Microsoft Completed Activision Blizzard Acquisition

Microsoft completed its purchase of video game-maker Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, closing one of the most expensive tech acquisitions in history that could have repercussions across the video game industry. They could save money if Activision’s titles are added to Xbox Game Pass, a monthly subscription service. But some are reserving judgment.

Tech giant Microsoft made headlines in early 2022 by announcing its intention to buy Activision Blizzard, one of the world’s most-valuable gaming companies, for $68.7bn (~£50.5bn). The news took the world by storm, and was quickly labelled one of the most influential deals in the history of gaming.

Throughout 2023, a series of inquiries, lawsuits, and probes from governments around the world threw the blockbuster deal into doubt. The original July deadline had to be extended to October 18th and at times it wasn’t clear if the acquisition would go through.

The notice that the deal has gone through came seven hours after Microsoft got final approval from Britain’s competition watchdog, which reversed its earlier decision to block the merger, removing the last obstacle for the transaction.

The acquisition was one of the most dramatic developments in the history of the video game console wars, a long-running feud between PlayStation and Xbox players that is akin to interactions between fans of rival sports teams.

Taking over the studios behind blockbuster games like Call of Duty, Diablo and Overwatch will be a boost for Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console, which ranks third in sales behind Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo. The software giant also has bigger ambitions to fold Activision titles into its multi-game subscription service that works something like a Netflix for video games.

With Activision’s titles under its umbrella and with Xbox and its Game Pass and XboX Live platforms to support it, few companies could challenge Microsoft in the gaming field. Acquiring Activision Blizzard gives Microsoft access to multi-million dollar IPs such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, and WarCraft franchises, as well as studios such as Treyarch and Infinity Ward, at a time when video game IP is proving highly valuable — just see the success of HBO’s The Last of Us adaptation.

It still faces opposition from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which has argued that Microsoft could use the consolidation of a major game publisher to create “walled gardens” around its Xbox Game Pass subscription service and the emerging business of streaming games on demand. But after losing a court fight to pause the merger, FTC antitrust enforcers must now undertake a difficult battle to try to unwind it.

“The FTC continues to believe this deal is a threat to competition,” said FTC spokesperson Victoria Graham on Friday.

Microsoft has long defended the deal as good for gaming, saying its goal was to get Activision games to more people on more platforms rather than trying to deprive those games from rival console-makers.

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