Microsoft announced it’s planning to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, making it the largest gaming acquisition to date. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says the studio will play a key role in the development of its future metaverse platforms.

Microsoft seems to be gradually absorbing some of gaming’s most influential companies in an apparent bid to solidify its position in a market that’s rapidly changing to focus on immersion and interoperability between virtual worlds—what some have dubbed ‘the metaverse’.

Once the Activison Blizzard deal goes through—expected to happen sometime in 2023—it will mean Microsoft not only owns iconic titles such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Diablo and Candy Crushbut it will become the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, following Tencent and Sony.

The company says Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, however the soon-to-be subsidiary will eventually report to Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming.

Like with Meta (formerly Facebook), plans to create its version of the metaverse have remained fairly nebulous—par for the course since the concept of ‘the metaverse’ was co-opted to mean any virtual world, a summation of virtual worlds, or a monolithic virtual platform (metaverse with a capital ‘M’). It seems Microsoft is speaking about supporting “any metaverse” in a much broader sense here:

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a press statement. “When we think about our vision for what a Metaverse can be, we believe there won’t be a single, centralized metaverse. It shouldn’t be. We need to support many metaverse platforms as well as a robust ecosystem of content commerce and applications.”

What is concrete however is company’s VR strategy, or lack thereof. Microsoft, vis-à-vis Xbox, has lagged far behind competitors Sony and Meta, both of which have developed their own VR gaming ecosystems and platform-exclusive hardware. Xbox doesn’t feature any form of official VR compatibility, not even with its range of Microsoft Mixed Reality headsets.

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Still, Spencer told Protocol last month he wants Xbox’s metaverse strategy to extend to all “any screen that can render those [games].”

“I want to be able to experience the things I own on any screen that can render those,” Spencer said. “I want to be able to have the experiences I have anywhere. I want to have them with the people I want to experience them with and it requires a lot of cloud infrastructure to make that happen. It requires, like I said, a real open approach.”

It appears Spencer is still very much engrained in traditional platforms when he’s talks about “any screen” however. The Xbox chief says developing VR hardware is still not a focus:

“And you know, I applaud what Sony‘s doing, I applaud what Oculus is doing, what Valve has done,” Spencer said during Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Tech Live event back in October 2021. “I mean, there’s a lot of good players out there that have done some amazing VR work. But yeah, we’re gonna stay as a company right now in the consumer space focused on software, and I think that’s a good bet.”

The Activision deal follows a September 2020 acquisition of gaming powerhouse ZeniMax for $7.5 billion, the parent company of Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios.

Activision Blizzard owns Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, Beenox, Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Major League Gaming, Radical Entertainment, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob, Treyarch.

Microsoft says it will add many of Activision’s games to Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass subscription services.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 4,000 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • MeowMix

    It’s laughable the FTC is going to investigate META’s acquisition of Supernatural VR, when something like this will likely go through without any peeps from the FTC.

    • kool

      It wont be long before the FTC investigates this deal either.

      • jimmy

        they wont do shit the ftc have not denied an acquisition since the 1970s

    • Bob

      If humans are involved with anything, expect bias and prejudice.
      It’s human nature.

    • I hope so, this is a huge acquisition, it should be under scrutiny

    • Ad

      Both are unacceptable.

  • Merzcat

    Sony should buy Square Enix, Konami and Rockstar games.

    • jimmy

      sony is broke they cant even buy half of Rockstar

  • sfmike

    Microsoft will run it into the ground. How can they talk about a place in the Metaverse when they don’t truly support VR and only push AR because all the investment blabbermouth con-men keep enticing them with hope of instant billions from AR.

    • CryptoMFTs, man ….
      CRYPTONFTs!!1!1 lol

  • Jonathan Winters III

    Ah….so they might starve out Sony / Meta or any console competitor by owning the majority of big game IPs. Microsoft is the one the FTC needs to go after.

    • jimmy

      we never had a single activision title in vr since 2016 it didn’t stop it from growing

  • Jonathan Winters III

    Whoa there! Microsoft’s “metaverse” is simply MP games with user interactivity. They’ve little interest in VR, and they wouldn’t want to empower their competitors Sony or Meta by releasing ANY of their IPs in VR.

    • Then why’s this story even on RTVR if there’s no VR connection …?

