Microsoft announced today that it is buying Activision Blizzard for a colossal $68.7 billion, and in doing so, it quickly launched itself to the higher end of expensive acquisitions. This brings franchises almost as big as that price tag, such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, and World of Warcraft into the Xbox family. The future of these franchises and whether or not they become exclusive to Xbox consoles remains uncertain and is just one of the many unanswered questions following today’s news.
What’s to become of Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard who reportedly knew for years of the company’s history of sexual misconduct and harassment? Which Activision Blizzard franchises might Xbox revive? Which games will remain multiplatform, and which will become Xbox exclusives? For now, we all must wait and see; and there’s a good chance we won’t get these answers until the transaction closes in fiscal year 2023. However, one known thing is the price – costing Microsoft $68.7 billion, this acquisition quickly rocketed up to some of the biggest in history. But just how big is it compared to others in video games? What about compared to those made in other mediums such as movies?
Here’s a quick look at how this acquisition compares to similar purchases:
Microsoft Acquires Zenimax – $7.5 Billion
Microsoft announced back in September of 2020 that it was acquiring ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda. That deal was finalized in March of last year, and now, Xbox is the home of franchises like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Doom, Wolfenstein, and Dishonored. It’s also going to be the exclusive console home for new games like Starfield, and while the price to purchase Bethesda’s IPs was quite high, $7.5 billion pales in comparison to today’s acquisition.
Take-Two Acquires Zynga – $13 Billion
Just last week, Take-Two became the company behind what was the most expensive acquisition in video game history. It did so by acquiring Zynga for $12.7 billion. While Zynga might not be the most recognized name on the console and PC side of gaming, it’s a giant in the mobile gaming market. Perhaps second only to King, which Xbox now owns after today’s Activision Blizzard purchase. Take-Two’s purchase of Zynga was smart, though – it positions the company to be a leader in the mobile gaming market, which also happens to be one of the largest in the world. The $13 billion price tag was historic, but only for a week due to today’s news.
Sony Acquires Gaikai – $380 Million
Sony announced in 2012 that it had purchased Gaikai Inc, a cloud streaming company home to the technology that now powers Sony’s PlayStation Now service, for $380 million. At the time, that number seemed incredibly high, and it still is a massive number, but as you can see, it’s child’s play compared to capital-B Billion acquisitions. Still, Sony acquired a great cloud streaming service that allows gamers to play older generations of games and download new ones with ease (depending on your internet connection). And it didn’t cost them billions, which it might view as a win in and of itself. Today, there are rumors that PlayStation Now might be folded into a new Xbox Game Pass-like service codenamed Spartacus, but for now, that remains a rumor. Only time will tell how far Sony takes that original $380 million investment.
Sony Acquires Insomniac Games – $229 Million
Sony announced in August of 2019 that it had acquired Insomniac Games, the studio behind franchises like Marvel’s Spider-Man, Ratchet & Clank, and others. In February of 2020, it was revealed that Sony paid $229 million to bring Insomniac into the PlayStation family (thanks, CNET) of first-party studios. While that number might seem low for a studio that continually releases great games year after year, it was a rare look at the cost to bring studios into a larger umbrella. Many individual studio purchases occur without a public reveal of costs paid. For example, how much PlayStation paid to acquire Housemarque or Firesprite isn’t known, nor is the price Microsoft paid for Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Undead Labs, or Double Fine Productions.
Disney Acquires Lucasfilm – $4 Billion
Those are many of the video game-centric acquisitions that have happened in recent years, but when you widen the pool to include ones in the entertainment industry, $68.7 billion doesn’t seem as wild, although it’s still easily one of the largest costs paid. Disney shook up the entertainment landscape in 2012 when it announced that it had bought Lucasfilm, the fabled movie studio behind franchises like Indiana Jones, The Land Before Time, and Willow, for $4 billion (thanks USA Today). Oh, and Star Wars too. At the time, $4 billion seemed monumental but when Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens hit theaters and soared past the $1 billion box office line, that $4 billion felt a lot smaller. For the price Microsoft paid to acquire Activision Blizzard, it could have purchased 17 Lucasfilms, or in other words, it could have purchased the Star Wars franchise more than a dozen times over.
Disney Acquires 20th Century Fox – $71.3 Billion
It took a lot to find an acquisition in an entertainment medium that cost more than Activision Blizzard’s price tag (mind you, wayyyyyy bigger ones have happened in other industries such as Heinz’ purchase of Kraft for $100 billion in 2015 or even AOL’s purchase of Time Warner for $182 billion in 2000)…but we did it: Disney’s 2020 purchase of 20th Century Fox for $71.3 billion (thanks, BBC) cost more. Arguably one of the most historic entertainment acquisitions of all time, this brought everything that features the iconic 20th Century Fox brass spotlight theme at the start of it into Disney’s wheelhouse. There’s been plenty of speculation as to how and why this one came about, and we aren’t so sure it wasn’t just so Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige could bring the X-Men to the MCU, but one thing is certain: we likely won’t see an acquisition this expensive for a very long time.
Are there any large-scale acquisitions we might have missed? Which costs seem too low to you and which costs seem too high? Let us know in the comments below!