Activision Blizzard has been in hot water recently due to workplace misconduct allegations, misogynist culture, and more. Multiple lawsuits have been leveled against the publisher and the most recent reports even indicate that almost 40 employees have exited the company since July 2021 and CEO Bobby Kotick's failure to take definitive action.
In a massive surprise today, Microsoft has announced that it is buying Activision Blizzard in an all-cash deal worth $68.7 billion, with each share valued at $95. Until the transaction is finalized, both Microsoft and Activision will continue to operate separately. However, once the deal is done, Activision will report directly to Microsoft, or more specifically, Phil Spencer.
With the acquisition of Activision and its 10,000 employees across various studios, Microsoft will become the third-largest game company globally in terms of revenue. The Redmond tech firm will absorb all of Activision's IP including Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Overwatch, Diablo, and Warcraft. Xbox chief Phil Spencer had the following to say about the transaction:
Players everywhere love Activision Blizzard games, and we believe the creative teams have their best work in front of them. Together we will build a future where people can play the games they want, virtually anywhere they want.
Meanwhile, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick issued the following statement:
For more than 30 years our incredibly talented teams have created some of the most successful games. 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.
Although the transaction has been approved by the board of directors of both companies, it will have to go through regulatory and shareholder approval, which is important considering the nature of the deal, its value, and potential antitrust concerns. This is supposed to happen at the end of fiscal year 2023.
It will be interesting to see how the transaction will change the landscape of gaming, if approved. After Microsoft acquired ZeniMax Media back in September 2020, it was confirmed that PlayStation would be missing out on future titles published by the company. It remains to be seen if this strategy will also hold true for the latest deal. For now, Microsoft has only vaguely noted that "Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward".