Microsoft completes $69 billion acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard after nearly two years of antitrust battles, creating the largest technology deal in history
- Microsoft has completed its acquisition of Activision Blizzard after 22 months
- It has promised to give Nintendo and Sony access to Activision games for 10 years
- Activision makes Call of Duty, Crash Bandicoot, Diablo, Overwatch and StarCraft
After nearly 22 months, Microsoft has completed its acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, making it the largest technology deal in history.
The deal has hit hurdles around the world, with regulators concerned that by owning Activision, which makes games like Call of Duty, Diablo and Overwatch, Microsoft could limit its games to its own Xbox platform.
Industry rival Sony expressed concern that Microsoft could prevent major games from becoming available on the PlayStation.
But the completion of the deal came seven hours after Microsoft received final approval from an antitrust watchdog in Britain, reversing its earlier decision to block the takeover.
Acquiring Activision could ultimately boost Xbox sales, as Microsoft plans to include Activision titles in its ‘Game Pass’ subscription service, which works like Netflix for video games. In 2020, it acquired another major gaming studio, Bethesda.
Regulators in the US and Britain were concerned that by owning Activision – the maker of Call of Duty, Diablo and Overwatch – Microsoft could limit its games to its own Xbox platform. Pictured are Call of Duty games in a store in Manhattan, New York
Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft’s Xbox division, said Friday that users of other consoles will continue to have access to Activision titles. He is photographed outside a federal court in June
On Friday morning, trading in Activision Blizzard shares was halted following the acquisition. Shareholders would receive $95 for each share they owned before the close.
Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft’s Xbox division, said on Friday: “Whether you play on Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, PC or mobile, you’re welcome here – and will remain welcome even if Xbox isn’t the place you live.” favorite franchise plays .’
Microsoft has long defended the deal as good for gaming, saying its goal was to get Activision games to more people on more platforms, rather than trying to wrest those games from console makers like Sony and Nintendo.
‘Players have always been at the heart of everything we do. And as we grow, we will continue to put players first,” said Spencer.
A key part of the deal is that Microsoft has agreed to transfer the distribution rights of Activision games to French game publisher Ubisoft.
It has also appeased Sony and Nintendo by striking deals promising that Call Of Duty games – the jewel in Activision’s crown – will be available to their users for a decade after the deal closes.
Microsoft was given the right to complete its buyout of Call of Duty game maker Activision Blizzard in the US in July after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tried to block the deal.
Likewise, the FTC hoped to thwart the takeover, fearing it would stifle competition and hinder consumer access to games.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a memo to employees on Friday that he will remain as CEO until the end of 2023
Microsoft has committed to making Call of Duty available on PlayStation over the next decade. Pictured is Call of Duty promotional material
But Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley rejected the claims, saying: “To the contrary, the record evidence points to increased consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content.”
In the short term, it’s unlikely that gamers will see a change in the availability of popular Activision Blizzard titles, but things are more uncertain well into the future.
The Ubisoft deal that gives the French company streaming rights for the Activision titles has been signed for 15 years, but it is unclear what Microsoft will do next.