Microsoft is acquiring Activision-Blizzard for $68.7 billion. The developers behind Warcraft, Overwatch, and Call of Duty will be joining Microsoft and Xbox Game Pass very soon. News about the acquisition spread far and wide quickly, with plenty on commentary about the value, price, changes, and problems related to this entire endeavor.
What will actually change with the new ownership, and what can we expect moving forward?
Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard
Microsoft has announced that they’ve finalized a deal that will see them buy Activision Blizzard. The company will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft in the future. Since Activision Blizzard is a publicly-traded and owned company, this acquisition is a bit more complicated than recent ones for Microsoft. The full deal isn’t expected to complete until mid-2023. Up until that point, Activision Blizzard games will continue to be published as they normally are.
Activision Blizzard is home to some of the biggest franchises in gaming. However, they also dominate a fair share of the esports market. The Call of Duty league, Overwatch, StarCraft, Warcraft, and Hearthstone will all be moving under Microsoft in the future. This is a pretty big slice of the action for the company. Details are scares on what Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard will mean for upcoming games like Overwatch 2 and Call of Duty’s future installments. However, Microsoft is getting a large portion of esports as part of the deal.
Activision Blizzard has faced a lot of problems in recent months. A slew of sexual harassment allegations has rocked the company. They’re currently in the midst of a lengthy strike. Activision’s CEO has so far refused to step down from the board despite his involvement in the controversies. The new deal raises even more questions for these ongoing issues. We’ll have to see how Microsoft chooses to handle them, but big changes are coming at the company.
What can we expect?
First up, everyone is aware Microsoft’s intention in this deal is to have the entire slew of games and titles acquired become available on their Xbox Game Pass service. Beyond that their influence may only change certain internal policies and bolster a different office work ethic and culture in the long run. In terms of direct involvement, it is not Microsoft’s style to directly influence the companies they acquire, especially when said companies have established protocols and culture in place.
This would mean any and all development for the games present and future should likely still remain under the lead of current heads. The only thing changing would be the higher ups, CEO, VPs the whole bureaucratic creme. It’s been rumored and partially publicized that current CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick will be stepping down after the deal is finalized. This could mean he has no intentions of resigning any time soon and will hold his post until next year.
In terms of esports, we should not expect any changes any time soon. It would be ideal if Microsoft creates their own esports holding that oversees the competitive aspect of all the titles they now own, but in reality it’s all just wishful thinking. The main goal of this acquisition is to make Game Pass the go to service for gamers, everything else will likely remain as it is.
What has Microsoft Bought?
Microsoft has been on a buying streak that few could have ignored in recent years. They’ve acquired some of the biggest devs out there but this latest one is by far their biggest. At a price tag of just under $70 billion, it is huge. Although, with all the recent controversies plaguing Activision-Blizzard this is likely a cheaper price than they would have gotten only months ago.
Alongside Activision-Blizzard themselves, the company currently owns studios likes Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Raven Software, Major League Gaming, Toys for Bob, and Treyarch. All of these companies will be under Microsoft once the deal completes.
Microsoft is adding some of its biggest franchises yet to its stable. So what does this mean for these games? The acquisition will see huge back catalogs added to the gaming streaming service. This is potentially bad news for any Call of Duty or Overwatch fan on PlayStation if Microsft wants to do a heavy handed approach and limit the titles to their service only. However, it is still a little early. We don’t currently know what the plans are for these games after the merge is completed.
Microsoft has specifically called out its future plans for metaverse developments following this acquisition. It isn’t currently widely known what exactly they are going for with the metaverse, and if Activision is going to be a big part of that.