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Microsoft Acquiring Activision Blizzard!

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Microsoft announced via Twitter that they are acquiring Activision Blizzard, which currently includes five companies. Activision Publishing, Blizzard EntertainmentKing, Major League Gaming, and Activision Blizzard Studios.

The company owns and operates additional studios under an independent studios model under Activision Publishing, including TreyarchInfinity WardHigh Moon Studios, and Toys for Bob. Among major intellectual properties produced by Activision Blizzard are Call of DutyCrash BandicootGuitar HeroTony Hawk’sSpyro/SkylandersWorld of WarcraftStarCraftDiabloHearthstoneHeroes of the StormOverwatch, and Candy Crush Saga. Under Blizzard Entertainment, the company has invested in esports initiatives around several of its games, most notably Overwatch and Call of Duty.

Activision Blizzard, Kotick knew about the sexual misconduct and rape allegations at Activision, but he refused to do anything about it.  Kotick has been under a lot of pressure from investors over the sexual harassment controversies and ongoing executive issues that are currently going on, Activision agreed to be acquired by Microsoft in a $68.7 billion all-cash deal, inclusive of the company’s net cash.

“As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players,” Spencer wrote in a blog post this morning, implicitly addressing the ongoing unrest at Activision Blizzard. “We also 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.”

When the transaction closes, Microsoft will become the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. The planned acquisition includes iconic franchises from Activision, Blizzard, and King studios like “Warcraft,” “Diablo,” “Overwatch,” “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush,” in addition to global eSports activities through Major League Gaming. The company has studios around the world with nearly 10,000 employees.

“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 Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “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.”

Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard for $95.00 per share, in an all-cash transaction valued at $68.7 billion, inclusive of Activision Blizzard’s net cash. When the transaction closes, Microsoft will become the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. The planned acquisition includes iconic franchises from Activision, Blizzard, and King studios like “Warcraft,” “Diablo,” “Overwatch,” “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush,” in addition to global eSports activities through Major League Gaming. The company has studios around the world with nearly 10,000 employees.

Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company’s culture and accelerate business growth. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming. It is rumored that Kotick will step down as CEO after the acquisition is complete.

“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 Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “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.”

“Players everywhere love Activision Blizzard games, and we believe the creative teams have their best work in front of them,” said Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming. “Together we will build a future where people can play the games they want, virtually anywhere they want.”

“For more than 30 years our incredibly talented teams have created some of the most successful games,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard. “The combination of Activision Blizzard’s world-class talent and extraordinary franchises with Microsoft’s technology, distribution, access to talent, ambitious vision, and shared commitment to gaming and inclusion will help ensure our continued success in an increasingly competitive industry.”

Mobile is the largest segment in gaming, with nearly 95% of all players globally enjoying games on mobile. Through great teams and great technology, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will empower players to enjoy the most-immersive franchises, like “Halo” and “Warcraft,” virtually anywhere they want. And with games like “Candy Crush,” Activision Blizzard´s mobile business represents a significant presence and opportunity for Microsoft in this fast-growing segment.

The acquisition also bolsters Microsoft’s Game Pass portfolio with plans to launch Activision Blizzard games into Game Pass, which has reached a new milestone of over 25 million subscribers. With Activision Blizzard’s nearly 400 million monthly active players in 190 countries and three billion-dollar franchises, this acquisition will make Game Pass one of the most compelling and diverse lineups of gaming content in the industry. Upon close, Microsoft will have 30 internal game development studios, along with additional publishing and esports production capabilities.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review and Activision Blizzard’s shareholder approval. The deal is expected to close in the fiscal year 2023 and will be accretive to non-GAAP earnings per share upon close. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard.

For more information about Microsoft acquiring Activision, follow Gamactica Portals.

 

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Labor Board Says Activision Blizzard Illegally Threatened Staff

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The United Sates National Labor Board says that Activision Blizzard, the publisher behind such games as Call of Duty and Overwatch, illegally threatened staff and enforced a social media policy that conflicts with workers’ rights, according to Bloomberg.

This yet another negative mark on the company, and comes following a complaint filed with the NLRB filed against Activision Blizzard that claims employees were being threated for discussing wages and working conditions via the company’s internal Slack channel.

If Activision Blizzard does not settle this issue, the company will receive a formal complaint from the National Labor Relations Board’s regional director in Los Angeles.

 

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Take-Two Interactive Acquires Zynga

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Take-Two Interactive has officially completed it’s acquisition of mobile studio Zynga, following shareholder approval from both parties being completed last week.

With the acquisition, Take-Two now owns all outstanding shares of the company for approximately $12.7 billion, in what that company is describing as a “pivotal step” in their plans to expand their mobile side of offerings..

“We are thrilled to complete our combination with Zynga,” Take-Two chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick said in an official announcement. “As we bring together our exceptional talent, exciting pipelines of games, and industry-leading technologies and capabilities, we believe that we can take our portfolio to another level of creativity, innovation, and quality.

“We are eager to continue building an unparalleled portfolio of games that will reach broader markets and lead to continued growth for this next chapter of Zynga’s history” Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau said.

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Tencent Releases Q1 Financial Results, Gaming Accounts for 32% of Revenue

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Chinese tech juggernaut Tencent has released it’s Q1 financial results, which ended on March 31st, and show a reported total revenues of RMB 135.5 billion ($21.3 billion), which is in-line with the $20.2 billion reported back in Q1 of 2021.

Additionally, Games account for 32% of Tencent’s $21.3 billion in revenue.

According to GamesIndustry.biz, Tencent profits are down 52% from RMB 23.7 billion ($3.7 billion), operating profit was down 15% year-on-year to RMB 36.5 billion ($5.8 billion). Operating margin decreased from 32% in Q1 2021 to 27%.

In regards to Tencent’s gaming side of the business, the revenue for domestic titles (those in China) sow a slight dip of 1%, attributed to “direct and indirect effects” of measures implemented in China to protect minors from excessive gaming.

Titles such as League of Legends: Wild Rift and Fight of The Golden Spatula saw a rise in revenue, but were offset by the declines in Call of Duty Mobile, among other titles.

In regards to titles outside of the market in China, gaming revenue spiked 4% year-on-year to RMB 10.6 billion ($1.6 billion), largely due to the success of Valorant and Clash of Clans, but Tencent did report a decline in revenue from PUBG Mobile, explaining “as user spending normalized post-COVID.”

Domestic games accounted for 24% of the company’s total quarterly revenues, slightly down from 25% in Q1 2021, with international games accounting for 8%, a rise from 7%.

Read more, including comments from Chief strategy officer James Mitchell, over at GamesIndustry.biz.

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