Microsoft’s planned $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision-Blizzard is a massive undertaking like nothing we’ve seen thus far in the gaming industry, and it certainly wasn’t a decision the company came to overnight. In fact, discussion at Microsoft internally seems to have begun as far back as when the board gave approval to acquire ZeniMax, at which point they asked Phil Spencer a critical question:
According to an interview with Spencer conducted by Axios, the answer was that Xbox needed to make a move in a new direction, a space where it didn’t have any strong investments. “The constant conversation had always been about mobile and casual.”
Though most people think of Activision-Blizzard most immediately for, well, Activision and Blizzard, the third arm of the publisher is King, maker of Candy Crush and a number of other wildly popular mobile titles. With King under its banner, Xbox has finally picked up a major name in mobile gaming.
In that regard, the acquisition is well in keeping with Xbox’s philosophy of recent years: to be on as many platforms as possible and to reach as many users as possible. As Spencer told Axios, he is currently focused on raising player counts for Microsoft games, and will consider the Activision-Blizzard deal a success if it allows him to do that.
“The longest goal for us is: ‘Do creators on our platform feel like they have the best opportunity to reach the maximum number of players with the maximum creative diversity that they need?’” he said.
The ultimate consequences of this gargantuan deal won’t fully be felt until well after it completes in 2023, but for now we have an analysis of the numbers involved and reactions from the rest of the industry that may give some clues. Earlier today, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also noted that he wasn’t worried about the acquisition potentially being blocked by the US Federal Trade Commission.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.