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Blizzard and Activision Announce $18.8bn Merger 298

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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  • 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 Crock23A ( 1124275 ) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:45PM (#21553101)
    How long until I can play some crazy rhythm-based RTS with my guitar hero controller?
  • Re:World Of Warcraft (Score:1, Interesting)

    by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:54PM (#21553189)
    Not just the WoW community. There are many people who are fans of Blizzard games in general, and I, for one, will be not too happy if the excellent quality of their games goes down because of this. Will they have the balls, for example, under their new management, to cancel mostly-finished games just cause they aren't happy with how it's turning out? I doubt it, but we'll see.

    Color me skeptical on this one. Almost as skeptical as I am about the BioWare/EA deal.

  • 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 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 [], which should be an interesting public dynamic to watch :P
  • by david.given ( 6740 ) <dg AT cowlark DOT com> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @03:46PM (#21553639) Homepage Journal

    How long until I can play some crazy rhythm-based RTS with my guitar hero controller?

    You know, that might actually be quite fun. Did you ever play Loom? That was a point-and-click adventure game where all your actions were done by playing short phrases of music.

    Update it to the present day, and you have your character roaming the wilderness blowing monsters away with your sw33t r1ffs. The more powerful the spell, the harder it is to play, so your character's skills are directly related to your skills. If you could solve the lag issue, you could even have the ability to team up with other players and jam together for extra power.

    Hmm. Different character classes would map to different types of music quite well. Healer == psychedelic 60s. Tank == 80s power ballad. Fighter == rock. Necromancer == death metal...

  • by king-manic ( 409855 ) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @04:13PM (#21553855)

    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:World Of Warcraft (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SL Baur ( 19540 ) <> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @04:16PM (#21553871) Homepage Journal

    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.
  • Re:World Of Warcraft (Score:2, Interesting)

    by icedcool ( 446975 ) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @04:33PM (#21553993)
    On the plus side what if Activision's management is replaced with Blizzard's. Blizzard's process obviously works. This could be the start of us seeing a lot of much higher quality games.

  • by Ghubi ( 1102775 ) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @04:46PM (#21554109) Homepage

    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 company.

    There's no reason why this new 3bn project should interfere with the day to day operations of the other 15.8bn of whatever makes up the total merger. I can't wait to find out exactly what this new 3bn project is.

  • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @05:08PM (#21554267)
    If Blizzard is doing something right its not uptime.

    Most people who deliver online services like to measure their uptime in 'nines'.

    Blizzard measure theirs in 'eights'.
  • Re:My gosh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OakLEE ( 91103 ) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @07:34PM (#21555193)
    I'll tackle this in two parts,

    It really saddens me when game companies make good business decisions...

    Well, like you said, both Blizzard and Activision are businesses, and businesses exist to make money that they can return to their owners and shareholders. Both Blizzard and Activision don't make games just because it's fun to. They make games because people will pay money for them.

    ...that, to me, seem like they will hurt gamers in the long run

    I actually think this will help gamers. First off, Vivendi will basically retain control of Activision Blizzard by bieng the majority shareholder and having the majority of seats on the board. This will allow them to protect Blizzard's independent operation status, something it has always had as a subsidiary of Vivendi, and something that has clearly worked in past given the quality and profitability of the titles and franchises Blizzard has created. Blizzard is probably set for the longterm with this deal.

    Activision fans also benefit, at least in the short term, because it will get access to Universal Music Groups song catalog through Vivendi. This will translate into more, and better Guitar Hero sequels, which will benefit Guitar Hero fans. Of course, the problem with Guitar Hero is that it is an inherently faddish game, ala DDR, and its novelty will probably wear off in a year. Then Activision will have to depend on its Call of Duty, Tony Hawk, and Quake franchises, all of which are oversaturated. However, that would have happened to Activision regardless of the merger, so I fail to see how gamers are hurt by this merger.
  • Re:World Of Warcraft (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jarik_Tentsu ( 1065748 ) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @08:22PM (#21555525)
    Indeed. Every game Blizzard has made has been a huge success.

    WoW - Biggest MMORPG in the world...has changed the gaming industry so much, other publishers are accusing Blizzard of destroying the market.
    Starcraft - Still has the biggest professional gaming industry (South Korea) which has more money in it than all other professional gaming industries put together.

    Diablo series - While not nearly as successful as the other two, proved itself as a popular RPG almost all gamers have had a go at.
    Warcraft series - Still proves itself as one of the most popular RTSs. Warcraft III especially was played in many professional levels and the modification game, DotA is probably the most popular game to play at LAN parties and cafes.

    So yeah, unlike EA, they make few games, but each game is a hit. They put out quality games with few bugs and support them well. They look at the needs of the gamers and do well in producing something they would like.

    I only hope Starcraft II will be as good as the first one, and I think that will be largely based on whether they plan to aim towards the South Korean needs of the game (Who want something perfectly balanced, simple, hard to play well, but can be put into a professional league and is competitive that can last in proleagues for years), or towards the more mainstream market (Who want an RTS with fancy graphics, to play the campaign once, play a couple of multiplayer games which involve just massing units for one big attack, then forget it a couple of months later).

    But yeah, hopefully Activision won't come and say "Let's start pumping out 3 new games a year!" or something stupid like that.

  • by Neuticle ( 255200 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @12:55AM (#21557143) Homepage
    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 hard to balance since it would probably play quite differently than the current WWII formula, but it would be sweet.
  • Re:World Of Warcraft (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SL Baur ( 19540 ) <> on Monday December 03, 2007 @06:05AM (#21558527) Homepage Journal

    Since 2.3 half the quests have degenerated into 'hunt the questionmark' and it's insanely easy to level.. in fact it's more of a task to *not* level before half your unfinished quests go grey.
    Yeah, that's what I meant. Besides that, they've also cut the "armor repairs tax" in half because you now get a 20% discount from vendors where you're exalted. (I like that change a lot more than I like the Azeroth nerfing).

    It's not all bad. There's no reason whatsoever to pay someone to "powerlevel" your character and with the revered and exalted additional discounts + decreased time at low levels, it's easier to save up mount money so there's less reason to pay for gold, less reason to pay exorbitant prices for epic drops below level 60 and much, much harder to keep a twinkie. And really, is it that much fun to have to squint, search hard, resort to things like Thottbot to find quest givers and quest items on the ground? Those are all desired features for me, your mileage may vary.

    I bought the game because a) it was available on Macintosh (and hence Linux); b) it was very popular and I've kept playing because I find it most entertaining. So long as the Blizzard spirit I've come to know and enjoy remains intact, I'll continue supporting them by being a loyal customer.

    Preparation for Activision perhaps? They're big in consoles and the relative complexity of a PC game wouldn't go down well on the average Wii.
    I don't like consoles in general and especially Xbox/MS-Windows-only games. I hope that's not the direction they're headed.
  • Re:World Of Warcraft (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2007 @07:29AM (#21558841)
    Well, yes... Vivendi bought Activision, but as part of the deal, Vivendi is giving Blizzard to them. The former head of Activision is going to be the new head of "Activision Blizzard." It doesn't really seem like something that's going to go well for Blizzard fans.
  • Re:New WoW Class (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Trent Hawkins ( 1093109 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @12:11PM (#21560601)
    I just thought of this new class for WoW: Bard.

    You plug in your Guitar and cast spells/do attacks by playing a riff.
    Can't wait to roll up Lemmy the Orc Bard... or maybe an undead Eddie.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato