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Microsoft’s Biggest Acquisition Of All Time, Activision Blizzard

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Activision Blizzard

Microsoft made news on Monday with its reveal that it plans to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in the biggest gaming acquisition in history and Microsoft’s most significant overall.

But how, exactly, does the acquisition stack up against Microsoft’s earlier buyouts, other gaming purchases, and deals across other industries?

 

Biggest and most expensive ever

Microsoft, this was the company’s largest acquisition of all time, and not just for gaming–and not by a small margin. The $68.7 billion that Microsoft is offering to pay for Activision Blizzard is about 3X larger than the $26.2 billion that Microsoft paid for LinkedIn in 2016, which was formerly the company’s immense buyout of all time. Next behind that was the $19.7 billion purchase of Nuance in 2021. Before that, Microsoft paid $8.5 billion to get Skype in 2011.

 

Largest gaming buyout ever

Microsoft’s buyout of Activision Blizzard is extremely more expensive than the $8.1 billion it paid for ZeniMax/Bethesda and factors larger than the $2.5 billion it paid for Mojang and Minecraft series.

Outside of Microsoft’s own gaming deals, this is the biggest buyout in video game history by a huge margin. Before today, the biggest gaming acquisition in history was Take-Two’s $12.7 billion purchase of Zynga, which was just revealed last week. In 2016, Tencent paid $8.6 billion to get Clash of Clans developer Supercell in what was at the time the largest ever.

Another huge deal was Activision Blizzard’s $5.9 billion purchase of Candy Crush studio King in 2015–King is now part of Microsoft.

Another gaming investment that crossed the billion-dollar was Facebook’s $2 billion deal for Oculus in 2014. And one of the only other gaming deals above $1 billion came in 2020 when Zynga acquired the mobile game company Peak for $1.8 billion. Another major deal of note was Activision Blizzard’s buyout from Vivendi, which was valued at around $8 billion.

In 2007, EA paid $860 million to acquire Mass Effect developer BioWare and Mercenaries studio Pandemic. In 2011, Electronic Arts acquired Bejeweled developer PopCap in a deal worth $650 million in cash, and many hundreds of millions more in incentives. In 2016, EA returned to its checkbook again to purchase Titanfall developer Respawn for $141 million in cash and millions more in performance-based bonuses and equity.

Another gigantic deal on the gaming landscape was for casual games company Big Fish Games. Churchill Downs, the horseracing company that operates the Kentucky Derby, paid $885 million to acquire Big Fish Games in 2014. Churchill Downs sold Big Fish in 2018 to the Australian gambling company Aristocrat Leisure for $990 million.

Outside of gaming

Microsoft’s blockbuster purchase of Activision Blizzard into view. Disney paid around $4 billion to buy out Marvel in 2009 before paying out about the same number for Lucasfilm/Star Wars in 2012.

Microsoft’s deal for Activision is a few billion short of the $73.1 billion that Disney paid to get many of Fox’s TV and film assets, which includes The Simpsons. Outside of media, the beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev bought SABMiller in 2016 for $104 billion. One of the most significant acquisitions in the latest American history was AOL’s $165 billion mergers with Time Warner Inc.

Microsoft’s deal for Activision Blizzard is launched to close in FY2023 (July 2022-June 2023), so it might still be some time before we learn more about the specifics such as whether or not Call of Duty will be a part of an Xbox-exclusive series going forward.

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