Phil Spencer Opens Up About Activision Blizzard Plans

Posted on January 21, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox with 19 Comments

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.

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (19)

19 responses to “Phil Spencer Opens Up About Activision Blizzard Plans”

  1. blue77star

    Honestly, I do not care what MS plans with Activision. This purchase is what is killing PC Gaming and it is not good. XBOX for PC Service is utter garbage. If it is not on Steam these days I am not going to buy it and if game on Steam install junk like EA, XBOX App along with it, won't buy it.

    • nickysreensaver

      I find this Steam thing a joke. First of all all Msft games come to Steam if they release on PC. Second if you are getting a 60 dollar game for 10 bucks a month it's steal. It's not like Valve has shown you any good will that you refuse to try and get out of their non-ecosystem. Secondly, CoD on PC has always been on Battle.net which works fine. None of what Microsoft has done has 'killed the pc gaming industry' All of their games release simultaneously on PC unlike Sony who let's them bake on a Playstation until sales stagnate.

    • Donte

      Lol. About 50% of games on Steam require another launcher. If they do I do not buy them there. I buy my EA games via Origin, MS games from MS, etc..etc.


      If anything, I wish I could get all of my games from the Xbox store. Xbox store games are encrypted on your drive. If you mess with them they break....as in if you try to install cheats.


      Halo cheaters buy the game from Steam to install cheats because the Microsoft store game does not allow this.


      Game Pass for PC is fantastic. I just downloaded the new Rainbox Six Extraction game for PC via GamePass. Its just OK. I will play it some more and then probably dump it and I won't have wated $60 on it.

  2. truerock2

    Ultimately...

    Activision, Blizzard, Sierra... will be gone.

    The world will be less.

    It is all very sad.

    • spacein_vader

      Sierra died years ago and Activision has been reduced to a COD factory. Only Blizzard still had its own ID and Koticks been trying his best to stamp that out.


      I will say some steps to improve the functionality, usability and stability of the Xbox app on PC would make using Game Pass simpler and more streamlined.

  3. nbplopes

    I can’t imagine a company working with two others, than bought by one, if not to undercut the other sometimes and get their market. It may be a slow

    roast but the modus op is quite linear and inevitable.


    Anyway … it is what it is.

  4. navarac

    All this is speculation and assumes, of course, that the acquisition goes though.

  5. ghostrider

    MS obviously can't beat Sony in sales or exclusives, so they just keep opening their wallets and buying up the dev companies. MS are gaining more and more control on what platforms games are released on, and you can be sure, whatever you hear to the contrary, MS will limit what's released for PS owners, to control the market and force them onto PC (Windows) or Xbox. MS are on track to kill what gaming means to players. I seriously hope this is blocked, because it's bad news for everyone.

    • Davor Radman

      Wait.. So Sony is leading in exclusives. And MS trying to close the gap means MS is trying to kill what gaming means for gamers?

      What does that even mean? Why should they not try to have as much exclusives as Sony does?

  6. truerock2

    At least females can now know they will not be discriminated against at Activision Blizzard.

    It won't exist.

  7. scovious

    Call of Duty Warzone will definitely remain on Playstation and will continue to be updated. I wouldn't be surprised to see a version of warzone with respawning enabled to help Playstation owners cope with the loss of mainline Call of Duty games from 2024 and beyond, or whenever Sony's current marketing partnership with Activision is scheduled to be renewed.


    Beyond that, Phil's statements could be interpreted to go either way, and my hunch is Sony loses out on Call of Duty campaigns, zombies modes, and any form of Day 1 release. Maybe I am wrong and Microsoft doesn't want Game Pass to grow, maybe they decided to start making their money off the fractional profits gained by releasing new Call of Duty games on competitor platforms. Remember when Sony put a cross play tax on Playstation games? Do you think Microsoft wants to pay that?

    • wright_is

      As I wrote on the other story, if you have a PlayStation and no PC or Xbox, you aren’t going to go out and buy one, just to play one game. People will simply look for something else to play.


      So Microsoft would, as Paul pointed out, lose out on sales.


      I’d expect Activision to not have any Playstation exclusives, but, on the other hand, they are there to sell games, sales on PlayStation are profit, sales on Xbox subsidise the cost of the Xbox, to a certain degree. And if it is on Game Pass, it is just a portion of the cost being recovered every month. Long term stable income, but slow to recuperate the investment in a new game.


      I don’t really see any negatives about continuing to feed the PS market. Where it could be difficult is for Activision to get early access to the next generation PS, when it comes along, as its parent is also a console manufacturer.

      • Donte

        Not true. I used to buy a PS every generation just to play exclusives. I am a huge MLB the Show fan (Baseball). I would wait 2-3 years into the generation to get one on sale and get the slim version if possible.


        Then I would play 4-5 exclusives on the PS, MLB, God of War, Uncharted, Last of us...etc..etc..


        Now MLB is on Xbox and the others I would play have come to PC. PC gaming has honestly never been better. Game Pass for PC if simply fantastic. I just gave my XSX to my daughter since she is a light gamer and had a Xbox One S.

  8. truerock2

    Captain Obvious to Earth:

    We will honor all current agreements.

    Duuuuuuuuuuuh


  9. atimms

    BTW replies box broke on Edge (android) hence the spacing issue above.







  10. atimms

    And there was I thinking the exact opposite - Gamepass for PC offering more and more, a commitment to offer xbox games in PC versions, the option to stream games and Ultimate subscibers (xbox players) getting ability to game on PC too for free.




    But if lack of choice and less games are your thing...































  11. thretosix

    Sony in a way for years has controlled the console narrative between Xbox and Playstation often where Microsoft says something could be good for gamers but Sony said NO, then Microsoft changes gears. Sony basically had enough market share to dictate the environment a bit. Even though Sony is still ahead Microsoft appears to have positioned themselves in a good place going forward. Game Pass is changing the game. In the past with Sony saying the Game Pass model isn't sustainable, it does leave you wondering what if any changes Sony will make. $70 a game is why I subscribe to Hard Pass on the PS5 so far.

Leave a Reply