Microsoft initiated Activision purchase just after saying it was 'deeply troubled' by scandal reports

Phil Spencer
(Image credit: Bloomberg (Getty Images))

With Microsoft planning to purchase Activision Blizzard this year, new filings with American regulatory agencies have given more details to the purchase, including a timeline that certainly makes it look like Microsoft decided to make the purchase due to the continuing scandal around Activision Blizzard. The filing with the Securities and Exchange commission details the timeline of the acquisition before it was announced, starting November 19th and ending January 17th.

Microsoft's Phil Spencer first raised the idea with Activision's Bobby Kotick on November 19th, 2021, just three days after a scandalous report on Kotick in The Wall Street Journal included details that he had worked to cover up harassment inside Activision Blizzard's game studios, alongside his own poor behavior. 

Notably, the 19th is the day after Spencer said to the team at Xbox that they were "disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions" at Activision Blizzard and that he was "evaluating all aspects" of Microsoft's relationship with Activision Blizzard and "making ongoing proactive adjustments." The discussion that led to the acquisition call, apparently, arose during the "course of a conversation on a different topic between Mr. Spencer and Mr. Kotick."

So Spencer's ongoing proactive adjustment may just have been convincing Microsoft's board to buy Activision Blizzard so he could fix it himself. The $68.7 billion deal is one of the largest company acquisitions in history.

That deal will very likely go forward, as when we spoke with a lawyer about it he noted that regulators don't really have the standing to block it.

The SEC filings note a pretty rapid progression on the deal before it was handed over to lawyers for a contract to be written up. Kotick and Spencer spoke with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on November 20th, and a rough offer of $80 per share had been made by November 26th. That was apparently serious enough that negotiations started in earnest, law firms were engaged, and by December 16th a price of $95 had been agreed on.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.