We're barely two years into the 2020s and Microsoft's already set the bar for what has to be the biggest industry-changer in video games twice. The tech giant acquired ZeniMax Media, Bethesda Softworks' parent company, in 2020. The move effectively turned the Xbox into the home of upcoming exclusives like The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield. Now, Microsoft just outdid themselves by buying Activision Blizzard, the publisher of some of the most profitable video games in the world.
Call of Duty and Warcraft are two of the highest-grossing video game franchises ever. Both are owned by Activision Blizzard. In addition to this, the controversial publisher also owns other big-time gaming IPs like Overwatch, Diablo, and Starcraft, among several others. In one fell swoop, Microsoft just snatched all of those games up.
Microsoft announced the acquisition on Tuesday, with Xbox boss Phil Spencer serving as the CEO of Activision Blizzard after they finalize the transaction. According to Microsoft, this is the company's largest acquisition ever at $68.7 billion. Spencer says that the company now plans to "offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass."
What is perhaps the most interesting part about this acquisition is that Spencer was one of those who were vocal against Activision-Blizzard's treatment of its employees. Then again, with a literal treasure chest at his disposal and a ravenous Game Pass audience to satisfy, Spencer and Microsoft stand to benefit a lot.
Speaking of the crimination lawsuits, Microsoft's announcement and Spencer's subsequent blog post did not reference Activision-Blizzard's tumultuous situation. However, Spencer mentioned Microsoft's commitment to "inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players." Spencer also added in his blog post that the company holds "all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment."
Activision Blizzard is facing everything from lawsuits to federal investigations and calls for current CEO, Bobby Kotick, to resign.
Throughout this pandemic, Microsoft has twice made headlines for massive acquisitions. As we've already mentioned, Microsoft previously acquired ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion in 2020, which was finalized in 2021. However, the Activision-Blizzard buyout easily dwarves ZeniMax Media's, both in terms of finances and scope. Xbox Game Studios' now easily have more than two dozen internal studios, including multiple Call of Duty studios, as well as the teams behind Diablo Immortal, Diablo IV, Overwatch 2, and many more.