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Blizzard and Activision Announce $18.8bn Merger 298

Posted by Zonk
from the jigaa-whaaaaa dept.
Ebon Praetor writes "The BBC reports that Blizzard and Activision have announced an $18.8bn merger. Activision's CEO, Bobby Kotick, will become the head of the joint company, while Vivendi, Blizzard's current parent company, will become the largest single investor in the new group. Even with the size of the merger, the combined company will still be smaller than the industry giant EA. 'As part of the merger plan, Blizzard will invest $2bn in the new company, while Activision is putting up $1bn. The merged business will be called Activision Blizzard ... Vivendi will be the biggest shareholder in the group.'"
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Blizzard and Activision Announce $18.8bn Merger

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  • by hysma (546540) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:39PM (#21553047)
    Not too often the summary itself IS the dupe...
  • World Of Warcraft (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tsj5j (1159013) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:41PM (#21553061)
    How is the WoW community going to take it?

    I think it really matters whether the game developers are going to be replaced by Activision or not, as a decrease in quality might spark some anger.
    Especially since their number of players are ... alot.
    • by DurendalMac (736637) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @03:04PM (#21553287)
      I doubt they're going to mess with Blizzard. It's going to be more like the Disney-Pixar buyout. Disney was at least smart enough not to mess with what Pixar was doing, because it was damned obvious that they were doing something right. If Activision has any shred of intelligence, they'll let Blizzard keep doing what they're doing with minimal interference, because Blizzard is making over $100m a month off of WoW.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Call of Duty 5, Azeroth Edition-

      "{crackle} SGT Hulka, bring up your platoon of Orcs and get a crossfire on those Dwarves STAT!"
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Neuticle (255200)
        As funny as that is, it raises an interesting prospect: The Warcraft lore and brand are immensely popular and well developed. At the same time, everyone got tired of seeing *yet.another.WWII.shooter* but the "modern" war shooters aren't fundamentally that different.

        If they could work together to make some sort of Warcraft themed massively multi-player FPS, I'd be on that like stink on poo. Different classes that are *actually* different, instead of just one guy having a bigger gun and more ammo. It would be
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SL Baur (19540)

      How is the WoW community going to take it?

      I think that depends on when and how the Wrath of the Lich King comes out. As of patch 2.3, they've trashed most of the sport of WoW (leveling to 60), so I'm sure I'm not the only one anxiously awaiting the new expansion.

      Give me my World of Warcraft (as I've experienced it for the last year or so) and I don't particularly care what they do corporate-wise.

      I'm not sure why I love that game more than Nethack/Rogue, but I do.

  • Makes sense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Both companies do little else other than release sequel after sequel for once popular series. Most of their original titles were released in the 90s.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bigstrat2003 (1058574)
      I hate to be the one to break this to you, buddy, but Blizzard's franchises are STILL popular. Warcraft III was highly acclaimed when it came out, and widely enjoyed. Starcraft is still, of course, rabidly played in Korea and other places, as will Starcraft II, I imagine. World of Warcraft (the last game Blizzard released for a while) doesn't even count as a sequel to Warcraft in any way, considering that it isn't an RTS. So yeah, I don't know where you get your ideas, but it isn't reality.
  • by Seumas (6865) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:42PM (#21553071)
    I can't wait to start buying their games and various swag -- all emblazoned with the new Blactavision logos!
  • New MMORPG (Score:4, Funny)

    by Valacosa (863657) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:44PM (#21553077)
    World of Command and Conquer?
    • Re:New MMORPG (Score:4, Informative)

      by Valacosa (863657) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:47PM (#21553123)
      Damn - upon further research, I find that it was EA that bought Westwood, not Activision. Now I feel really stupid.

      It's too bad too. Imagine how awesome it would be to have a game where orcs could be pwned by an Obelisk of Light.
      • A command and conquer MMORPG would be kinda cool actually ... I dunno how it'd be possible, it might end up being kinda lame like C&C Renegade, but a sorta world-wide warfare would be sweet, especially if the world actually changed and there were tangible results from blowing stuff up and taking places over....

        alas, it'll never happen :(
        • by Dunbal (464142)
          Join the army and get yourself a job flying UAVs... sounds like that would be your bag.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jmoriarty (179788)

        Damn - upon further research...
        There are certain things regular Slashdot readers come to expect from this site, and researched posts or comments is not one of them. Please don't let it happen again.

