Microsoft has purchased embattled Call of Duty and Crash Bandicoot publisher Activision in a deal worth a whopping $68.7 billion.
To give some perspective on the astonishing size of that figure, Disney paid $4.05 billion for Star Wars studio Lucasfilm in 2012, with half of the money paid in cash and the other half in Disney stock. A more interesting comparison is that Nintendo's net worth as of January 17th, 2022 is $59.39 billion.
This bold move calls to mind Microsoft's purchase of fellow industry heavyweight Bethesda in 2021.
Activision has been in the headlines recently for all of the wrong reasons, with multiple claims of harassment and misconduct being filed. Bobby Kotick will remain as CEO of Activision Blizzard, but will report to Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming.
Here's what Kotick had to say about the deal:
For more than 30 years our incredibly talented teams have created some of the most successful games. The combination of Activision Blizzard’s world-class talent and extraordinary franchises with Microsoft’s technology, distribution, access to talent, ambitious vision and shared commitment to gaming and inclusion will help ensure our continued success in an increasingly competitive industry.
Players everywhere love Activision Blizzard games, and we believe the creative teams have their best work in front of them. Together we will build a future where people can play the games they want, virtually anywhere they want.
How this will impact Nintendo fans remains to be seen. Microsoft enjoys an uncommonly comfortable relationship with Nintendo at present, and has allowed several of its games to appear on Switch, including Ori and the Blind Forest and its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Banjo-Kazooie – an IP owned by Microsoft thanks to the fact that it owns Rare – is also coming to Nintendo Switch Online, and the game's characters appeared in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate a while back, too.
Here's the press release:
As a team, we are on a mission to extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet. We all know that gaming is the most vibrant and dynamic form of entertainment worldwide and we’ve experienced the power of social connection and friendship that gaming makes possible.
As we pursue that mission, it is incredibly exciting to announce that Microsoft has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard.
Over many decades, 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. We are incredibly excited to have the chance to work with the amazing, talented, dedicated people across 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 and every team across Activision Blizzard.
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.
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. We also announced today that Game Pass now has more than 25 million subscribers. As always, we look forward to continuing to add more value and more great games to Game Pass.
The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own. Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward.
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.
Around the world, there is no more exciting venue for fun and connection than video games. And there has never been a better time to play than right now. As we extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone, we look forward to welcoming all of our friends at Activision Blizzard to Microsoft Gaming.
This is a developing story.