By: Noah Wortham
It was announced on Jan. 18 that Microsoft plans to acquire the gaming company Activision Blizzard for $95 a share for a total value of $68.7 billion. Activision Blizzard is best known for franchises like “Call of Duty,” “Overwatch,” “Diablo” and “Warcraft.”
CEO of Microsoft Gaming, Phil Spencer, explained that “Players everywhere love Activision Blizzard games, and we believe the creative teams have their best work in front of them”. He continued that “Together we will build a future where people can play the games they want, virtually anywhere they want.”
Activision Blizzard will mark Microsoft’s second recent large gaming acquisition after their finalized acquisition of Zenimax, the parent company of Bethesda, in March of 2021. Bethesda is best known for IP’s like “The Elder Scrolls,” “Fallout” and “Doom.”
When it comes to concerns over “Call of Duty” becoming an Xbox exclusive, Phil Spencer tweeted “Had good calls this week with leaders at Sony. I confirmed our intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard and our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.” He continued with “Sony is an important part of our industry, and we value our relationship.”
A spokesperson for Sony told The Wall Street Journal that “We expect that Microsoft will abide by contractual agreements and continue to ensure Activision games are multiplatform.”
As reported by VGC, French retailer Cora is planning ahead by warning customers in their stores with a notice that reads “Notice to Gamers, Microsoft has bought Activision! Choose your machine carefully.”
Microsoft has agreed to pre-existing exclusivity deals in the past with Bethesda projects like “Deathloop” and “Ghostwire: Tokyo” but future title “Starfield” is confirmed to be Xbox and PC exclusive which could point toward Microsoft’s approach with Activision Blizzard. A theory that is also supported by The Verge’s Tom Warren who explained that “if you’re wondering what will happen with future Activision games once they Microsoft deal closes? Look at Bethesda. Starfield is Xbox / PC exclusive, and Elder Scrolls 6 will follow.”
Although Spencer explained Microsoft’s “intent to honor all existing agreements” it is currently unclear what will be done with future projects beyond those currently planned.
Not everyone is excited by the news of the acquisition. Seamus Blackley, the creator of the original Xbox, has tweeted that “I am sickened that the reward for years of despicable practices toward developers seems to be a huge payday for its perpetrators.” He continued that “My hope is that the acquisition will cause the Activision culture to change, and may catalyze some accountability for those who have so far avoided it.”
Blackley is alluding to the allegations of toxic workplace culture that has led to on-going lawsuits for the company Activision Blizzard.