It's probably a safe assumption to say that many executives spat out their morning coffee today when news of the biggest merger in game-industry history broke. This morning, Activision and Vivendi Games announced they were joining forces to create Activision Blizzard, a new, publicly traded company.
If the merger is approved, the new entity is expected to leapfrog over Electronic Arts to become the biggest independent third-party publisher on the planet, with estimated joint revenues in excess of $3.8 billion. That princely sum is dwarfed by the estimated combined value of Activision Blizzard's assets--a massive $18.9 billion.
While unexpected, the union makes perfect sense. Though its Call of Duty and Guitar Hero franchises are established success stories in the first-person shooter and rhythm game markets, Activision has no massively multiplayer online role-playing games in its portfolio. Since the Creative Assembly was bought by Sega, its profile in the real-time strategy space has been nearly non-existent. Enter Vivendi, whose Blizzard Entertainment subdivision owns the most popular MMORPG on the planet, World of Warcraft, and whose RTS roster includes the hugely anticipated Starcraft II.
As the game industry picked up its collective jaw up off the floor, GameSpot got ahold of Mike Morhaime, Blizzard's co-founder, president and CEO, to get some insider perspective on this landscape-altering unio