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Activision and Blizzard merge!


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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7123582.stm

Video game giants in $18bn merger

By Rory Cellan-Jones

Technology correspondent, BBC News

Warcraft

World of Warcraft is played by more than nine million people

The companies behind Call of Duty and World of Warcraft are merging in a deal which could shake up the global video games industry.

Activision and Blizzard have said they will form "the world's most profitable games business" in a deal worth $18.8bn (£9.15bn).

US-based Activision also makes hit console games such as the Tony Hawk series and Guitar Hero.

Nine million people pay a monthly subscription to play World of Warcraft.

'High-growth industry'

Blizzard is the biggest player in online gaming and Warcraft is the global market leader of what are known as massively multi-player online role-playing games, or MMORPGs.

It is currently owned by the French media group Vivendi.

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 and its chief executive will be Activision's current CEO Bobby Kotick. Vivendi will be the biggest shareholder in the group.

Jean-Bernard Levy, Vivendi chief executive, said: "This alliance is a major strategic step for Vivendi and is another illustration of our drive to extend our presence in the entertainment sector.

"By combining Vivendi's games business with Activision, we are creating a worldwide leader in a high-growth industry."

Different strengths

The two firms are hoping that their different strengths will combine to form a business which is powerful on every gaming platform and in every territory.

Blizzard is strong in Asia, where its Starcraft series has proved hugely popular.

Starcraft, a strategy game first released in 1998, is played by millions of South Koreans in gaming cyber-cafes, and by professional gamers on television.

Activision has developed a presence on all three new generation game consoles - Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii - with franchises such as Spider-Man and X-Men.

The games software industry has been through turbulent years, with companies changing ownership and going in and out of business in rapid succession.

Activision was formed in 1979 and went through bankruptcy and a series of alliances and mergers before becoming successful.

Blizzard had been through a number of owners before ending up in the hands of Vivendi in 1998.

Official response from Blizzard:

http://www.battle.net/forums/thread.aspx?fn=sc2-general&t=152804&p=1post152804

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. To learn more about this exciting new development, please read our Activision Blizzard FAQ:

...

Q: What are the details of the deal?

A: Under the terms of an agreement with Vivendi, Blizzard and the other companies that make up Vivendi Games will combine with Activision to form a new public company called Activision Blizzard. We do not anticipate any difference in Blizzard’s operations as a result of the combination. Joining forces with Activision will create a stronger and more diversified company that we anticipate will benefit and strengthen both brands.

Q: What will happen to the Blizzard brand name?

A: The Blizzard brand name will stay the same as it’s always been: Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Q: What will change with regard to the day-to-day operations at Blizzard?

A: There will be no changes in the way Blizzard operates. All of the people, processes, and philosophies that have made Blizzard so successful will be preserved. Blizzard will benefit from all-star sales and distribution teams to service our products. In addition, the combined company will be stronger financially, managerially, and operationally.

Q: How will this impact Blizzard’s games?

A: This will not impact Blizzard’s games. We remain committed to providing the same high-quality game content and support that we always have. Development on Wrath of the Lich King and StarCraft II, as well as on our unannounced games, is continuing as normal.

Q: Will there be any visible differences in Blizzard’s logo or packaging/marketing materials as a result of this deal?

A: No, there won’t be any changes to our company name, logo, packaging/marketing materials, or anything else along those lines.

Q: Will there be any management changes at Blizzard as a result of this deal?

A: No, there won’t be any management changes at Blizzard as a result of the combination.

Q: Will Activision and Blizzard now share development teams?

A: No, both of our companies will continue to operate as they have previously with regard to game development.

Q: Will the release schedules for any Blizzard games be impacted?

A: No, the transaction will not have any impact on our games, our day-to-day operations, or our release timelines.

Q: Will any of Blizzard’s offices close as a result of the deal? Or, will any new offices open?

A: No, all of our offices will continue to function as they have, and we don’t foresee the need to open any new offices for the time being.

Q: Will any employees move to different offices as a result of the deal?

A: We don’t anticipate making any such moves as a result of the deal.

