time Microsoft ever mentioned PC gaming at E3?

Microsoft buying Activision would be absolutely catastrophic for PC gaming, possibly the entire gaming industry.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Based upon what Microsoft did with Halo, Alan Wake, Halo Wars and Gears Of War the first thing they'd do would be to scrap the PC versions. And would anyone really rather have GFWL than Steam?

Microsoft buying Activision would be a disaster for the gaming industry.

I've got a couple of GfWL games that I acquired through Steam. All they require me is to use my Windows Live account to log in the game, besides Steam. No issue at all.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Based upon what Microsoft did with Halo, Alan Wake, Halo Wars and Gears Of War the first thing they'd do would be to scrap the PC versions. And would anyone really rather have GFWL than Steam?

Microsoft buying Activision would be a disaster for the gaming industry.

People are obsessed with steam, but I don't really see any difference between Valve's Steam, Microsoft's GFWL and EA's Origin. Each provide a mechanism for me to download and play games. It's not like Steam had a great UI when it first launched. I'm personally not very sold on it still.

Beyond the UI, what does Steam offer that no one else can? A vaster library? That only takes time. I suspect that a lot of games will be added to the Windows Store in addition to Steam once Windows 8 is released, which GFWL will likely take advantage of eventually.

Looking at it from the perspective of PC games, it would be a shame if Microsoft tried to force Blizzard to only make Xbox games moving forward, but I think Microsoft learned a huge lesson with Bungie: let the creative game developers that make you a boatload of money do what they do best. I would frankly be surprised if they would repeat that issue.

Omen1393 said,

Except in order to pass certification, every application in the Windows 8 app store MUST work on a tablet. World of Warcraft, simply would not be able to be optimized for touch in a way that works. This is a huge problem that Microsoft is completely overseeing, they're limiting their Windows 8 games to casual touch screen games, when it makes so much more sense to at least let some games require a mouse and keyboard.

You know that the app store can list desktop games to without them having to pass any store certification like metro apps do? Desktop games will be desktop games, that won't change anyway you look at it.

CentralDogma said,

The problem isn't the name “Games for Windows Live”, it's Microsoft's philosophy about PC gaming. That is to say, they don't care about it. They can't charge for multiplayer or Hulu and Netflix on PC, so they'd rather sink money into their Xbox division then promote PC gaming. I mean, when was the last time Microsoft ever mentioned PC gaming at E3?

Microsoft buying Activision would be absolutely catastrophic for PC gaming, possibly the entire gaming industry.

Please, you're over-dramatizing things here, MS by extension of pushing DirectX and unifying the core code bases of not only the PC but soon the phone and also before this with the Xbox have made the porting and overall development of games less of a hassle when going from console to pc to phone even.

When was the last time you've seen so many console games also on the PC before the Xbox? Outside of some console exclusives that MS has, which makes sense to have because you want to push the hardware you make, pretty much every game ont he console is also on the PC.

Besides, when was the last time any of the big developers mentioned PC gaming at E3 other than as a afterthought for their console ports?

theyarecomingforyou said,
Based upon what Microsoft did with Halo, Alan Wake, Halo Wars and Gears Of War the first thing they'd do would be to scrap the PC versions. And would anyone really rather have GFWL than Steam?

Microsoft buying Activision would be a disaster for the gaming industry.

I just laughed my ass off reading this. It's funny that Microsoft works hard to develop Windows and push the PC business, but seem to leave us behind in the gaming department.

GP007 said,

Please, you're over-dramatizing things here, MS by extension of pushing DirectX and unifying the core code bases of not only the PC but soon the phone and also before this with the Xbox have made the porting and overall development of games less of a hassle when going from console to pc to phone even.

When was the last time you've seen so many console games also on the PC before the Xbox? Outside of some console exclusives that MS has, which makes sense to have because you want to push the hardware you make, pretty much every game ont he console is also on the PC.


And yet Microsoft is the one forcing indie developers into exclusivity clauses that prevent porting to PC.

And that new cross platform api(WinRT)? Heavily tied to their brand new walled garden distribution system, Microsoft Store (to see the hoops you need to jump through to get it running outside, see: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_fac...-using-microsoft-store.aspx).

GP007 said,

Besides, when was the last time any of the big developers mentioned PC gaming at E3 other than as a afterthought for their console ports?

Exactly, as far as gaming, Microsoft is a console maker first, PC operating system developer second.

