Microsoft will buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion — and supercharge Xbox Game Pass

an image showing Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Update: We ponder the question of what does Microsoft’s Activision acquisition mean for gamers?

Xbox Game Pass is already a killer gaming deal, but it could get even better. Microsoft announced today (Jan. 18) that it has agreed to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. 

Seemingly not content with owning both Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks, along with all the latter’s studios, Microsoft now stands to add the creators of Call of Duty, Overwatch, Warcraft, Hearthstone, Tony Hawk and more to its gaming division. 

A closing date for the corporate transaction hasn’t been announced, and Activision Blizzard will remain an independent entity for the time being. But when it does get folded into the Microsoft family, Microsoft has big plans for the game publisher and its developers. 

“Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog," said Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming. "We also announced today that Game Pass now has more than 25 million subscribers. As always, we look forward to continuing to add more value and more great games to Game Pass.”  

“The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own," Spencer added. "Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward.” 

In short, that means Xbox fans and people with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions should be able to play more games than ever pretty much anywhere there's a good internet connection. 

Xbox Cloud Gaming is already pretty impressive in that it allows game streaming to mobile devices as well as enabling the best Xbox Series X games to be played via the Xbox One, somewhat bypassing the annoyance of difficult-to-get Xbox Series X restocks.

While Activision Blizzard has been mired in controversy as of late, its ownership of some of the largest games around means this acquisition agreement comes as a surprise; we had not predicted it in our article exploring the potential for the Xbox Series X in 2022.

Additional details about the acquisition are thin on the ground, but we’ll aim to bring you more once further information comes to light. Whether the deal is ultimately a good thing for gamers is already being fiercely debated, but one thing is for sure, the gaming industry is about to be shaken up in a major way. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.