Microsoft is set to make another sweeping industry-wide move in the game development and publishing space as it moves to acquire Activision Blizzard to the tune of $68.7 billion U.S. dollars according to Microsoft News. This purchase is going to be made with pure cash flow with no exchanging of stocks taking place, a similar strategy to their acquisition of Zenimax Media in 2020 for $7.5 billion.
This deal is being carried out amidst heavy corporate and developer level controversy alike as Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has been accused of acts of harassment and misconduct in and out of the workplace. This has bled into every level of staff across the company. Since this ongoing systemic issue is still in everyone’s minds, Xbox took to Twitter to offer the following statement as a part of their announcement on the platform:
Xbox is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming. We hold all teams to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.Xbox via Twitter
Despite this statement, no structural shifts have been announced as of posting, and changes of any sort will not take shape until the deal is finalized later in the year. Phil Spencer had this to say on the matter of leadership and company culture:
Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently. Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming.[…]As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players. We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.Phil Spencer via Xbox Wire
However, it is also worth noting that The Wall Street Journal tweeted the following:
Bobby Kotick, Activision’s longtime CEO, is expected to leave after Microsoft’s deal to buy the videogame maker closes, people familiar sayWSJ via Twitter
On the other side of the coin, it’s understandable that this can be seen as unhealthy for the industry at large with this being Xbox’s second company buyout, promoting less high level independence in game development. However, leaving Activision Blizzard to their own devices would continue to be an ever-growing stain on the gaming platform. For now, this is not a win-win scenario for everyone, but with time it may be for the better instead of doing so little in a large span of time; business is business.
Activision Blizzard is host to landmark RPGs franchises like Diablo and Warcraft, as well as other series such as StarCraft, Call of Duty, and King’s ever-popular Candy Crush. When everything is all said and done, these franchise’s current and upcoming games will join Xbox Game Pass, adding even more value to the Xbox platform. Game Pass has 25 million subscribers and counting, and it’s easy to understand why. Still, published titles are a reflection of their developers and workplace culture. We can only hope that this purchase will bring forth meaningful change to a company with as much talent as they have, because this will lead to better games and a better industry.
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