    • by Dunbal (464142)
      Command and Conquer?

            You better not let EA hear you say that. They're the ones that own Westwood now no? Anyway they suck, all the good people left. Petroglyph ftw.
    • by rpillala (583965)

      I might pay good money for World of XCom

  • by Jon.Laslow (809215) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:44PM (#21553085) Homepage Journal
    http://blizzard.com/press/activision-faq.shtml [blizzard.com]

    Provides some details. From their front page:

    Blizzard to Join Forces With Activision
    We're pleased to announce that along with the other companies that make up Vivendi Games, we are merging with Activision to form a new global entertainment organization called Activision Blizzard (pending shareholder and regulatory approval). Similar to our previous arrangement, Blizzard Entertainment will now operate as a division of this new organization.

    There will be no changes to our games, our websites, our personnel, or our day-to-day operations as a result of the deal. However, this combining of resources will benefit all of the companies involved and will further strengthen Blizzard's ability to continue delivering high-quality content for our players around the world for many years to come.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:58PM (#21553237) Journal

      However, this combining of resources will benefit all of the companies involved and will further strengthen Blizzard's ability to continue delivering high-quality content for our players around the world for many years to come.
      I would have thought Activision was the one that needed to strengthen their ability to deliver high quality content.

      They routinely rush studios to push out complete and utter crap under the Activision Value title. Even the decent games still come with serious flaws due to the rushed timetables.
      • /devil advocate

        Blizzard (or at least the worker there) as far as I can tell has always tried to not rush, and make sure all major bug are out before getting a title out. Which is how they got their reputation. But on a short term point of view, this is a loss for the share holder, since more money is spent whereas they could already release the title at an earlier point. So now blizzard get strengthened by activision dev cycle : rush everything out. Spend less money on title. Churn them quicker. Customer
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jugalator (259273)

      There will be no changes to our games, our websites, our personnel, or our day-to-day operations as a result of the deal.
      That's what they always say first.
    • by Minupla (62455) <minupla@gmaiGINSBERGl.com minus poet> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @03:22PM (#21553441) Homepage Journal

      There will be no changes to our games, our websites, our personnel, or our day-to-day operations as a result of the deal.
      if this is true, how can:

      ... combining of resources will benefit all of the companies involved and will further strengthen Blizzard's ability to continue delivering high-quality content
      Also be true? Either nothing is changing or something is, you can't have it both ways. The reason for mergers and aquisitions is generally that the companies involved believe that through the merger some gains can be made. The way that history proves works is through reductions is redundancy. (call these layoffs, retrenchments, rightsizing, as your personal tastes dictate) The other not-so-successful-historically model is the "merge two companies with no redundancies, run them together and lose money" model (ref: AOL-Time-Warner among others)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by king-manic (409855)

        There will be no changes to our games, our websites, our personnel, or our day-to-day operations as a result of the deal.
        if this is true, how can: ... combining of resources will benefit all of the companies involved and will further strengthen Blizzard's ability to continue delivering high-quality content
        Also be true? Either nothing is changing or something is, you can't have it both ways. The reason for mergers and aquisitions is generally that the companies involved believe that through the merger some gains can be made. The way that history proves works is through reductions is redundancy. (call these layoffs, retrenchments, rightsizing, as your personal tastes dictate) The other not-so-successful-historically model is the "merge two companies with no redundancies, run them together and lose money" model (ref: AOL-Time-Warner among others)

        They now have ~twice the advertising clout and a bigger stick to negotiate with retailers. ie. Stock or we will only have limited quantities of SC2 and COD5 for you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ghubi (1102775)

        Or maybe... 1bn + 2bn = 18.8bn.

        The way I see it, Activision must have had some super cool idea for the next major online cash cow err game. But, Activision must have determined that they lacked the resources to complete this epic production on their own. So, they carefully weigh their options of ways to raise the extra 2bn they estimate is needed to complete the project. Stock offering, venture capitalists... apparently they decided that their best option was to merge with another larger gaming compa

    • by samkass (174571)
      Well... at least it wasn't Microsoft that bought Blizzard.

