Tech giant Microsoft is acquiring Activision Blizzard, the troubled publisher of Call of Duty, Diablo, and World of Warcraft. The deal that will change the gaming landscape will value Activision Blizzard King (ABK) at a fantastic $68.7 billion, far over $7.5 billion for Bethesda and $26.2 billion for the professional networking site LinkedIn.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the deal, if completed, would stand as Microsoft’s largest acquisition to date and the company’s biggest push into gaming. It would unite Microsoft and Activision, joining the games from ABK’s considerable catalogue to the games created by Bethesda, 343 Industries, and several other gaming studios Microsoft has acquired over the years. This means that the games such as Call of Duty, StarCraft, World of Warcraft, Tony Hawk, and several other gaming franchises might find their way to the Xbox Game Pass and PC’s Game Pass by 2023.
However, this acquisition won’t just increase Microsoft’s roster of gaming titles. It will also make Microsoft the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. The company’s history of gaming studios acquisitions shows a deep interest in world-class entertainment content, considering that Bethesda released the all-time classics such as Doom, Wolfenstein, Prey, the Fallout series, and the Dishonored — all of which are best-sellers in their respective genre. The 343 Industries is known for only one gaming series — Halo — whose players broke a massive gaming record.
Adding Activision Blizzard’s games to Xbox Game Pass will further increase the popularity of Microsoft’s subscription service, which currently has 25 million subscribers. They might even add a native Xbox Controller support for the World of Warcraft series. As funny as it sounds, the gaming community has been asking for controller support for quite some time now. But, all jokes aside, Microsoft’s deal could be a lifesaver for Activision Blizzard, which fell into disarray after months of sexual harassment claims against the company — which sadly but inevitably affected their games.
For those who aren’t familiar with the situation, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued Activision Blizzard for promoting a toxic frat-boy work culture revolving around sexual harassment and gender discrimination towards its female employees. The initial lawsuit caused an avalanche of following lawsuits, federal investigations, several employees strikes and walkouts, as well as several high-profile departures from the company. The company eventually reached an $18 million settlement with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is currently being appealed.
It’s still unclear how Microsoft tends to deal with the issues within Activision Blizzard. Still, the company stated that Bobby Kotick gets to keep his position as a CEO of ABK, despite the public demand for his resignation. But that isn’t set in stone, considering that Microsoft has stated that ABK will report directly to Microsoft Gaming and its CEO, Phil Spencer. In addition, Microsoft expects the Activision Blizzard acquisition to close in fiscal 2023, potentially taking up to 18 months. That’s a considerable period to close an acquisition, but given the scope of ABK’s operations, and current legal issues, Microsoft would do best to tread carefully.