Vivendi considering 'variety of options' for Activision Blizzard sale

French media conglomerate still looking to unload its 60 percent stake in Call of Duty publisher.

Vivendi continues to explore options to sell a portion of its stake in Activision Blizzard, the French media conglomerate said this week during an earnings call.

Chief financial officer Philippe Capron said (via the Wall Street Journal) that the company is considering a "variety of options" to unload the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft company.

"There is a process going at the board level," he added.

According to sources speaking with the newspaper, Activision Blizzard management has for a while now been interested in buying out some of Vivendi's 60 percent stake. The company could be in the position to do so, thanks to the $4.3 billion it has in cash on hand.

Vivendi first expressed interest in unloading Activision Blizzard in June 2012. The company currently holds a 61 percent stake in the game publisher, valued at $8.1 billion.

A number of potential buyers emerged last year, including Microsoft, Time Warner, Tencent, Disney, and a group of private equity firms. However, no deal was ever solidified, as Vivendi continues to have a tough time finding anyone to take the publisher off its books.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

125 comments
eyematter
eyematter

Well... Once blizzard releases the Starcraft MMO its working on... They will probly be able to buy the world.

HaloinventedFPS
HaloinventedFPS

Tencent would be best

Disney & Microsoft would kill Blizzard by forcing them to work on consoles only

vadagar1
vadagar1

close them end there suffering

MatrixGamer78
MatrixGamer78

Vivendi should sell ActivisionBlizzard to Tencent.or TimeWarner.

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

And Vivendi should sell ActiBlizzard to Runic games.  ;)

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

This is a natural thing.  When a new restaurant opens up, the food is spectacular and the costs are reasonable.  About 6 months after opening, when the hype has died down, management starts looking to cut costs and raise profits.  The food quality then suffers due to cheaper components, and higher prices get charged.  Ultimately, the chain will die unless they can keep this stupid tendency in check.  Smart stockholders and business partners who see this coming, know that the business is about to take a loss, and they get out.  The investors may come back later if the management realizes that quality precedes profit.  Quality at reasonable prices is what brings people back to your restaurant.

Same thing here.  The tendency is to streamline the game to make it easier to play (and thus to program), in essence cutting corners to save a buck.  Then you make it into an MMO and start charging monthly fees or microtransactions for complete content.  People eventually get sick of it when the money they spend doesn't get them the same quality as when it first came out, and they quit playing.  Single-player offline gaming serves up a good helping of gameplay, without most of the overhead of an MMO (patch coders notwithstanding).  Make a good single-player offline game, and people will flock to it.  Also, since it's offline, they will get to keep it forever, as opposed to MMOs disappearing when the servers get shut down.

Vivendi sees the trend coming, the backlash against MMOs.  The key is the M that stands for "Massive".  Massive gameplay invokes massive development and maintenance costs.  Smaller, non-MMO games are generally cheaper to code.  Look at it this way, you release an MMO just like a single-player offline game, but then you're paying a whole lot of professionals every day after launch to keep things going (separate from the sequel coders).  Single-player offline games only need patching - the rest of the development team can be working on the sequel, which will make more profit when that same number of people buy in again.  Subscriptions work on a dwindling profit basis - when you can't pay the bills, the MMO dies and the players have nothing to show for it, plus you're paying for all those extra personnel, equipment and connectivity in order to maintain the servers.  Vivendi understands this, especially in light of the backlash against Diablo 3 and SimCity Online.  One mistake in launching an MMO can sink an entire brand, perhaps a development company.  Since the trend is towards MMOs still, though, they're pulling out, and rightfully so.  It'll take a full re-write of Diablo to get people to trust Blizzard again, and WoW can't last forever.  WoW2 will eventually have to happen with a whole new engine, and with a whole new mess of bugs.  I'd be selling stock too, looking at how Blizzard has handled things in the past year.  A game company that doesn't pay attention to the fan base is not a company you want to invest in.

Vodoo
Vodoo

There's very few companies in the entire world that could afford to pay that amount of money. That's the main problem, that it's such a high price that you only have a select amount of suitors if you're not willing to break it up. 

I guess Vivendi thinks that Call of Duty and World of Warcraft have peaked and will only go downhill from here. Why else would you want to sell off the franchises that every other publisher is trying to be like?

dussan2
dussan2

100 bucks says that the reason for the deal failures was the executive pay.  Those leeches would want matching stock in the buying company as well. 

moridin800
moridin800

Why does a company valued at $8.1B have $4.3B in cash on hand?

Good freaking god, get that money outta there pronto. What a waste. 

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

Microsoft buying Activision would instantly give them a HUGE library of exclusive franchises.

silvergol
silvergol

Buy a sunk ship,buy a sunk ship! 

sidzero
sidzero

Maybe they're sick of having their name tied to such garbage products.

JackHoleFace00
JackHoleFace00

So why would they want to sell off a ridiculously profitable portion of their business again? Did I miss something?

hadlee73
hadlee73

Considering the amount of money needed to buy the stake, I doubt the eventual buyer will end up being someone who is currently popular with gamers :P

DrKill09
DrKill09

Wait... I thought Vivendi went out of business.  Their games were awful. 

McGregor
McGregor

I'll buy it. Then I can split Activision and Blizzard up and let them make something good (Activision used to be awesome! anyone remember Mechwarrior before Microsoft screwed it up?).

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

Sell it to EA (or perhaps Microsoft).

That way we can have most of the cancerous gaming business practices under one roof and they can all crash and burn at once.

