Microsoft Officially Closes Activision Blizzard Deal Bringing Hit Gaming Franchises Under Xbox Umbrella





Microsoft, Call of Duty

Microsoft officially owns Activision Blizzard and King, marking the largest gaming deal in the U.S. to date. Hit franchises like Pitfall, Call of DutyWorld of WarcraftOverwatchCandy Crush Saga and Farm Heroes Saga will be more formally part of the Xbox family.

The deal closed ahead of Microsoft’s estimated original October 18 date.

“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,” Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said in a statement.

Spencer said players and cloud-streaming providers in the European Economic Area will have access to Activision Blizzard and King games as part of a prior commitment made to the European Commission, but the company is working on bringing the new games to Game Pass and other platforms. The company will release more information in the coming months.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Activsision has had a rocky path. Last month, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said it would challenge Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition, even after a U.S. court of appeals in July denied the FTC’s request to halt the deal in July. This is notable because the agency typically drops its challenges after it loses in federal court. It also had to make adjustments to appease several overseas regulators, including in the U.K.

Microsoft has scooped up a number of gaming companies over the last few years, including Bethesda Game Studios, the creators behind Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Starfield. Now that the tech giant has added Activision Blizzard and King to its portfolio, the FTC’s anti-trust concerns aren’t likely to abate.

A swath of emails leaked online as a result of the trial between the FTC and Microsoft.  One internal Microsoft email from 2020 said Xbox head Phil Spencer was interested in buying Nintendo, Steam owner Valve, and Warner Bros. Discovery’s network of game studios. The emails followed reports from the trial that Spencer was also interested in purchasing Sega and Square Enix, the creators of Sonic and Final Fantasy, respectively.

The regulatory response of such a deal would be off the charts, so this is unlikely to happen. Nintendo is also on solid financial footing, meaning it’s likely uninterested in a deal of that magnitude. The leaked emails also hinted at Nintendo’s next-generation console. Along with the emails, leaked FTC documents revealed Microsoft plans to refresh its mid-gen Xbox in 2024 and release a new hybrid Xbox in 2028. Bethesda’s game release schedule was also leaked which listed titles like The Elder Scrolls 6, Dishonored 3 and Doom Year Zero.

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