Microsoft buys Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion
The deal can be seen as a win for longtime Activision chief executive Bobby Kotick, whom some critics had sought to oust from controversy. Mr. Kotick negotiated a big bonus for investors — Microsoft is paying $95 a share, about 45% more than his company’s pre-announcement stock price — and he will continue to run the company at least until at the conclusion of the agreement. The companies did not say whether he would stay after, but said the studio would report to Mr Spencer.
The deal is the largest in gaming industry history, breaking the record set days earlier when Take-Two Interactive, the maker of games like Grand Theft Auto, bought mobile game publisher Zynga. for over $11 billion.
The gaming industry, which has been teeming with cash since the pandemic boosted industry profits, has quickly consolidated. Last year, Electronic Arts and Take-Two engaged in a bidding war against Codemasters, a racing game company – which was eventually sold to EA for $1.2 billion – and Microsoft made a another sensational buy in 2020 when it bought Zenimax Media and its roster of game studios for $7.5 billion.
By buying Activision, Microsoft gets access to some of the most popular and recognizable titles, including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, and Candy Crush. Activision’s recent profits have been split fairly evenly across its three subsidiaries, with Candy Crush King maker taking in the most money, $303 million in operating profit, in its latest quarterly earnings report. Activision earned $244 million in operating profit and Blizzard took in $188 million.
But Activision’s gaming efforts are also facing headwinds, with its latest player-published Call of Duty and delays among titles like Diablo and Overwatch seeing key directors leave in recent months as a result. of the company’s series of scandals.
One of the main drivers of the deals is the arms race for exclusive content: the lockdown of a well-known franchise like Call of Duty or Skyrim, for example, could force fans of those games to switch from the PlayStation console of Sony to Microsoft’s rival Xbox system, if Microsoft chooses to make a game exclusive.
The takeover is likely to be among the largest announced this year, continuing a boom in the mergers industry. Last year, deals worth $5.8 trillion were completed – breaking the previous record of $1 trillion – as companies embraced acquisitions as a way to grow their businesses.