Microsoft's biggest acquisition yet: Game developer Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion

Microsoft is buying the maker of Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and other games in a deal substantially larger than its $21.6 billion LinkedIn acquisition.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard Inc., a game development and interactive-entertainment content publisher, for $68.7 billion. Activision Blizzard makes games including Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, and Hearthstone. Microsoft will get Activision Blizzard's nearly 10,000 employees as part of the deal, which was announced on January 18.

Microsoft officials are accelerating the growth in the company's gaming business across mobile, PC, console, and cloud, and say it "will provide building blocks for the metaverse." Microsoft also will get global eSports properties via Major League Gaming as part of the transaction. 

The $68.7 billion deal makes the Activision Blizzard acquisition the largest in Microsoft's history. Up until today, LinkedIn -- which Microsoft bought in 2016 for $26.2 billion -- was its largest acquisition, followed by Nuance Communications for $19.7 billion last year.

Microsoft officials said that Phil Spencer will become CEO of Microsoft Gaming once the transaction closes, and the Activision Blizzard business will report to him. Microsoft execs also said once the deal is finalized, Microsoft will become the world's third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.

Microsoft officials said the acquisition also will bolster the company's Game Pass portfolio, since Microsoft will put Activision Blizzard games into Game Pass. Microsoft says Game Pass now has 25 million subscribers. Activision Blizzard has nearly 400 million monthly active players, Microsoft officials said. After the deal closes, Microsoft will have 30 internal game development studios, officials added.

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