(Updated January 18 1:20pm EST)
According to CNBC, pending approval based on anti-trust laws, it looks like Microsoft will be buying publisher/developer Activision Blizzard for a total of $68.7 billion dollars at $95 dollars a share. The reports that Microsoft was in the hunt for more major studio purchases has been a story that remained prominent since they netted ZeniMax Media and all of Bethesda Entertainment's prope.... Activision Blizzard had been battling a public image since the reports of workplace sexual harassment, but they also hold some of the largest multiplayer names in the video game industry in Call Of Duty and Overwatch, along with the mobile giant, Candy Crush. Based on reports, Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as Activision Blizzard's CEO.
In a new development, the Wallstreet Journal reports that after the deal is officially finalized, there's a chance Bobby Kotick may step down as CEO. The deal is expected to be properly done by June of 2023. After the completion, Activision Blizzard will answer and report to Xbox CEO of Microsoft Gaming, Phil Spencer.
“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 Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “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.”
This is a major move for both companies, as this bolsters Microsoft's Game Pass streaming/cloud service. With a 25 million player subscriber base, having ownership of a large name like Diablo certainly means a great deal. As more details are learned, time will tell if there will be a similar deal of Activision continuing third party distribution for a period of time before becoming exclusive to the Xbox brand, as what happened with ZeniMax/Bethesda.
Xbox has been on the hunt for names, and after rumors of Sega lingered for months, ownership of Activision gives Microsoft an even richer library of titles under their umbrella. What does this mean for gaming? It certainly enriches the Xbox brand, but it's been seen the last several years that big budget purchases of studios are now the name of the game. Microsoft's aim to become a service is a model to adopt, as Sony recently laid out plans to adopt a Game Pass-like package for gamers.
Article updated to include report of Bobby Kotick's possible departure after the acquisition is complete.