The purchase was reported in a message from Xbox CEO Phil Spencer on Xbox Wire, with Microsoft now owning all Activision Blizzard studios and their franchises, including World of Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Candy Crush, and Call of Duty. Once the transition is finalized, all Activision Blizzard subsidiaries will report to Spencer as the executive vice president of Gaming at Microsoft.
Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass were also specifically mentioned, stating that as many existing and new Activision Blizzard games as possible would be brought to the platforms, while Microsoft would also be accelerating its plans to support the games via Cloud Gaming.
Over many decades, the studios and teams that make up Activision Blizzard have earned vast wellsprings of joy and respect from billions of people all over the world. We are incredibly excited to have the chance to work with the amazing, talented, dedicated people across Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, Beenox, Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Major League Gaming, Radical Entertainment, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob, Treyarch and every team across Activision Blizzard.
Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently. Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming.
In November of last year, Phil Spencer condemned Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick on an e-mail sent to staff, mentioning that his leadership team was “disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions” at Activision Blizzard, further commenting that “this type of behavior has no place in our industry,” though in a later follow up stated that Xbox would not be changing its partnership with Activision Blizzard content and that it was not their place to punish other companies.
In their own press release, Activision Blizzard also announced the acquisition, which will make Microsoft the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. Interestingly, it reiterated that current CEO Bobby Kotick would continue leading Activision Blizzard during the transitional period, though was unclear as to what his role would be once the company begins reporting to Phil Spencer and whether Kotick will stay onboard or not – only two months ago, Kotick stated that he would consider stepping down if he couldn’t fix the cultural problems at Activision, and it is unclear how much this announcement may impact those plans.
An Microsoft and Activision Blizzard Conference Call did present some new information however, most notably with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella commenting on organizational culture, seemingly in response to the many recent allegations against Activision Blizzard.
Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft
I want to wrap by talking briefly about a vital factor that underlies all of the opportunities I’ve talked about: culture.
As CEO of Microsoft, the culture of our organization is my number one priority. This means we must continuously improve the lived experience of our employees, and create an environment that allows us to constantly drive everyday improvement in our culture. This is hard work. It requires consistency, commitment, and leadership that not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. That’s why we believe it’s critical for Activision Blizzard to drive forward on its renewed cultural commitments. We are supportive of the goals and the work Activision Blizzard is doing. And we also recognize that after the close we while have significant work to do in order to continue to build a culture where everyone can do their best work. And this isn’t just about employees. Our journey of inclusion extends to creating a welcoming and safe community for all our customers, including the hundreds of millions of players who enjoy our games and interactive services. We are committed to protecting players and empowering our employees to do what they love, while thriving in a safe and inclusive culture, one where everyone is invited to play. The success of this acquisition will depend on it.
Bobby Kotick, Phil Spencer, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, and and Investor Relations General Manager Brett Iversen added their own comments, the full transcript of which can be found linked above. The call closed with a reminder of Microsoft’s upcoming second quarter financial earnings call on January 25th.
Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier also provided an excerpt from Bobby Kotick’s email to Activision Blizzard staff, giving projected dates for the transition. Activision is expected to remain completely autonomous and independent until sometimes around June 2023, though this is certainly be a flexible target date and subject to change.