On Jan 18, Microsoft announced a deal to buy Activision-Blizzard-King (ABK). With some hard-hitting names such as Call of Duty, Diablo, World of Warcraft, and more, this acquisition will certainly add a whole plethora of big IPs that Microsoft will be able to pluck from.
With Phil Spencer, CEO of Xbox gaming and soon to be Microsoft Gaming CEO, stating that all ABK staff would report to him after the deal is closed, there was much speculation regarding Bobby Kotick’s future. Currently, indications are that Kotick will continue on as head of ABK until the deal completes.
Microsoft is buying ABK at a premium share price of $95 per share when they were $66 per share at the opening of trade this morning. At an eye-watering $68.7 billion, this acquisition makes Microsoft’s prior buyout of Zenimax look like pocket change.
ABK has recently been mired in controversy regarding an internal frat-boy culture, with accusations of constant sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination ultimately leading to a lawsuit being filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. This acquisition will undoubtedly lead to Microsoft making all the sounds they need with regards to overhauling ABK’s internal personnel policies and ensuring that fairness ensues. However, as we are all far too familiar with, what a company says is one thing, and oftentimes, what they do is another.
We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision BlizzardPhil Spencer
With this acquisition Microsoft will become the third-largest gaming company by revenue behind Tencent and Sony and as such will potentially attract a lot of antitrust attention. Microsoft, however, has been extremely low-key of late with regards to regulators while similar companies, such as Apple, Amazon, and Google have been under fire. Could this low-key approach allow Microsoft the ability to get this deal past regulators?
World of Warcraft 2 anyone? Or how about StarCraft 3? This news has set a buzz amongst loyal Blizzard fanbases and prior customers alike. Microsoft is certainly going to capitalize on this and expand the Xbox game pass choices to include ABK products in the future, and this will likely set a future development path for ABK’s largest games, such as World of Warcraft, pushing it even further towards a console release. With Xbox/PC Game Pass soon to become the Netflix of gaming, this certainly sets all PC and Xbox owners in good stead for future content.
With the deal set to close sometime in Microsoft’s fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, there is plenty of time for Microsoft to fall foul of the antitrust regulators and end up on their naughty list.