Activision Blizzard, maker of the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft franchises, among others, has been purchased by Microsoft — and for a lot of money despite the ongoing sexual-harassment lawsuit against Activision. The Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft plans to buy Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion all-cash deal. Variety characterized it as “by far the biggest deal ever” for the video-game industry. Both outlets reported that the purchase would make Microsoft, the creator of Xbox, the third-largest gaming company by revenue (behind Tencent and Sony).
The deal comes six months after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Activision Blizzard over alleged sexual harassment, pay inequity faced by women at the company, and reported favoritism toward male workers. The company called the suit’s claims “distorted” and “false” at the time, while Activision employees staged a walkout in response. Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack resigned in response to the suit and walkout. That didn’t solve things for Activision, which faced renewed criticism in November when The Wall Street Journal reported that the company’s CEO, Bobby Kotick, was aware of some instances of alleged sexual harassment and rape at the company and allegedly kept that information from the board of directors. While Activision called the investigation “misleading,” it prompted companies like Sony and Microsoft to announce they were looking into their working relationships with Activision. Two months later, Microsoft’s acquisition arrives alongside the news that Kotick will continue as Activision’s CEO despite calls for his resignation.
“We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect,” wrote Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, in a letter announcing the acquisition. “We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.”
In the letter, Spencer also wrote that after the deal, Microsoft “will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass.” He referenced plans to use Activision’s catalogue in the company’s development of “Cloud Gaming.”