It’s an XXL deal that folds the cards of the video game industry. On January 18, Microsoft announced against all odds the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the publisher of iconic opuses World of Warcraft, call of duty or candy Crush. According to the wall street journal and Bloomberg, the amount of the transaction amounts to 68.7 billion dollars (60 billion euros), a record (and by far) for this economic sector. It is also, at the same time, the largest acquisition in the history of Microsoft, more than double the amount of the takeover of LinkedIn for 26 billion dollars in 2016.
Microsoft in the world’s top 3 in gaming
If approved by regulators, the transaction will take Microsoft’s gaming division to a new dimension. Today, the company ranks fourth among the world’s largest publishers by revenue at over $10 billion in revenue. Its prey, Activision Blizzard, is installed in 6th place in this ranking with 6 billion dollars in annual turnover. Result: thanks to this operation, Microsoft Gaming will propel itself to the level of the leading duo of the market, composed of Sony Interactive Entertainment and Tencent Games, at least in terms of turnover.
This deal comes in a troubled time for Activision Blizzard. In the summer of 2021, the wall street journal revealed a sequel internal scandals, including stories of sexual harassment suppressed by management. In reaction, the company laid off dozens of employees, especially in its direction. To make matters worse, the company is showing a chronic delay in the release of its most anticipated video games like Diablo IV Where Overwatch 2. Result: its share price has plunged by 30% over the last 6 months, from more than 90 dollars to less than 60 dollars per share.
An additional asset for competition Sony and its PlayStation
However, Microsoft claims to Bloomberg that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, in office for 30 years but extremely controversial for many reasons, will keep his job. Once the transaction is completed, the Activision Blizzard division will be attached to the Microsoft Gaming division led by Phil Spencer. The latter notably manages the economic development of the Xbox ecosystem – one of the three consoles on the market with the PlayStation (Sony) and the Nintendo Switch – and that of the group’s subscription offer, the Game Pass.
Microsoft has recently redoubled its efforts to promote this latest offer, which has already convinced 25 million subscribers. The legendary franchises of Activision Blizzard studios should therefore fuel the offer of Xbox and Game Pass, which has been waging a war of catalogs with PlayStation for 20 years.