Xbox’s Phil Spencer Reflects On “Dark Days” During Microsoft-Activision Buyout Process

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When Microsoft was in the regulatory process of acquiring Activision Blizzard, there were some “dark days,” Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said in an interview with IGN. He said Microsoft had to plan for “all contingencies,” and that included the deal not getting done.

“We consider everything. You have to in running the business. But we felt like we were on the side of right, meaning we weren’t doing this so we could pull Call of Duty from PlayStation players. It was never in our plan. I mean, I think my whole inbox leaked on the internet, so if anybody wanted to find that that was the plan, you would find it somewhere and it wasn’t there,” Spencer said.

Spencer said Microsoft “stayed convicted” throughout the process, despite some obstacles like when the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) initially rejected the deal. This was one of the “dark days” during the process, Spencer reflected.

He also noted that the protracted buyout process, including all of the uncertainty, was a “drag on the teams.”

“It’s my fault as the head of the business, I didn’t really internalize that in the beginning of what a drain that would be on the team,” Spencer added. “It’s really nice to be post the acquisition working with those amazing teams.”

Microsoft paid $74.5 billion to acquire Activision Blizzard and all of its studios and franchises. Also in the interview, Spencer said making the deal will push Microsoft to do more in a variety of areas.

“Doing a $70 billion acquisition will push us to try to do more. It’ll push us on cloud, it’ll push us to go find customers in new places, continue to think about access to amazing games, enabling creators to do great work,” he said. “But I actually think for the team, that’s just a self-motivation that the team has and it’s fun to be a part of.”

Following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the company’s co-founder, Bobby Kotick, left the company. Another major effect of the deal is that Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 will launch on Xbox Game Pass, marking a major shift for the franchise.