Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has moved quickly to calm any fears about his firm’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. And he has good news for employees of that company, PlayStation owners, and gamers of all kinds.
First up, the unfound (and nonsensical) worries that Microsoft would make future Call of Duty games and other titles available only on Xbox.
“Had good calls this week with leaders at Sony,” Mr. Spencer tweeted. “I confirmed our intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard and our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. Sony is an important part of our industry, and we value our relationship.”
To be clear, the first part of that—Microsoft’s “intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard”—is obvious, as I pointed out yesterday: t’s a legal requirement. But the second bit—Microsoft’s “desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation”—is new, though it’s also obvious (which, yes, I also pointed out yesterday).
Spencer also addressed some of the concerns of Activision Blizzard employees, who have been pushing to unionize in the wake of multiple sexual harassment and workplace discrimination complaints.
“I’m not going to try to come across as an expert on this, but I’ll say we’ll be having conversations about what empowers them to do their best work, which as you can imagine in a creative industry, is the most important thing for us,” he told The Washington Post. “We spent time with the Activision team looking at the incidents, looking at employee polls, and then had a good discussion with them about their plan, both the progress they’ve been making and what their plan was.”
Related to this, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, who has been in that role for an incredible 31 years and is at the center of those “incidents,” also held a virtual “fireside chat” with employees this week. The meeting was supposed to last 30 minutes, but he arrived 7 minutes late and only spoke for 16 minutes, according to a separate report in The Washington Post. But he did at least address some employee concerns.
“The transition is going to be smooth because [Microsoft is] committed to trying to retain as many of our people as possible,” he told employees.
Regarding whether he would stay on after the deal is consummated, Mr. Kotick said only that he would remain in place during the regulatory approval process and that he’s told Microsoft he would “stay as long as is necessary to ensure that we have a great integration and a great transition.”
Given Kotick’s toxicity problems, however, one imagines he’ll be gone as soon as the deal is completed.