Microsoft recently finalized the purchase of Activision Blizzard King for a staggering $68.7 billion on October 13th. This acquisition, which underwent a legal process spanning over a year and a half, has now brought some major gaming powerhouses under Microsoft’s wing.
With this deal, Microsoft has gained ownership of beloved franchises like Call of Duty, Diablo, Overwatch, Warcraft, and Starcraft. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, Microsoft’s gaming division has also welcomed a talented lineup of development studios to its ranks. This monumental purchase has sent shockwaves through the gaming industry, leaving many eager to discover the implications it holds for both Microsoft and the gaming community at large.
Table of Contents
Why did the deal last for a year and a half
In January 2022, Microsoft announced its plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, marking a significant milestone in the gaming industry. The deal was approved by Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, and Activision Blizzard’s CEO, Bobby Kotick. Since then, Microsoft has been engaged in negotiations with antitrust authorities from various countries.
Fortunately, the majority of these regulatory bodies, including the European Commission and the Japanese regulator, gave their approval to the acquisition without objections. However, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made attempts to block the deal in the Supreme Court. The head of the organization, Lina Khan, expressed concerns that the acquisition of Activision Blizzard would harm Sony’s position and have a negative impact on the gaming industry. Similarly, the British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the deal due to fears that Microsoft would become a monopoly in the cloud gaming sector.
Nonetheless, Microsoft successfully sought a reconsideration of the cases in both countries. The Supreme Court of the United States ultimately granted permission for the corporation to proceed with the acquisition, despite the objections raised by the FTC. Additionally, the British CMA approved the merger after Microsoft agreed to transfer the rights for cloud streaming of all released Activision Blizzard games to Ubisoft. Furthermore, Microsoft obtained the rights to stream all games published by Activision Blizzard over the next 15 years.
What the deal means for Microsoft and Activision Blizzard
Activision Blizzard will become one of the divisions within Microsoft Gaming, joining the likes of Xbox Game Studios and Zenimax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks. Leading Microsoft Gaming is Phil Spencer, the former head of Xbox and Vice President of Microsoft’s gaming division.
The games developed by Activision Blizzard will be included in the Xbox Game Pass subscription. Phil Spencer has stated that he is already working on adding the ActiBlizz catalog to the Game Pass subscription. Most of the games are expected to be available on the service within a few months. However, it is anticipated that highly anticipated titles like Diablo 4 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2023) will only be accessible to subscribers in 2024. Future Activision Blizzard games may become console exclusives for Xbox. It is likely that new installments of Diablo, Overwatch, and Warcraft will not be released on PlayStation and Nintendo platforms. However, Call of Duty will remain a multi-platform franchise.
Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard, will remain in his position until the end of 2023. This request was made by Phil Spencer himself. In 2024, another leader is expected to take his place.
Xbox will establish its own mobile division. The company King has been immensely successful, with the Candy Crush Saga franchise generating $20 billion in revenue over 11 years since its release. King contributes to 31% of Activision Blizzard’s quarterly revenue.
Which Activision Blizzard King studios came under Microsoft control
Blizzard Entertainment holds a special place in the gaming industry as one of its oldest and most respected studios. They have gained widespread recognition for their beloved franchises, such as Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, and Overwatch. One of their recent significant releases is Diablo 4, which captivated the gaming community on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox platforms.
King, on the other hand, has made a name for itself as a mobile developer, capturing the hearts of millions with their incredibly popular and addictive casual game, Candy Crush Saga.
Infinity Ward has a rich history of developing exceptional games within the Call of Duty series. They are credited with creating some of the most highly acclaimed installments, including the groundbreaking Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and the gripping Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Although the team has undergone significant changes since then, they are currently lending their expertise to the development of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which is part of an exciting new trilogy set to hit the shelves on November 10th.
Treyarch, as the second studio involved in the Call of Duty series, has carved out its own place in the hearts of gamers. They are the creative minds behind the immensely successful Black Ops subseries, which takes players on thrilling adventures set in the not-so-distant future and the chilling era of the Cold War. In terms of popularity, the Black Ops brand stands shoulder to shoulder with the revered Modern Warfare franchise.
Before Treyarch’s foray into the world of Call of Duty, they demonstrated their prowess by delivering top-notch games based on licensed properties. Notably, they crafted memorable gaming experiences with titles like Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, showcasing their commitment to quality and innovation.
Sledgehammer Games, the third studio involved in the development of Call of Duty, has played a significant role in shaping the franchise. They lent their expertise to the creation of Modern Warfare 3 back in 2011, and later embarked on their own ambitious project, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Since then, they have continued to delight fans with several captivating installments set in the tumultuous era of World War II. It is the talented team at Sledgehammer Games who are responsible for bringing the exciting new chapter of Modern Warfare 3 to life, infusing it with their passion and creativity.
Raven Software, as the fourth studio working on the Call of Duty series, has proven themselves to be invaluable contributors. While primarily serving in a supporting role, their impact cannot be underestimated. Their crowning achievement within the franchise is undoubtedly Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, where they masterfully crafted an immersive and gripping campaign that left players on the edge of their seats.
Prior to their involvement with Call of Duty, Raven Software showcased their talent by developing a series of successful games, including the highly acclaimed Quake 4, the thrilling X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the captivating Wolfenstein (2009), and the intriguing Singularity. Their dedication and craftsmanship shine through in every project they undertake, earning them a well-deserved place in the hearts of gamers worldwide.
Toys for Bob is a studio renowned for their expertise in crafting 3D platformers and successful remakes of beloved classic games. They have delighted fans with their releases such as Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Spyro Reignited Trilogy, and Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Their dedication to revitalizing old favorites with modern flair has garnered them a devoted following.
Radical Entertainment, on the other hand, is widely recognized for their action-packed Prototype series. While they are currently not developing their own games, they lend their talents and support to other studios within the Activision family. Their experience and knowledge are instrumental in assisting other teams to bring their visions to life. Despite their shift in focus, Radical Entertainment’s legacy of delivering thrilling experiences continues to resonate with fans.
How the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal will affect the gaming industry
Over the next ten years, Call of Duty will continue to be released on PlayStation. Microsoft and Sony have entered into an agreement that ensures Call of Duty remains a multi-platform shooter until 2033. After this period, Microsoft has the option to renew the contract or make Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive.
New Call of Duty titles will also be released on Nintendo consoles. Microsoft and Nintendo have signed a ten-year agreement that will bring Call of Duty to Nintendo consoles. This likely refers to the next generation of the Switch, which is expected to have specifications on par with the PS4.
Microsoft will also release Call of Duty and its own games on competing cloud gaming services. The corporation has already entered agreements with Nvidia, Boosteroid, and Ubitus. All Activision Blizzard games will be available on Xbox Cloud Gaming, Microsoft’s own cloud gaming service.