Microsoft has acquired Call of Duty’s publisher Activision Blizzard, the developer behind Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush, for $68.7 billion.
By making this acquisition, which is the most expensive in the company’s history, Microsoft will become third in the world in revenue terms behind Tencent and Sony. Furthermore, it will start Microsoft’s journey into the metaverse.
Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella said in a press release Tuesday.
“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,”
There is very little connection between the majority of VR and AR applications and the metaverse, a virtual world that can be accessed from any device, including a TV or phone. However, Microsoft has already laid the groundwork for an early metaverse thanks to its Azure cloud computing platforms, which power Xbox Cloud Gaming and Windows 365. Essentially, these services are the future metaverse; they are cross-platform and they provide users with on-demand access to data that would normally sit at home or in an office.
As explained by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who championed Azure development within the company, gaming “will play a critical role in the development of metaverse platforms.” Only game developers can create immersive virtual worlds on top of the Azure cloud infrastructure, and Activision Blizzard is uniquely qualified to build such environments because of its expertise in artificial intelligence and mobile apps.
Activision Blizzard owns popular gaming franchises such as “World of Warcraft,” “Diablo,” “Call of Duty,” and “Candy Crush.”
As part of its Game Pass subscription, Microsoft plans to add Activision Blizzard games. Currently, there are more than 25 million subscribers to Game Pass, and the company hopes that almost 400 million active players from Activision Blizzard will contribute to the subscriber count.
The current CEO of Activision, Bobby Kotick, will continue in that role, and once the deal has closed, the company will report to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer. Bobby Kotick is expected to depart after the deal closes, however.