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What Microsoft’s US $68B acquisition of Activision Blizzard means for Vancouver

Multiple B.C. gaming companies now under same corporate umbrella
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Microsoft plans to acquire the company known for titles ranging from "Call of Duty" to "Candy Crush" in an all-cash deal worth US $68.7 billion. 

It’s game over for the rampant speculation over gaming giant Activision Blizzard Inc.’s (Nasdaq: ATVI) future.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT) revealed Tuesday it plans to acquire the company known for titles ranging from Call of Duty to Candy Crush in an all-cash deal worth US $68.7 billion. 

Microsoft is paying US$95 a share after Activision closed trading this past Friday at US $65.39 a share.

Activision, which has been in the headlines in recent months over its handling of sexual misconduct claims, has about 10,000 employees worldwide, including some in Vancouver.

Demonware Canada Ltd., which supports online gaming experiences such as matchmaking and leaderboards, remains actively hiring in the city as an Activision subsidiary.

Another subsidiary, gaming studio Treyarch Corp., is based out of California but maintains a Vancouver office that works of the popular Call of Duty: Black Ops franchise.

Subsidiary studio Radical Entertainment Inc. put an end to all its game development in 2017 and laid off most of its staff after being founded in Vancouver in 1991. Activision’s website indicates the company is still providing some support for other studios.

While Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is slated to continue leading the company, the Vancouver offices under his purview will now be under the same broader corporate umbrella as Microsoft-owned The Coalition.

The gaming studio, best known for the Gears of War franchise, employs just over 300 workers in Vancouver.

DigiBC executive director Loc Dao said his industry organization will be speaking to its members in the coming weeks about the potential impacts of the US $68.7 billion deal.

The gaming sector has been buoyant for B.C. amid the pandemic.

The number of jobs within the industry grew 19 per cent to 8,700 full-time equivalent positions between 2019 and 2021, according to a November 2021 report from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC).

During that same period, the number of companies based on the West Coast grew from 116 to 161 (+39 per cent).

Canada’s gaming sector generated $4.3 billion in revenue in 2021 — up 20 per cent compared with two years ago. 

Specific data about B.C. revenue growth was not available in the report, however, ESAC noted that the West Coast accounted for 27 per cent of $3.72 billion in sector expenditures last year — the second most after Quebec at 43 per cent.

torton@biv.com

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