everything that will change after the historic takeover

Activision Blizzard is acquired by Microsoft! A transaction of unprecedented scale in the world of video games and which should change the face of the industry. In this file, we will take stock of the things you need to know about this historic takeover and the changes it should bring in the future.

Earthquake! Thunderbolt! A real shock in the industry! On January 18, 2022, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, one of the biggest publishers in the video game world (Call of Duty, Warcraft, Overwatch, Candy Crush, etc.). A surprise deal that no one saw coming and that will change a lot of things.

For a few years, Microsoft has been chaining the takeovers of studios and publishers to solidify its video game part, but nothing foreshadowed such a large-scale operation. What does this mean for our consoles? Will the Game Pass get even richer? Will Blizzard games become Xbox exclusives? In this file, we will try to answer any questions you may have.

What happened ?

On January 18, 2022, the Wall Street Journal announced that Microsoft was about to buy Activision Blizzard for a staggering sum. The rumor does not have time to swell on social networks that the Redmond firm officially announces the thing: she now owns the third largest gaming company in the world.

It’s a real shock. No one had seen it coming. For several years, Microsoft has certainly chained the takeovers of development studios and publishers (Obsidian, Zenimax, Ninja Theory, etc.), but there was no indication of such a large-scale transaction. The figure given is pharaonic, since the sale is valued at $68.7 billion (60 billion euros).

Call of Duty
Call of Duty Warzone

This is far of Microsoft’s biggest takeover ever (LinkedIn had cost him $26 billion). In video game terms, it’s on an unprecedented scale. The takeover of Zenimax, which many considered enormous at the time, had cost it “only” 7.5 billion dollars. This new operation is quite simply a major change in the history of the medium.

The 10,000 employees of Activision Blizzard will come under the leadership of Microsoft, as well as all the publisher’s licenses. We are talking here about Call of Duty, Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo ou encore Candy Crush, the highest grossing mobile game of all time.

This purchase will be effective from July 2023 and according to the Wall Street Journal, it will be on this date that the CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, will step down. In the meantime, he remains in office, but will answer directly to Phil Spencer, the boss of Microsoft Gaming.

What does this change in the industry?

This takeover is not insignificant, since it will change a lot of things in the industry. In terms of business, already, he signs an internal restructuring at Microsoft. The Redmond firm has indeed announced the creation of its own company, Microsoft Gaming, which brings together all the gaming studios and publishers that belong to it. Everything will be overseen by Phil Spencer.

Activision Blizzard

As far as games are concerned, it is still early to know what this takeover will bring, but it is already possible to outline a possible future. Microsoft has thus announced that the publisher’s flagship licenses will enrich its Game Pass. This service is gradually becoming a must. Activision Blizzard games bring together 400 million active players (figures from Microsoft), who will therefore be added to the 25 million subscribers already registered on the platform. A huge leap forward. In the future, Microsoft will therefore strengthen its Game Pass, but also its catalog of exclusives. He could develop some future hits reserved for his console in order to attract players. Diablo 4 only on Xbox? It’s a possibility…

Likewise, this event will have a strong impact on what is called the “console war”. Sony sees its leading position increasingly challenged. Microsoft’s goal is clear: to dethrone the Japanese giant from the top step of the podium, whether on this generation or the next.

xbox game pass rachat
Credits: Microsoft

Finally, this takeover could give Activision Blizzard a boost in terms of creativity. Microsoft could thus push the publisher to develop new licenses or even new games in known universes. Maybe the Call of Duty formula will change drastically or adventure games in the world of Starcraft will be created? We can even imagine other Microsoft studios working on Blizzard licenses. Everything is possible !

Will Activision Blizzard disappear?

For the moment, Activision Blizzard is not in danger of disappearing, quite the contrary. Microsoft has indeed not spent a huge sum to liquidate the company, but to operate it. What’s more, the Redmond firm would like not to repeat certain errors of the past. In the documentary Power On which retraces the history of the Xbox, Phil Spencer evokes the case of Lionhead, the studio behind the Fable license. Bought in 2006, the developer got lost in creating expensive and useless games (since they were cancelled). Instead of raising the bar, Microsoft simply preferred to close the studio in 2016. This was a mistake, according to Spencer, because there was much better to do with the talent that made it up.

Fable The Lost Chapters

We can therefore assume that Activision Blizzard will be pampered, especially since its licenses and its community (especially that of Blizzard games) are important. But again, anything is possible.

What will happen to Activision Blizzard licenses?

As we said above, Microsoft could choose fully exploit existing licenses and still active games (WoW, StarCraft, Diablo) while developing new titles.

One would think that this takeover would be synonymous with Blizzard licenses now exclusive to Xbox, but it will not be (at least initially). Phil Spencer indeed wanted to be reassuring in the columns of Bloomberg. He says he does not want to divide the communities and that the flagship games will always be released on PS5. Also, a Microsoft game that releases on PS5 will always earn Microsoft money…

Diablo 2 Resurrected
Diablo 2 Resurrected

The case of Zenimax could help reassure players. Although the company is owned by Microsoft, its titles are still released on Sony’s console. However, some big games, like the future Starfield or The Elder Scrolls 6, will be exclusive to Xbox. We can imagine the same scenario for Activision Blizzard.

What will happen to my World of Warcraft subscription, my Diablo characters or my Warzone stats?

Players who have spent time on Activision Blizzard games fear for their data, which is normal. What will happen to your stats in Warzone? To your level 60 mage on World of Warcraft or to your necromancer from Diablo 2 Resurrected? For the moment, nothing more than today.

Read also – Diablo 2 Resurrected test: evil is back and it feels good

Microsoft has no intention of shutting down servers for WoW or other games like Diablo. These bring together a large community and still bring in money for a lower development cost. The Redmond firm has therefore every interest in letting the machine run. Moreover, as we said above, the redemption would have no interest if it is to close everything.

In contrast, we can expect the Battle.net launcher to disappear. It is indeed very likely that Microsoft will seek to harmonize its services by including all of its games in the Game Pass launcher on PC. Start World of Warcraft via Game Pass… and why not? The MMO subscription (13 euros per month) could also evolve in the future and be included in the service, who knows?

Activision Blizzard
Le launcher Battle Net

Is this acquisition a good sign for the future of Activision Blizzard?

Now remains a major question: is this takeover a good sign for the future of Activision Blizzard? Returning to the example of the other studios acquired by Microsoft, we are rather optimistic.

Activision Blizzard
World of Warcraft

But the case of Activision Blizzard is a little particular, in particular because of its size, but also the current context. As we recall, the company has been in turmoil for a few years now and its image is no longer as bright as before. In 2019, there was already the Blitzchung affair, this Hearthstone player banned from official competitions for his support displayed in Hong Kong. But in 2021, it’s a very different matter that has definitely tainted Blizzard. Harassment and sexual assault charges are chained, justice has been seized and even Bobby Kotick, the CEO of the company, is personally wet.

If nothing says that the future will be rosy for employees, we can assume that the Redmond firm decides to do some cleaning to start on a good footing. Was the redemption what was needed to stop this descent into hell? The future will tell us, but for our part, we think so.

Microsoft’s takeover of Activision Blizzard is still in its infancy. Depending on current events, this dossier will of course be subject to change.

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