The Video Game Industry Reacts to Microsoft Buying Activision Blizzard King – IGN
Microsoft has announced it is purchasing Activision Blizzard for almost $70 billion, making it the most expensive acquisition in games history. The games industry immediately reacted to the news with a range of opinions and thoughts ranging from what this means for the highly competitive games industry and how this impacts Activision Blizzard’s ongoing sexual harassment and discrimination scandal?
We checked out what some of the industry’s biggest and most influential names are thinking and assembled them all here.
The official “ABetterABK” Twitter account, which represents Activision Blizzard King workers protesting against an alleged company culture of harassment and discrimination, shared its thoughts at length.
The news of Activision’s acquisition by Microsoft is surprising, but does not change the goals of the ABK Worker’s Alliance. (1/6)
— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) January 18, 2022
ABetterABK reiterated its staunch position on fighting against sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. It also stated that a majority of its collective demands to improve workplace conditions have not been met and that Bobby Kotick remains CEO as of this writing.
According to reports, Kotick will leave Activision after Microsoft acquires the company, though that will inevitably take a considerable amount of time while regulatory bodies look at approving the nearly $70 billion deal.
John Carmack, the founder of id Software and current CTO of Oculus VR, recalled how id was nearly acquired by Activision before ending up with Zenimax, Bethesda’s parent company. Activision had served as id’s publisher from 1997 with Quake II to 2009. Carmack praised Kotick for being a source of support during development, as well as for guiding the company through a period of growth.
Id Software very nearly got acquired by Activision, before winding up with Zenimax. Interesting that both roads would have led to Microsoft in the end. @BobbyKotick was always supportive, and it is quite an achievement to lead a company through that much growth over that long. https://t.co/Yov7kI2eO4
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) January 18, 2022
In the wake of criticism for his praise of Kotick, a central figure in criticism of Activision Blizzard, Carmack added that his interactions with Kotick “aren’t that large,” and that his “sparse interactions” remained better than with other industry executives.
Seamus Blackley, one of the founding designers of Xbox, had particularly mixed, but cautiously optimistic feelings. Blackley recounted how he was once “essentially mocked” by Activision for promoting the idea of a new game console.
“I wonder if today they remember that. I do,” Blackley said.
Blackley was also particularly critical of Activision Blizzard leadership for its alleged culture of harassment and discrimination, and how the ABK deal may play a role in the future of its executive leadership. He described his mood as “sickened” over the idea that leadership facing allegations of “despicable practices toward developers” will be receiving a huge paycheck from the Microsoft deal, but he tempered that vitriol with the hope that the acquisition will result in top-down changes at ABK, and that he believed in Phil Spencer as a leader.
It’s terrifically, incredibly, head-meltingly weird to see little baby Xbox eat up Activision. Some still at Activision will recall a young Seamus showing up claiming things about a new game console, only to be essentially mocked. I wonder if today they remember that.
— Seamus Blackley (@SeamusBlackley) January 18, 2022
Geoff Keighley, host and creator of The Game Awards, stressed that “a lot” of innovation in the games industry comes from indie developers and publishers, and that it’s easy to fixate on massive financial deals like the Activision Blizzard deal. In certain respects, he’s not wrong. Multiple nominees for IGN’s 2021 Game of the Year awards included indie games like Inscryption and Josef Fares’ It Takes Two, among several AAA games.
The Activision news makes you wonder what will happen with other major publishers/platforms.
One thing I will say: A lot of the innovation and future of this industry comes from independent developers/publishers out there too. It’s easy to fixate on these huge deals.
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) January 18, 2022
Keighley added that he expects today’s deal to signal a new wave of major financial investments in the video game industry.
Rami Ismail, co-founder of Vlambeer and noted educator in the games industry, expressed worry that Tuesday’s news will overshadow the progress made by ABK employees protesting against an alleged company culture of harassment and discrimination.
Part of me is just absolutely terrified that today’s news basically comes down to “Microsoft bought Activision-Blizzard, giving Kotick and cronies a fuckton of money, thanks to consistent sexual harassment claims dropping the stock far enough that there was an opening to acquire”
— Rami Ismail (رامي) (@tha_rami) January 18, 2022
Here’s Twitter user @noctflugel, a QA worker at Activision and member of the “ABetterABK” movement, responding to games journalist Laura Kate Dale:
we are super nervous. pretty worried we’re gonna be lost in the shuffle and just told to deal with it.
— △ jiji 💙 (@noctflugel) January 18, 2022
“We have no shortage of people at ABK who are against Bobby Kotick,” @noctflugel added. “But it doesn’t matter much when those at his level and higher support him. I wonder if having Phil [Spencer’s] support will matter when we don’t have [Microsoft CEO Satya] Nadella’s.”
Here’s Laura De Llorens, lead game designer on Mojang’s Minecraft Dungeons:
I made a meme to express my feelings pic.twitter.com/PidkwuBN42
— Laura De Llorens (@PremsterL) January 18, 2022
Sadie Boyd, a 2D artist at Arkane Studios (owned by Bethesda) said this:
Welcome new Activision colleagues and friends, while the news is fantastic and I’m excited to see you join the family, I have one thing to say and it’s fuck Bobby Kotick from the bottom of my heart <3
— Sadie Boyd (@Wonder_Phoenix) January 18, 2022
Frank Cifaldi, co-director of the Video Game History Foundation:
When Kotick bought Activision in 1990 he immediately fired all of the existing executives, just saying
— Frank Cifaldi (Unlicensed).nes (@frankcifaldi) January 18, 2022
Kahlief Adams, the host of Spawn On Me, had positive words for the new Xbox games leadership team’s gender diversity.
This is a huge move for @Xbox, besides getting all the gaming goodies, sharing the new org chart and it having a majority of women at the highest levels is an important signaling that the team is walking their walk. pic.twitter.com/fRPKyfvLVT
— Kahlief “E4” Adams (@KahliefAdams) January 18, 2022
With so many differing opinions on what Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition means, we expect the industry to continue sharing its thoughts for the coming weeks and months as more information becomes available.
Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer for IGN.
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)