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    Microsoft's first home gaming system and one of the first to include an internal hard drive and built in online play capability. It was considered the first console to have fully supported meaningful online play.

    Xbox agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard

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    bigsocrates

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    #1  Edited By bigsocrates

    Details here.

    Holy moley. So many thoughts. This is a big move for Game Pass obviously. I assume Kotick is out and this is a way of resetting the public relations as Xbox will say it is going to fix the labor issues. Will there be antitrust issues?

    I guess Microsoft really is all in on games.

    I think there is at least a 70% chance this will come up on the Bombcast.

    For context, Microsoft is paying almost $70,000,000,000 here and Sony's Market Cap (the whole company not just PlayStation) is a bit over $150 billion.

    Nintendo's market cap is less than what Microsoft is paying here.

    That's the size difference between Microsoft and its competitors.

    ETA: For now Microsoft is saying Kotick will stay in his role.

    Disappointing if it works out that way, but he may have signed on to oversee the transition for some period, we'll have to see. If big changes aren't made at Activision Blizzard Xbox will take a massive reputation hit.

    @jeff is out here just giving away gold to one of the biggest companies on Earth!

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    deactivated-63cd8ec76d97f

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    Is this really news worthy for the Bombcast? 😏

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    Qwinn

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    This is absolutely insane. What a massive acquisition. Not sure what I think about this just yet but it sure makes the Xbox/PC even more important to all gamers moving forward.

    As long as these games keep coming to PC this is not a terrible thing.

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    ALLTheDinos

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    I think this is the first news item I’ve seen that made me trail off mid-sentence while talking with someone. I didn’t even realize ABK was entertaining the idea of being purchased, much less by Microsoft. I guess Grubb was right about companies wanting to spend that cash before inflation really gets going?

    Here’s hoping they pay those workers fairly and end the awful work culture at the company. I’d put much better odds on Overwatch 2 being an appealing product beyond their hardcore users now.

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    bigsocrates

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    @qwinn: I am one of the biggest Game Pass advocates out there but I think this is probably bad for the industry. Too much consolidation is never good and this will take so many massive games off of other platforms, even if Microsoft keeps putting out Call of Duty on Playstation for now or whatever.

    I really wonder what regulators will think about this. It's huge. Also what does it mean for smaller Microsoft teams like Double Fine?

    At least we can finally get Call of Doomty

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    HurricaneJas

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    Here's me just leisurely browsing the Giant Bomb forums, and then being stopped dead in my tracks as I see the thread title 🤯

    My god. How did such a megaton takeover come out of nowhere?? I don't remember even hearing a whisper this could be happening. I honestly thought the likes of Ubisoft, EA and Activision would always stand on their own, but Microsoft clearly had other ideas.

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    glots

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    Eh, can't imagine they'll bother to discuss this on this week's Bombcast.

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    Beanpants

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    @qwinn: I am one of the biggest Game Pass advocates out there but I think this is probably bad for the industry. Too much consolidation is never good and this will take so many massive games off of other platforms, even if Microsoft keeps putting out Call of Duty on Playstation for now or whatever.

    I really wonder what regulators will think about this. It's huge. Also what does it mean for smaller Microsoft teams like Double Fine?

    At least we can finally get Call of Doomty

    I agree. The continuing trend towards market consolidation is troubling. It's one thing to give a creative developer support and resources they would struggle to find otherwise, it's another to just brute force market share by smauging up any publishing house even marginally smaller than yourself.

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    bigsocrates

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    @hurricanejas: I think it might have broken earlier than intended because the Wall Street Journal got the story.

    It's possible that Microsoft and Activision were in low key talks for a while and then after the scandal they heated up as Activision sought to rebrand in a major way. I can't imagine this came together in just a month or two but it's possible I guess.

    Either way I'll bet that the driving force was the scandal. Activision needed a way to hit the reset button on its reputation and having Phil Spencer come in and say that Microsoft's diversity and HR teams are going to clean everything up is a good way to do that. Microsoft gets to spend some of its extra cash. Win/win from a corporate perspective.

    If this deal comes through will Phil Spencer be the most powerful person in gaming in history? He'll have Pitfall AND Halo under his supervision. Crash Bandicoot AND Blinx.

    Does this mean he gets custody of Tony Hawk? Spencer likes snowboarding, could he make Tony switch sports?

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    apewins

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    I'm no businessman but it looks like they're massively overpaying for a publisher whose all franchises are on the decline and that has been bleeding talent (and occasionally actively firing talent) for more than a decade.

    They massively fucked up by letting Bobby Kotick stay for even a day longer than legally required. I'm sure he'll be let go sooner rather than later but there are times for respectfully parting ways and Activision is way past that. They absolutely needed to make it a part of the deal that Kotick goes immediately, no matter how much of a severance they'd need to pay him. Horrible look for Xbox that's been all about inclusivity for so long.

    Had they waited a little longer they probably would have gotten Activision for half the price. But then again they would have risked somebody else picking them up before that. Anyway I just can't get over the feeling that this is a terrible fit for Microsoft and if Sony or Amazon had snatched them, Microsoft wouldn't have missed out on anything important.

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    jakob187

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    #11  Edited By jakob187

    What crazy time warp did we slip into where this is even a thing that can happen?

    Inb4 antitrust lawsuit.

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    theuprightman

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    Wow, a big move

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    brunosalezze

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    Sony will now bring Killzone back

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    doctordonkey

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    Microsoft swinging that massive $2T dollar market cap schlong around and slapping everyone in the face with it. In 2026 there's gonna be like...6 or 7 companies on the planet.

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    isomeri

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    Xbox should remake the old Crash Bandicoot ad but this time Crash is yelling at Sony.

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    Ares42

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    I know this is going into deep conspiracy theories, but having watched ActiBlizz getting pummeled over and over for months the thought have struck me several times that it looks a lot like a PR hit job. There's just been something about the steady pace of new leaks etc that's seemed odd, as if someone's been feeding reporters information. This acquisition doesn't exactly smother that fire.

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    Broshmosh

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    So much wrong with this from a consumer/critic point of view. Kotick keeping his position is detestable and will do nothing to change the optics of AB. Consolidation of companies and brands is already scary enough, this is getting to be like Feeding Frenzy on an economic scale.

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    TurtleFish

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    Everybody was worried about Amazon buying the world - geeze.

    From a pure ruthless immoral business standpoint, it's a good move. Activision is under a lot of fire for their corporate culture, but the value of their IP is still strong because most gamers don't care how the game is made. Buy low, sell high.

    I'm really curious if this will get antitrust scrutiny - normally I'd say yes, but, there's still that thing within politics about "it's just video games, who cares?"

    And for those who go "It's still coming out on PC, I don't care" -- the problem here is that a benign monopoly is still a monopoly. And they don't usually stay benign either. I could easily see some sort of situation where they have exclusives that require the next version of DirectX and, oh, look at that - you also need to upgrade Windows in order to get the next version. It's happened before.

    (Hell, I already have a side bet in my head whether some advanced version of Starfield will require Windows 11.)

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    avantegardener

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    Woah - we’ll played Bobby, dilute Activision and blizzards toxic rep in the cleansing waters of Microsoft, exit stage left.

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    Armor_Kinngh

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    @bigsocrates: i agree and disagree. i hate when smaller studios get swallowed up but activision blizzard was already a giant. they were procedural that needed new management, i say kudos.

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    bigsocrates

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    @armor_kinngh: Activision needs new management for sure. So far it doesn't seem they are going to get it. Meanwhile Microsoft gets a huge piece for the coming subscription war with Sony that will make it harder for Sony to compete effectively with Game Pass (Activision franchises are still huge.) A Game Pass monopoly would be a disaster for gamers.

    A lot of people will lose access to franchises they love and Microsoft may be even less willing to bring back old stuff than Activision has been because they are so huge with so many games why do they need Crash Bandicoot or Tony Hawk?

    Consolidation raises prices, stifles innovation, hurts consumers and makes competition harder.

    Activision was already big and bad but being gobbled up by one of the biggest players doesn't necessarily help that, and it does a lot of damage to the remaining companies in the market.

    The more third party games the better, for basically everyone, at least in the long run. This seriously shrinks the third party/multiplat pie.

    Not to mention that for employees it's good to have lots of options. What if the person who follows Phil Spencer is another Bobby Kotick type figure. Microsoft's hordes of developers will have nowhere to jump ship to.

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    GTxForza

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    Pretty interesting news and I've known Blizzard has been associated with PC gaming for ages.

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    FacelessVixen

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    I too am less interested in the games and more interested in Bobby Kotick's fate. Hopefully things will go well in that he and those like him are eventually booted out of the industry.

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    Raven10

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    @apewins: Neither Sony not Amazon have $70 billion to spend on an acquisition. The only two other companies with that much cash are Alphabet and Apple, both of which could spend twice that much before running out of cash. This purchase, though runs through the majority of Microsoft’s stockpile.

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    DemiGodRaven

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    Bobby about to get that golden parachute and continue failing upwards

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    AV_Gamer

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    #26  Edited By AV_Gamer

    Like I keep saying, Microsoft is playing the long game with game pass, and so far its working. By the time they're done, subscription based video gaming will be the normal, like Netflix is for movies. And now look at all the other subscription streaming services you got out there, almost every major cable channel now got their own, its getting crazy. Sony is now realizing this and have no choice but to adept, if they want to last the next 20 years.

    As far as justice in gaming goes? Not going to happen, Kotick is too big to fail, because too many people are invested in him and what he brings to the table. At most, he will leave, but take a nice fat severance package with bonuses with him, and years later will reappear again somewhere else. Guys like him don't really get fired, they get transferred.

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    brian_

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    #27  Edited By brian_

    I guess this is why you're not into morally shaming Activision, huh Phil? Fuck this. Once again, no one is held responsible for harmful mismanagement, and Bobby K. and all the board members that refuse to give him up get to ride off into the sunset on their golden parachutes.

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    yyninja

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    Wow I just saw this news on NYTimes as well.

    My hot takes are:

    Activision got a huge break from Microsoft. While Microsoft is technically buying Activision at a discount (buying shares at $95 when their peak was $103 right before all the sexual harassment allegations), they are literally shielding some really toxic people and workplace culture under their wing. From what it looks like, Bobby K is keeping his job.

    IMO Microsoft should immediately start purging the bad apples similar to what they did with Nokia. Keep the IP, tech and the good devs but get rid of the rest.

    Microsoft now has a ridiculous hold on the shooter genre. They now own Halo, Doom and Call of Duty.

    Gamepass continues to gain in value but now I think it's going to be even harder to curate games and smaller indie titles might not get the spotlight that they have in the past.

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    Wacomole

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    #29  Edited By Wacomole
    @bigsocrates said:

    ...Microsoft is paying almost $70,000,000,000 here..

    And it's an all cash deal too. That one section of Microsoft can drop $67.5Bn to buy one company speaks volumes about their net worth.

    That's one hell of a "pro-active adjustment" after "evaluating [their] relationship with Activision Blizzard"

    I wonder how good Phil Spencer must have felt to be able to write the line "Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming".

    ETA: For now Microsoft is saying Kotick will stay in his role.

    Disappointing if it works out that way, but he may have signed on to oversee the transition for some period, we'll have to see. If big changes aren't made at Activision Blizzard Xbox will take a massive reputation hit.

    From the wording of that first announcement (with many mentions of inclusivity and diversity along with that picture of their management team), I feel they are going to be going through that company with a high power jet wash to clean house top to bottom fairly soon.

    Pretty sure Kotick is going to eventually disappear in a cloud of money.

