REDMOND, Wash. and Santa Monica, Calif.—Microsoft has announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, a leader in game development and an interactive entertainment content publisher, in $68.7 billion deal that will make Microsoft the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.
The planned acquisition includes iconic franchises from the Activision, Blizzard and King studios like “Warcraft,” “Diablo,” “Overwatch,” “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush,” in addition to global eSports activities through Major League Gaming. The company has studios around the world with nearly 10,000 employees.
This acquisition will accelerate the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud and will provide building blocks for the metaverse, Microsoft said in announcing the deal, which is expected to close in fiscal 2023.
The transaction, which is the largest in Microsoft’s history, has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard. It is still subject to regulatory review and Activision Blizzard’s shareholder approval.
Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.
“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible to all.”
“For more than 30 years our incredibly talented teams have created some of the most successful games,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard. “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.”
The combination will strengthen Microsoft’s presence in mobile, which is the largest segment in gaming, with nearly 95% of all players globally enjoying games on mobile and will allow Microsoft and Activision Blizzard to work together to make franchises, like “Halo” and “Warcraft,” virtually anywhere they want.
With games like “Candy Crush,” Activision Blizzard´s mobile business represents a significant presence and opportunity for Microsoft in this fast-growing segment, the companies added.
The acquisition also bolsters Microsoft’s Game Pass portfolio with plans to launch Activision Blizzard games into Game Pass, which has reached a new milestone of over 25 million subscribers, Microsoft said.
With Activision Blizzard’s nearly 400 million monthly active players in 190 countries and three billion-dollar franchises, this acquisition will make Game Pass one of the most compelling and diverse lineups of gaming content in the industry, Microsoft said.
The deal will also give Microsoft 30 internal game development studios, along with additional publishing and eSports production capabilities.
George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.
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