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Microsoft buying scandal-ridden Activision-Blizzard for $69B

Microsoft is buying the scandal-ridden developer behind Call of Duty and World of Warcraft for $68.7 billion in the biggest gaming deal in history, the companies said Monday. Activision-Blizzard stock jumped a whopping 38 percent in pre-market trading on Tuesday morning following initial reports on the deal. Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard is set to be the biggest-ever gaming deal, eclipsing a previous record — set just last week — when Take-Two Interactive said it would buy mobile game maker Zynga for $11 billion. The Microsoft-Activision deal has been approved by the boards of directors of both copmanies and is expected to close in 2023, the companies said. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the deal would “usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible to all.” The news comes as Activision-Blizzard reels from a far-reaching sexual misconduct scandal that saw California authorities accuse the company of fostering a culture of “constant sexual harassment” that even drove one employee to suicide. The suit and other reports of issues at the company led to widespread employee protests and walkouts. Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick allegedly helped hide sexual misconduct and once threatened to have his own assistant killed, according to The Journal. Microsoft said that Kotick will remain in place as CEO following the acquisition. However, Activision-Blizzard has fired or pushed out more than three dozen employees and disciplined about 40 others in connection to the scandal, the Journal reported on Monday. “The combination of Activision Blizzard’s world-class talent and extraordinary franchises with Microsoft’s technology, distribution, access to talent, ambitious vision and shared commitment to gaming and inclusion will help ensure our continued success in an increasingly competitive industry,” Kotick said in the press release.

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