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Post by Steve Farrelly @ 12:57am 19/01/22 | 20 Comments
If my chair hadn't had a back on it, I'd have fallen off.

Ahem.

Microsoft has agreed to acquire gaming giant, Activision Blizzard, according to the latest Xbox Wire, with head of games Phil Spencer stating that "as a team, we are on a mission to extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet".

This is absolutely huge and we'll have more on this in deeper analysis shortly, but for now here's the key *takeaways:
  • The deal is said to be an all-cash transaction valued at $68.7 billion USD.
  • Current Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will remain as such until the acquisition is finalised in 2023, at which point the business itself will go on to report directly to Phil Spencer, newly minted CEO of Microsoft Gaming.
  • The deal includes Activision, Blizzard, King and MLG (as well as all owned subsidiary businesses aligned with those branches) as part of Microsoft's newly acquired assets.
  • This deal now makes Microsoft the third largest gaming business in the world (in revenue).
  • Phil Spencer describes the move as a way to "accelerate [Microsoft's] plans for Cloud Gaming".

In more recent years, both arms of the developer-publisher have had internal issues where culture and workplace practices are concerned come to light, leaving many to wonder just how the good ship might right itself. This is definitely some sort of counter balance.
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. 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.

Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently. Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

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. We also announced today that Game Pass now has more than 25 million subscribers. As always, we look forward to continuing to add more value and more great games to Game Pass.

The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also 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. Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward.

As a company, 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.

Around the world, there is no more exciting venue for fun and connection than video games. And there has never been a better time to play than right now. As we extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone, we look forward to welcoming all of our friends at Activision Blizzard to Microsoft Gaming.
Stay tuned for more as it becomes available, and head over to Twitter to watch the fanboy steel cage deathmatch about to unfold.

*Parts of this post have been updated since publication to reflect more accurate information.




activision blizzardactivisionblizzardmicrosoftbobby kotickphil spencerxboxxbox game pass





Latest Comments
trog
Posted 09:54am 19/1/22
wow, huge news that I had no idea was even remotely possible let alone likely

phew though, for a while there I was worried video gaming wasn't going to turn out like everything else in technology and we'd be stuck with several independent but still large companies capable of making AAA games without being subject to the whims of one of the three console platforms

Hard to be super interested in this; it feels almost totally insignificant to me in terms of an actual gaming issue and just feels like corporate shenanigans to give MS a bit of extra value and revenue. I can't imagine there'll be significant changes to lineup - hard to imagine any more ruthless exploitation of IP from MS than we've seen from Activision Blizzard by itself.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 01:35pm 19/1/22
I get where that sentiment comes from Dave, but believe it or not old Microsoft has appropriately adjusted its working mechanisms over the past decade or so and, honestly, I see this as good news.

There are alarm bells around the concept of corporate buy-ups and then being beholden to a single entity, or an entity's vision, but Phil Spencer who is now basically Gaming God is a games and ideas-first person. He's all about fostering creativity and giving gamers what they want and game creators what they need to make that happen. I might sound naive in saying all of that, but after years and years at the helm, he honestly hasn't set a foot wrong and continues to deliver.

Acti Blizz was in a lot of trouble. And their own business model, albeit financially successful, has been cratively stifled for a number of years now (in particular on the Acti side), so there's a chance a new direction under new leadership that promotes growth and experimentation, while also not taking advantage of employees while giving new opportunities to those that deserve it, could lead to the best of the IPs Acti (and Blizz) are still sitting on, while maybe resting those that've been over-extended.

I'm at least really interested to see how things shape up over the next five years after this.

Will Sony knee-jerk this move? If they did, I could definitely foresee 2K and them sitting in a tree...
rrrocket
Posted 05:38pm 19/1/22
Let's hope they do something / release the Sierra IP's! Even if they have them on gamepass would be cool af.
Spook
Posted 08:00pm 19/1/22
im a big fan of microsoft gaming after being well and truly into halo!
517H
Posted 12:25am 20/1/22
As a game pass subscriber this could be pretty sweet. Latest COD campaigns on game pass might get me back into them
Hogfather
Posted 06:45am 20/1/22
Battle.net should subsume the gaming portions of the Windows Store and XBox Live itself.
Twisted
Posted 07:23pm 21/1/22
I'm a fan of this news. Blizzard was dead to me over the past few years. Maybe Microsoft can right the ship so to speak.
infi
Posted 02:30pm 22/1/22
let's hope it doesn't turn out like Windows Phone acquisition of Nokia.

