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In brief: The entire video games industry is feeling the shockwaves from Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, including the Redmond firm’s console rival, Sony. The Japanese company's shares fell 13% following the announcement of yesterday’s deal, wiping $20 billion off its valuation in a single day.
Microsoft shocked the industry with what would be the Windows-maker’s largest deal to date, beating the $26.2 billion it paid for LinkedIn in 2016, the $19.7 billion Nuance Communications deal, and nearly ten times the $7.5 billion it paid for Bethesda parent company ZeniMax.
For consumers, the acquisition will see many of Activision’s current and future games come to the Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass subscription services, though not until the deal completes in 2023. Some of Activision Blizzard's best-known IPs include Diablo, Overwatch, and the incredibly popular Call of Duty series.
The move has led to fears among PlayStation owners that Call of Duty will become an Xbox/PC exclusive. Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer tried to lay those concerns to rest by saying, “I’ll just say to players out there who are playing Activision Blizzard games on Sony’s platform: It’s not our intent to pull communities away from that platform and we remained committed to that.”
However, Spencer made a similar promise when Microsoft acquired Bethesda, and while the likes of Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo kept their PlayStation 5 timed exclusivity, Starfield is going to be an Xbox/PC exclusive, as is Elder Scrolls 6. Spencer did say Microsoft would continue to develop “some of Activision’s games” for PlayStation consoles; we’ll have to wait and see if Call of Duty is one of them.
Whatever happens with game exclusivity, the Microsoft deal has certainly worried Sony investors. Bloomberg reports that the company's shares fell 13% in Tokyo on Wednesday, wiping $20 billion off its value and marking their biggest drop since October 2008.