I would say PC gaming has survived despite Microsoft. Look back to early 2000s, before the thriving indie scene, before Steam gained popularity, and you wouldn't be blamed for believing PC gaming was on it's deathbed. Many games were coming out exclusively on consoles, and shelf space at retailers was (is) continuing to shrink. Where was Microsoft then? Where was Microsoft for years later as Steam dominated the market? Luckily developers turned around on the PC platform.

But it seems Microsoft is still living in that era. When was the last time Microsoft allowed Gears of War to be released on PC? Halo? How many months after an Xbox release was Fable 3 released for PC? How many years for Alan Wake? How late were they to the DD game with GfWL, and charging a fee for multiplayer, which even today remains inferior to almost every other DD service on the market?

sviola said,

I've got a couple of GfWL games that I acquired through Steam. All they require me is to use my Windows Live account to log in the game, besides Steam. No issue at all.

Steam friends is the best part of steam, I have at least 50 people on steam friends which I play with regularly and I don't have that on GFWL or Origin. It's a faff to have to set it up on others.

GP007 said,

You wouldn't have GfWL, you'd have Xbox Live on Windows 8. Maybe windows 7 users would have to use something like GfWL but that's their issue. And besides, I don't use Steam either. I just play the game and don't care about the rest of the bells and whistles steam users get.

All of that is besides the point. What the gaming platform on Windows 7 is titled vs 8, the "bells and whistles" of Steam, completely irrelevant to what "theyarecomingforyou" said. I tend to agree with them.

I also think it's funny how people complain about Google basically owning the internet, and when they produce something new or buy out another company/product, people are like "Oh great, Google owns another part of the tech world". What happens when Microsoft does it? "Yay MS!!1" Like it's any different.

CentralDogma said,

And yet Microsoft is the one forcing indie developers into exclusivity clauses that prevent porting to PC.

And that new cross platform api(WinRT)? Heavily tied to their brand new walled garden distribution system, Microsoft Store (to see the hoops you need to jump through to get it running outside, see: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uk_fac...-using-microsoft-store.aspx).

Exactly, as far as gaming, Microsoft is a console maker first, PC operating system developer second.

I would say PC gaming has survived despite Microsoft. Look back to early 2000s, before the thriving indie scene, before Steam gained popularity, and you wouldn't be blamed for believing PC gaming was on it's deathbed. Many games were coming out exclusively on consoles, and shelf space at retailers was (is) continuing to shrink. Where was Microsoft then? Where was Microsoft for years later as Steam dominated the market? Luckily developers turned around on the PC platform.

But it seems Microsoft is still living in that era. When was the last time Microsoft allowed Gears of War to be released on PC? Halo? How many months after an Xbox release was Fable 3 released for PC? How many years for Alan Wake? How late were they to the DD game with GfWL, and charging a fee for multiplayer, which even today remains inferior to almost every other DD service on the market?

Why are you only looking at the app store for windows8 and metro games? Like I said desktop games are going to be the same, they don't have to jump through hoops to work as they've always did. Something big like WoW or SC2 or CoD isn't going to be proted to WinRT anytime soon. Besides, how is getting winrt games through the MS store any different than having to buy a steam game through steam exactly? And also having to have steam running so it can do it's online security checks, how is this not a walled garden in it's own right? Because I can buy the game from another place? Well jeezzz, maybe I'll be able to buy that same game outside of the MS store as well? Nothing says a developer is limited to only using one store for their game even if they have to port it to WinRT to get it in. You make it sound like it's all in or nothing, hardly the case.


I also don't see what you really want MS to do? They set the platform, they push the APIs and tools and market the PC like no tomorrow. PC games are what they are in large part to MS's backend work, DX, audio, the whole OS itself. You want them to what? Flood the PC with as many games as they can make on their own? MS can't twist a developers arm and force them to make a PC version of their games, all they can do is make it easier for them to do so, and that's exactly what they've done. They've made coding for the PC and the console (Xbox) as simple as they can and it's shown, more console games are also on the PC now when, as you said yourself, that wasn't the case before. You've basically proven my point.

It seems that the only thing people look at are the Xbox only games MS owns and how they're either not on the PC or come way later yet this isn't anything new, I don't see all the Sony and Nintendo games coming to the PC, or even the 3rd party exclusives that end up on those consoles coming to the PC yet we've got the double standard showing it's head here again and MS getting the flack because they make Windows.

You should sit back and ask yourself why developers on mass moved to the console in the early 2000s anyways, and why because of that MS had to go ahead and make a console of their own. It's easy to place blame on one company but that's hardly the case at all. I don't suppose you find it odd at all that valve wants to get steam on all the consoles if it can do you? No thoughts about the why behind that either?

