Just in: Microsoft is buying computer games developer Activision Blizzard in a $68.7bn blockbuster deal.
Microsoft has announced it will pay $95 per share in cash for Activision Blizzard, the firm behind “Call of Duty”, a 45% premium, in the software giant’s biggest ever acquisition.
Microsoft says the deal will make it the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. It will accelerate the growth of its gaming business across mobile, PC, console and the cloud — and provide “building blocks for the metaverse”, it says.
The planned acquisition will give Microsoft popular gaming franchises including “Warcraft,” “Diablo,” “Overwatch,” “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush,” and global eSports activities through Major League Gaming.
Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO of Microsoft, explains:
“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.
“We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible to all.”
Activision Blizzard has faced mounting pressure over its response to sexual misconduct allegations at the firm, including sexual harassment, sexual assault and gender discrimination.
Last November, employees staged a walkout to protest about the company’s handling of these allegations, which are being investigated by US regulators, and shareholders called on CEO Bobby Kotick to resign.
Yesterday, Activision Blizzard said it has fired or pushed out more than three dozen employees and disciplined another 40 since July to address allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct at the videogame company.
Microsoft says today that Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will “maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company’s culture and accelerate business growth”.
Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.