When will Microsoft own activision? On January 18, 2022, Microsoft announced its intent to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. The deal was finalized on October 13, 2023. Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft brought Activision Blizzard under its Microsoft Gaming business unit as a sibling division to Xbox Game Studios and ZeniMax Media. With it, Microsoft gained ownership of several franchises under Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, and King, including Call of Duty, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, Overwatch, and Candy Crush. As of 2023, the acquisition is the largest video game acquisition by transaction value in history.
Following shareholder approval of the acquisition, the merger was reviewed by several national anti-trust bodies, with early approvals granted by the European Commission and China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), among others. The United States’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued formal challenges to the acquisition.
Sony also criticized the merger, concerned that Microsoft would make the lucrative Call of Duty franchise exclusive to the Xbox platform, though Microsoft committed to non-exclusivity through 2033. The FTC withdrew its request after courts did not find their anti-trust compelling to block the merger, while Microsoft offered to offload its cloud gaming support for Activision Blizzard’s games for ten years to Ubisoft to appease the CMA.
When will Microsoft own activision?
Microsoft has successfully persuaded regulators around the world to clear its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard — the biggest deal of its kind the gaming industry has ever seen — and has completed the deal.
Microsoft overcame concerns about the deal’s effect on competition in the industry — particularly in the nascent cloud gaming market — and ardent lobbying against the deal by competitor Sony. The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority first decided to block the acquisition, then agreed to further talks with Microsoft and Activision and has now given it the green light. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has withdrawn its attempt to block the deal legally after a federal judge ruled in favor of Microsoft being allowed to close the deal. The European Union gave the deal its seal of approval.
Here’s the full rundown on Microsoft’s fight to snap up Activision Blizzard.
Who owns Activision Blizzard? Microsoft acquires Call of Duty maker in blockbuster deal
Microsoft has officially closed its $68.7 billion (£56.6bn) deal to buy Activision Blizzard following a protracted battle with regulators.
The acquisition will help bolster Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass subscription service by bringing mega-hit franchises like Call of Duty and Diablo under the company’s purview.
“We love gaming. We play games, create games, and know first-hand how much gaming means to all of us as individuals and, collectively, as a community. And, today, we officially welcome Activision Blizzard and their teams to Xbox,” said Xbox chief Phil Spencer.
Microsoft is wasting no time in adding Activision’s games to its Netflix-style gaming service, though Activision recently confirmed that subscribers will have to wait till next year to play the latest Call of Duty and Diablo 4.
“Today, we start the work to bring beloved Activision, Blizzard, and King franchises to Game Pass and other platforms,” said Spencer. “We’ll share more about when you can expect to play in the coming months. We know you’re excited — and we are, too.”
The mammoth deal is the biggest in Microsoft’s history — and the biggest ever in gaming — eclipsing the $26 billion (£21.4bn) it forked out for LinkedIn in 2016, and the $7.5 billion (£6.2bn) it paid for Fallout maker Bethesda in 2021. As part of the takeover, Mirosoft will ingest 8,500 Activision employees, and a raft of studios devoted to PC, mobile, and console games.
Getting here has been a tough slog for the tech giant. Microsoft had to appease regulators in the US and European Union who feared the acquisition would harm rivals like Sony PlayStation and Nintendo.
But, its biggest battle was fought in the UK against the Competition and Markets Authority. After initially blocking the acquisition in August, the watchdog approved a reshaped version of the deal on the morning of Friday, October 13. The decision arriving just days before Microsoft’s extended merger deadline of October 18.
Here’s what you need to know about Microsoft’s epic quest to acquire Activision-Blizzard and how it will impact gamers.
What games does Activision Blizzard make?
The biggie is Call of Duty or CoD. The military first-person shooter is one of the most popular games on the planet and it always stirs up excitement when a new version is released.
Both Activision and Blizzard have been in the business for decades, long before they merged in 2013 after Activision acquired Vivendi Games. They have plenty of franchises beyond CoD, including Warcraft, Overwatch and even Candy Crush, after the 2016 acquisition of mobile game maker King.
Why did Microsoft buy Activision Blizzard?
Once known exclusively for software (Windows, Office, Outlook, Word, etc) Microsoft now has fingers in many pies – and gaming is one of the biggest, thanks to the Xbox gaming division.
That would be reason enough to add one of the world’s biggest publishers to the fold, with exclusive games often helping decide console wars, and Microsoft fighting a losing battle against Sony’s PlayStation 5.
But having popular franchises such as Call of Duty, Overwatch and Warcraft as part of the Microsoft stable is especially significant due to the company betting much on Game Pass – its “Netflix of games” – where you can play a rolling selection of titles for a low-cost monthly subscription. Microsoft’s games – including Gears of War, Forza, Halo, and Minecraft – are included and now the company can add Activision’s titles to the platform to increase subscriber numbers.
What was the problem with Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard?
The reason the purchase was bogged down by legal action is competition. By acquiring Activision Blizzard, critics argued, Microsoft’s gaming division would simply own too much of the industry, unfairly limiting its competitors and ultimately harming consumers.
In the US, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) initially attempted to block the deal, voting three to one to issue a complaint against the buyout. In the UK, the CMA originally concluded that the move would ultimately result in higher prices, fewer choices, and less innovation for UK gamers.
To allay those concerns, Microsoft tabled a fresh proposal in August. Under the terms of the revised deal, Microsoft will not acquire the cloud streaming rights to all current and future Activision games released during the next 15 years. Instead, Assasin’s Creed maker Ubisoft will act as an independent supplier of Activision’s games to all cloud gaming service providers. Ubisoft will compensate Microsoft for the cloud streaming rights to Activision’s games through a one-off payment and through a pricing mechanism with an option that supports pricing based on usage.
The initial hurdles Microsoft faced included shortcomings in its regulatory remedies designed to get the merger across the line. The tech giant signed cloud gaming deals with Boosteroid, Ubitus, and Nvidia to bring Xbox PC games to these services. It also signed a similar deal with Nintendo last December.
Many of the critics’ issues come from exclusivity. To get the main benefit from an acquisition, many assume Microsoft would have to make future titles from Activision Blizzard exclusive to Xbox and PC, freezing out PlayStation gamers.
In terms of precedent for that, Microsoft has announced that Bethesda’s first game as a Microsoft studio – Starfield – won’t be appearing on PS5. It seems unlikely that a future Fallout of Elder Scrolls will either.
That said, Microsoft hasn’t pulled Minecraft from Sony or Nintendo platforms since purchasing the game in 2014. And, for its part, as part of the argument, Microsoft has offered to keep Call of Duty – the main prize of contention for rivals – on Sony and Nintendo platforms for a decade after the deal is completed.
Microsoft president Brad Smith made the pledge in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal in December. He said that the deal was good for gamers because Microsoft was “third place in console gaming, stuck behind Sony’s dominant PlayStation and the Nintendo Switch”.
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