Microsoft has announced that they are buying Activision Blizzard for $68.7bn in a seismic deal that has shaken the industry.
The acquisition, one of the largest seen in gaming, now means that Microsoft now has the keys to some major franchises including Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo and World of Warcraft, as well as the original PlayStation mascots Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. To put it into perspective, when Microsoft acquired Bethesda in 2020 they paid $7.5bn. These recent big-name additions have also contributed to the immense success of the Game Pass subscription, which has now reached around 25 million users.
In purchasing Activision Blizzard, Microsoft is also purchasing the company’s subsidiary studios, including Toys for Bob, Treyarch, Infinity Ward and Radical Entertainment among others.
Coming under particular scrutiny is Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick, whose name has become synonymous with the toxic culture that has plagued the company. At the time of reporting, his position within the company until the transaction closes seems assured. However, it has been indicated that he could be ushered out the back door with a hefty payout when the deal is completed in 2023.
In the official statement on the Xbox webpage, Microsoft Gaming CEO and industry giant Phil Spencer has stated that “Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players. We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.” This is a welcome statement, especially knowing that Spencer will be picking up the reigns with Activision Blizzard, with the company reporting directly to him.
At this time, with Activision Blizzard in dire need of a shake-up, Microsoft will have their work cut out for them in cleaning up house, starting at the top. While this is certainly a bold and controversial move from the gaming giant, it will undoubtedly make waves in the industry in the months to come.
Words by Jack Roberts
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