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18th Jan 2022

Microsoft buys Activision Blizzard in staggering $70 billion deal

Danny Jones

Microsoft buys Activision Blizzard

Already the biggest gaming news of the year, if not the past decade

In a deal that seems to have come out of nowhere, Microsoft has officially bought gaming giants Activision Blizzard.

The acquisition, reported to be an eye-watering $68.7bn, is easily the largest in the history of the sector. It was announced by Microsoft Gaming and Xbox themselves on Tuesday after initial reports from the Wall Street Journal.

Aside from the seismic nature of the deal itself, the acquisition also comes with a lot of baggage as Activision Blizzard are still in the midst of numerous sexual misconduct and discrimination cases said to date back decades.

The Journal not only reported that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick knew about these activities for “years” back in November but that more than 30 employees have “exited” the company since July.

As many online have already noted, this raises many moralistic questions as to how the deal will affect legal proceedings as the flood of misconduct claims and lawsuits continue to simmer in the background.

Long-serving Xbox and Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer wrote, “the studios and teams that make up Activision Blizzard have earned vast wellsprings of joy and respect from billions of people all over the world”.

He went on to add that “Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players. We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect.”

It goes without saying that an in-house clean-up of Activision and Blizzard studios – the former buying the latter back in 2008 – is desperately needed, as both companies have faced swathes of allegations for many years now.

Recently, former Blizzard employees detailed a “frat-boy” culture that had been prominent at the company for years which ultimately led to the flood of lawsuits they are associated with now. On the other hand, monopolistic or not, some believe that Microsoft’s influence is a much-needed one and could purge the toxic elements from its serially offending subsidiaries.

The studio and publisher group best known for the likes of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, as well as Candy Crush after acquiring King in 2016, is now set to be an even larger force in the gaming industry than it already was.

For context, Microsoft is said to be paying $95 a share, roughly 45 per cent above the company’s stock price before the announcement hit; moreover, Disney bought the entirety of the Marvel and Star Wars franchises for an estimated $8 billion.

This isn’t the only big deal on the horizon, as Take-Two Interactive – the publisher’s behind Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto and numerous 2K Games – are set to purchase mobile game company, Zynga, for a reported $12.7 billion.

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