Historic Acquisition Finalized
After a protracted journey spanning nearly 22 months, Microsoft has successfully completed its monumental acquisition of the gaming behemoth, Activision Blizzard, for a staggering $69 billion.
This monumental deal now stands as the largest in the history of the tech industry.
Global Regulatory Challenges
The journey to this milestone was not without its challenges, as regulators across the world expressed concerns.
At the heart of these concerns was the apprehension that Microsoft, through its ownership of Activision, might restrict access to games by limiting them to its Xbox platform.
Such worries extended to the possibility of major games no longer being accessible on Sony’s PlayStation console.
UK Antitrust Approval
Significantly, the deal’s finalization came just seven hours after Microsoft secured the last green light from a UK antitrust watchdog.
This reversal of its earlier decision to block the acquisition allowed the process to proceed.
Impact on Xbox Sales
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision holds the potential to significantly boost Xbox sales.
The tech giant intends to incorporate Activision’s game titles into its ‘Game Pass’ subscription service. This service, often likened to a gaming version of Netflix, could revolutionize the gaming experience for Xbox users.
The deal brought a temporary halt to trading in Activision Blizzard shares on Friday morning.
Stockholders are set to receive $95 for each share they owned prior to the deal’s completion. This represents a significant financial gain for shareholders.
Inclusivity Across Platforms
Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft’s Xbox division, emphasized the company’s commitment to inclusivity in gaming.
Regardless of the platform of choice—Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, PC, or mobile—Microsoft intends to welcome players. Activision’s games will remain accessible on a wide array of platforms.
Distribution Rights and Franchise Access
As part of the acquisition, Microsoft has committed to transferring the distribution rights of Activision games to French gaming publisher Ubisoft.
This decision aims to broaden the reach of these games.
Crucially, Microsoft has negotiated deals with Sony and Nintendo, ensuring that Call of Duty games—among Activision’s crown jewels—will be available to their users for a decade post-acquisition.
This assures gamers on these platforms consistent access to this popular franchise.
Regulatory Battles and the FTC
Earlier in the acquisition process, Microsoft had to overcome regulatory obstacles. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States initially opposed the deal, citing concerns about competition and consumer access to games.
Nevertheless, these concerns were dismissed by Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, who saw the deal as potentially offering greater consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content.
While there may not be an immediate change in the availability of popular Activision Blizzard titles, the long-term impact of this acquisition remains uncertain.
The 15-year Ubisoft deal, which grants streaming rights to Activision titles, raises questions about Microsoft’s plans beyond that period.