Microsoft once again shifted the landscape of video games in early 2022 by announcing a $68.7 billion USD deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, the gaming giant behind Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and several other major franchises. The massive deal comes less than two years after Microsoft bought ZeniMax Media for a then-record $8 billion.
It’s a fascinating time for the games industry, which has experienced both unprecedented growth and unprecedented consolidation over the last couple of years. To put this latest purchase in perspective, we’ve compiled a list of other major studio acquisitions (and their costs) across the video game, film, and television industries.
In short: Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal is worth more than the 15 next most-expensive game studio acquisitions combined, though it is topped by a few film and television deals. Read on or click through the gallery below to see how it compares to other notable acquisitions.
AT&T Buys Time Warner – $85.4 billion (2018)
In 2016, AT&T announced it was buying Time Warner for over $85 billion USD. The deal, officially closed in 2018, gave AT&T ownership of Warner Bros., DC Comics, HBO, Cartoon Network, and Adult Swim. AT&T has since merged WarnerMedia with Discovery, recouping $43 billion in the process.
Prior to this deal, Time Warner and its subsidiaries were involved in some of the other biggest media acquisitions of all time: The company was acquired by AOL for $162 billion(!) in 2000 (via ABC News), while Charter Communications acquired Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in 2015.
AT&T, meanwhile, was also involved in another media mega-deal, buying DirecTV for $48.5 billion in 2014.
Disney Buys 21st Century Fox – $71.3 billion (2019)
Microsoft Buys Activision Blizzard – $68.7 billion (2022)
Worth nearly $70 billion USD, Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal is by far the biggest games-related acquisition in history, turning Call of Duty, Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and much more into first-party franchises for Xbox. The deal is expected to be finalized by mid-2023.
Take-Two Buys Zynga – 12.7 billion (2022)
For one week, Zynga was the object of gaming’s biggest-ever acquisition. Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of Rockstar and 2K, announced an agreement to buy the mobile gaming giant for $12.7 billion in early January. Notable Zynga games include Words With Friends, Farmville, and Harry Potter: Puzzles and Spells.
Tencent Buys Supercell – $8.6 billion (2016)
While not an outright acquisition, Chinese mega-conglomerate Tencent bought a majority stake (84.3% according to Reuters) in Supercell back in 2016 — an investment it has bolstered as recently as 2021, according to The Information. Supercell is best known for developing the mobile phenomenon Clash of Clans.
Amazon Buys MGM – $8.45 billion (2021)
MGM, the iconic film studio behind James Bond, was acquired by Amazon last year for nearly $8.5 billion. In addition to Bond, the deal gave Amazon ownership over MGM’s deep catalog of movies and the cable network Epix.
Microsoft Buys ZeniMax Media – $8.1 billion (2020)
Microsoft previously shook up the games industry with its $8 billion acquisition of Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media in 2020. The deal expanded Xbox’s stable of first-party developers, bringing Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, and several others under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella.
Disney Buys Pixar – $7.4 billion (2006)
In 2006, Disney bought Pixar Animation Studios —at the time makers of Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Cars — for $7.4 billion. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was the majority shareholder of Pixar at the time of the acquisition.
Activision Blizzard Buys King – $5.9 billion (2015)
Before being acquired itself, Activision Blizzard was in the business of big-money studio acquisitions. Its biggest came in 2015 when it bought mobile developer King (Candy Crush Saga) for just under $6 billion.
Disney Buys Marvel – $4.24 billion (2009)
Two of the biggest names in entertainment joined forces in 2009 when Disney bought Marvel for over $4 billion. Disney has utilized Marvel’s properties wisely, creating the movie industry’s biggest franchise in the MCU, which accounted for 30% of the domestic box office in 2021.
Disney Buys Lucasfilm – $4.05 billion (2012)
Disney’s fourth entry on this list is its acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars brand in 2012. Since acquiring the property, Disney has released three mainline Star Wars movies, as well as a number of spinoff films and TV shows — most recently The Book of Boba Fett, streaming now on Disney+.
Microsoft Buys Mojang – $2.5 billion (2014)
Mojang was brought into the Xbox fold back in 2014 for $2.5 billion. It’s been a fruitful acquisition for Microsoft, as Minecraft is now a household name and one of the best-selling video games of all time.
EA Buys Glu Mobile – $2.1 billion (2021)
Among the massive acquisitions of the last two years was EA’s purchase of Glu Mobile for $2.1 billion. The mobile game studio found success with titles like Diner Dash, Disney Sorceror’s Arena, WWE Universe, Deer Hunter, and lest we forget, Kim Kardashian Hollywood.
Facebook Buys Oculus – $2 billion (2014)
Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of Oculus in 2014 helped shape VR gaming, as the company would go on to create some of the most critically and commercially successful VR headsets (most recently Quest 2) to date. The Oculus name, however, will be phased out in 2022 as Facebook shifts its branding to Meta.
Other notable video game studio acquisitions:
Namco (Tekken) – Purchased by Bandai for $1.7 billion in 2005 (via Wall Street Journal)Leyou/Digital Extremes (Warframe) – Purchased by Tencent for $1.5 billion in 2020 (via PC Gamer)Playdemic (Golf Clash) – Purchased by EA for $1.4 billion in 2021Gearbox (Borderlands) – Purchased by Embracer Group for $1.3 billion in 2021Sumo Group (Sackboy, Sonic Racing)– Purchased by Tencent for $1.27 billion in 2021Codemasters (Dirt, F1) – Purchased by EA for $1.2 billion in 2020BioWare and Pandemic Studios (Mass Effect, Dragon Age) – Purchased by EA for $775 million in 2007Respawn Entertainment (Titanfall) – Purchased by EA for $455 million in 2017Riot Games (League of Legends) – Purchased by Tencent for $400 million* in 2011Rare (Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark) – Purchased by Microsoft for $375 million in 2002Insomniac (Ratchet & Clank, Spider-Man) – Purchased by Sony for $229 million in 2019
*In 2011, Tencent acquired a majority stake (93%) in Riot for a reported $350-400 million. The company then bought out Riot’s remaining equity for an undisclosed amount in 2015, making the total acquisition cost unknown.
For more on Activision Blizzard, you can read up on what the acquisition means for embattled CEO Bobby Kotick and the future of the “console wars.” While you’re at it, check out how others around the gaming community have reacted to the big news.