As Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard continues to go through approval processes, we’re learning more about what the deal means moving forward.
Phil Spencer talked today on the Microsoft blog to discuss what a finalized deal means for gamers. The highlight is the inclusion of several key Activision Blizzard franchises arriving on Xbox Game Pass.
“We are expanding choice in two ways: through the creation of Game Pass,” Spencer writes, “which gives players a subscription option; and by bringing more games to mobile platforms, including through our cloud game streaming technology. Subscription services like Game Pass make gaming more affordable and help players from all over the world find their next favorite game. Game Pass empowers developers to bring more games to more players, not fewer.”
“We intend to make Activision Blizzard’s much-loved library of games – including Overwatch, Diablo and Call of Duty – available in Game Pass and to grow those gaming communities. By delivering even more value to players, we hope to continue growing Game Pass, extending its appeal to mobile phones and any connected device.”
Spencer also reinforces that future releases of Call of Duty will be available on multiple platforms. This includes same-day releases for Xbox, PC, PlayStation, and other applicable platforms. The newest Call of Duty entry, Modern Warfare II, will release on October 28th for Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows. An open beta is scheduled to take place later this month.
The topic of possible hiccups in approving the Microsoft – Activision Blizzard deal is also addressed by Spencer. His blog release comes after The Competition and Markets Authority decided that the acquisition may affect competition in the United Kingdom, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz. The ruling mentioned that Microsoft’s potential control of franchises such as Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and World of Warcraft could result in the company “harming consumers by impairing Sony’s – Microsoft’s closest gaming rival – ability to compete.”
This echoes Sony’s comments about the deal when inquired; they were the only publisher that expressed concerns. Ubisoft, Warner Bros., Bandai Namco, and Riot Games either had no comment on the deal or stated that they didn’t foresee the acquisition resulting in a lack of market competition.
Phil Spencer commented on the blog post regarding concerns about the pending deal.
“We will continue to engage with regulators with a spirit of transparency and openness as they review this acquisition. We respect and welcome the hard questions that are being asked. The gaming industry today is robust and dynamic. Industry leaders, including Tencent and Sony, continue to expand their deep and extensive libraries of games as well as other entertainment brands and franchises, which are enjoyed by players everywhere. We believe that a thorough review will show that the combination of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will benefit the industry and players.”
Bobby Kotick also addressed the concerns about possible hurdles in the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard acquisition.
“I wanted to provide a brief update of our progress towards the completion of our merger with Microsoft,” he said. “As we said from the outset, this is a long process. With the number of government approvals required, we still believe the deal is most likely to close in Microsoft’s fiscal year ending June of next year. We are fortunate to have already received approvals from a couple of countries, and the process with all of the regulators is generally moving along as we expected.
This week we heard from the United Kingdom, where we have more employees than anywhere except North America. We have entered the second phase of our review there, and we will continue to fully cooperate with the regulators there, and everywhere approvals are required.”
The upcoming Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard comes at a time when Activision Blizzard is undergoing several allegations of sexism, misogyny, and mistreatment in the workplace.