    I can't help having the feeling now that someone's eyes are going to be fixed on Epic.

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    GTxForza

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    My biggest personal problem with Activision is when they closed down Bizarre Creations (The studio behind Project Gotham Racing and Blur).

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    Ares42

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    @wacomole: Tencent already pretty much owns Epic. They don't quite have majority share, but I can't imagine any other corporation being able to get a deal to acquire it.

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    wobag

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    @gtxforza: I was about to say, does this mean we might get PGR and Blur on back comp finally, but I still think music licencing would sink it.

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    DocHaus

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    #33  Edited By DocHaus

    Why would they fire Kotick? As far as they're concerned, he prints money and serves as an immovable lightning rod for every round of sexual harassment and shady business allegations that have and will continue to pop up in the industry. The fact that he's a despicable human being doesn't change that calculus.

    Also congrats on Microsoft for remembering that antitrust laws are now barely worth the paper they were printed on. No one with the power to step in on this actually gives a shit.

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    splodge

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    Holy fuck balls.

    Star wars cost 4 billions.

    This is like a million million star warses

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    deactivated-629ec706f0783

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    I'm not a smart or educated person in any field, let alone business and law and all that, so I see this and just have a very simple "neat, more stuff on Gamepass for me to maybe mess with" reaction.

    I do hope a lot of the grossness in Acti/Blizz gets squashed during this but eh, I know those are high expectations in the reality of things. Finger's crossed though.

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    NameRedacted

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    Fuckin' market consolidation... Fuck Microsoft.

    This is bad for everyone. I don't know HOW market regulators are going to allow this kind of monopolization.

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    bmccann42

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    So I just bought a Series S, and now I am seriously thinking of returning it.

    So after all the news of how terrible an employer Acti-Bliz is, all the myriad of HR problems (and I work in HR), and their shit-bag of a CEO standing to make an immense pay day out of it (I read somewhere around 375 MILLION).

    This is just astounding amounts of money being tossed around for Diablo, Overwatch, and Call of DSuty - all of which have been trending down in recent months.

    70 BILLION dollars.

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    OurSin_360

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    @turtlefish: eh, for the past few years Xbox has been transition into a software/service company more so than a hardware company. (well basically transitioning more into Microsofts core business model). They're main goal is more than likely to monopolize the software side like they did with windows, so you'd have microsoft games and software on all consoles even those not made by Microsoft. Like windows being on windows phones and tablets as well as all 3rd party computers. They are pretty much doing the same thing with video games now, they are the polar opposite of Apple so I wouldn't worry too much about exclusives for xbox etc.

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    berfunkle

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    This is a bad deal for Microsoft. The only ones who benefit are Bobby Kotick and his cronies. Heads are going to roll in a year or two when Microsoft realizes this was a mistake.

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    wardcleaver

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    With ABD core franchises seeming to be stumbling as of late, it seems like a good time for MS to buy.

    In the end, no matter who buys who, they still have to convince people to buy their product. Even with all of ABD's so-called market power and faithful fans of COD, they seem to have trouble doing this as of late.

    Also, I do not think Bobby will be around for long after the merger, assuming it is approved. I think we will also see more people being fired at ABD before any merger happens.

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    bmccann42

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    Looks like Bobby K will land square on his feet.

    https://slate.com/technology/2022/01/microsoft-activision-blizzard-bobby-kotick.html

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    clagnaught

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    I was warming up to Game Pass because it seems to be a good service and word on the street is everyone is getting paid / not really ripped off, but this puts a bad taste in my mouth again.

    They should just buy Capcom, Square Enix, Sega, EA, UbiSoft, and Nintendo and just get it over with.

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    Justin258

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    I heard about this earlier and I'm still in disbelief. Like, Microsoft owning Bethesda remains a crazy thing to me, but this? This? Jesus.

    That said...