I love Surface and Onedrive, Microsoft have been doing a lot of great stuff lately.
Spook
Posted 09:04pm 22/1/22
yer, onedrive is horrible compared to googles offering, but whatevs.
trog
Posted 10:39am 23/1/22
It took like two days for Sony to publicly panic about them like, making Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive so I imagine there is some high-end tension out there that won't be resolved for a while.

I can't imagine they would - feels like it would be dead-set stupid, but it's not like they don't have a history of doing that stuff
yer, onedrive is horrible compared to googles offering, but whatevs.
wtf both are awful compared to Dropbox!
Spook
Posted 09:07am 24/1/22
nah, googledrive is awesome now!

its just like any other physical drive on my pc.

thats exactly how i want to use it.
infi
Posted 10:24pm 25/1/22
its just like any other physical drive on my pc.


Cool, so it's just kike Onedrive.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 10:53am 01/2/22
I use all three :)
notgreazy
Posted 12:36pm 20/2/22
but believe it or not old Microsoft has appropriately adjusted its working mechanisms over the past decade or so and, honestly, I see this as good news.


From the outside Microsoft may look like it has changed it's ways but they are still employing very similar tactics of old, the biggest is their 'embrace extend extinguish'. This can be seen today with microsoft embracing linux, they want devs to use windows. Which doesn't sound too bad, until we look at Windows 11 and the walled garden nightmare that they are setting up. Once you enter Windows you become dependent on the ecosystem. Look at the integration with Windows Teams (which f*****g sucks balls) into Win11.

Everything Microsoft does is designed to funnel users into their ecosystem, they are embracing all these technologies which they will lock down hard in the near future.

Look at Valve and their efforts in the linux domain. Steam Deck runs pure Arch, that's nuts! Proton support for games grows by the day and supports something like 80% of the top 100 played games. Why go to such troubles to support an OS that has I think 1-2% gamers? Because Gabe the freak-farseer saw the huge issue with being dependent on another company to survive.The s***-fight of Epic vs Apple/Google about the playstore is super relevant prime example of how a company can hold your company hostage. Valve is pushing Linux for it's own benefit and survival because Microsoft is: Embracing open source, extending it via these free goodies then extinguishing it by locking their OS down hard.

This is not good news. It will be more ammo in the Microsoft arsenal to further dominate the PC market.
notgreazy
Posted 12:37pm 20/2/22
AARNET ownCloud for the win!
Hogfather
Posted 03:36pm 20/2/22
love a good greazy take

Gaben wanted SteamOS and then discovered what a pain in the arse that was to maintain. He's done very well with his own walled garden though.

The only one of the tech giants to make their fortune on the back of supplying an open platform is ironically Microsoft, and their suits super regret it.
notgreazy
Posted 03:51pm 21/2/22

I love seeing your posts hogfather, glad you're still around.

Gaben wanted SteamOS and then discovered what a pain in the arse that was to maintain. He's done very well with his own walled garden though.
Good point regarding steamOS but my point stands, gabe wanted freedom from main OS players.

What walled garden? Steam software is very permissive in comparison to other software such as being able to add non steam games to the library.

Case in point here's MS being turds:
https://www.techradar.com/news/upcoming-windows-11-pro-update-will-force-you-to-have-an-internet-connection

In the latest Windows 11 Preview build, Microsoft notes that Windows 11 Pro now requires an internet connection when you're first setting up your device. Right now, that's where it's left, but Microsoft does note that in the future "you can expect Microsoft Account to be required".


Hogfather
Posted 08:38am 22/2/22
Which definition of 'walled garden' does Steam not fit?

A closed platform, walled garden, or closed ecosystem[1][2] is a software system wherein the carrier or service provider has control over applications, content, and/or media, and restricts convenient access to non-approved applicants or content
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_platform

If non-Steam games had open access to the Steamworks API that would be one thing. But they don't; being 'on steam' costs developers money and requires central approval. In contrast, publishing a win32 binary is something anyone can do.

Requiring a MS Account for the Home version of Windows is part of the transition to Windows as a more closed platform for non-paying users, imo. They've tried this sort of thing a number of times (OG Surface springs to mind) and I'm not a big fan. The suits would love to close Windows and clip 30% from every software sale through a compulsory Windows Store, though :)
notgreazy
Posted 10:04am 23/2/22
Good point, sure Steam is a walled garden but it's much friendly than other walled gardens.
Hogfather
Posted 01:02pm 23/2/22
Shiniest of the gilded cages for sure.

Also I don't think MS really wants to extinguish ActiBlizzard, they're looking for studios to stuff their Game Pass with content.

That said I agree that monopolistic companies extinguishing competitors via buyouts is s*** and needs to stop.
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