Microsoft is spending nearly $70 billion to acquire the publisher behind popular gaming franchises like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Diablo.
In a press release on Tuesday, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer confirmed that the company has agreed to acquire the embattled Santa Monica-based company, Activision Blizzard.
Spencer said the inclusion of Activision Blizzard’s “fantastic franchises” to its growing lineup will “accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own.”
The deal, which is valued at $68.7 billion, includes the acquisition of iconic franchises such as Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Call of Duty, and Starcraft. This means that these games may soon likely join the gaming company’s Xbox Game Pass, which currently has over 25 million subscribers around the world.
“Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog,” Spencer said.
Until the transaction closes, the Xbox chief said that Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently.
“Over many decades, the studios and teams that make up Activision Blizzard have earned vast wellsprings of joy and respect from billions of people all over the world,” Spencer added. “We are incredibly excited to have the chance to work with the amazing, talented, dedicated people across Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, Beenox, Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Major League Gaming, Radical Entertainment, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob, Treyarch and every team across Activision Blizzard."
Meanwhile, Microsoft, in a separate press release, confirmed that Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, adding that Kotick and his team “will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company's culture and accelerate business growth.”
“Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming,” it added.
Microsoft didn’t mention a specific date for the completion of the acquisition. However, Kotick, in an email to employees, said that that the deal between the two companies is expected to close next year.
“Transactions like these can take a long time to complete,” Kotick said. “Until we receive all the necessary regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions are satisfied, which we expect to be sometime in Microsoft’s fiscal 2023 year ending June 30, 2023, we will continue to operate completely autonomously. I will continue as our CEO with the same passion and enthusiasm I had when I began this amazing journey in 1991.”
Prior to the acquisition, the Associated Press reported in Aug. 2021 that a California state agency filed a lawsuit against the Santa Monica-based company over harassment claims, citing a “frat boy” culture that had become “a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.”
In March 2021, Microsoft also acquired Zenimax Media, the parent company of Fallout and Doom maker Bethesda Softworks.
The completion of the $7.5-billion deal has brought a number of development studios under Microsoft’s stewardship including the Dishonored and Prey creator Arkane Studios, Wolfenstein maker MachineGames, Quake developer id Software as well as ZeniMax Online Studios, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios.