Microsoft have shocked the gaming world with a planned buyout of Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion. The move will retain most of the leadership that was already in place. This deal has been valued at $68.7 billion, and will see the leadership reporting directly to Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming. The all-cash deal is expected to occur sometime in Microsoft’s fiscal 2023, pending regulator approval.
Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier shared some information about the shocking deal on January 17, citing a report from the Wallstreet Journal. The most bizarre thing about all of this is that Phil Spencer previously said that the company had been looking closely at their relationship with the mega-company.
“The work we do specifically with a partner like Activision is something that, obviously, I’m not going to talk publicly about,” said Spencer. “We have changed how we do certain things with [Activision Blizzard], and they’re aware of that. But I also—this isn’t about, for us as Xbox, virtue-shaming other companies. Xbox’s history is not spotless.”
Hearing this from Spencer implied something very different from buying the troubled developer. Schreier said: “The WSJ reports that Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard, the troubled publisher behind Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, which has been facing crisis over the last year following numerous reports of sexual misconduct and discrimination.”
So why the confusing messaging? No on really knows, but it’s certainly a bizarre thing to hear. What’s even worse is that it seems nothing will change. Bobby Kotick will remain as CEO. This move is sure to bring out some outrage given how much the industry has seen fit to call out Kotick’s terrible leadership. If you somehow don’t know what I’m talking about, there’s a lot to cover. The Activision Blizzard buyout comes after multiple issues relating to sexual harassment and workplace abuses were revealed, showing an incredibly toxic culture at the company.
And even though we all know Kotick was full of it when he said he would step down, this move proves it. There’s no way he walks away now. And while Kotick gets a nice pay raise and keeps his job, employees were fired for trying to enlighten the industry about the rampant abuse.
Chairman and CEO of the Microsoft Corporation, Satya Nadella, said this move marks “a new era” in gaming to make it “safe, inclusive, and accessible to all”. I don’t know about you, but I have trouble believing that at all. Fire Bobby Kotick and the rest of the predators in the C-suite if you’re serious.