It’s really happening - 20 months after Microsoft first announced its plans to acquire Activision Blizzard in the largest video game merger of all time, the deal has now been closed ahead of the October 18 deadline.
In a news post on Xbox Wire, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has confirmed that as of today (October 13), "we officially welcome Activision Blizzard and their teams to Xbox".
"As one team, we’ll learn, innovate, and continue to deliver on our promise to bring the joy and community of gaming to more people," Spencer wrote. "We’ll do this in a culture that strives to empower everyone to do their best work, where all people are welcome, and is centered on our ongoing commitment of Gaming for Everyone. We are intentional about inclusion in everything we do at Xbox – from our team to the products we make and the stories we tell, to the way our players interact and engage as a wider gaming community."
This comes after months of scrutiny from regulators, including a court case against the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and a major setback from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which initially blocked the deal over concerns that it could harm competition in cloud gaming in the UK. However, Microsoft directly addressed these concerns by amending the deal to state that it would sell the cloud streaming rights for both current and new Activision games (released over the next 15 years) to Ubisoft.
The CMA gave its official approval of the updated merger deal today (October 13), after first giving its preliminary approval last month. Martin Coleman, the chair of the independent panel who reviewed the original proposal, said in a statement that the new deal is “better for competition, better for consumers, and better for economic growth”.
With the deal finalized, Microsoft has gained the rights to a number of notable IPs, including Overwatch, Spyro the Dragon, and most notably, Call of Duty. In July this year, Spencer announced that Microsoft and PlayStation had “signed a binding agreement to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard”, which is bound to be reassuring to any Call of Duty fans who only own Sony consoles.
So, where do things go from here? Earlier this week and prior to the deal closing, Activision clarified that while it doesn’t have plans to put Diablo 4 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on Xbox Game Pass this year, it said that it expects to “begin adding games into Game Pass some time in the course of next year”.
In his latest statement, Spencer wrote: "Today we start the work to bring beloved Activision, Blizzard, and King franchises to Game Pass and other platforms. We’ll share more about when you can expect to play in the coming months. We know you’re excited – and we are too."
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Catherine is a News Writer for TechRadar Gaming. Armed with a journalism degree from The University of Sheffield, she was sucked into the games media industry after spending far too much time on her university newspaper writing about Pokémon and cool indie games, and realising that was a very cool job, actually. She previously spent 19 months working at GAMINGbible as a full-time journalist. She loves all things Nintendo, and will never stop talking about Xenoblade Chronicles.