Microsoft's $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard is now complete

Hours after receiving approval from the UK CMA, Microsoft has closed the deal to acquire Activision Blizzard.

Xbox
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With all regulatory hurdles now cleared, Microsoft wasted little time in closing the deal to complete its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Hours after receiving approval from the United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority, the company announced that it had completed its deal to acquire the publisher for $69 billion USD.

As noted by CNBC, the pickup represents the biggest deal in Microsoft's history. It was a saga that began all the way back in January 2022, but the deal was met with fierce resistance from various regulatory bodies in the ensuing months. Microsoft's path would become clearer earlier in the summer after winning in court over the Federal Trade Commission. A subsequent FTC appeal was denied by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The UK CMA was the other major holdout, but finally gave its approval to the deal after Microsoft ceded cloud streaming rights in the nation to Ubisoft.

The following letter was issued to employees from Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer:

Today is a good day to play. We have completed the acquisition of Activision Blizzard and are welcoming Activision Blizzard and its businesses to Microsoft Gaming.

Activision, Blizzard, and King publish some of the most played and most beloved franchises in gaming history, from Pitfall to Call of Duty, Warcraft to Overwatch, Candy Crush Saga to Farm Heroes Super Saga. By combining Xbox with Activision Blizzard's skill, knowledge, and amazing legacy of games, we will bring the joy and community of gaming to even more players around the world.

We are eager to learn from their creativity, exchange insights and best practices, and empower our new colleagues to bring their visions to the widest possible audience. And today, we officially start the work of bringing more groundbreaking games to more players than ever before and across new platforms from mobile to cloud streaming. We also begin the work to make Activision, Blizzard, and King's muchloved library of games available in Game Pass and other platforms — we'll have more to share in the coming months.

We couldn't be more excited that Activision Blizzard employees are our colleagues, co-workers, and teammates. Bobby Kotick has agreed to remain in his role through the end of 2023, reporting directly to me, to ensure a smooth and seamless integration. We look forward to working together as a unified team and we will share more updates on our new organizational structure in the coming months.

I'd like to give a very special and heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make this acquisition possible. We couldn't have accomplished this without your dedication.

Over the coming weeks, I'll be visiting the Activision, Blizzard, and King offices, along with members of our Gaming Leadership Team. We'll have the opportunity to welcome our new colleagues at our next virtual all-hands for Xbox employees, and for the greater Microsoft community, we'll discuss this and more in the November 8 session of the Company Strategy Series.

Together, we can unlock a world of possibilities for players and creators.

Phil

Xbox adds Activision Blizzard King to its first-party lineup
Please double check to make sure you have not also been acquired by Microsoft.
Source: Xbox

"For the millions of fans who love Activision, Blizzard, and King games, we want you to know that today is a good day to play," Spencer added in an address to players on Xbox Wire. "You are the heart and soul of these franchises, and we are honored to have you as part of our community. Whether you play on Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, PC or mobile, you are welcome here – and will remain welcome, even if Xbox isn't where you play your favorite franchise. Because when everyone plays, we all win. We believe our news today will unlock a world of possibilities for more ways to play. Thank you for the ongoing support. We have so much more to come in the months ahead – I'm excited for the future and cannot wait to share it with you."

That seems to indicate that Activision Blizzard titles will remain multiplatform for the foreseeable future. Of course, given some of the documents that leaked in the wake of the FTC trial, some users may have good reason to remain skeptical about Activision Blizzard staying multiplatform in the long run.

The other big question mark that has lingered over this entire series of events has been regarding the eventual fate of Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. Kotick sent a brief statement to the various Activision Blizzard employees shortly after the CMA's approval notice, but he went into a little more detail on Friday morning.

Here's the latest letter from Kotick to the employees of Activision Blizzard:

Team,

Today marks a milestone in our company’s celebrated history.

Combining with Microsoft will bring new resources and new opportunities to our extraordinary teams worldwide. It will also enable us to deliver more fun, more joy, and more connection to more players than ever before.

This moment is possible because of your efforts over four decades to innovate, inspire, and achieve.

When Brian Kelly and I began this journey in 1991, we intended to build a company that would have great impact and lasting value. Your tireless work and unwavering commitment to excellence enabled us to do just that. In the 1980s, we pioneered independent, third-party game development with Pitfall, River Raid, and Kaboom. In the 1990s, we united the world with online multiplayer games like MechWarrior, Warcraft, and StarCraft. In the 2000s, we introduced Call of Duty, which became one of the most successful entertainment franchises in history. We also introduced Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, which entered popular culture in ways few videogames ever have. In the 2010s, we debuted Candy Crush Saga, which to date has been downloaded more than five billion times and contributed to our total worldwide players being fifty percent female.

Your dedication is what makes it possible for us to continually push envelopes, break records, and delight players. Amid the uncertainty of the last 21 months, you’ve remained focused, as always, on serving our players and supporting each other.

I have long said that I am fully committed to helping with the transition. Phil has asked me to stay on as CEO of ABK, reporting to him, and we have agreed that I will do that through the end of 2023. We both look forward to working together on a smooth integration for our teams and players.

Brian and I couldn’t be more excited for the next chapter for ABK. We now join one of the most successful global companies, poised for unprecedented opportunities to connect the world through our games.

As a part of Microsoft, we will be even better, together.

Bobby

Microsoft (MSFT) stock as of the market open following its Activision Blizzard acquisition

Source: Yahoo! Finance

While Spencer, Kotick, and parts of the player base appear to be excited about Friday's events, investors are not. Microsoft (MSFT) stock took a steep fall Friday to start the day, down by over $5 as of roughly 9:00 a.m. PT. With the completion of the deal, Activision (ATVI) has ceased trading on the market.

Even with the closure of the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard, big questions remain, and some of them won't be answered overnight. What happens to Activision Blizzard's biggest franchises over the long haul? What happens to Battle.net? What happens with the thousands of current Activision Blizzard employees? What happens to those Activision Blizzard employees who have been fighting to unionize? What happens to current Activision Blizzard leadership after 2023? The questions go on and on, and we'll be sure to keep an eye on all of them at Shacknews as the answers become clearer.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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