  • My gosh (Score:5, Funny)

    by guardiangod (880192) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:44PM (#21553093)
    Activision and Blizzard have said they will form "the world's most profitable games business"

    I screamed.

  • How long until I can play some crazy rhythm-based RTS with my guitar hero controller?
  • $18.8bn? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:49PM (#21553147)
    Why are the amounts quoted in Barbadian dollars?
  • Starcraft (Score:4, Insightful)

    by snl2587 (1177409) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:55PM (#21553205)
    As long as Starcraft 2 is still going to be released, this is fine with me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805)
      I think you mean
      As long as Starcraft 2 is still going to be released finished, this is fine with me. Let us hope that they don't rush SC2 out the door half-done and utter garbage shall we?
  • (Shudder...) (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:57PM (#21553219)
    No one makes games with great replay value like Blizzard does. Blizzard's strategy of not releasing a game until its ready is almost unheard of in this industry. I seriously hope that the new overlords don't mess with this - I'd hate to stop benefiting from Blizzard's good work.
    • by cdomigan (833362) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @04:37PM (#21554029)

      I seriously hope that the new overlords don't mess with this
      Not the end of the world if they do - you can always SPAWN MORE OVERLORDS
    • by OakLEE (91103)
      The deal is structured so that Vivendi basically controls the new company. My bet is that they keep the same hands off approach with Blizzard that they have always had. Given Blizzard's immense profitability (projected 2007 revenue of $1.1b; $510m operating profit; 40% operating margins), they have earned that level of independence, and it would be stupid to mess with it.
  • So, does anyone know who's going to be put in charge of the new company? And what about Vivendi? I thought they owned part of Blizzard. Any word on them?
  • Innovation, imagination etc. All that will be left is "The Sure Thing".
     
    • by jjohnson (62583)
      Don't be too worried. Mergers and acquisitions happen because the merged/acquired is either very strong or very weak. The weak get ingested, stripped of individuality in a spreadsheet driven attempt to 'improve efficiencies' and such. The strong get bought just because they're strong--it's worth having them as is, and beyond some HR and Finance integration, there's very little desire to screw up a good thing.

      A lot of merged/acquired/grown by purchasing companies are little more than feudal arrangements w
    • by Kohath (38547)
      What was the big innovation in World of Warcraft again?

      Gamers have made it clear that they'll buy secondhand ideas if the games are put together with a high enough level of quality and polish. Quality outsells originality -- mostly because the objective of gamers is to have fun, and a lot of the old ideas are very fun when executed well.

  • Commentary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hibiki_r (649814) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @03:02PM (#21553269)
    It's not Blizzard that is merging: They've been part of Vivendi universal for years. Their parent company has many developers other developers outside of Blizzard. WoW is their cash cow though.

    That said, it doesn't seem like their different developer studios have a lot of synergy though: The end result is a company that has very diverse offerings, and will be difficult to market as a single entity. It's not like either company needed the other for stability purposes though: Both WoW and Guitar Hero are the kind of franchises that allow a company to have a nice R&D budget and take risks with new franchises.

    So I guess the merger will just mean they'll be able to push retailers around more easily, and make their revenue even more predictable.
  • Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @03:15PM (#21553381)
    No wonder their stock has been climbing lately. I have made so much money day-trading them. I guess it's time to go short now that all the sheeple will want some... I'll sell you some on Monday afternoon.
  • by theorem4 (1101729) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @03:31PM (#21553503)
    Put Blizzard employees in all management spots. Call me naive, but I think with them in charge it would keep a certain level of quality in the company that us fans like so much.
    • You can have all the good managers in the world, but if the coders in the trenches are incompetent, you end up with a Spiderman 3 or something.
  • How does that work? Do they add up the estimated values of both companies and dish out a number? But when one of the companies is putting 1 billion into the deal, and the other company 2 billion, doesn't that only equal 3 billion? Or are they just spending that on lawyers, donuts and hotel accommodations for the merger meeting? I don't get it. Either way, a billion dollars sure doesn't buy what it used to.


    -FL

  • by 6350' (936630) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @03:34PM (#21553539)
    Many news-sites are actually reporting this as a merger between Vivendi and Activision (perhaps more of a semantic distinction, but it does serve to remind that Blizzard is owned by someone, and is not an independant self-owned development studio, in the strictly on-paper sense).

