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Microsoft-Activision Blizzard merger: What does the $69 billion deal mean for gamers

In a momentous turn of events, Microsoft has officially solidified its control over some of the gaming world’s most iconic franchises, including Call of DutyOverwatch, and Diablo.

The highly anticipated acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard by the tech juggernaut Microsoft has reached its conclusion, marking a significant milestone for the industry.

This landmark deal, which was initially unveiled in January 2022, has now become the largest transaction in the annals of gaming history, boasting an eye-popping price tag of $68.7 billion. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard merger, the journey leading to its finalization, and what enthusiasts can anticipate moving forward.

Why did Microsoft buy Activision anyway?
Numerous significant factors are contributing to the significance of this deal. Chief among them is the acquisition granting Xbox access to a vast collection of renowned video game franchises, including  Call of DutyCandy CrushDiablo, and many others. These intellectual properties promise the creation of new titles and a substantial enrichment of the Xbox Game Pass library.

With its impressive reach of nearly 400 million monthly active players spanning 190 countries, Activision Blizzard presents a remarkable opportunity to propel Microsoft’s Game Pass and Cloud Gaming initiatives to new heights. Furthermore, this acquisition positions Microsoft as a formidable contender in the ongoing competition with industry giants like Sony and Nintendo, making the battle for dominance in the gaming world even more intriguing.

What happens to games and gamers?
The burning question on the minds of many gaming enthusiasts is, what happens to popular titles that Activision owns? Will games like Call of Duty still reach the PlayStation consoles? After all, Call of Duty is one of the best-selling video game franchises in history, trailing only behind iconic names like MarioTetris, and Pokemon.

The reassuring news for PlayStation fans is that it will be entirely sometime before Call of Duty or any other such franchise becomes a potential Xbox exclusive – as late as 2038, to be precise. The reason for this extension lies in Ubisoft’s recent deal, securing “cloud gaming” rights for all current and future Activision Blizzard games over 15 years.

This move by Ubisoft was a condition imposed by UK regulators to ensure that Microsoft did not gain an undue stranglehold over the cloud gaming industry. For those unfamiliar with the term, cloud gaming involves streaming games over the internet, often dubbed the “Netflix for games.” Leading subscription services in the gaming world currently include Ubisoft+, Sony’s PlayStation Plus, and Xbox Game Pass.

Call of Duty on Game Pass?
So, the burning question remains: will Call of Duty find its way onto Game Pass? According to a recent announcement from Activision Blizzard on X, they anticipate adding their titles to Game Pass starting next year. This suggests that it’s highly likely the new Call of Duty and other games could be available on Xbox from day one.

Historically, Sony was known for securing exclusives with Call of Duty, often entailing early access, beta testing, and bonus features. However, this dynamic might significantly shift in light of this acquisition.

What’s notable is that Microsoft has a track record of making its major blockbuster games accessible on Game Pass, allowing subscribers to play them on the day of release for a monthly fee. The final decision about whether to buy a game outright or pay for access lies in the hands of gamers.

It’s important to mention that the UK regulator was keen to ensure that Activision Blizzard games wouldn’t be streamed exclusively on Xbox for the next 15 years. This move likely stems from Microsoft’s history – when the highly anticipated game Starfield was released in September 2023, it was initially exclusive to PC and Xbox, available on Game Pass from day one.

Now, even with the possibility of games still being available on PlayStation, Microsoft stands to gain significantly. While Ubisoft held the streaming rights for Activision Blizzard games for 15 years, today’s gaming industry increasingly relies on in-game purchases, often called microtransactions.

According to Statista, in 2022, Activision Blizzard garnered a staggering $5.89 billion from microtransactions, downloadable content, and royalties, surpassing the $1.6 billion earned from game sales. Sony typically claims a share of around 30 percent from in-game purchases, though the exact figures can vary from game to game. Regardless, this means that an in-game purchase within Call of Duty on PlayStation will now directly support a rival company, which presents an intriguing shift in the industry landscape.

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