Microsoft announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in a deal that will shake the gaming world, the company announced on Tuesday. The scope of this transaction is daunting considering Activision Blizzard has long been one of the biggest game developers in the space through intellectual property like StarCraft, Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Diablo. At the same time, the company has been embroiled in lawsuits and walkouts as the company comes to grips with multiple cases of workplace harassment.
All this is to say there’s a lot is going on regarding this acquisition, and numerous, massive changes will come with the deal that could get lost within the jumble of information. To cut through the fray, here are five things you may have not know about Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
1. Cloud gaming will bring Activision Blizzard games to mobile
During a conference call discussing Microsoft’s acquisition, both Satya Nadella and Phil Spencer, the CEOs of Microsoft and Microsoft Gaming respectively, stressed their desire to bring Activision Blizzard games onto mobile via the cloud.
“When we look ahead and consider new possibilities, like offering Overwatch or Diablo, via streaming to anyone with a phone as part of Game Pass, you start to understand how exciting this acquisition will be,” Nadella said.
Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming is still in its beta, but this pilot program allows users to play console games on almost any device, including mobile. Rather than porting the games onto the actual device, Microsoft uses cloud gaming to stream the games directly onto your screen with no download necessary — just an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription and a compatible controller.
While Cloud Gaming is still in its early phases, it’s an important aspect of this deal to acquire Activision Blizzard. This would make playing console and PC-exclusive games like Overwatch on mobile a real possibility for the near future.
2. Microsoft will become the third biggest gaming company
Once Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard goes through, it will leap frog them ahead of Nintendo to become the third biggest gaming company by revenue, Spencer claimed in the conference call Tuesday.
“When this transaction closes, Microsoft Gaming will be the world’s number three gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony,” Spencer said.
The No. 3 ranking takes into account specifically the revenue from gaming that is accrued by these companies. By combining Microsoft, whose biggest money-maker was their hardware in the Xbox Series X|S, with Activision Blizzard, whose revenue comes from games like Call of Duty, the resulting company passes Nintendo. They also reaffirm their status as the biggest gaming company in North America with both Sony and Tencent based out of Japan and China, respectively.
3. Activision games are heading to Game Pass
This ties into the cloud gaming push Microsoft are making, but the company has made it clear they will add Activision Blizzard games to their popular Game Pass subscription service. Game Pass, which has more than 25 million subscribers, is a core part of Microsoft’s gaming business model. Adding the catalogue of Activision games to the Game Pass will give subscribers the chance to pick them up for free. This catalogue includes past Activision Blizzard titles as well as new ones moving forward that may still be in development.
4. Microsoft will own Candy Crush
With heavy hitters like Overwatch and World of Warcraft going over to Microsoft, one title that may slip under the radar for some is Candy Crush. The hugely popular mobile game is developed by King, whose parent company is Activision Blizzard.
During the conference call, Nadella and Spencer emphasized the significance of expanding into the arena of mobile games through King. Mobile titles are some of the highest-grossing games worldwide, regularly netting over a billion dollars in revenue over the course of a year.
5. No one knows what a metaverse is
Among the slew of information and technical jargon, most will see the word “metaverse” thrown around often. Broadly speaking, a metaverse combines different virtual platforms to promote social interaction, but it has developed into a corporate buzzword that refers to the sum total of a company’s future plans for different but interrelated communities.
In essence, it’s a lot of hot air. It remains to be seen how the acquisition of Activision Blizzard will contribute to Microsoft’s “metaverse,” and right now no one should get bogged down in the phrase as it seriously lacks in substance.