In an investor relations call, Microsoft revealed that following its acquisition, Activision Blizzard will report to the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, Phil Spencer. However, the company’s embattled CEO, Bobby Kotick, will retain his position.
Throughout the investor call, which included Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella and CFO Amy Hood, as well as Spencer and Kotick, each speaker emphasized that the purchase would make gaming easier for players. Nadella restated that Microsoft is planning to “bring as many Activision Blizzard games to our Game Pass service, including new games as well as games from Activision Blizzard’s incredibly catalog.”
However, an emphasis was put on mobile gaming. The acquisition brings one of the largest mobile gaming developers, King, under Microsoft’s umbrella, and the company is now looking to bring other major franchises, including Call of Duty and Overwatch, to users on mobile devices via Xbox Game Pass.
Once the acquisition comes to a close in 2023, Phil Spencer will be in charge of leading Microsoft’s expansion into mobile gaming. According to Nadella, Activision Blizzard will report directly to Phil Spencer, the front-facing head of Xbox, a responsibility he seemingly seeks to have for the foreseeable future. During the call, Spencer said that the acquisition is “not about short-term results” but rather what is coming down the pipeline from Activision Blizzard.
Despite Spencer’s new position as the boss of Activision Blizzard, the company’s current CEO, Bobby Kotick, will remain in place. While an explanation for Kotick retaining his job was not offered, it’s a divisive move, as the CEO has gained negative face within his own company and throughout the gaming industry due to Activision Blizzard’s internal culture, which has led to multiple instances of sexual misconduct, harassment, and gender discrimination at the publisher. Kotick allegedly knew of the sexual misconduct allegations against executives at Activision Blizzard and either did not act or did not inform the company’s board of directors.
These issues at Activision Blizzard were also mentioned during the investor call. Nadella made a point to say that “we are supportive of the goal and the work Activision Blizzard is doing, and we also recognize that after the close, we will have significant work to do in order to continue to build a culture where everyone can do their best work.” Although vague, Nadella seems to allude to Microsoft stepping in to ensure that proper change happens at Activision Blizzard.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard was made with $68.7 billion in cash, toppling the recently-set record for the most expensive acquisition in the gaming industry set by Take-Two Interactive, which purchased Zynga for $12.7 billion.
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