Microsoft’s $68.7 billion Activision Blizzard deal is the (BigStock Photo / Sergei Elagin)

Updated on Oct. 13 with details of acquisition closing.

Microsoft completed its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard on Friday morning, nearly 21 months after the deal was announced, finalizing its biggest acquisition ever and the largest in the history of video games.

The deal adds blockbuster franchises including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush Saga to Microsoft’s portfolio. Activision Blizzard, headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., employed 13,000 people as of the end of 2022.

“We are eager to learn from their creativity, exchange insights and best practices, and empower our new colleagues to bring their visions to the widest possible audience,” said Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, in a memo to employees, published by the company online.

Spencer said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will remain in the role until the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition between the companies.

The deal, originally announced in January 2022, cleared its final regulatory hurdle when the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) approved the acquisition late Thursday. UK antitrust regulators previously sought to block the deal. Microsoft responded by agreeing to sell Activision Blizzard’s cloud gaming rights to Ubisoft.

The companies originally set a deadline for July 18 to get a deal done, but extended it to Oct. 18 to help address regulatory concerns in the UK.

“We’re grateful for the CMA’s thorough review and decision today,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement. “We have now crossed the final regulatory hurdle to close this acquisition, which we believe will benefit players and the gaming industry worldwide.”

Microsoft faced opposition to the deal, led by PlayStation maker Sony, but a federal judge in July sided with the Redmond company following a challenge from the Federal Trade Commission to block the merger. An appeals court then denied a FTC motion to temporarily stop the deal. The FTC is still appealing the decision.

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