Q: Does this deal include Activision’s and Blizzard’s international offices?

A: Yes, every part of our companies in the U.S. and abroad is involved in this deal.

Q: If Activision Blizzard is a public company, does that mean I’ll now be able to buy stock in Blizzard?

A: Activision will be renamed Activision Blizzard, Inc and will continue to be a publicly listed company traded on NASDAQ. You will be able to buy stock in the combined company.

Q: When will the transaction be complete?

A: The transaction is subject to approval of Activision shareholders, customary closing conditions, and regulatory approvals. Pending approval, the companies expect the transaction to be completed by mid 2008.

Discuss.

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Wow, I dunno about you guys, but I didn't see this one coming. I dunno what exactly I think about this yet. It could be good - activision makes games for all platforms, so maybe some Blizzard made games for the consoles ...Maybe?

What's the "merged" company going to be called anyways? Blizzavision? Activizard? :<

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Wow, I dunno about you guys, but I didn't see this one coming. I dunno what exactly I think about this yet. It could be good - activision makes games for all platforms, so maybe some Blizzard made games for the consoles ...Maybe?

What's the "merged" company going to be called anyways? Blizzavision? Activizard? :<

Activision Blizzard

I'm sure Shonen will be here to provide his input at some point.

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I really don't know how I feel about this.

As a Blizzard fanboy *warcraft one represent, not omg wow wow wow*, I really don't know if I like this.

I am just hoping that we won't be seeing any titles like "Guitar Craft" and "World of Guitar Hero" anytime soon.

Yes because everyone knows that when game companies merge, they cross-pollinate their franchises like blithering idiots.

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My five pesos: Blizzard has expressed extreme interest in breaking into the home console industry. Starcraft Ghost was supposed to do that, but it's become fairly clear that Blizzard's realm is the PC alone. Activision, on the other hand, flows casually between both markets. They are the perfect company to bring Blizzard's content to a console environment.

What I hope to see here is two independent companies where one branch functions as a single company. In other words, Blizzard knows exactly what they're doing with their PC games, and I hope they keep activision a million miles away from any decision involving WoW or Starcraft or any other franchise they have on PC. Activision releases some amazing console games, and I hope Blizzard doesn't overstep their field of mastery and try to make World of Call of Duty or anything.

In essence, I hope for a decent sized separate company where both sides are cooperating together to make new and different franchises available to console and PC. But my gut tells me what this merger is really for is mainly to bring Blizzard content to consoles, as evidenced by the fact that Vivendi holds the major share in the new company. WoW on 360 would be tantalizing indeed.

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According to Wikipedia (and I wouldn't trust this for stock picking, so take it with a grain of salt), Activision is worth 1.4 billion, Blizzard (which is a unit of Vivendi Universal) is worth 1.1 billion, and Vivendi Universal worth 20.4 billion, with 4.4 billion in revenue YEARLY.

So I would guess its buying Activision out, having them invest some in the reorganization of the company, and merging the two companies/units.

A direct press release from the companies would be nice.:nicework:

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Here is a nice interview of Mike Morhaime from IGN about the merge:

Click HERE

When you say "managing their developers," the Blizzard Entertainment structure remains unchanged. I will remain president and CEO of Blizzard Entertainment reporting to Bobby Kotick who is CEO of Activision Blizzard. As far as development and publishing, Blizzard Entertainment will continue to be a publisher of computer games and will continue to be developing and maintaining our intellectual properties as we always have.

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Now they need to buy Nintendo and Double Fine and have Shigeru Miyamoto help Tim Schafer create an epic online Psychonauts sequel full of psychic powers and overweight plumbers.

My life will be considered complete and I'll be happy when that happens.

Nintendo could buy out Vivendi with cash to spare... Take 24 Billion, pay their stockholders a little extra, and voila... a new, giant monster company.

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Nintendo could buy out Vivendi with cash to spare... Take 24 Billion, pay their stockholders a little extra, and voila... a new, giant monster company.

Yes but Nintendo doesn't buy people. They like people to fight over who can buy them. ;) Playing hard to get makes them feel sexy.

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