      • Corellianrogue

        Because Microsoft used the word “metaverse” so it got some people excited. This is actually related to VR but not in the way people think. Microsoft are buying all these companies so they DON’T make VR games for PSVR2, PC VR and mobile VR. Notice how all the recent previous companies Microsoft bought were making VR games until Microsoft bought them? Bethesda, InXile, Double Fine, Ninja Theory. How many VR games have those companies even announced since Microsoft bought them? ZERO! (Other than DOOM 3 VR on PSVR, but that was obviously already made and ready to be released.)

  • Christian Schildwaechter

    Don’t think of this as “Microsoft is getting into VR”. This is Microsoft extending their “xyz as a service” strategy. A long time ago, Microsoft was a company that made its money by selling operating systems and a ubiquitous office suite. These days almost 40% of their income is generated by the “Intelligent Cloud” segment alone, mostly Azure, enterprise services, GitHub etc. All gaming is crammed together with selling Windows into “Personal Computing”, making about 1/3rd of all money, with Microsoft pushing hard to establish Game Pass as the only gaming subscription you’ll ever need, no matter if you play on Xbox, PC, mobile or in a browser. Less than 30% of all earnings come from “Productivity and Business Processes”, which includes the now subscription based Office 365 and services like LinkedIn.

    Activision Blizzard fits well into this, as they announced years ago that they will focus on games as a service. With World of Warcraft and Candy Crush they already own the grand daddies of continuously generating revenue from their players. And Microsoft’s recent purchase of Bethesda will probably be less about Elder Scrolls 6 or Fallout 5 and more about successors to Elder Scrolls Online and Fallout 76 online multiplayers.

    From this perspective, the metaverse, whatever that may become, is primarily another online world you can subscribe to. Meta sees it populated with Horizon avatars, Epic thinks it will be an extension of the Fortnite world making billions from micro-transactions. Roblox users already spend hundreds of millions on the platform with content creators getting payed for their virtual creations with real world money. Not sure how Rec Room intends to make money, but they convinced investors that they will. However this future platform now rising from what today is gaming technology will look like or be called, Microsoft, already a behemoth in the digital services world, most definitely wants a share of it. And you might get a share too. For a monthly fee.

    • guest

      Funny that Spencer used the word “extend” from their notorious EEE stratagem. Bet they’re going to coin the acroynm MV just like MR which really means Microsoft Reality!

  • Holdup

    Call of duty is arcade crap, onward is a military sim, my favorite vr game of all time

  • Holdup

    The metaverse is promising but dropping 70 billion dollar into it is madness especially since non of us now exactly what the metaverse look like

  • XRC

    Nothing about the toxicity of the target company Microsoft aiming to purchase? Nothing like a good pay out for those at the top…

  • Kyokushin

    M$ lost a war for smartphones, lost the tablets, lost the war for cloud, lost war for maps, for websearch and now its again – they have ‘everything’ but want to loose the game of VR.

  • xyzs

    Only games I never gave the tiniest damn about.

    But this is monopoly buying spree is a scandale!

    What’s next, Apple buys Nintendo, and Google buys Sony ? Wtf, is there anything that can be a bit independent in this world ?

  • Lucidfeuer

    There seems to be a misunderstanding as to what the term “metaverse” entices when corporations use it: it has NOTHING to do with VR, or not directly.

    Metaverse, although a word often associated with VR, is rather the consolidation or unification of all franchise of a same brand within a same coherent universe. Basically Super Smash Bros, Fortnite, the ServerVerse in Space Jam 2, the Alienverse, the MCU etc…it’s just a marketing, narrative and sometimes interactive cross-over.

  • Why we calling it metaverse? Surely if it’s ms then it’s not a metaverse which is promoting meta etc. The last thing any one should be doing is giving Facebook free press haha Maybe call it cyberspace or … multiverse or virtuality or just virtual reality. My personal favourites are… digiland haha or VRWorld or Virtualand lol
    Only matter of time before Neal Stephenson and Mark zuckerberg have words haha

  • АДМИН рбк

    Should I buy land in the Metaverse? Yes!
    Our world is changing faster than ever.
    We’ve been using money we can’t touch for a long time, we have friends we’ve never seen. A large number of material objects have been turned into NFTs and are digital assets. While many do not understand what this means, others are making millions and tens of millions of dollars! I buy a $10 Virtual Earth from the Centrland Metaverse

  • ThomasDMagee

    Count me in on a VR Based Call of Duty that shit would be fun as hell. no need to go for walks or runs for exercise, you would get it from the VR