What you need to know
- Microsoft is in the final stages of acquiring Activision Blizzard for almost $69 billion.
- The deal has undergone regulatory review around the world, with approval in most countries and challenges in the U.S. and the U.K.
- The purchase originally had a close-by date of July 18, 2023.
- Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have agreed to extend the merger agreement through Oct. 18, 2023.
While the original closing date won't be met, Microsoft is still committed to the biggest purchase in video game history.
Microsoft shared on Wednesday that it officially extended the merger deadline for its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard to Oct. 18, 2023. The original deal, first announced back on Jan. 18, 2022, had a deadline of July 18, 2023. If the merger was not complete by this deadline, either party could walk away, requiring Microsoft to pay Activision Blizzard a break-up fee of $3 billion.
That fee has been increased as part of the agreement, with Microsoft paying Activision $3.5 billion if the deal collapses after Aug. 29, 2023 and paying $4.5 billion if it collapses after Sep. 15, 2023.
With the deadline extended, Microsoft and Activision have fully committed to seeing the process through, with the deal approved in countries around the world such as Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and Ukraine, as well as all of the European Union.
Regulators in the U.S. and the U.K. — the FTC and the CMA, respectively — provided the most pushback to the purchase, with the former suing to stop the purchase and the latter issuing a formal block over concerns regarding Cloud gaming.
These issues appear to be alleviated in recent weeks, where after a five-day court hearing, Microsoft was cleared to finalize the purchase in the U.S. after the FTC was denied a preliminary injunction and injunctive relief to try and stop the deal.
The CMA, meanwhile, agreed with Microsoft to halt the appeal process in the U.K. to come up with a solution that will allow the deal to proceed. This solution reportedly includes Microsoft selling off the rights to Activision Blizzard games in the Cloud in the U.K.
"I want to thank everyone for your time and energy in support of the regulatory process and on all the great work coming to fruition for Xbox this year," Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer shared in an email to Xbox employees. "Players around the world will be delighted with the incredible lineup of games launching in the next few months, including Starfield and Forza Motorsport."
"It is also great to see the fantastic work the ABK teams are delivering for their players with the successful launch of Diablo IV and the ongoing performance of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, and we congratulate them on their accomplishments."
"As we move even closer to the finish line, we are more excited than ever before about furthering our mission to bring more games to more players everywhere," Spencer said.
Windows Central's take
I know some people will be annoyed that this deal, which has already taken such a long time, is being extended even further. That said, this is a complicated process. At this point, all parties involved know the deal is happening, it's just a matter of making sure everything is done to the letter of the law.
I also think that barring the most ludicrous of possibilities, there's no reason to expect the deal will actually take through October. With the CMA and Microsoft seemingly having reached a solution that just needs to go through an expedited examination process, things will be wrapping up in a few weeks.
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