Xbox is splurging $70bn on buying Call of Duty publisher Activision — here's what that means for you

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MICROSOFT is continuing in its mission to make Xbox the best place to play by snapping up Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion deal.

Announced in a blog post, Microsoft Xbox boss Phil Spencer revealed that Activision's extensive library of games would be added to Xbox Game Pass once the deal closes.

Some of Activision Blizzard's franchises include Call of Duty, Diablo, Overwatch, Crash Bandicoot, StarCraft, Tony Hawk, and World of Warcraft.

It follows on from Microsoft's late 2020 acquisition of Bethesda's parent company ZeniMax Media which cost the company $7.5bn.

That's a drop in the bucket compared to almost ten times that on this Activision deal.

What does the Microsoft Activision deal mean for gamers?

Xbox players will already be familiar with the magic of Game Pass, giving subscribers day one access to brand new titles.

Activision's stable of titles will be added to Game Pass when the deal closes, including old and new games from the publisher.

Game Pass has just reached 25 million subs, and Microsoft announced last year that it had no more backwards compatibility games to add to Game Pass.

The deal means an influx of games, adding even more value to Game Pass than before.

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Spencer says the deal will also "accelerate" Microsoft's plans for Cloud Gaming, by "allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices" they already own.

If you're a PlayStation gamer, then we might see some of Activision's franchises go exclusive to Microsoft's platforms.

Despite criticising platform exclusivity in the past, Spencer confirmed that the Bethesda deal would mean that new titles would be Xbox exclusives.

We may see new and upcoming Activision Blizzard games follow the same route.

Activision Blizzard controversy

The timing of the announcement has raised a few eyebrows, as Activision is currently embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal.

CEO Bobby Kotick allegedly withheld a report on the internal situation that saw around 40 employees fired or pushed out since last July.

Kotick is alleged to have said that it would make the issue "seem bigger than is already known," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Given the turmoil at Activision and Microsoft's prior internal email telling staff that it would be “evaluating all aspects” of its relationship with Activision Blizzard," people want to know Kotick's fate once this deal closes.

"Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard… Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming," said a Microsoft PR rep (via Jason Schreier). 

If Kotick doesn't resign, or get turfed out by the time the deal closes some time in FY2023 for Microsoft (ending June 2023), there's going to be justified outrage.

There's been no further official comment yet, and the deal has yet to be signed, but Microsoft needs to make its stance clear on not tolerating the toxic culture that has been exposed at Activision Blizzard.

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