The Xbox gaming family is about to get a whole lot bigger. Microsoft has announced its plans to acquire gaming studio Activision Blizzard in a deal worth $68.7 billion. The deal would bring the likes of Call of Duty, Warcraft, Candy Crush, Tony Hawk, Diablo, Overwatch, Spyro, Hearthstone, Guitar Hero, Crash Bandicoot, StarCraft, and more under the Xbox banner.
Both Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will operate independently until the transaction is finalized. Once completed, all of Activision Blizzard and its studios will report to Phil Spencer, Microsoft Gaming CEO. Microsoft plans to offer as many games it can as part of Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, which currently has more than 25 million subscribers. The deal is expected to be completed sometime in Microsoft’s fiscal 2023 year ending June 30, 2023. Until then, Activision will continue to support both Xbox and PlayStation platforms as expected. That means gamers won’t immediately see Call of Duty exclusively on Microsoft platforms. Sony expects Activision and Microsoft to honor all contracts that are currently in place. Although what happens to the franchise in the future once those contracts expire is anyone’s guess.
“As a company,” Spencer writes, “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.”
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick released their own statement on the matter, saying:
“As investments in cloud computing, AI and machine learning, data analytics, and user interface and experience capabilities are becoming more competitive, we believe this partnership will better enable our ambitions.
In considering possible partners, all roads ultimately lead to Microsoft. Like us, they have been making games for a long time. Microsoft has already distributed games to hundreds of millions of the world’s computers and computing devices and has technologies and innovation that will support the next generation of games.
Microsoft also will support our journey to further strengthen our culture. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, has been a passionate advocate for caring as the currency of leadership. Inspiring people through empathy is a powerful motivator, and one we embrace as we renew our resolve – and in the work we are now doing – to set a new standard for a welcoming and inclusive workplace culture.”
Activision Blizzard is one of the biggest developers in all of gaming so their move to Microsoft is huge news. It’ll be interesting to see what Microsoft will do with the multiple IPs it will soon own, and how the overall gaming landscape will change.