Gallowhand
Gallowhand

Sell Raven Software to a decent publisher so they can start making great games again.  That's all I ask. :/

The rest of Activision can go to hell, along with EA and Disney. :P

fredlamirande
fredlamirande

I hope Disney wins... not... Would be scary to think that Disney would own part Activision Blizzard while frolicking with EA at the very same time...

blackothh
blackothh

If i had that kind of money to throw around, I would buy them and their games would not suck anymore.......who am i kidding, if i had that kinda of money you could not pay me to touch it either.

deathwish026
deathwish026

we should put activision in a box and throw dat bitch in da ocean

wexorian
wexorian

Split Companies , make em independet again maybe blizzard will redeem themself  like they were before merging :)

atopp399
atopp399

Blizzard's decade long development of games that end up having major issues (unpopular real money AH and always online connections causing stuttering to this day on high end rigs) and end up being rather underwhelming (Diablo 3 in general was very underwhelming and dumbed down especially given its development time)and annoying series like CoD that hardly change from year to year are going mean a lot less sales going forward I bet.  I can see why they want to unload.

gbrading
gbrading moderator

Will there be anything left of Vivendi if it sells it's part in Actiblizzard/Blizzvision?

DrizztDark
DrizztDark

Just as long as they keep making regular cods I don't care who owns it... Feeding the beast fills good when they are making the best games at today's date... Get sum

edinko
edinko

@grey_fox1984 THat would be the stupidest business decision ever. Its another thing when you have exclusives that are orginal but would you pay 4 billions dollars for Ips that you then sell only to a limited userbase for 1 platform?

ck10304
ck10304

@grey_fox1984 making all those games exclusives would also lose A/B massive amounts of money, ultimately losing microsoft more money. 

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

@silvergol  Yeah, if there's anybody who doesnt know how to make money, it's Activision....

Say what you will about them milking franchises, but they sure know how to make a buck in this business. 

winnazdaluza
winnazdaluza

@JackHoleFace00 Both those games including wow , have seen much better days.The whole mmo craze is starting to decrease due to competition and player fatigue/boredom.Some players have been in wow for 7plus years , that a LONG time to play on just one game.So it's also healthy for the game industry that people don't get tied to just one game.Nothing really last forever  and those games will never be as profitable as they once were and for them to keep fighting new exciting upcoming titles is becoming an uphill task.

Leeric420
Leeric420

@JackHoleFace00 Because, bad PR from both of those companies and probably want to allocate resources, school is your friend.

fredlamirande
fredlamirande

@DrKill09addendum: Vivendi games technically didn't close: On December 2, 2007, Vivendi announced that it would be merging its Vivendi Games unit with Activision.

fredlamirande
fredlamirande

@DrKill09They own most of France's TV channels, Activision Blizzard, and Universal Music Group, which is 30% of the world's music market. They also run 2 major ISP in France and Brazil. They own a lot of assets.

hadlee73
hadlee73

@DrKill09 Games were only a tiny part of their business. They're also into film, television and even telecommunications.

Fragzoon
Fragzoon

@McGregor True they better off splitting up lol.... Blizzard also used to run their games in a good way, until they merged... and activision ruin the games' model with its business model. Now the results speaks for itself.... better sell fast....

Kooken58
Kooken58

@DrizztDark Now you can spend your money however you want, but stop supporting such companies that just throw out the same damn game every year with a new coat of paint. Many of us gamers want to see some innovation, something that clearly the CoD developers refuse to do.

blackothh
blackothh

@DrizztDark of course there the best games if they are the only thing you play, i would not touch a call of duty game even if you paid me to.

happy_dude64
happy_dude64

@DrizztDark You should learn how to spell instead of wasting time with Call of Duty. Stupid "bro" gamers...

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

@dussan2 @grey_fox1984 Microsoft has the money they just wont pay the asking price.  Microsoft is not in the game making business, its making a console to sell its software and have it stay relative, which is why they have their own hardware in the tablet market. 

This would help their console sell more but the cost would not make them a profit so its not worth it to them.

vLuminaire
vLuminaire

@grey_fox1984 Agree! Same to Blizzard, the amount of money from WoW subscribers alone is the dream of every other publishers.

DrizztDark
DrizztDark

You are foolish to think anything could be even remotely be as good as call of duty franchise... Braaa give into the hate of just because its superior to any other game on the market.. They should actually start charging 100 dollars per cod copy imo. They should also put a sticker on the case that says for sale to non fatty ranters only... That will be the day

DrizztDark
DrizztDark

You are mad bro... I have weekends off from work and was wondering if you could teach me how to spell? At break time I can teach you how badass cod can be bro..

DrizztDark
DrizztDark

You mad bro? There I corrected the how to who, sorry for the typing... on my phone and didn't proof read wise one...

96augment
96augment

@DrizztDark There are other games besides COD. You should try them. You might even like some of them. 

DrizztDark
DrizztDark

Not trolling I just have that paper so it doesn't matter. Damn it fills good to make lots of money... I don't have to bitch and cry about the cost of games or what they charge for anything cause I ballll

DrizztDark
DrizztDark

My name is the shit bra... Just keep wishing kid and ill keep playing and buying cods.... No why? Cause I can. Get sum

arc_salvo
arc_salvo

@mlcarter815 @happy_dude64 So, SO true.  That's all you need to see.  Plus, on top of that, it has the word "Dark" in it.  I thought people didn't do that anymore.

Is he trolling?  I'm not sure anyone would seriously make a name so dumb that it would have BOTH the words "Drizzt" AND "Dark" in it unless they were doing it on purpose.

DrizztDark
DrizztDark

Lol ok mr mlcarter815... What a tool