Just after the news of Take Two’s $12.7 billion acquisition of Zynga, the most expensive acquisition in gaming history was broken by Microsoft, which announced the acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in cash on the evening of 18th.
After the netizens’ comic revelry, they would like to see Blizzard under the guidance of Microsoft to renew the image of “White Moonlight” in the hearts of players, but is this possible?
Blood change, then blood creation
These years Blizzard can only be described as “internal and external problems”, and more importantly, internal problems. The management led by Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, is like a broken faucet that leaks and spills dirty water every now and then, and the subsequent ripples even spread to the whole game industry.
Blizzard’s scandals have been breaking out since last summer, and it was only then that the outside world discovered that Blizzard, which gamers had long spurned, was already riddled with holes and incomplete, and that the public was only now seeing the first “cockroach” that had accidentally escaped.
This is the reason why Diablo 4 and Battlefront 2 have been delayed to meet with players, so how much Blizzard’s core gamers hated the company in the past few years is now how grateful Microsoft is, and this acquisition has caused an uproar. Players don’t care what the nearly $70 billion means, they’re just glad Blizzard isn’t really “cursed to death” by players, and may even come back from the dead, with new hopes all pinned on Microsoft.
The financial report of Activision Blizzard for the third quarter of 2021 showed a net profit of $639 million and an increase in revenue to $2.07 billion from $1.95 billion in the same period of 2020; what is interesting is that King has 255 million monthly active players, while Blizzard’s games have only 26 million monthly active players, which means that players are less but more willing to spend money for games; Blizzard is doing the opposite, and it is the “mysterious operation” of Blizzard that has angered the most in these years. Blizzard is doing the opposite, and it is the Blizzard players who are most angered by Blizzard’s “mysterious operation” in the past few years.
Strangely enough, no matter how many players criticize Activision Blizzard, the group’s financial fundamentals are quite healthy, with total revenues of US$7.5 billion, US$6.489 billion and US$8.086 billion from 2018 to 2020, in stark contrast to the difficult progress of game development. If not for the acquisition of Candy Crush Saga developer King in 2016, Blizzard would have had a hard time making up for the hole.
That’s why Kotick thinks it can stabilize its stock price by stabilizing its revenue, so it has the audacity to ignore the company’s internal corruption and the slow progress of new game development. As John Carreyrou explains in “Bad Blood: The Silicon Valley Unicorn’s Medical Scam! Secrets, Lies, and Money in the Blood” by John Carreyrou, Elizabeth Holmes is a woman of the world.
So the first thing Microsoft will do when it acquires Activision Blizzard is to clean house. Rumor has it that Kotick will leave after the acquisition is completed, taking nearly $400 million in dividends with him. Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox brand, will also serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, perhaps bringing in “cronies” he has worked with to “transform” Activision Blizzard from the inside out.
New Work Accelerates
On the day the Activision Blizzard acquisition was announced, there was a comment on the Internet to the effect that after Microsoft completed the acquisition, Spencer opened the “Battlefront 2” folder and found it empty. The sequel to the series was announced at BlizzCon 2019, but the development progress has been very slow, originally planned to be released last year, but has been delayed. Kaplan is not the first core member to leave, as dozens of core creators have left Blizzard in recent years.
After Microsoft announced its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a consensus was rarely reached in the gamer community: Microsoft is here, and Blue Sky is here. Why do you say so? Because most of the game developers acquired by Microsoft have not had bad luck afterwards.
In 2014, Microsoft spent US$2.5 billion to acquire Mojang, the developer of “Be the God of Creation”, and many gamers sang its praises, but today it has 141 million monthly active users, which is nearly ten times higher than the 14 million sales volume of Mojang, so it seems that Microsoft has successfully taken over.
The parent company of Bethesda Softworks, ZeniMax Media, was acquired by Microsoft in 2020 for $7.5 billion. Not only is the original IP being developed steadily, but the new IP, Starfield, was also unveiled at E3 2021, and is expected to meet gamers by the end of this year.
Microsoft is using its “money power” to explain what it means to have a big tree to lean on. Perhaps soon, holding the classic IPs of StarCraft, Warcraft, Battlefront, Diablo and Dueling Moments, Activision Blizzard will be able to end its internal and external problems and get back on track to develop games that meet the tastes of new and old players.
Microsoft intends to discuss with the new studio how to develop the games that Activision Blizzard has been shelved.
Spencer mentioned in an interview with the Wall Street Journal a few days ago that he wanted to resurrect old IPs that had been dusted off, even mentioning “Guitar Hero”, “King’s Secret Messenger” and other works that had been extremely popular at one time. The phrase “Blizzard’s products must be the best” has become history, but the Activision Blizzard IP still has infinite potential.