PALMERx64 said,

All of that is besides the point. What the gaming platform on Windows 7 is titled vs 8, the "bells and whistles" of Steam, completely irrelevant to what "theyarecomingforyou" said. I tend to agree with them.

I also think it's funny how people complain about Google basically owning the internet, and when they produce something new or buy out another company/product, people are like "Oh great, Google owns another part of the tech world". What happens when Microsoft does it? "Yay MS!!1" Like it's any different.

I find it funny that you only see one side of that yet there are many cases when it's the reverse going on. "Oh no MS is going to ruin this, booo" While it's "yay google!".

GP007 said,

Why are you only looking at the app store for windows8 and metro games? Like I said desktop games are going to be the same, they don't have to jump through hoops to work as they've always did. Something big like WoW or SC2 or CoD isn't going to be proted to WinRT anytime soon.


I mention the app store because you mention how much Microsoft has done for PC gaming by “unifying the core code bases of not only the PC but soon the phone and also before this with the Xbox”.
GP007 said,

Besides, how is getting winrt games through the MS store any different than having to buy a steam game through steam exactly? And also having to have steam running so it can do it's online security checks, how is this not a walled garden in it's own right? Because I can buy the game from another place?

Steam doesn't run games in a sandbox.

I'm not going to get into why GfWL is garbage (you can do a google search) and why I do not trust Microsoft to do a competent DD service, that is on par with current DD services, much less bests the competition in any significant way.

GP007 said,

Well jeezzz, maybe I'll be able to buy that same game outside of the MS store as well? Nothing says a developer is limited to only using one store for their game even if they have to port it to WinRT to get it in. You make it sound like it's all in or nothing, hardly the case.

If you had read the link I posted, it specifically states that side loading is only possible on signed apps and the “app can only be installed on a computer that trusts the signing certificate”. That pretty much kills any outside market for Metro apps. Side loading is possible, but it's not a mainstream feature.

GP007 said,

I also don't see what you really want MS to do? They set the platform, they push the APIs and tools and market the PC like no tomorrow. PC games are what they are in large part to MS's backend work, DX, audio, the whole OS itself. You want them to what? Flood the PC with as many games as they can make on their own? MS can't twist a developers arm and force them to make a PC version of their games, all they can do is make it easier for them to do so, and that's exactly what they've done. They've made coding for the PC and the console (Xbox) as simple as they can and it's shown, more console games are also on the PC now when, as you said yourself, that wasn't the case before. You've basically proven my point.

Has Microsoft mentioned Direct X at any press conference recently in the context of PC gaming? Look at their 2011 BUILD event, was there any sessions for Direct X? I'm honestly asking these things, it's possible they have, but it certainly looks like every opportunity they have to speak with developers, they choose to talk about WinRT.

You ask what Microsoft can do for PC gaming, I ask you what Microsoft has done for Xbox gaming? Or Sony for PS3 gaming? Or Nintendo for Wii gaming? Invest in getting content to the platform. Develop some first party games for the platform.

GP007 said,

It seems that the only thing people look at are the Xbox only games MS owns and how they're either not on the PC or come way later yet this isn't anything new, I don't see all the Sony and Nintendo games coming to the PC, or even the 3rd party exclusives that end up on those consoles coming to the PC yet we've got the double standard showing it's head here again and MS getting the flack because they make Windows.

Yes, it's absolutely a double standard. Because Microsoft makes Windows, because Microsoft makes Direct X. They directly benefit from PC gaming because you have to buy their operating system to participate.

You take away PC gaming, and you begin to really erode the advantage a Windows system has over OS X or Linux. Or even some ARM based embedded system.

I mean, this entire discussion started because someone said they think an Activision acquisition by Microsoft would be bad for PC gaming, and you took issue with that. If you're really putting Microsoft's commitment to PC gaming on par with that of Sony's or Nintendo's (and I agree that this is Microsoft's current position), I don't see how you can continue to argue that. A Microsoft owned Activision is going to be producing more Xbox exclusives, and the PC ports will be vastly delayed from their Xbox counterpart and, potentially, lower quality.

GP007 said,

You should sit back and ask yourself why developers on mass moved to the console in the early 2000s anyways, and why because of that MS had to go ahead and make a console of their own. It's easy to place blame on one company but that's hardly the case at all. I don't suppose you find it odd at all that valve wants to get steam on all the consoles if it can do you? No thoughts about the why behind that either?

Why does any business do anything? Because it's profitable. Retailers don't stock PC games in any high quantity because they can't sell used copies. Consoles are easier to develop for because there's common hardware, so it's a test once, run everywhere set up.