Microsoft seems intent on buying the gaming industry with $68.7bn purchase of troubled Activision Blizzard

'Creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect'

Microsoft has cracked open its wallet once again with an acquisition of Activision Blizzard in an all-cash transaction valued at an eye-popping $68.7bn.

The company also announced its Game Pass service had passed the 25 million subscribers mark.

It's a huge transaction, considerably more than the $7.5bn spanked on Zenimax (the holding business for properties such as Doom and The Elder Scrolls) and the $26.2bn lavished on LinkedIn in 2016.

Activision Blizzard, besides being behind some impressive gaming IP, is having a few legal troubles at the moment. A lawsuit filed in 2021 complained of a "frat boy" toxic culture that, it is alleged, led to lower pay for female employees as well as discrimination and harassment. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) weighed in on the company's attempts to end the lawsuit with an $18m settlement last week.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft didn't directly address these issues, although Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer did say: "We … believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment.

"We're looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard."

As a reminder, Microsoft hired a law firm this month to review its own harassment policies following a shareholder vote on the issue.

The deal is expected to close in Microsoft's fiscal year ending June 2023 (pending regulatory approval – and we're expecting a bumpy ride in store) and has already been given the nod by both Activision Blizzard and Microsoft boards. Once the deal is done, Activision Blizzard will report to Spencer. Until then the company will operate independently.

That close date will be important for gamers, or at least Microsoft's Game Pass subscribers, as Spencer added: "We will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard's incredible catalog."

Activision Blizzard is responsible for the Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Diablo franchises among others. ®

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