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  • Writer's pictureJamal Saafir

Microsoft Acquires “Call of Duty” Maker Activision Blizzard

According to a report from Decrypt, after a long legal tussle with regulators, Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of game publisher Activision Blizzard has concluded, garnering another list of franchises and studios for their portfolio.

Microsoft’s Xbox division acquired gaming brands Call of Duty, Warcraft, Candy Crush Saga, and Overwatch in the process, joining already-owned IP like Minecraft and The Elder Scrolls, plus it has Activision studios like Blizzard, Infinity Ward, and King. Microsoft now holds over 23 game studios.

“To the millions of fans who love Activision, Blizzard, and King games, we know that you are the heart and soul of these franchises, and we’re honored to have you as part of our community,” wrote Xbox boss Phil Spencer in a tweet celebrating the acquisition Friday.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will maintain his position, but will now report directly to Spencer, according to an internal email Spencer sent to staff Friday. Spencer reportedly asked Kotick to remain in his current role until the end of 2023, according to a blog post from the Activision CEO.

Microsoft agreed to keep Activision’s prestigious Call of Duty franchise on Sony PlayStation and Nintendo consoles for at least 10 years through a pair of separate deals reached with both rival hardware makers earlier in the year. The deals were seemingly made to diminish the fears of regulators that the acquisition would produce a monopoly.

Microsoft honored PS5 exclusive agreements for Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo after its acquisition of Bethseda in 2021. But Starfield and Redfall were released as Xbox and PC exclusives this year, so it’s probable that future Bethesda titles will also be released as Xbox exclusives, much to the dismay of PlayStation users.

In a post published Friday, Spencer said that Xbox is actively working to bring Activision, Blizzard, and King games to “Game Pass and other platforms,” adding that more will be shared “in the coming months.”

Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft’s all-you-can-play subscription service, offering up to over 100 games to download and play for a monthly fee. Titles like Call of Duty, Overwatch 2, and Diablo IV won’t be added this year—but players will see Activision Blizzard games trickle onto the service in 2024, according to the studio.

“We anticipate that we would begin adding games into Game Pass some time in the course of next year,” Activision Blizzard shared on Twitter.

Assassin’s Creed publisher Ubisoft now has perpetual cloud streaming rights for all Activision Blizzard games, including Call of Duty. This means that all current Activision Blizzard games can be added to Ubisoft’s game subscription service, Ubisoft+, and the publisher can also license streaming access to other cloud gaming companies, according to a Ubisoft blog post published Friday.

Ubisoft also holds cloud streaming rights for the next 15 years of Activision Blizzard games, according to the company. The Ubisoft deal was a part of Microsoft’s broader move to acquire Activision Blizzard, in order to pacify regulators.

“We have those streaming rights in perpetuity,” wrote Ubisoft Senior Community Experience Manager Daniel O’Connor. “So, even after the terms of this deal come to an end, we will still have those rights and we will still be able to provide those games to people and companies throughout the world, so there are a lot of possibilities.”

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