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Microsoft set to acquire the gaming company Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion

Activision Blizzard is behind such successful franchises as Call of Duty and Candy Crush. It is being acquired by Microsoft.
Jakub Porzycki
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NurPhoto/Getty Images
Activision Blizzard is behind such successful franchises as Call of Duty and Candy Crush. It is being acquired by Microsoft.

Updated January 18, 2022 at 11:06 AM ET

Microsoft says it is set to buy games behemoth Activision Blizzard. According to a press release, the move allows Microsoft, the maker of Xbox, to take up space in the mobile gaming space as well as the oncoming metaverse.

Activision Blizzard is behind such storied franchises as Call of Duty, StarCraft, Candy Crush, and more. That varied roster allows the company to reach a broad audience — from dabblers to esports enthusiasts.

But the company has a fair share of baggage. In November, the Wall Street Journal reported that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick knew about years of sexual misconduct claims — from alleged rapes to harassment — and didn't notify the company's board. The company is currently being sued by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing for its failure to pay women equally as well as its "frat boy workplace culture." In September, the company settled an $18 million lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over allegations of harassment and discrimination against female employees.

Activision Blizzard employees grew so frustrated at Kotick's handling of these situations over the years that they've repeatedly pressed Kotick to step down from his position.

According to the press release, Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard. But, "once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming."

Microsoft clarified with IGN that Kotick will remain CEO for a while but Activision Blizzard will report to Spencer after the transition.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella seemed to allude to Activision Blizzard's reputation in an investor call Tuesday where he stressed the importance of fostering a safe and equitable workplace culture. "After the close, we will have significant work to do in order to continue to build a culture where everyone can do their best work," Nadella said.

The deal is valued at $68.7 billion, and is subject to regulatory approvals. This is just the latest in gaming acquisition news. Last week, Take-Two interactive (the company behind the Grand Theft Auto franchise) announced it would buy Zynga for $11.04 billion.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.