Microsoft is acquiring Activision-Blizzard, Bobby Kotick is still CEO

oh no skellingtons

Welp, apparently the Activision-Blizzard hot potato is hopping to a new owner: Microsoft just announced that it’s acquiring the beleaguered gaming corporation.

“With three billion people actively playing games today and fueled by a new generation steeped in the joys of interactive entertainment, gaming is now the largest and fastest-growing form of entertainment. Today, Microsoft Corp. announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard Inc., a leader in game development and interactive entertainment content publisher. This acquisition will accelerate the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud and will provide building blocks for the metaverse. When the transaction closes, Microsoft will become the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. The planned acquisition includes iconic franchises from the Activision, Blizzard and King studios like Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Call of Duty and Candy Crush, in addition to global eSports activities through Major League Gaming. The company has studios around the word with nearly 10,000 employees.”

According to Activision-Blizzard, the sale is an “all-cash transaction valued at $68.7 billion.”

Activision-Blizzard, of course, has been struggling with lawsuits and labor disputes following the sexual discrimination and harassment scandal that blew up in the middle of last year. But it doesn’t sound as if Bobby Kotick is going anywhere. He’ll still be CEO.

“Bobby 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.”

Microsoft’s been on a bit of a buying spree of late; it also acquired ZeniMax and Bethesda back in 2020 – for $7.5B.

Source: Microsoft, Activision. Thanks, Bruno, Protobear, and Tom.
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial company in the MMO and gaming space owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. Last summer, the company was sued by the state of California for fostering a work environment riddled with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which has further compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees strike and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation.
Apparently, Activision-Blizzard waited until almost the last minute to deliver the news to employees; Bobby Kotick issued an email to ATVI workers just before the formal sale announcement was made, saying he believed the “partnership will better enable [ATVI’s] ambitions” and that Microsoft will “further strengthen” the company’s culture. He also notes that the full deal isn’t expected to fully closed until mid-2023. “I will continue as our CEO with the same passion and enthusiasm I had when I began this amazing journey in 1991,” he says in the very next sentence, leading to speculation about whether he might depart when the deal is closed – though the Wall Street Journal says it’s more than just speculation. Sticking around until the bitter end results in quite a payday for Kotick. (Cheers, Wilhelm.)

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