    This is a fascinating move for one very important reason: EA. This merger combines a hugely profitable juggernaut of game-making (Blizzard) with what is probably the largest publisher out there (Activision). Electronic Arts suddenly got not only competition, but may have just dropped into second place, all in one fell swoop.

    This is a great move for Blizzard: there is no other development company that is such a proven success, having long passed the point of "one hit wonder" or "a lucky run," and they now have access to, in light of how bankable they are, absolutely vast wodges of capital for their future plans. This is an awesome move for Activision: a publisher (with some developer in there too) that has quietly grown over the last decade to become one of the largest now has pretty much the ultimate triple-A development juggernaut at its core. This last bit is a key point, as it reflects EA. EA is large publisher wrapped around a large and important development house. Vivendi and Activision have now stepped up to that level and type of operation, and can be expected to give EA a run for its money.

    What particularly pleases me is how this could be seen as providing a "good guys" team to stand against EA's often-percieved "bad guys" team [livejournal.com], which should be an interesting public dynamic to watch :P
    • by Kohath (38547)
      EA was already 2nd to Activision.
      • by xero314 (722674)
        By what possible measurement? Activision's annual revenue is 1.4 Billion (USD) while EA's just under 3 which is over twice that of Activision. Vivendi is are 1.2 Billion, leaving the new combined company to still be nearly .5 Billion behind EA.

        On a consumer experience level the both suck, but EA at least try's while Activision doesn't seem to give rats as as long as they are getting their fat check at the end of the year. Personally I think I have purchased my last Blizzard game since there is no way A
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fm6 (162816)

      Many news-sites are actually reporting this as a merger between Vivendi and Activision (perhaps more of a semantic distinction

      That's like saying there's a "semantic" distinction between fruit and fruit trees. Vivendi owns several media and telecom businesses. (In fact, they used to be a major player in the media world, with movie studios, cable networks, and more. But that's another story.) Not only will this new company be a small part of Vivendi's operation, but Vivendi will share ownership with Ac

    • What particularly pleases me is how this could be seen as providing a "good guys" team to stand against EA's often-percieved "bad guys" team, which should be an interesting public dynamic to watch :P

      Given the way Blizzard's lawyers treated the bnetd developers, I have to question the "good guy" stance you're attributing to them. They are not good guys, any more than any other major corporation out to protect its "intellectual property".
      • by 6350' (936630)
        Click the link. I'm thinking in terms of Blizzard as a generaly well-thought-of company in the eyes of the average gamer, vs. EA (of the ea-spouse fame, my link in the post) as increasingly being percieved as mean, tough, and evil. I suspect EA might be hitting that point where they have been too big for too long, which the public has an odd aversion to - sometimes, we seem not not like it when someone does too well, for too long, when mixed with some mean-ness (ie, the ea-spouse thing).

        That Blizzard is
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      This merger combines a hugely profitable juggernaut of game-making (Blizzard) with what is probably the largest publisher out there (Activision). Electronic Arts suddenly got not only competition, but may have just dropped into second place, all in one fell swoop.
      RTFS:
      Even with the size of the merger, the combined company will still be smaller than the industry giant EA
      • by 6350' (936630)

        Even with the size of the merger, the combined company will still be smaller than the industry giant EA

        /me shrugs
        Dice it up how you will. The New York times, for example, notes that:

        The two companies said that their combined revenue for 2007 would be $3.8 billion. The combined company will challenge Electronic Arts, with projected 2007 revenue of about $3.7 billion...

        I'll stick with my original comment that in particular, EA "may have" just dropped into second place, and as well stick with the spirit of my post in general: that EA now has company, so to speak.

  • by bcharr2 (1046322) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @03:39PM (#21553585)
    Activision Blizzard? That's the best name they could come up with?

    If they wanted to depend on brand name recognition, they should have simply called themselves "The Creators of WOW & Call of Duty".
  • Blizzard has long been a 'Release it when its done' company--and the resulting products have almost always been very polished. Activision(at least in the past 15 years), has been willing to push crap out to market. With Activision's CEO taking over the merged company, can we expect anything -but- a quality drop in Blizzard's future products?
    • by Cyberllama (113628) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @06:20PM (#21554779)
      I can afford the karma hit so I'm gonna say it like it is:

      Blizzard hasn't been a "release it only when it's done" company since Warcraft 3: TFT. I've Participated in the last 4 Blizzard betas, and there was a remarkable shift from Warcraft 3: RoC to Warcraft 3: TFT -- you almost couldn't even call TFT a beta test by comparison. It lasted maybe 2 months total? The game came out very incomplete -- missing an entire single player campaign from what had been promised -- but was slowly added in over the course of several balance patches (the game as also a joke of balance when it came out). Blizzard, to their credit, did do a good job with the final product -- it just took them a couple months worth of patches after release to get the job done.

