Microsoft completes Activision Blizzard acquisition, Call of Duty now part of Xbox
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Microsoft completes Activision Blizzard acquisition, Call of Duty now part of Xbox

Call of Duty and other iconic franchises are now part of Xbox after Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard. As a result of the lengthy regulatory process in the US and UK, Microsoft intends to integrate these popular titles into Xbox Game Pass, marking a significant move in the gaming industry.

Microsoft has successfully concluded its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the renowned publisher behind iconic titles like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Diablo. After an arduous 20-month journey that involved overcoming regulatory hurdles in both the US and the UK, Microsoft emerged victorious. The finalization of this deal came following a triumphant resolution in a US federal court against the Federal Trade Commission and strategic adjustments to satisfy the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the United Kingdom.

The Xbox chief expressed enthusiasm for the gaming industry, emphasizing Microsoft’s deep involvement in it. He said, “We are gamers ourselves, actively playing and creating games. We know that gaming impacts people deeply and fosters a sense of community. As part of the Xbox family today, we extend a warm welcome to the talented teams at Activision Blizzard.”

Spencer underscored the collaborative spirit of this merger, noting that together they will embark on a journey of learning and innovation. Their shared mission is to further enrich the gaming experience and expand its reach to even more people. This endeavor is grounded in a culture that prioritizes empowering every individual to excel, fosters inclusivity, and remains steadfast in its dedication to the ethos of “Gaming for Everyone.”

To date, this is Microsoft’s most substantial acquisition, surpassing the $26 billion investment in LinkedIn back in 2016 and the $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda in 2021. As Microsoft stated during its initial announcement of this colossal merger, it marks its most significant foray into gaming. Microsoft thus becomes the “third-largest gaming company by revenue,” trailing only Tencent and Sony in the industry.

Microsoft has ambitious plans to integrate a wealth of beloved titles from Activision Blizzard into Xbox Game Pass. In his words, Phil Spencer said, “Today, we will bring cherished franchises from Activision, Blizzard, and King to Game Pass and other platforms.” In spite of the fact that specifics about the availability of these games are still pending and eagerly awaited by gamers, Microsoft and its community are equally excited.

It’s worth noting that despite this endeavor, Activision Blizzard clarified this week that Modern Warfare 3 and Diablo IV won’t be joining Xbox Game Pass in the current year. Unfortunately, Microsoft has not released any updates on the number of Xbox Game Pass subscribers since announcing 25 million subscribers in conjunction with the initial Activision Blizzard deal announcement in January 2022.

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Microsoft is set to expand its Xbox Game Studios by adding more than nine game studios from the Blizzard side as part of a major acquisition. Additionally, they will be incorporating game studios in over 11 locations from the mobile gaming company King, further solidifying their position in the gaming industry. With this acquisition, Microsoft has transformed into a formidable publishing powerhouse, welcoming over 8,500 Activision employees into its fold.

Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard, will continue to play a pivotal role during the transition period, extending his commitment until the end of 2023. In a recent message to Activision Blizzard employees, Kotick stated, “I have always been dedicated to facilitating this transition smoothly.” He also shared that Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, has asked him to remain as CEO of ABK (Activision Blizzard) during this period, with both leaders eagerly looking forward to collaborating on a seamless integration for their teams and players.

The road to finalizing the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal has been far from smooth. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) initially raised concerns about the acquisition due to cloud-related issues. In parallel, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States launched a lawsuit to block the deal. However, the FTC’s attempt to obtain a preliminary injunction preventing Microsoft from completing the Activision Blizzard acquisition did not succeed.

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In response to these legal challenges, both the CMA and Microsoft agreed to temporarily halt their legal disputes. This pause allowed them to explore potential remedies in the UK and ultimately led to negotiations that resulted in an agreement regarding cloud gaming rights.

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