Activision Blizzard is currently under investigation following accusations of harassment, discrimination, and fostering a hostile work environment. You can read more about the investigation here.
It’s hardly a surprise that Microsoft’s stunning acquisition of Activision Blizzard (a deal once considered to be a pipe dream or a fascinating hypothetical talking point) has everyone talking at the moment, but the quantity and quality of the internet’s reactions to this news really do tell the tale.
First off, you may be wondering who knew about this deal and whether or not this information will come as a shock to Activision Blizzard’s own employees (many of whom were likely sleeping when this news broke due to the time differences). Well, based on this tweet from Hearthstone designer August Dean Ayala in response to a question about whether Hearthstone will be playable on Xbox, it seems that most of Activision Blizzard’s employees probably heard about this news around the same time that the rest of us did.
If we can stick to the industry side of this story for the moment, it really is worth emphasizing that the consensus at this time seems to be that this news caught everyone (including veteran video game reporters who almost always hear something about these kinds of deals ahead of time) by surprise. As such, everyone is trying to play catch-up on the specifics of this story in terms of the exact nature of the deal and what its most likely short and long-term implications will be.
Of course, the biggest (and most important) part of this story at the moment has to be the fact that Activision Blizzard is currently the subject of a major investigation into the company’s reported history of abuse and discrimination. While this announcement was always going to be a big deal, the fact that Microsoft chose to acquire Activision Blizzard at the darkest time in that company’s history (as well as at a time when many Activision Blizzard employees are still on strike and attempting to unionize) does raise a lot of questions about what Microsoft is thinking, what they intend to do about Activision Blizzard’s workplace problems, and what this all means for Activision Blizzard’s employees (as well as game industry employees everywhere) moving forward.
So far as that part of the story goes, the reactions to this announcement are currently a bit mixed. Nobody is willing to forget or brush aside Activision Blizzard’s history or the ways that history is still part of the company’s present and future, but there does seem to be some hope that Microsoft stepping into the picture will expedite serious change within the company.
While there’s no doubt that Microsoft and the Xbox team will need to address Activision Blizzard’s many, many cultural issues in the coming weeks, months, and years (at least we hope people keep asking them questions about that issue over a long enough period of time), their initial statements regarding the matter indicate a vague sense of awareness and optimism that will hopefully soon go far beyond vague corporate rhetoric and result in serious change that we can all clearly see and that those most affected by Activision Blizzard’s issues will clearly benefit from.
While we cannot emphasize enough that the real story here is Activision Blizzard’s cultural and leadership problems (as well as their ongoing legal issues and the many ways all of those problems continue to impact the company’s thousands of employees), it also has to be said that this stunning announcement has inspired quite a few hilarious reactions among gamers who are trying to process this deal in the best way they know how: memes and quips.
Of course, many gamers are focusing their “memeing” efforts on the number of gaming franchises that Microsoft has just acquired and how this news will impact the ongoing console wars. So far as that goes, it’s been especially hilarious to see that Crash Bandicoot has seemingly become the unofficial mascot of this acquisition in the minds of millions of Twitter users.
So while there’s certainly no shortage of things to be said about a deal that will change the entire gaming industry in ways that we can only start to imagine, it’s good to know that gamers everywhere haven’t sold their sense of humor to Microsoft for a record deal at this time. Given the events of the last week, though, there’s a very good chance that we’ll end up needing to update this story once the terms between our collective sense of humor and Microsoft have been finalized.