Activision Blizzard Is Microsoft's Biggest Acquisition Of All Time, Here's How It Stacks Up
Microsoft's $68.7 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard is many billions more than Disney paid for Star Wars and Marvel.
Microsoft made waves on Monday with its announcement that it plans to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in the largest gaming acquisition in history and Microsoft's biggest overall.
But how, exactly, does the acquisition stack up against Microsoft's previous buyouts, other gaming acquisitions, and deals across other industries? Let's dig in.
For Microsoft, this was the company's biggest acquisition of all time, and not just for gaming--and not by a small margin. The $68.7 billion that Microsoft is proposing to pay for Activision Blizzard is about 3X bigger than the $26.2 billion that Microsoft paid for LinkedIn in 2016, which was previously the company's biggest buyout of all time. Next behind that was the $19.7 billion acquisition of Nuance in 2021. Before that, Microsoft paid $8.5 billion to acquire Skype in 2011. Note that all of the buyout numbers referenced in this post are not adjusted for inflation.
Largest gaming acquisition ever
Looking at the video game industry specifically, Microsoft's buyout of Activision Blizzard is significantly more expensive than the $8.1 billion it paid for ZeniMax/Bethesda and factors larger than the $2.5 billion it paid for Mojang and the Minecraft series.
Outside of Microsoft's own gaming deals, this is the largest buyout in video game history by a massive margin. Before today, the biggest gaming acquisition in history was Take-Two's $12.7 billion buyout of Zynga, which was just announced last week. In 2016, Tencent paid $8.6 billion to acquire Clash of Clans developer Supercell in what was at the time the biggest ever.
Another massive deal was Activision Blizzard's $5.9 billion buyout of Candy Crush studio King in 2015--King is now set to become part of Microsoft.
Another gaming acquisition that crossed the billion-dollar threshold was Facebook's $2 billion deal for Oculus in 2014. And one of the only other gaming deals above $1 billion came in 2020 when Zynga acquired the mobile game company Peak for $1.8 billion. Another major deal of note was Activision Blizzard's buyout from Vivendi, which was valued at around $8 billion.
In 2007, EA paid $860 million to acquire Mass Effect developer BioWare and Mercenaries studio Pandemic. In 2011, Electronic Arts acquired Bejeweled developer PopCap in a deal worth $650 million in cash, and many hundreds of millions more in incentives. In 2016, EA returned to its checkbook again to purchase Titanfall developer Respawn for $141 million in cash and millions more in performance-based bonuses and equity.
Another gigantic deal on the gaming landscape was for casual games company Big Fish Games. Churchill Downs, the horseracing company that operates the Kentucky Derby, paid $885 million to acquire Big Fish Games in 2014. Churchill Downs sold Big Fish in 2018 to the Australian gambling company Aristocrat Leisure for $990 million.
Outside of gaming
To put Microsoft's blockbuster buyout of Activision Blizzard into perspective, we can look outside of games to get a wider view. Disney paid around $4 billion to acquire Marvel in 2009 before splashing out about the same number for Lucasfilm/Star Wars in 2012.
Microsoft's deal for Activision is a few billion shy of the $73.1 billion that Disney paid to acquire many of Fox's TV and film assets, including The Simpsons. Outside of media, the beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev bought SABMiller in 2016 for $104 billion. One of the biggest acquisitions in modern American history was AOL's $165 billion merger with Time Warner Inc.
Microsoft's deal for Activision Blizzard is projected to close in FY2023 (July 2022-June 2023), so it might still be some time before we learn more about the specifics such as whether or not Call of Duty will become an Xbox-exclusive series going forward. You can also check out a rundown of all the Activision Blizzard franchises that Microsoft now owns as part of the buyout.
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