📣 Update on the Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Merger
Activision Blizzard and Microsoft together will bring even more choice and epic entertainment to our community of hundreds of million of players
Internal email to Activision Blizzard staff
There’s a lot being said these days about our merger with Microsoft. However, much of what’s out there lacks deep understanding of our industry. As part of our ongoing commitment to keep all of you updated on the merger, I wanted to take a moment to give you a quick process update and to lay out the facts.
So far, we’ve received approval for our merger from several jurisdictions, and we’re proceeding through the process in several others. Our engagements with global regulators have been constructive, productive, and generally quite positive.
I have, however, seen speculation in the press that, in the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission is considering whether to file a lawsuit to try to block our merger and that they could do this because of a belief that, after our merger closes, Microsoft will make Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox.
We don’t know what will happen with the regulatory process but, for several reasons, the rumors that Microsoft would make Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox are nonsense. To the contrary, Microsoft has spent the last year promising global regulators, tens of millions of players, and competing consoles and platforms that they won’t do that. Do people really think that Microsoft—one of the world’s most respected companies—would risk its reputation and relationships to go back on that promise?
But you don’t have to take their word for it or ours: making Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox doesn’t make good business sense. Microsoft would lose billions of dollars in lost sales and would infuriate both PlayStation owners (who would lose Call of Duty) and Xbox owners (who would lose the ability to play with their friends who own PlayStations). The player backlash would be disastrous. It would destroy Microsoft’s trust with players and its brand, something Microsoft has spent decades building and protecting.
Just this week, Microsoft announced a 10-year commitment to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo platforms and give players more choice, not less. It also renewed its commitment to continue bringing the franchise to Steam. Valve CEO Gabe Newell commented to the press saying, “Microsoft has always followed through on what they told us they would do so we trust their intentions… we think Microsoft has all the motivation they need to be on the platforms and devices where Call of Duty customers want to be.”
These actions demonstrate a love and passion for our games, and a shared desire to expand our player community to millions of new players around the world. Microsoft’s President, Brad Smith, made clear that Microsoft stands ready to make commitments to Sony to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for an industry-setting length of time.
It’s also wrong to think of Call of Duty as untouchable. Now don’t get me wrong. Call of Duty – alongside Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Candy Crush, and StarCraft is an awesome game. In fact, when word got out at my kids’ school that I work at Activision Blizzard (something I may have helped along!), just being associated with Call of Duty—even as a lawyer—turned me into a minor celebrity with my kids’ friends. But the game faces massive competition and more competition is popping up every day. If Microsoft cut off Call of Duty for PlayStation players, those players would simply move to alternative games instead. There is no good reason for Microsoft to drive customers to competitors in that way.
One final point to consider is that I’ve talked to countless Activision Blizzard employees around the company who are excited beyond words about the merger—who are thrilled about partnering with Microsoft to collaborate on building new technologies, utilizing cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence, machine learning or quantum computing to keep raising the quality of our games to delight our player community, or open new professional opportunities. Your voices do and should matter.
The gaming industry is complex, and we continue to educate regulators on it. But given these facts, approving this merger should be a no brainer, ideology aside. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll keep you updated on our progress.
We know this means a lot to our employees and player community, and we’re prepared to fight to defend this merger. Thanks to our entire Activision Blizzard team for doing all that they do to make this such a wonderful company bringing epic entertainment to hundreds of millions of players—and to make me cool in the eyes of my kids!
About the Author
Jeb Boatman serves as Senior Vice President of Litigation, Regulatory, and Public Policy Law at Activision Blizzard. He leads a team managing high-profile issues such as global litigation, intellectual property and brand protection, and state and federal public policy law.