    I don't like this at all. I don't like the idea of one company owning a significant portion of what everyone plays, the same way I don't like Disney owning a significant portion of what everyone watches. Microsoft, at least its gaming division, seems to have recently picked up a reputation for being "not quite as shitty" as basically every other massive tech company, but even if that's true - and I have my doubts - putting everything you consume in the hands of a few people is hardly ideal. Especially when those few people pass their responsibilities on to the next generation and those new guys have more insidious ideas about what to do with all these new properties.

    Jesus, I wish someone would enforce the United States's antitrust laws.

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    berfunkle

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    #44  Edited By berfunkle

    According to the WSJ, with this transaction MS will be the 3rd largest game company behind Sony and Tencent by game revenue. So, in a way, they're playing catch up?

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    thizzle7xu

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    For those saying they can't believe MS is allowing Bobby to stay, they don't own AB yet and won't for about 18 months until the deal closes. It's not up to MS right now as the deal could fall through and AB continues on as a stand-alone company. It's that AB's board has agreed to the intended sale and NOW starts the process of getting all of the governmental bodies around the world on board to approve the sale to even allow it to happen.

    And another thing to remember is that former Xbox exec Mike Ybarra came to Blizzard not too long ago and now runs Blizzard through all the shifting of the mess. So while many are looking at this as "MS let Bobby off the hook", it could have easily started where Mike is talking to his friends back at MS telling them how much of a mess things are and that there are good people and franchises worth saving if they are able to clean house post purchase. These are big companies and a lot of money flying around, but these things start with people just talking to each other. Big evil company doesn't mean other good people still aren't working there who want the best or want the jerks out.

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    apewins

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    @ares42 said:

    I know this is going into deep conspiracy theories, but having watched ActiBlizz getting pummeled over and over for months the thought have struck me several times that it looks a lot like a PR hit job. There's just been something about the steady pace of new leaks etc that's seemed odd, as if someone's been feeding reporters information. This acquisition doesn't exactly smother that fire.

    Yeah and to further get into that stuff... Microsoft was said to have done a similar thing with Nokia. Nokia's CEO at the time was Stephen Elop who came from a long career at Microsoft, drove Nokia's share price to the ground, which allowed Microsoft to buy their mobile phone division for cheap. Once Elop was let go from Nokia, he was interviewed for the Microsoft CEO position (which he obviously didn't get).

    To be clear, there were plenty of investigations into that stuff and no concrete evidence came up, and in hindsight Nokia got the better of that deal since Microsoft gave up on Windows Mobile after that. But it really makes you think how these coincidences keep happening to the same company.

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    thizzle7xu

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    @apewins: Blizzard is run by former Xbox exec Mike Ybarra. You think he stopped talking to everyone at Xbox when he left? Like he lost Phil's number to just text him every once in a while?

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    Aaron_G

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    This news really did blow me away. I did not really forsee Activision Blizzard getting acquired, even with their recent problems.

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    Nodima

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    Like the Bethesda acquisition, huge for the industry but less impactful for me, personally, looking backward and imagining AB had always been a Microsoft property. Activision and Blizzard played decent to significant roles in my gaming life at various points, particularly back when I was renting PS1 and PS2 games every weekend, but as an adult I can't say I've played a lot of Activision products.

    I did 99% of my Destiny 2 gaming while it was still an Activision product. Then there was the Tony Hawk Remaster, which was so definitively a Playstation franchise it would've felt like a crime if it were a Game Pass exclusive. Then there's Sekiro, which I have to imagine FromSoft just wouldn't have teamed up with Microsoft for given Japan's general relationship with them.

    After that, the only other Activision/Blizzard property I could find in my trophy history was the original Destiny. Maybe one or two little things slipped through the cracks but these people just don't make games I'm interested in anymore. I'd still be really curious about how this shakes out in antitrust conversations (assuming they happen) but as of this very moment this doesn't push me to consider an XBox as a secondary console anymore than I already was.

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    DonkeyKong

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    Microsoft is paying almost $70,000,000,000

    I declare that to be an illegal amount of money

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