Microsoft just announced its plans to buy Activision Blizzard for $95 a share, putting the deal at a huge $68.7 billion. The new deal would make the new entity the “third-largest” gaming company by revenue, as reported by Microsoft, and would put games such as Call of Duty, Candy Crush and World of Warcraft under the new company’s umbrella. Microsoft wants to put Activision Blizzard video games on their Game Pass after the deal is finished.

Mobile gaming is also a huge factor in the purchase, Microsoft said. On top of phone games being brought into Microsoft’s business, the purchase also promises to bring in franchises such as Halo and Warcraft to more devices.

The buyout is believed to close sometime during Microsoft’s fiscal 2023 if officials and Activision Blizzard shareholders approve of the move. The boards both firms have already green-lit the deal.

While news of the merger comes as Activision Blizzard is still experiencing a misconduct scandal, you should not expect huge leadership changes. Bobby Kotick will continue as Activision Blizzard’s CEO even with calls for his resignation, and will now report to Microsoft Gaming leader Phil Spencer. Separately, though, the WSJ reports that Kotick will leave right after the deal is complete, a move that would not be unexpected given that Spencer will be spearheading Microsoft’s gaming plans. In a company message, Kotick said Microsoft’s move was a chance to “further bolster” Activision Blizzard’s culture and “set a fresh standard” for inclusiveness. He did not go over specific plans for reform, but did say there would be “minimal changes” to staff numbers after the union was done.

If the deal moves forward, the merger would aid Microsoft in competing with heavyweights like Tencent and Sony, which have both been buying companies in recent months. Kotick also said this helps his company better compete as the metaverse gaming sphere rises to the mainstream. In that light, this might be as much about future-proofing the company as anything else.

Some major issues remain, though. Microsoft did not say how many Activision Blizzard games would be Xbox-exclusive, or Windows-exclusives. It is also unclear how much Microsoft could influence development of certain franchises. It is not certain if Microsoft will lock Call of Duty or other large games to the Xbox in the future, though.

Author: Steven Sinclaire

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