After nearly two years of antitrust lawsuits, international investigations and gaming industry scrutiny surrounding Microsoft’s $69 billion mission to acquire

Blizzard, the historic deal was finalized on Friday, Oct. 13.  With a closing price tag of $68.7 billion, the deal is now Microsoft’s largest to-date purchase, eclipsing the Windows software developer’s 2016 purchase of the professional social networking platform LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.

The manufacturer of the Xbox gaming console announced the completion of the blockbuster merger following final approval from the U.K.-based Competitions and Markets Authority.  

Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President of Microsoft, addressed the CMA’s decision in a tweet adding that the final regulatory hurdle of the proposed merger had been crossed.  

“We’re grateful for the CMA’s thorough review and decision today,” Smith wrote. “We have now crossed the final regulatory hurdle to close this acquisition, which we believe will benefit players and the gaming industry worldwide.”

Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, echoed Smith’s excitement in an announcement he wrote on Xbox Wire.

“Together, we’ll create new worlds and stories, bring your favorite 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,” Spencer wrote. 

With the deal, Microsoft assumes ownership of Blizzard’s popular gaming catalog that includes many titles that have accumulated a cult-like following including the Diablo series, Warcraft, the Call of Duty franchise and all of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games.  

As part of the contingencies to satisfy worries of regulators in the United Kingdom, Microsoft agreed to enter into a 15-year cloud gaming agreement with Ubisoft in August that would give Ubisoft complete cloud gaming rights to Call of Duty and all other Activision titles. Speaking on developments with Ubisoft, Smith said it would bring innovation and allow Ubisoft to have full control to commercialize the distribution of games on a global scale.  

“The agreement provides Ubisoft with a unique opportunity to commercialize the distribution of games via cloud streaming. The agreement will enable Ubisoft to innovate and encourage different business models in the licensing and pricing of these games on cloud streaming services worldwide,” Smith said.

Microsoft announced similar partnerships in March, when it announced licensing agreements with gaming giants Nintendo, NVIDIA and Ubitus.

On the Activision Blizzard blog, CEO Bobby Kotick wrote a similar letter to employees addressing a significant “milestone” in Activision Blizzard history, adding that this deal will connect more players around the world “than ever before.”  

“When Brian Kelly and I began this journey in 1991, we intended to build a company that would have great impact and lasting value. Your tireless work and unwavering commitment to excellence enabled us to do just that. In the 1980s, we pioneered independent, third-party game development with Pitfall, River Raid, and Kaboom. In the 1990s, we united the world with online multiplayer games like MechWarrior, Warcraft, and StarCraft. In the 2000s, we introduced Call of Duty, which became one of the most successful entertainment franchises in history. We also introduced Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, which entered popular culture in ways few videogames ever have. In the 2010s, we debuted Candy Crush Saga, which to date has been downloaded more than five billion times and contributed to our total worldwide players being fifty percent female.”

Kotick noted that as 2023 comes to a close, so will his role as CEO at Activision Blizzard. Until then he will report to Spencer. 

Originally announced on Jan. 18, 2022, the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard merger took a total of 20 months and six days. In the coming months, Xbox will begin populating its Xbox Game Pass service with titles it acquired in the merger. 

“Today we start the work to bring beloved Activision, Blizzard, and King franchises to Game Pass and other platforms,” Spencer said. “We’ll share more about when you can expect to play in the coming months. We know you’re excited – and we are too.”



 

 

 

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