Microsoft to buy embattled ‘Call of Duty’ publisher Activision in $68 billion bailout

Microsoft’s head of Xbox, Phil Spencer.

Microsoft is buying “Call of Duty” publisher Activision.
Microsoft is paying $68.7 billion in cash for the game company.
Activision owns Blizzard and King, and Microsoft will acquire those companies in the deal.

Microsoft is buying Activision, the major video game publisher behind the “Call of Duty” franchise, in an all-cash deal valued at around $68.7 billion.

It’s Microsoft’s largest ever acquisition, and the largest video game acquisition in history.

The price values Activision’s stock at $95.00 per share — a price it hasn’t held since July 2021, when news first broke that the state of California was suing the publisher over allegations of widespread harassment that proliferated due to the company’s “frat boy” culture. 

In the deal, Microsoft will become the third-largest video game company, following Chinese giant Tencent and PlayStation-maker Sony.

Microsoft will acquire a huge selection of intellectual property and game development resources: Game franchises like “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft,” and “Candy Crush,” in addition to major game studios like Blizzard Entertainment and Treyarch. Activision’s approximately 10,000 employees will join Microsoft in the deal.

A selection of games and studios that Microsoft is getting in the acquisition of Activision.

Beyond IP and development resources, Microsoft said Activision’s games will appear on the company’s Netflix-like video game subscription service, Game Pass, in the coming months. That service, which has been critical to Xbox’s success in recent years, has now reached 25 million subscribers, Microsoft said.

Microsoft is also inheriting Activision’s recently reported culture issues, including claims that CEO Bobby Kotick knew for years about a variety of claims of sexual harassment and rape at his company, and did little to fix the problems.

Kotick will continue on with the company, Microsoft said in its press release announcement, and will report to Xbox leader Phil Spencer when the deal closes.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision is the latest in an ongoing series of major video game acquisitions, including Take-Two Interactive announcing just eight days ago that it’s purchasing Zynga for nearly $13 billion. Microsoft itself has led the charge on acquisitions, starting with a $2.5 billion purchase of “Minecraft” maker Mojang. Most recently, the company purchased game publisher Bethesda Softworks for $7.5 billion.

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in the release, “and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.”

The deal, if approved, is expected to close within the next year. 

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Tech Insider, News, Activision, Microsoft, Gaming, Video Games, Phil Spencer, Bobby Kotick, Satya Nadella

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