The $68.7 billion deal brings franchises like Call of Duty, Overwatch, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Candy Crush Saga under the iconic tech giant’s roof.
After nearly 21 months of deliberation, Microsoft has officially acquired video game holding company Activision Blizzard. On Friday, the global Big Tech powerhouse purchased the gaming giant behind hit franchises like Call of Duty and Overwatch for $68.7 billion after clearing a final regulatory hurdle in the United Kingdom. It’s the single largest consumer tech acquisition since AOL merged with Time Warner in 2000.
Microsoft, presently valued north of $2.4 trillion, brings a literal wealth of experience to the table, operating in the software space since 1975 and launching its first Xbox gaming console in 2001.
“I’ve long admired the work of Activision, Blizzard, and King,” Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, said in an open letter. “Some of my most memorable gaming moments came from experiences their studios have created. It is incredible to welcome such legendary teams to Xbox.”
The key to closing the deal at long last? Microsoft’s decision to disabuse the UK Competition and Markets Authority’s concerns about excessive market share by selling the streaming rights to its Activision games to an industry rival, Ubisoft.
Activision, founded in 1979, came of age in the ’80s via several successful Atari titles. In 1999, the launch of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater laid the foundation for a franchise that has sold over 1.4 billion copies to date. In 2003, Activision released Call of Duty on Microsoft Windows, paving the way for a series understood to have eclipsed $31 billion in revenue.
Blizzard was founded in 1991 as Silicon & Synapse and first linked with Activision in 2008 as part of the latter’s merger with former parent company Vivendi Games.
As The Hollywood Reporter notes, the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal brings both the Xbox platform and Xbox Game Studios even closer to several titanic franchises. The impressive list of best-selling IPs now squarely in the Microsoft fold additionally includes Diablo, Warcraft, and Candy Crush Saga.
“Today we start the work to bring beloved Activision, Blizzard, and King franchises to Game Pass and other platforms,” said Spencer. “We believe our news today will unlock a world of possibilities for more ways to play. Together, we’ll create new worlds and stories, bring your favorite games to more places so more players can join in.”
Spencer went on to say that new innovations should come in the following months, hinting at more mobile play as well as cloud streaming updates.
Today’s deal is reported to be the largest in Microsoft’s 48-year history. The process may have played out slower than the company desired due to regulatory concerns in both the US and abroad, but the marathon is now over.
For more on this blockbuster acquisition, stay tuned for this weekend’s Tech Talk newsletter from Boardroom’s Michelai Graham.
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