Bobby Kotick has been CEO of Activision since 1991. Following the merger with Vivendi Games in 2008, he became the president and CEO of Activision Blizzard. According to reports, once Microsoft’s (MSFT) acquisition of Activision Blizzard (ATVI) is finalized, Kotick will step down from the video game company he started with his roommate in a University of Michigan dorm.
Microsoft Gaming’s CEO, Phil Spencer, is in line to replace Kotick. “Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently,” says Spencer, the head of the Xbox brand. “Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming.”
Spencer started as an intern at Microsoft in 1998. He climbed the corporate ladder working as the leading developer of the tech company’s first CD-ROM-based titles. Spencer was the general manager of Microsoft Game Studios EMEA and, within a year, was promoted to become the studio’s corporate vice president.
Microsoft will acquire Kotick’s Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion cash deal that’s expected to take months, if not years, to finalize, due to scrutiny from regulators. It will be the biggest deal in gaming history when it’s finally completed, making Microsoft the third-largest gaming company by revenue in the world. It would also be the topmost takeover ever in the tech industry, replacing Dell’s 2016 purchase of EMC.
Why Would Microsoft Spend Nearly $70 Billion on the Future of Gaming?
Microsoft is developing a cloud gaming service and offers Game Pass, a subscription-based gaming option for Xbox and PC that already has 25 million subscribers. Microsoft will be able to expand its presence in mobile gaming with Activision’s game studio, King.
King is the maker of the popular Candy Crush Saga games. Industry experts state that the acquisition of Bobby Kotick’s Activision Blizzard is Microsoft’s way of staking its claims to the future of virtual reality and the metaverse. “We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community, and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive, and accessible to all,” says Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft.
According to Spencer, Microsoft will add many of Activision’s games to Xbox Game Pass. With the acquisition of Bobby Kotick’s Blizzard Activision, Microsoft will soon be publishing popular franchises, including Candy Crush, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Call of Duty. “Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog,” explains Spencer.
Game Pass has changed the way people play. “For the first couple of decades, the only way you could play the game was to buy the game outright. And for many players, this can be an investment that limits their ability to play,” says Spencer. “That cost, the retail model, has limited the audience for creators and the entire industry. That’s why we created Game Pass: to open up the ways that players can play more games with their friends, ultimately bringing in more players, making games more accessible to everyone.”
What Happens to Bobby Kotick After Microsoft’s Acquisition?
More than 3 billion people enjoy playing video games around the world, and Bobby Kotick has been striving to give gamers the best experience since he started as the CEO of Activision in 1991. Today, Kotick’s corporation has more than 10,000 employees working in studios worldwide, and he’s excited about the future of the industry and Activision Blizzard. “As we continue on our journey to connect and engage the world through epic entertainment, we will eventually do so as part of Microsoft. I’m certain that our incredible talent and extraordinary games, combined with our shared commitment to the very best workplace, will enable us to grow in an increasingly more competitive race for leadership as gaming through the metaverse,” Kotck shared in an email to Activision Blizzard employees. “When you reflect on what we’ve built together, we have so much to be proud of. For the last 31 years, we’ve continuously shaped gaming through our commitment to deliver joy, fun, and the thrill of accomplishment.”
Kotick is pleased with what he and the Activision Blizzard employees created. “We’ve transformed games into social experiences and enabled players to find purpose and meaning through the most engaging form of entertainment — our games. By doing so, we’ve created and entertained communities of hundreds of millions of players. Connecting these communities together is the next step. Facebook, Google, Tencent, Netease, Amazon, Apple, Sony, Disney — and many more — have ambitions of their own gaming and metaverse initiatives. Established and emerging competitors see opportunities for virtual worlds filled with professionally produced content, user-generated content, and rich social connections. Our talent and our games are important components of the construction of a rich metaverse. We have always attracted the very best game makers and built the very best games, seizing the opportunity with passion, inspiration, focus, and determination.”
According to the Activision Blizzard CEO, there was no better choice for the merger than Microsoft. “In considering possible partners, all roads ultimately led to Microsoft,” Kotick says. “Like us, they’ve been making games for a long time. Microsoft has already distributed games to hundreds of millions of the world’s computers and computing devices and has technologies and innovations that will support the next generation of games. Microsoft will also support our journey to further strengthen our culture. … Microsoft recognizes the commitment to excellence and creative independence that sets us apart, and we can anticipate minimal changes for our workforce following the close of the transaction.”