Microsoft to Acquire Activision-Blizzard for $68.7b
I’m not usually one to cover industry news. That by far is more Wilhelm’s thing. In fact, sure enough, he already has a post up covering this, written and published while I was still warm in my bed. But this is fairly big! And more- it might make my prediction of Kotick not being ousted wrong in fairly short order. Although technically it was only a 2022 prediction and I’d be surprised if things moved swiftly enough to see him kicked to the curb1 this calendar year.
It might, but I don’t think it likely. Microsoft has pegged the transaction to be accounted for and closed off in Fiscal Year ’23. Microsoft runs their FY from July to June so this won’t happen any earlier than July this year. If we assume there is still a significant amount of transition work to occur from the time the board signs off the deal — and I could easily see there being 6-months worth here — then we move out to calendar year ’23.
How much of a shakeup that occurs in this process is going to be interesting to see. WSJ reported just the other day that over 3 dozen staff have now been let go in relation to the sexual harassment allegations, with another 40 or so being disciplined. My cynical view of things suggested the furore over all this would die down and the bottom-line impact to current and future revenues would be minimal.
This does make me wonder whether perhaps there was more fear of an impact behind the scenes than might’ve been let on. I find this incredibly difficult to fathom though- the consumer landscape — particularly in gaming — is not exactly known for its long term desire to hold corporations to account when it becomes inconvenient for them to do so.
Of course, when this all goes ahead — aside from the questions of staffing and who will report into Phil on behalf of the Activision Empire (or whether the constituent companies will each have their own heads reporting into Phil) — what about the games? What will happen with WoW?
Much of the Activision line-up will end up in the Xbox Gamepass. Your Call of Duties and your Diablos without a doubt.
But what about the World of Warcraft?
Initially, I thought it would simply have to remain separate. Tossing away the standalone sub revenue would be… well; it’d certainly be a fairly bold decision. One which once done could never be walked back, either.
Yet I wonder whether it is a decision they may ultimately make. Include it into the pass and lean more heavily into a F2P / cash-shop approach. Perhaps the additional sub will take the form of a ‘premium VIP pass’ similar to ESO Plus.
They would have to tread carefully, taking a ‘boiling the frog’ approach to such a change, I would think. But at this point? I’d take it if it came alongside a shakeup in the thinking of fundamentally how WoW is built upon expansion by expansion, with less throwaway and timewasting mechanics to artificially drag out people’s playtime.
Just let me have fun again.
Without such a change, even with Kotick out the door, I find it hard to imagine I’d ever revisit WoW at this point. But of course — I’ve thought that before. Many times. So who knows.
Whether or not WoW itself can be saved (for me), I am excited by this news. It has given me some hope that I might one day be able to enjoy at least some Blizzard products again, someday, when that had all but vanished until this point.