In one of the most shocking announcements in gaming history, Microsoft has confirmed the purchase of Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard.
The deal – which won’t be finalised until 2023 – is said to be worth a staggering $70 billion. It encompasses Activision, Blizzard and Candy Crush publisher King, as well as individual studios owned by Activision.
With Microsoft owning the Xbox brand, the ramifications for the gaming industry are huge.
It could spell the end for games like Overwatch, Call of Duty and Diablo appearing on PlayStation consoles.
It also means that new games in the Call of Duty series could join Xbox Game Pass on the day of launch.
“Creators of Call of Duty, Warcraft, Candy Crush, Tony Hawk, Diablo, Overwatch, Spyro, Hearthstone, Guitar Hero, Crash Bandicoot, StarCraft and more join Team Xbox,” reads the official announcement.
“As a team, we are on a mission to extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet. We all know that gaming is the most vibrant and dynamic form of entertainment worldwide and we’ve experienced the power of social connection and friendship that gaming makes possible.
“As we pursue that mission, it is incredibly exciting to announce that Microsoft has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard.”
According to Microsoft, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft will operate independently until the deal if finalised.
After the deal is completed, Microsoft will begin to add more and more Activision titles to Game Pass. It will also “accelerate” Microsoft’s plans for cloud gaming.
“Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalogue.
“The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own.
“Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward.”
The Activision takeover far eclipses the $7.5 billion deal Microsoft made with Elder Scrolls developer Bethesda.
The previous acquisition saw Microsoft gain franchises such as Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein and Starfield.
While Bethesda games have remained on Sony devices for now, Microsoft has hinted that future releases will be exclusive to Xbox.
Bethesda games will also launch on Game Pass the day of release, making Microsoft’s subscription service an increasingly attractive proposition.