Although we’re barely a month into 2022, the most shocking news of the year may have just aired. In an almost entirely unexpected announcement, it has been revealed that Microsoft has formally agreed to fully acquire Activision Blizzard for an eye-watering sum of $68.7 billion in cash. This revelation has left the gaming industry spinning, as yet another huge acquisition by Microsoft extends the ‘Xbox Family’ by a staggering distance.
It was a little over a year ago that Microsoft bought ZeniMax Media, acquiring by association the might of Bethesda. As if that wasn’t enough, Microsoft has now moved to secure industry-dominating brands consisting of Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and, most importantly, Call of Duty.
This deal will likely have untold implications on the industry, but what happens next?
Will Call of Duty Become Xbox Exclusive?
Almost immediately, the word on everyone’s lips is ‘exclusivity’. Recently, following Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda, it was revealed that almost all future Bethesda releases would be Xbox and PC exclusive. This includes the ever-popular Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises, but also any future IPs, such as Starfield.
Currently, absolutely nothing is known regarding the potential exclusivity for franchises such as Call of Duty. However, should Microsoft decide to turn Activision Blizzard into an Xbox-based powerhouse, the likes of Call of Duty could be the first title to feel the impact. Later this year, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is rumoured to be launching, so could that be the first Xbox-only based outing for the twenty-year-old franchise?
Alongside Call of Duty sits the likes of WarCraft, Candy Crush, StarCraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Tony Hawk, Spyro, and Guitar Hero, among others. While some of these franchises are PC-only by default, there are plenty of titles among them that could become Xbox exclusive in future iterations.
Furthermore, Microsoft will now own the rights to various esports tournaments, such as the Call of Duty League and the Overwatch League. Also, it’ll give Microsoft the rights to the age-old esports platform, Major League Gaming.
It’s Not Over Until It’s Over
It’s important to stress that, right now, the deal hasn’t closed, but it is very much public knowledge. Furthermore, until the transaction is signed, sealed, and delivered, both entities will continue to function separately. There’s no real time limit on these kinds of things, and as you can imagine, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes action taking place. When this deal does close, it’ll make Microsoft the third-largest gaming company in the world, by order of total revenue.
In recent months, Activision Blizzard has been under fire for numerous controversies. There has been a spate of bad press circulating around the firm and its current CEO, Bobby Kotick. It may come as unfortunate news to some, but it has already been confirmed that Kotick will remain the CEO of Activision Blizzard even after the acquisition has been completed.
In a bold statement, Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, said:
As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players. We deeply value individual studio cultures. 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
Ultimately, this is nothing but good news for Xbox and PC-based gamers. There’s already a wealth of content being delivered on both platforms, but now, offerings like Xbox Game Pass will continue to grow immeasurably. In the everlasting ‘console wars’, it seems as though Xbox is keen to break away from PlayStation and gain traction simply by buying up as many top-tier conglomerates as possible.