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access_time July 14, 2012 at 2:55 AM in News by Ryan Bates

World of War Chest? Activision Blizzard May Be Seeking Buyers

You might be able to buy Cracked Leather Pants here, but what you won't be able to buy is Vivendi's majority stake in Activision Blizzard, at an asking price of $8.1 billion.

Major power players in the gaming world have been flirting with the idea of buying a majority stake in one of the most profitable companies in the industry, and you, too, could effectively control the decisions of Activision Blizzard for the low, low price of $8.1 billion.

Vivendi, owner of the majority stake in Activision Blizzard, creators of the highly-popular and profitable Call of Duty and World of Warcraft series, originally intended for Activision Blizzard to be an independent entity, but according to Bloomberg financial reports, the entertainment company may be looking for a seat at the negotiation table, commissioning banks to “go and talk to possible buyers for Activision,” according to anonymous sources.

And while it might not be within your budget to purchase a major gaming juggernaut (“Finally, Zombies Ate My Neighbors 2!!”), it’s not outside the scope of two other major gaming power players: Time Warner and Microsoft may be working on a joint offer for acquisition, if rumors are to be believed.

The joint venture could make financial sense for everyone involved. Time Warner acquiring Activision Blizzard would link in the aforementioned cash cows CoD and WoW to current winners, such as Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and their various incarnations, as well as the Mortal Kombat reboot, both of which have revitalized Time Warner’s gaming subsidiary Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment into a $3 billion per quarter profit machine. The combination of WB Interactive and Activision Blizzard would solidify it as an industry leader, and propel money and resources at new projects on-console and on-line at rocket speed.

Microsoft would also win in the rumored acquisition deal, being a major keystone in the mysterious whisperings regarding the potential XBox 720. With this year’s E3 offerings making no qualms about linking devices together, it should be no surprise that already, the undercurrent surrounding Microsoft’s eighth-generation console, code-named XBox 720, is the whole-experience entertainment system, not just involving gaming, but music, movies, TV and cable as well. By acquiring Activision Blizzard in conjunction with Time Warner, Microsoft could essentially move all the gaming work to the new company created by Activision Blizzard/WB Interactive, allowing the XBox brains to commit to the entertainment side of the console while WBlizzavision focuses on dominant launch titles. In addition, Blizzard’s massive presence on PC online gaming would be a welcome feast for Microsoft’s console online game community, and could blow everyone else out of the water upon the launch of the 720’s LIVE community.

All of this is simply speculation though until someone cuts a check, and Time Warner and Microsoft aren’t the only interested buyers. Other companies with their hands on the checkbook include private-equity groups KKR and Blackstone, and Tencent, a power player in the Internet services market for China. Tencent recently took hit their hand twice in the core-gaming community, investing in Epic Games, purchasing a minority stake in the studio responsible for Gears of War, as well as announcing a partnership with Activision Blizzard for a free-to-play version of Call of Duty in China.


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