      I hate to be the one to break the bad news to you, but Blizzard has been a "patch it till it's done" company for a few years now, just like everyone else.

      This actually works out well enough in the MMORPG setting since often they are able to patch in missing content and polish/fix other content before players even get to it -- since it takes players some time to burn though the lower-end content which tends to be the most polished/playtested.

      I do give them credit for actually delaying TBC (thus causing it to miss it's initial November 30th release date which would have meant massive Christmas sales) and spending more time with it -- but they almost didn't have a choice there -- there was literally no content above level 67 at the time and 3 out of the 7 zones weren't even populated/open/quested/etc, not to mention none of the raid content was implemented yet.
    • "Release it when it's done" sounds great, until you realize that there's developers out there that can put out ouput equal in quality and polish to what Blizzard has done and do it twice as often.

    • They could have been bought by EA instead. Count your blessings.
  • Guitar Hero (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath (38547) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @03:50PM (#21553669)
    I think this is the real news:

    Vivendi, owner of the Universal Music Group -- world's largest music publisher, buys a controlling stake in Activision, maker of Guitar Hero -- the world's most popular music-based game franchise.
    • What... do you think they'll try to make players pay a fee for every time they hear a song? Sue players for having more people in the room than they've bought controllers for?

      It'd be my hope that this means that the entire UMG library will be available for GH players to use, but I'm afraid of what they're actually likely to do.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It's Vivendi that owns UMG, not UMG that owns Vivendi. Basically, that means Vivendi will do whatever makes the most money. Guitar Hero is massively popular, and selling tracks a-la iTunes-for-GH is likely to be far more profitable than suing people for anything they can think of. Picture the scene:

        -
        You're with your friends, having a few beers and some laughs on Guitar Hero.
        - After the fifth beer, male bravado is starting to kick in. You and your buddies all start to think you're guitar Gods.
        - "I bet you ca
  • I have been keeping an eye on the hiring page for Blizzard for awhile and they have been hiring for a "top secret" project(their words)for quite some time. http://www.blizzard.com/jobopp/ [blizzard.com]
    (Look on the upper right side of page)

    I have been making potshot guesses regarding what they are up to.

    This changes those guesses. It may boil down to simple licensing issues. Activison has something Blizzard needs and is willing to pay for it? A merger here would put a lot of those licensing issues out of the purview of mo
  • by tachyonflow (539926) * on Sunday December 02, 2007 @05:13PM (#21554315) Homepage
    As someone who mostly associates the name "Activision" with old titles, the first thing that popped in my head when I read this was... "Massively Multiplayer Pitfall!"
  • by smchris (464899) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @05:28PM (#21554453)
    They say it'll be a buyer's market with the dollar tanking over the next year.
  • Dear Zonk (Score:3, Funny)

    by cralewyth (934970) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @05:59PM (#21554651)
    Dear Zonk,

    You shouldn't repeat yourself in your summary, it makes the summary redundant. It's like when you say something twice and it becomes redundant.
  • by Dirtside (91468) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @06:11PM (#21554709) Journal
    Finally, I'll be able to stop playing WoW! It's so addictive now, but I'm sure Activision will somehow find a way to fuck it up so that it won't be fun, and I'll finally be able to quit.

    Thanks, Activision! (Thactivision.)
    • by OakLEE (91103)
      It's been said a couple of times, but I'll reiterate it. With the deal, Blizzard retains its operating independence. Source. [gamasutra.com]
  • by rpgSE (1064392)
    I wonder if we can now trade our Warcraft Gold for new Songs for Guitar Hero III on sites like mmoExchange.com or GamerTex.com
  • Great, two big faceless companies are merging... Blizzard barely makes games, and Activision is a void of good ideas as well...

    So Good luck with that company.

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