Microsoft Completes Acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Setting the Stage for Xbox Games Like World of Warcraft and Diablo
After months of regulatory clearance obstacles, Microsoft has officially completed its acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard for a whopping $68.7 billion. This move has solidified Microsoft’s position as the third-largest game company in the world, with the potential to reshape the global gaming landscape.
The acquisition was given the green light by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the British antitrust regulator, on October 13th. With this approval, Activision Blizzard’s common stock will no longer be traded on Nasdaq, and the company’s titles such as “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” will now be under Microsoft’s Xbox business.
The road to approval was not without its challenges. The CMA, along with regulatory bodies in the United States and Europe, expressed concerns about potential monopolistic practices in the emerging cloud gaming market. To address these concerns, Microsoft agreed to transfer cloud streaming distribution rights for all current and new Activision Blizzard games to French rival game publisher Ubisoft Entertainment for a period of 15 years. This agreement aims to ensure competitive pricing and services for UK cloud gaming customers while preventing Microsoft from dominating the cloud gaming sector.
Industry commentators believe that Microsoft’s determination to acquire Activision Blizzard, coupled with its concessions to avoid monopoly suspicions, will provide a significant boost to the tech giant’s game business. With the acquisition, Microsoft now boasts 30 game studios, making it the third-largest game company by revenue, only surpassed by Tencent and Sony.
Microsoft’s Vice Chairman and President, Brad Smith, expressed his excitement over the completion of the acquisition, stating that it will benefit players and the gaming industry worldwide. Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Games, also reassured players on other platforms that they would still be warmly welcomed, indicating that Activision Blizzard’s games would not become exclusive to Microsoft or Xbox consoles.
Analysts believe that this acquisition will bring Microsoft’s game business on par with Sony, as it adds popular titles like “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft,” and “Diablo” to the Xbox repertoire. Furthermore, the acquisition allows Microsoft to capitalize on Activision’s valuable intellectual property (IP), potentially expanding into film, television, and other entertainment sectors.
For Activision Blizzard, the acquisition comes as a much-needed lifeline. The company has faced turmoil in recent years, including lackluster game performance, controversial scandals, and sexual discrimination complaints. With Microsoft’s purchase and support, Activision Blizzard has the opportunity to reshape its company culture, revive games like “Overwatch,” and potentially re-enter the Chinese market.
Chinese players, in particular, are eager to see whether the acquisition will bring back a national server for Blizzard games. The subsidiary’s cooperation with NetEase ended in 2020, leaving the agency rights in China in limbo. With Microsoft’s successful acquisition, there is hope that Blizzard games will be relaunched in China, potentially leading to changes in game prices and availability.
Overall, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard marks a significant milestone in the gaming industry. With its newfound position as a major player, Microsoft is set to make waves across platforms and deliver an enhanced gaming experience for players worldwide.
(Source: Beijing Business Daily)