Microsoft is set to buy Activision Gaming for $68.7 billion, the company announced Tuesday, in a deal that brings two of the largest video game publishers in the world together. Microsoft will pay $95 per share in the all-cash transaction, according to the Wall Street Journal. The deal will be the biggest in this sector for Microsoft.
Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard, will remain in his position following the acquisition despite calls from employees for his resignation. Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in workplace harassment scandals for months now. On July 21, an investigation by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) ended in a lawsuit filed against the company. According to a previous Wall Street Journal report, Kotick has also reportedly tried to withhold information about the company’s recent efforts to discipline or remove employees who were a part of building a “pervasive ‘frat boy’ workplace culture,’ that was “a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women,” according to the DFEH lawsuit. “More than three dozen” employees have been removed from Activision Blizzard, according to to the Wall Street Journal, and 40 others have been disciplined, though Kotick decided not to publicly release the information.
Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said in a statement that the companies will continue to operate independently until the transition is complete in 2023, at which point Activision will report up to him as the CEO of Microsoft Gaming. Kotick will report to Spencer if retained by the company at that time, as noted by Destructoid, though Microsoft did not comment on if Kotick wwould remain with the company following the completion of the acquisition.
“As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players,” Spencer said in a statement. “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.”
Activision Blizzard is the parent organization for a host of video game companies including 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 and Treyarch.
Microsoft has stated that they intend to offer “as many Activision Blizzard games as we can” on Xbox and PC Game Pass. These will be pre-existing Activision Blizzard games as well as, moving forward, new games still in development. Microsoft also announced that the game pass has surpassed 25 million subscribers.
Blizzard is known for games like Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Starcraft II and Diablo II. Meanwhile, Activision’s core property is the Call of Duty series. Activision Blizzard was created in 2008 through a merger of Activision and Vivendi Games, who were the owners of Blizzard Games. Since that time, Activision and Blizzard have continued to maintain independent operations.
The acquisition is by far the largest for a video game publisher. At $68.7 billion, the deal is more than five times the size of the next biggest acquisition, which was Take-Two Interactive’s purchase of Zynga. Take-Two paid $12.7 billion for the mobile games giant whose games include FarmVille and Words with Friends.