Microsoft’s nearly two-year attempt to purchase of Activision Blizzard has finally closed. This means that titanic game franchises such as Call of Duty and Overwatch are now under Microsoft’s umbrella. The final hurdle in the acquisition, which was the last minute blockage of the deal by UK regulators, was surpassed when they decided to approve the merger after Microsoft agreed to sell streaming rights for Activision’s games to other companies address concerns regarding competition.
“We love gaming. We play games, create games, and know first-hand how much gaming means to all of us as individuals and collectively, as a community,” writes Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer in the official announcement. “And today, we officially welcome Activision Blizzard and their teams to Xbox.”
The full consequences of this merger won’t be felt immediately. However Spencer did outline some impacts we can expect before long. This includes allowing European players to stream Activision Blizzard games in the European Economic Area, which was a key commitment as part of getting the merger approved in the EU. Spencer also confirms that Microsoft will “start the work to bring beloved Activision, Blizzard, and King franchises to Game Pass and other platforms.” Importantly, Call of Duty, a popular game franchise centre to some concerns from regulators regarding the acquisition, will remain a multi-platform franchise following the acquisition for the foreseeable future.
Notably, Activision Blizzard’s controversial CEO, Bobby Kotick, will be staying on until the end of the year throughout the transition period. Kotick has allegedly overseen years of abusive behaviour at Activision Blizzard from senior members at the company. Kotick recently hosted a townhall meeting for Activision Blizzard employees regarding the company’s future, which was co-hosted by Cats and The Emoji Movie star James Corden of all people. The meeting did not discuss Kotick’s pending departure from the company, but a potential revival of the Guitar Hero franchise was teased.
This merger remains the largest in the video game industry by a pretty considerably margin, eclipsing Microsoft’s purchase of Zenimax Media back in 2020 by over $60 billion. Although many Activision Blizzard games will remain multiplatform for a while due to existing agreements, the full impacts will be felt soon enough. With a recent Bloomberg report suggesting Disney has seriously considered purchasing Electronic Arts, the era of massive video game acquisitions may not yet be over. It will remain to be seen what this massive merger truly means for gamers and the video game industry as a whole.