While the Epic Store potters away at trying to take on Steam, Microsoft is quietly becoming the Netflix of gaming, and its latest big moves might be putting it way ahead of the pack. Microsoft just announced that they will acquire Activision Blizzard for $95.00 per share, in an all-cash transaction valued at $68.7 billion. By the time this transaction closes, Microsoft will have bought its way to the top making it the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Chinese tech giant Tencent and Sony.
The Activision Blizzard sale also includes King studios which is famous for monopolising your time on the toilet with Candy Crush. The sale lands Microsoft some of the industries biggest titles including Call of Duty, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and StarCraft.
Of course the announcement HAD to namedrop the metaverse.
“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,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “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.”
In the press release, Microsoft tips that it’s interested in bringing Halo and Warcraft to mobile. “Mobile is the largest segment in gaming, with nearly 95% of all players globally enjoying games on mobile. Through great teams and great technology, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will empower players to enjoy the most-immersive franchises, like “Halo” and “Warcraft,” virtually anywhere they want.”
This sale makes Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass even more tempting a proposition. For a monthly subscription fee comparable to Netflix you have access to their entire library of games. Microsoft will have 30 internal game dev studios by the time this deal closes, and having access to all their games is a great proposition. In some ways it’s side stepping the ongoing battle for E-store supremacy Steam has on lock and Epic is busy chipping away at.
One of Microsoft’s last biggest acquisitions was its 2016 purchase of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, but that’s chump change compared to this latest purchase. Gaming continues to grow as a market segment, and Microsoft is making sure it’s not going to miss out.
Disappointing news for many gamers though is that Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard. Although according to rumours from the Wall St Journal, he will only be overseeing the handover to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer before taking a golden handshake. Kotick is a divisive figure for running a toxic work environment. Last year 2000 employees signed a letter saying “We no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests”.
Kotick’s new boss Spencer once said of Activision Blizzard that he was “disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions” at Activision Blizzard. Fingers crossed a change of leadership can pull the company away from its current hellish conditions.
There’s no word whether Microsoft’s new stable of games will be removed from Sony Playstation. But I doubt that. Microsoft seems willing to play ball.