Microsoft Corporation has said that it has reached an agreement to acquire Activision Blizzard Inc. in an all-cash deal valued at $68.7 billion that will be the biggest ever by the software giant. Microsoft will pay $95 per Activision share to create the world’s third-biggest gaming company measured by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. The deal includes franchises “Warcraft,” “Diablo,” “Overwatch,” “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush,” in addition to global eSports activities through Major League Gaming, the companies said in a joint statement.
The deal is expected to close in fiscal 2023. Activision will continue to be led by CEO Bobby Kotick and his management team, who have come under criticism for their handling of misconduct by some of the company’s employees. “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,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO of Microsoft. Microsoft shares fell 1.8% premarket on the news. Activision shares were halted for the news, but had gained 37.6% before the halt was announced. Last week, Take-Two Interactive Inc. announced its acquisition of Zynga Inc. in a $12.7 billion cash-and-stock deal.