2023, OCTOBER 13 – Microsoft has successfully completed its monumental US$68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, renowned for publishing titles like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Diablo. After nearly two years of rigorous regulatory battles in the United States and the United Kingdom, Microsoft has officially sealed the deal, prevailing over the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US and adapting the agreement to meet the requirements of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Xbox chief, Phil Spencer, expressed enthusiasm about the acquisition, stating, “We love gaming. We play games, create games, and know first-hand how much gaming means to all of us as individuals and collectively, as a community. And today, we officially welcome Activision Blizzard and their teams to Xbox.” He emphasised a commitment to fostering a culture of inclusivity and collaboration in the gaming industry.
Today is a good day to play. We officially welcome Activision Blizzard King to Team Xbox. Together, we’ll create stories and experiences that bring players together, in a culture empowering everyone to do their best work and celebrate diverse perspectives. https://t.co/KBCESknYYh https://t.co/jTHOeH48Wx— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) October 13, 2023
This acquisition stands as Microsoft’s most substantial to date, surpassing the US$26 billion investment in LinkedIn in 2016 and the US$7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda in 2021. It represents Microsoft’s most ambitious foray into gaming, propelling the company to the position of the “third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.”
Microsoft intends to incorporate numerous Activision Blizzard games into Xbox Game Pass, and Phil Spencer assured gamers, “Today we start the work to bring beloved Activision, Blizzard, and King franchises to Game Pass and other platforms.” While specific launch dates were not disclosed, Spencer acknowledged the high levels of anticipation.
Notably, Activision Blizzard revealed earlier that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III and Diablo IV would not be added to Xbox Game Pass this year. Microsoft has not released an update on Xbox Game Pass subscriber numbers since announcing 25 million subscribers at the initial Activision Blizzard deal announcement in January 2022.
Microsoft will integrate over nine Blizzard game studios into its Xbox Game Studios division, alongside over 11 King game studios dedicated to mobile gaming. This acquisition also elevates Microsoft to a powerful player in game publishing, with more than 8,500 Activision employees becoming part of the Microsoft team.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will continue to assist with the transition until the end of 2023, at which point he will report to Phil Spencer. In an email to Activision Blizzard employees, Kotick expressed his dedication to facilitating a seamless integration process.
While the deal presented substantial challenges for Microsoft, with the UK’s CMA initially blocking it over cloud gaming concerns and the US FTC pursuing legal action to halt it, both regulatory bodies reached agreements that enabled the acquisition to proceed.