GAMES: Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion.

Microsoft just made one of the biggest deals ever for a game stu­dio. The com­pa­ny announced its inten­tion to acquire Activi­sion Bliz­zard for $95 per share, valu­ing the all-cash deal at $68.7 bil­lion. The deal would make the com­bined enti­ty the “third largest” games com­pa­ny by rev­enue, accord­ing to Microsoft, and bring titles like Call of Duty, World of War­craft and Can­dy Crush under the com­pa­ny’s wing. Microsoft plans to add Activi­sion Bliz­zard games to Game Pass as part of the deal.

Mobile gam­ing is also a big fac­tor in the acqui­si­tion, Microsoft said. Along with inte­grat­ing King’s phone games into Microsoft­’s busi­ness, the pur­chase promis­es to bring fran­chis­es like Halo and War­craft to more devices.

The takeover is expect­ed to close in Microsoft­’s 2023 fis­cal year (no lat­er than June 2023) if reg­u­la­tors and Activi­sion Bliz­zard share­hold­ers give the go-ahead. The boards of both com­pa­nies have already approved the deal.

Although news of the acqui­si­tion comes as Activi­sion Bliz­zard is still embroiled in a mis­con­duct scan­dal, you should­n’t expect any major lead­er­ship changes. Bob­by Kotick will remain the CEO of Activi­sion Bliz­zard despite calls for his res­ig­na­tion, and will now report to Microsoft Gam­ing chief Phil Spencer. In a cor­po­rate let­ter, Kotick described Microsoft­’s move as a chance to “fur­ther strength­en” Activi­sion Bliz­zard’s cor­po­rate cul­ture and “set a new stan­dard” for inclu­siv­i­ty. He did not out­line any spe­cif­ic plans for reform, but said there would be “min­i­mal changes” in the num­ber of employ­ees once the union ended.

If it goes ahead, the merg­er would help Microsoft com­pete with heavy­weights Ten­cent and Sony, both of which have been buy­ing sprees in recent months. Kotick has also seen it help his com­pa­ny bet­ter com­pete as meta­verse gam­ing grows in promi­nence. In this light, it can be as much a ques­tion of the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the com­pa­ny as any­thing else.

Some major ques­tions remain, how­ev­er. Microsoft has­n’t spec­i­fied how many Activi­sion Bliz­zard games will be Xbox-exclu­sive on con­soles or Win­dows-exclu­sive on PCs. It’s also unclear to what extent Microsoft might influ­ence the devel­op­ment of key fran­chis­es. It’s uncer­tain whether Microsoft will lock Call of Duty or oth­er giant games onto the Xbox in the near future, how­ev­er — PlaySta­tion sales account for a large chunk of Activi­sion Bliz­zard’s rev­enue, and the aban­don­ment of that plat­form ‑form would sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce the com­pa­ny’s influ­ence in the games industry.

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