Is Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard in trouble?

The biggest deal in gaming history has faced steep criticism from regulators and competitors

Date Type Companies involved Size
November 7th, 2022 Activision Blizzard
Is Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard in trouble?

Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, should it be closed, will be the most expensive video game acquisition of all time at $69 billion, but the New York Post is reporting that insiders are growing fearful that the deal may fall apart.

Activision Blizzard’s stock price fell to below $73 on Thursday, and currently stands at $71.42, compared to $82 when the deal was first announced, suggesting that investors are growing skeptical about the future of the deal.

Although the acquisition has been approved in several territories, such as Saudi Arabia, it’s facing scrutiny from antitrust authorities in the UK, EU, and USA, and is being opposed by chief competitor Sony.

A major point of contention among both competitors and regulators is the future of the Call of Duty series. The franchise is one of the most successful in gaming history with the most recent entry, Modern Warfare 2, earning over $800 million within three days of release.

Although Microsoft gaming CEO Phil Spencer has claimed that the franchise will continue to be made available on PlayStation for as long as the PlayStation exists, neither regulators or competitors are confident that this holds true, and Microsoft has refused to issue a formal promise to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.

Let's make a deal

Some analysts argue that the option of exclusivity was a part of the acquisition, and the company’s reluctance to legally confirm its intentions could hint at future hopes to make Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox consoles, and that the unprecedented pushback could be giving the company pause.

““Microsoft’s decision to buy Activision is all about exclusivity,” said Wedbush Securities managing director Dan Ives. “If giving up exclusivity is one of the required concessions, Microsoft is going to have to think long and hard if this is still the right deal.”

“Microsoft isn’t buying this asset so other companies can use Activision games to the same extent. It all comes down to what the concessions are.”

Should the deal fall through, Microsoft would be obligated to pay Activision Blizzard a $3 billion break-up fee. For its part, Activision Blizzard insiders state that the company hopes Microsoft will be more accommodating, however shareholders will receive a pay out regardless of the closure, or abandonment, of the deal.

However, any thoughts of Microsoft purposefully abandoning the deal if they’re unwilling to make the required concessions should be put to bed. The company is legally obligated to use its best efforts to close the deal, and could face a lawsuit from Activision should it believe Microsoft purposefully cancelled the deal. Although any financial restitutions would likely be a drop in the water, it could risk the working relationship between the two companies.

In August, we listed Activision Blizzard as one of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2022.

Staff Writer

Lewis Rees is a journalist, author, and escape room enthusiast based in South Wales. He got his degree in Film and Video from the University of Glamorgan. He's been a gamer all his life.