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Microsoft to buy Activision in $68.7 billion all-cash deal

Under the deal, Activision head Bobby Kotick, who has faced calls to resign over the cultural problems within his company, will remain CEO.
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Microsoft announced Tuesday it will buy video game giant Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion all-cash deal.

Shares of Activision soared about 37 percent in pre-market trading before being halted after the Wall Street Journal first reported the deal.

Microsoft shares fell more than 2 percent following the announcement

Activision, which is known for popular games such as Call of Duty and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, has been mired in controversy for the last several months following reports of sexual misconduct and harassment among the company’s executives. On Monday, Activision said it fired dozens of executives after an investigation.

Under the deal, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, who has faced calls to resign over the cultural problems within his company, will remain CEO and report to Microsoft’s Xbox boss Phil Spencer.

Microsoft has become more aggressive with gaming over the past several years. It bought Minecraft maker Mojang for $2.5 billion in 2014. And last year, Microsoft completed a $7.5 billion acquisition of game maker Bethesda.

Bobby Kotick
Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, attends the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in 2019.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

The deal also plays into a long-term vision for Microsoft as it competes with Meta (formerly Facebook) to build technologies to create a virtual world called the metaverse. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was the first Big Tech chief executive to publicly acknowledge the value of the metaverse, months before Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Today, virtual worlds are dominated by gaming, but the hope is they expand to cater to other demographics and replace much of the online social networking.

In announcing the deal, the companies highlighted Activision’s strength in mobile gaming, such as the popular — and lucrative — Candy Crush. They also highlighted the opportunity to cross-promote popular gaming franchises from both companies, like Microsoft’s Halo and Activision’s World of Warcraft.