Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard Changes the Landscape of Esports
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January 18, 2022

Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard Changes the Landscape of Esports

Microsoft Gaming, owners of the Xbox brand, has acquired Activision Blizzard, publishers of popular esports titles like Overwatch and Call of Duty, for $68.7 billion.

Microsoft Gaming

Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, plans to include as many Activision games as possible in the Xbox Game Pass program, as well as PC Game Pass. Additionally, the acquisition will “accelerate [Microsoft’s] plans for Cloud Gaming.”

According to a company email, the deal will be finalized sometime in 2023. In 2021, Microsoft acquired Bethesda, owners of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises, for $7.5 billion.

The primary question on consumers’ minds is likely, “Will Activision games be Xbox exclusive?” Both Bethesda’s upcoming Starfield release and The Elder Scrolls VI will be. However, Call of Duty 2022 should come before this deal’s finalization, releasing on both Xbox and PlayStation.

Meanwhile, Halo Infinite is already a long-standing exclusive. Upcoming fps titles CrossfireX and ExoMecha will also be Xbox-only. With Overwatch 2 and potentially later CoD games following suit, the fps genre may become Microsoft’s monopoly.

This could decrease the accessibility of fps esports games to a broader audience. Already, dominant esports titles like CS:GO and Valorant are PC-only. In the event Xbox becomes the sole host to two additional major fps esports alongside already-popular Halo Infinite, esports fans may trade in their PlayStations.

Of course, most fps esports players use mouse-and-keyboard or third-party controllers on PC. Those PCs, if hosting CoD or Overwatch esports, will likely be Microsoft brand. This will probably not affect professional gameplay, but improve visibility and revenue for Microsoft, especially if the CDL and OWL use and promote this tech exclusively.

Activision Blizzard

The Major League Gaming organization is also included under Activision’s banner, providing for even more esports opportunities.

Many are also wondering about Activision’s declining reputation. Activision is in the midst of many controversies on workplace misconduct and sexual harassment. One incident even led to Overwatch’s gunslinger undergoing a name change, from Jesse McCree to Cole Cassidy.

“We have changed how we do certain things with them, and they’re aware of that,” said Phil Spencer in a New York Times interview last week. “But… this isn’t about, for us as Xbox, virtue-shaming other companies. Xbox’s history is not spotless.”

Spencer referred to an incident In 2016, in which a corporate-sponsored party included exotic dancers dressed as schoolgirls. As for Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, whose resignation has previously been called for, he will retain his position for now. It is believed that, if he is later let go due to a change in ownership, he will be compensated generously.

Written by Katy Rigol

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