Microsoft buys game publisher Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion

The Activision Blizzard booth is shown on June 13, 2013 during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, for $68.7 billion to gain access to hit games like Call of Duty and Candy Crush. The all-cash deal will allow Microsoft to accelerate mobile games and provide it with building blocks for the metaverse, or virtual environment. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Microsoft is paying nearly $70 billion for Activision Blizzard, the maker of “Candy Crush” and “Call of Duty,” as it seeks to stand out in the fiercely competitive business of mobile gaming and virtual reality technology.

The $68.7 billion all-cash deal will transform Microsoft, maker of the Xbox gaming system, into one of the world’s largest video game companies and help it compete with tech rivals such as Meta, formerly Facebook, in creating immersive virtual worlds for work and play.

If the deal survives the scrutiny of US and European regulators in the coming months, it could also be one of the most expensive tech acquisitions in history since Dell bought the storage company. of EMC data in 2016 for approximately $60 billion.

Activision has been rocked for months by allegations of misconduct and unequal pay, and it was addressed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on a conference call with investors on Tuesday.

“Our organization’s culture is my number one priority,” Nadella said, adding that “it’s critical for Activision Blizzard to move forward with our” commitments to improve our workplace culture.

Activision revealed last year that it was being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission over complaints of workplace discrimination.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick will retain his role, and he and his team will continue to focus on efforts to further strengthen the culture of the Santa Monica, Calif., company and accelerate the company’s growth. business.

Wall Street saw the acquisition as a big win for Activision Blizzard Inc. and shares soared 27% in early trading Tuesday. Microsoft shares slid less than 1%.

Last year, Microsoft spent $7.5 billion to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of video game publisher Bethesda Softworks, which is behind popular video games The Elder Scrolls, Doom and Fallout.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., said the two acquisitions will help bolster its Xbox Game Pass gaming subscription service.

Founded in 1979 by former Atari Inc. employees, Activision was responsible for games such as “Guitar Hero” and the “World of Warcraft” franchise. Kotick has been CEO since 1991.

Microsoft said it expects the deal to close in the next fiscal year 2023, which begins in July. The Activision business unit would then report to Phil Spencer, who led Microsoft’s Xbox division and will now serve as CEO of Microsoft Gaming.