Microsoft has officially entered into an agreement to purchase Call of Duty and World of Warcraft maker Activision Blizzard for a reported $68.7 billion.
As confirmed in an official blog post (opens in new tab) from Xbox, the massive deal includes numerous major video game properties, such as Overwatch, Diablo, Crash Bandicoot, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Spyro, Candy Crush, Starcraft, and of course, the aforementioned giant that is Call of Duty.
The reported almost $70 billion purchase figure comes courtesy of the Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab). If it passes, this will be the biggest video game acquisition in history by quite a long shot, with Take-Two Interactive's acquisition of mobile giant Zynga being the closest at $12.7 billion.
Of course, Microsoft only purchased Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media, best known for the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, in 2020 for $8.1 million.
"As a team, we are on a mission to extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet. We all know that gaming is the most vibrant and dynamic form of entertainment worldwide and we’ve experienced the power of social connection and friendship that gaming makes possible," said Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer as part of the announcement.
"As we pursue that mission, it is incredibly exciting to announce that Microsoft has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard. Over many decades, the studios and teams that make up Activision Blizzard have earned vast wellsprings of joy and respect from billions of people all over the world," Spencer continued.
"We are incredibly excited to have the chance to work with the amazing, talented, dedicated people across Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, Beenox, Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Major League Gaming, Radical Entertainment, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob, Treyarch and every team across Activision Blizzard."
Activision Blizzard has recently come under heavy fire for the treatment of its employees and saw the state of California sue the company for a number of prevalent issues. The acquisition will see controversial CEO Bobby Kotick remain in his position until at least 2023. Spencer did comment on the hierarchy after this period, though:
"Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming," he said.
Activision Blizzard employs close to 10,000 staff members but will continue to operate independently until the deal is complete. This now raises the interesting question of whether the likes of Call of Duty and such will be exclusive to the Xbox platform. Regardless, this is a gigantic move from Microsoft. Your move, Sony.