Microsoft has officially closed its acquisition of video game developer Activision Blizzard, known for titles such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Diablo.
“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in a statement released on Friday. “We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible to all.”
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The merger increases Microsoft’s presence in the gaming sector and is set to amplify the Microsoft Gaming business across PC, console, cloud and mobile. Microsoft’s acquisition also includes mobile gaming giant King, maker of the CandyCrush Saga series. CandyCrush Saga has made more than $1 billion in revenue since launching on mobile in 2012.
The deal was able to be finalized after U.K. regulators reversed their earlier decision to block the deal, marking the clearance of the last significant regulatory hurdle. In April, U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority blocked the deal, citing competition issues, specifically with cloud gaming. In response, Microsoft has agreed to sell the streaming and cloud distribution rights of Activision Blizzard games to French video game developer Ubisoft.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also withdrew its case against Microsoft’s acquisition, which was initially set to go through a formal review, thereby removing any remaining federal scrutiny over the transaction. However, the FTC said that it continues to be concerned by the merger.
“Microsoft and Activision’s new agreement with Ubisoft presents a whole new facet to the merger that will affect American consumers, which the FTC will assess as part of its ongoing administrative proceeding,” said FTC’s Victoria Graham. “The FTC continues to believe this deal is a threat to competition.”
In an internal memo to employees, Phil Spencer, CEO of gaming at Microsoft, said he is eager to start incorporating Activision Blizzard into its GamePass catalog and will immediately start the integration of Activision Blizzard into Microsoft.
“We couldn’t be more excited that Activision Blizzard employees are our colleagues, co-workers, and teammates,” said Spencer. “Bobby Kotick has agreed to remain in his role through the end of 2023, reporting directly to me, to ensure a smooth and seamless integration.”