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Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard could conclude on Friday the 13th


Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

October 6, 2023

3 Min Read
A graphic with the words "Activision Blizzard" on it.

Microsoft's $68.7 billion acquisition of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft publisher Activision Blizzard might be coming to a particularly spooky conclusion. Sources close to the deal have told The Verge that the long, knock-down drag-out process might conclude on Friday October 13.

The conclusion of the deal apparently lays in the hands of the United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority which initially blocked the merger on the grounds it would harm competition in the world of cloud game streaming. It reversed course and provisionally approved the merger after the terms of the deal were restructured.

Said rumble in the UK coincided with a regulatory brawl in United States, where the Federal Trade Commission raced to block the merger on the grounds it would harm competition in the broader video game market. A judge ruled against the FTC, and the agency suspended its challenge in the following weeks.

If the deal is finally being sealed it will conclude a tumultuous saga that technically began the day the State of California filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for allegedly fostering a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination, a culture that follow-up reporting implied went all the way up to CEO Bobby Kotick. The company has repeatedly and vocally denied the claims while also settling a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the same grounds for $18 million. (Some of its pushbacks against the ongoing controversy have involved some dubious claims, like that the repeated employee walkouts were instigated by outside agitators like the Communication Workers of America).

It's been reported in the months after the lawsuit that Activision Blizzard began courting buyers in the broader video game market. Comments by Xbox president Phil Spencer took a fascinating turn when he first said the company was "evaluating its relationship" with Activision Blizzard.

It turned out to be one hell of a evaluation.

The regulatory battles over Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard have led to a number of confidential documents spilling out into the public eye, providing a feast of information for developers who want to know more about the inner workings of two industry titans.

A recent filing from Microsoft's lawyers leaked fascinating business details—like that 75 percent of Xbox owners have a Series S device, and that developers it picked up under the ZeniMax acquisition are working on games like Dishonored 3 and a remaster of Fallout 3.

On the Sony side, documents spilling out of its objections to the acquisition shed light on the budgets of Horizon Forbidden West and The Last of Us Part II. Each game cost over $200 million to produce (not counting the previous development costs of Naughty Dog and Geurrilla Games' respective technologies).

That's a stark contrast to the major acquisitions of companies like The Gearbox Entertainment Company by Embracer Group and Bungie by Sony Interactive Entertainment. In those cases, the acquisitions were zipped up quietly with nary a secretive detail revealed.

Maybe it's appropriate then that the purchase of Activision Blizzard be finalized on a haunted date like Friday the 13th. After all, it seems quite frightening that such a major acquisition may go through—but the workers most impacted by it—who create the games that generate such desirable profit—may not see any benefits from the gargantuan deal.

Game Developer has reached out to Microsoft for comment on this story and will update it when the company responds.

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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