Microsoft has announcement plans to acquire gaming giant Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion.
The acquisition, which is Microsoft’s largest to date and will be, adds a global network of studios with nearly 10,000 employees to Microsoft’s existing game operation. Microsoft will have 30 in-house game development studios when the deal closes, making it the world’s third-largest game company behind Tencent and Sony.
Activision Blizzard is known for its games such as World of Warcraft, Diablo and Call of Duty. These games, along with others like Overwatch and Candy Crush, will all be part of the Microsoft stable.
Formed in 2008 by the merger of Activision and Vivendi Games, Activision Blizzard has five business units: Blizzard Entertainment, King, Activision Blizzard Studios and its esports operation Major League Gaming.
Microsoft said it will also add Activision Blizzard games to its Game Pass subscription service. Activision Blizzard has nearly 400 million monthly active players enjoying its games in 190 countries.
Microsoft inherits some controversy with the acquisition. In July, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for follow-up Activision Blizzard for alleged sexual harassment and employee discrimination. This resulted in several layoffs and an SEC investigation into payment discrepancies.
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Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, who would have failed to inform Board Directors of incidents of harassment, will continue in his position. He will report to Phil Spencer, who goes from head of Microsoft’s Xbox division to CEO of the company’s games division.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has implicitly acknowledged the problems of a declaration describing the proposed agreement. “We look forward to extending our journey to create a more diverse and inclusive culture for our new colleagues at Activision Blizzard, and to ensuring that all of our employees can do what they love, while thriving in an environment safe and welcoming – an environment where everyone feels empowered to do their best,” he said.
Activision Blizzard stock fell 31.2% between July 23, shortly after the lawsuit was filed, and fell from $83.28 to $57.29 on December 2. The company’s share price jumped 32.4% from $65.39 on Jan. 14 to $86.55 when the deal was announced.
The companies expect the merger to close in fiscal 2023, subject to regulatory approval.
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