After an incredibly arduous journey, Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard have finally gained the clearance needed to proceed with their proposed acquisition deal. On October 13, 2023, the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK formally announced its approval of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard and its properties. This comes weeks after the FDA’s proposed block was stuck down in US courts.
Now that all is said and done, at an eye-watering $68.7 billion, the largest deal in video game history to date is finally being inked.
“It’s a good day to play”
Those are the words that Microsoft has officially chose to use to commemorate its victory in successfully amassing an even more diverse portfolio of properties. Of course, the US tech giant has already made similarly large moves in recent years with the act of picking up other lucrative properties such as Mojang and its hit game Minecraft back in 2014, and then later buying Zenimax in 2020, owners of Bethesda and various other studios.
With the IP of Activision-Blizzard now under the same roof as the likes of Forza, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Minecraft, and other major franchises, Team Xbox effectively now has a firm control over a huge swath of the industry.
It’s this fact which got the deal blocked in court in the first place, with the ‘powers that be’ arguing that such an acquisition would give Microsoft an unfair advantage compared to the likes of PlayStation and Nintendo.
But, Microsoft argued that it’s been trailing behind the two aforementioned gaming juggernauts for quite some time now, particularly after the relatively poor performance during the Xbox One era.
Thus, this move to scoop up Activision would serve to bolster its efforts, and as for the (now former) major gaming publisher, it would give it access to a treasure trove of resources that would benefit its lucrative collection of IP.
The road ahead
“As one team, we’ll learn, innovate, and continue to deliver on our promise to bring the joy and community of gaming to more people,” says one part of the formal announcement of the deal’s success from CEO at Microsoft Gaming, Phil Spencer.
He further promises that this new “family” will ensure the creation of “new worlds, and stories, bring your favourite games to more places so more players can join in, and we’ll engage with and delight players in new, innovative ways in the places they love to play including mobile, cloud streaming and more.”
On that note, Microsoft has confirmed that the newfound collection of Activision IP will be integrated into services such as Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Streaming in the coming months.
But, what about folks who aren’t gaming directly with Xbox and its services? Spencer had this to say, in part:
“Whether you play on Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, PC or mobile, you are welcome here—and will remain welcome, even if Xbox isn’t where you play your favourite franchise. Because when everyone plays, we all win.”
Of course, time will tell to see exactly how Microsoft will approach the topic of platform exclusivity. Its moves in the last few years to greatly spread the ‘Xbox’ brand umbrella to cover the likes of cloud services and the PC gaming sphere, show that it intends to gather as many customers as possible from different pockets. But, as it relates to offering content on the platforms of its direct competition, that’s a little more complicated.
As some of the old sayings go, ‘talk is cheap’ … ‘actions speak louder than words.’