Do you hear the sound of a thousand screams over at Sony HQ? If you do, it's because Microsoft just announced that it would buy game publishing powerhouse Activision Blizzard for a staggering $68.7 billion (opens in new tab) ($95/share). To put the acquisition in perspective, Microsoft's largest acquisition to date was LinkedIn, which the company purchased for around $26 billion back in 2016.
With this latest power move in the gaming space, Microsoft will have blockbuster franchises like Call of Duty, Warcraft, Diablo, Starcraft, Overwatch and countless others under its umbrella. The game studios that will come as part of the deal include 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 and Treyarch.
And as you might expect, with this flood of new games coming into the Microsoft fold, they will end up on Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass. According to Microsoft, Activision Blizzard's back catalog, along with new games, will make their way to the respective subscription games services.
"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 Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "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."
"Players everywhere love Activision Blizzard games, and we believe the creative teams have their best work in front of them," added Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming. "Together we will build a future where people can play the games they want, virtually anywhere they want."
News of Microsoft's latest big move comes after Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in a rash of sexual harassment allegations from employees. CEO Bobby Kotick has been on shaky ground with employees and investors following the sexual misconduct allegations at the company, but he is sticking around in his current position following Microsoft's acquisition.
"For more than 30 years our incredibly talented teams have created some of the most successful games," said Kotick. "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."
Microsoft is really stacking the deck when it comes to game studios with its Activision Blizzard move, and this comes on the heels of its $7.5 billion acquisition of Zenimax Media and Bethesda Softworks in 2020. The company has already made it clear that it has no qualms about making future Bethesda IP exclusive to its Xbox console platforms. We feel that the same will hold true for its forthcoming Activision Blizzard titles.