If all goes well and if the authorities validate the takeover, Activision-Blizzard-King will become a Microsoft Gaming entity, and therefore Xbox. In the suitcases, the publisher will arrive with Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Tony Hawks Pro Skater or even Crash Bandicoot. What largely filled the portfolio of Microsoft and Gamepass, which would then have 31 studios around the world.
Until then, many questions arise. A workforce restructuring is she to wait? How Microsoft will deal with systemic issues present within the various studios and the birth of a union ? Which licenses will become exclusive and which ones will become cross-platform? So many questions that should not find clear answers before the completion of the takeover, expected for June 2024. The case of Bobby Kotick, who will remain CEO of Activision-Blizzard for the next 18 months, is also uncertain even if everything suggests that he will leave office with hundreds of millions of dollars in his pocket.
But while waiting to know how Microsoft will manage all this, let’s return to the agreement reached between the companies. Indeed, since yesterday, we wonder who approached the other. Did Microsoft simply make an offer, or did Activision Blizzard King make the first move? According to GamesBeat, it was Activision-Blizzard-King who made the decision to sell in November, and which made a proposal to Microsoft, which responded favorably. At that time, harassment investigations were beginning to appear, and Activision found itself very largely weakened, as well as its CEO, implicated for threatening an employee and covering up certain actions.
Bloomberg goes a little further, and indicates that, according to its information, Microsoft management asked Phil Spencer to prepare its positioning in case Bobby Kotick and his board are willing to sell. In this context, Phil Spencer contacted Bobby Kotick directly, and the negotiation would have started. Microsoft’s desire to acquire Activision-Blizzard-King would be realized very quickly, as Phil Spencer, main point of contact, told CNBC:
Honestly, it’s a deal that happened pretty quickly. I would say we had formal discussions about this opportunity at the end of the year and felt it was the right time to add the right resources and capabilities to both companies. (…)
We support the goals and the work of Activision Blizzard, and we also know that we will have important work to do once the acquisition is complete to continue to build a culture where everyone can work in the best conditions, added Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO.
On the side of Bobby Kotick, who also allegedly contacted Facebook / Meta without finding the same interest there as at Microsoft, we explain that Microsoft would have just arrived at the right time, admitting that Activision-Blizzard-King lacked resources to play in the same league as the Asian giants and GAFAM:
We have worked with Microsoft since the launch of Xbox. We’ve had many conversations over the years about various forms of collaboration, and as we’ve started to see new competition and we’re kind of at the beginning of what the metaverse will be, and in this race for the metaverse, it became clear that there are a variety of resources and talents that we need to be able to continue on this path. And so, as Phil and I started having these conversations, we realized it was the perfect time for a partnership. (…)
Whether it’s Riot, Tencent, Epic, Sony, or Microsoft, EA, there are so many different places people recruit talent. And then you look at hard skills, like AI and machine learning or computer graphics. You have Nvidia and all these big companies recruiting top AI and computer graphics talent. And so we realized that the talent pipeline – we just didn’t have it.