The news of Activision Blizzard’s record-breaking sale to Microsoft shocked the tech and gaming industries. Perhaps the most interesting part of it, though, is that this deal could have ended up happening with someone else.
According to Bloomberg’s Dina Bass and Liana Baker, Activision Blizzard was initially not sold on the idea of being acquired by Microsoft. With the amount of money involved, the deal felt like something that had to happen, but that didn’t stop Activision Blizzard execs from seeking out an alternative buyer. One of the companies they talked to: Oculus Rift producer and social media giant Facebook’s parent company, Meta Platforms Inc.
Yet even as Activision fought to salvage its reputation with players and investors—the stock dropped about 15% in the month after the Wall Street Journal article — and weighed the potential takeover, Kotick and the board weren’t sold on Microsoft as the acquirer, two people familiar with the matter said. Activision made calls to try to find other interested parties, said the people, who asked not to be identified talking about private conversations. Those included Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. and at least one other big company. But no other serious interest materialized. In an interview, Spencer declined to discuss how the deal went down. A Meta spokesperson declined to comment, and a representative for Activision didn’t return requests for comment.
While in the end, it’s probably a good thing Activision Blizzard went to Microsoft instead of Meta, it’s wild to think about what this alternative purchase/merger would have looked like. Facebook has been slowly moving away from being known as just a social media company with a recent rebranding to “Meta” to represent its interest in the buzzy “Metaverse” that much of the tech industry is interested in. Had this deal happened, perhaps we would have seen Activision Blizzard’s future focus less on video games and more on Facebook’s tech interests, or perhaps we would have seen an even greater focus on VR and mobile gaming.
At the end of the day, Activision Blizzard will likely continue to focus on video games under Microsoft. The deal should assist Microsoft Gaming and help push players to services like Game Pass on the Xbox and PC.