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Microsoft Activision Merger Closes This Week

It’s a headline that I didn’t think would take me the best part of two years to write… but the Microsoft Activision merger looks likely to close this week.


Honestly, I’ve spent so long writing about this thing. It’s almost like the actual impact of it no longer clicks. It’s all been about the detail and the largeness, but not the actual long-term impact.

So, for instance, within the week Crash and Spyro will be Xbox mascots along with Banjo Kazooie. If SEGA is still top of Microsoft’s acquisition list it may not be long before you add him and his friends to that list as well. That’s the making of a hell of a good Smash Bros clone. Hell, think of the Amiibo-copy potential. Think of the Skylanders revival.

That’s obviously based on just what IP they’ll have, and it’s also dependent on another large (almost inevitable) merger, but even half of that wouldn’t have seemed possible just a short three or so years ago.

I did a list of IP that’ll be owned by Microsoft following the merger the other day and it has gotten me thinking. The potential to branch out from this point is unreal.

Yes, it’s all about Call of Duty and Candy Crush for the revenue, and Diablo, Warcraft and Starcraft for the PC crowd. But Xbox has a casual problem too. This set will really booster their appeal with younger audiences.

Who they’ll obviously then crush with the difficulty of Crash 1 and 4. Ah, it’s like history is repeating itself.

What’s Next for the Merger

The last holdout on this deal was the CMA and they provisionally approved it two weeks ago. There was a standard wait for third-party responses – at this point it’s unlikely they received anything major, and infinitesimally unlikely they received anything that’ll change the CMA’s decision. They’ll clear it as soon as possible, probably within the first couple of days of this week.

It’ll then take time to dot the Is and cross the Ts. Which is probably code for sending huge amounts of money through the internet pipes. By close of play Friday, we’ll hopefully know a little bit more about the state of play.

It’s worth remembering that even once the deal is closed, there may be some delays. There were signs the deal was closing with Bethesda before it was officially announced in a blog post. There are still 10 days for the merger to close to meet the outer deadline set by Microsoft and Activision. Pessimistically, you will hear about it before then. Optimistically, it’ll be long before then. Don’t be surprised if we get a blog post on Friday. Be less surprised if we get one early of the week starting the 16th.

Then it’s a question of what comes to Game Pass and when. Bethesda stuff dropped almost immediately, with a second drop coming later on. Diablo 4 has a new season of content on the horizon, so the merger will, at least, give that to players sooner rather than later. A splash of legacy content will also help hit the headlines and give a boost to subs, so expect that too. The big question now is Call of Duty. And the answer there is that we just don’t know.

But, luckily, the answers will soon be given. Within the fortnight we will (hopefully) know what to expect.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott