Coming seemingly out of nowhere – despite vague comments from Microsoft they were not done with acquisitions after Bethesda – Activision/Blizzard is joining Team Xbox. Given the massive IPs in their portfolio, the deal will cost Microsoft $68.7bn.
Although probably most well-known of the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft IPs in their portfolio, Activision/Blizzard has created or acquired dozens of incredible developers over the years. These include: Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, Beenox, Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Major League Gaming, Radical Entertainment, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob, Treyarch.
Of course, Activision/Blizzard have been in the news for all the wrong reasons over the last 2-years, and Microsoft is clearly aware of the potential ramifications to their image with several loaded statements in the Xbox Wire press release:
“Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently. Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming.“
“As a company, 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. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.“
Now the Xbox “Gaming Leadership Team” structure looks fantastically diverse by video game industry standards, but it seems Bobby Kotick will hold his CEO position for now – something that will no doubt reflect badly on Microsoft if they don’t immediately push to reform the company and hopefully communicate directly with groups like the ABK Workers Alliance.
From a pure software perspective, Microsoft has made it clear they want to bring Activision/Blizzard games to the Xbox Game Pass service – “Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog.” – and that hopefully includes their massive back catalog. Personally, upon hearing the words “Microsoft acquires Activision/Blizzard”, we can only hope this liberates some teams relegated to Call of Duty support roles over the years, and Xbox Game Pass gives them the opportunity to create new IPs.