Activision gobbles up MLG in $46 million takeover


I wonder if MLG touched the sides as it slid down Activision's capacious gullet? With barely a squeak, the ailing esports firm has become part of the publishing behemoth in a takeover deal worth $46 million cash. Or rather, MLG continues to operate as MLG but Activision has acquired the bulk of its assets and associated liabilities. As part of the deal, CEO Sundance DiGiovanni has been ousted and replaced with former MLG CFO Greg Chisholm.

Minority shareholders are a little upset about the deal—because nobody bothered to consult them. Suspicions are that much of that money will go towards relieving MLG's $6 million debt as opposed to investors' pockets. Esports Observer reported a poignant quote from one such individual: "I got fucked on stock."

In less corporate terms, I see consequences for esports already. MLG's fortunes took their most visible dive when ESL was awarded the Call of Duty World League in preference. But of course, ActiBlizzard owns Call of Duty, as it owns Starcraft and Overwatch. It's hard to imagine them on show anywhere other than Activision's new-grown, $46-million esports arm.

Update: Activision has released a statement confirming its acquisition of MLG. "Our acquisition of Major League Gaming's business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of esports. MLG's ability to create premium content and its proven broadcast technology platform—including its live streaming capabilities—strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming," CEO Bobby Kotick said. "MLG has an incredibly strong and seasoned team and a thriving community. Together, we will create new ways to celebrate players and their unique skills, dedication and commitment to gaming. We are excited to add Sundance and the entire MLG esports team to our competitive gaming initiatives."

The last part of Kotick's statement suggests that DiGiovanni is still with MLG in some capacity, despite earlier reports that he'd been cast aside. I've contacted Activision for more information and will update when I receive a reply.

Update 2: A PR firm working with Activision has supplied a quote from DiGiovanni regarding his role: “I’m not going anywhere and am thrilled to join Activision Blizzard. This is a huge opportunity to help shape the future of esports and I’m excited to be part of it along with the esports team at MLG. Bigger and better things are in store for the MLG business, our partners and our community."