Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI) is a global entertainment company that, through subsidiaries, develops and publishes entertainment content, video games, and related services. The company was formed by the 2008 merger of Activision Inc. and Blizzard Entertainment (a part of Vivendi at the time of the merger) and is known for industry-defining franchises including World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Diablo, and Candy Crush. Activision Blizzard develops and distributes video games and other services on mobile devices, game consoles, and personal computers. It also generates revenue through eSports leagues and sells digital advertising and in-game content. The company operates across three primary segments: Activision, Blizzard, and King.

Activision rapidly expanded in the video game industry through a series of prominent acquisitions before merging with part of Vivendi to form Activision Blizzard. Since the formation of Activision Blizzard in 2008, the pace of acquisitions has slowed. Activision Blizzard is one of the biggest players in the industry, with 2020 net revenue of $8.1 billion and net income of $2.2 billion. Its market cap was $71.6 billion as of July 9, 2021.

Below, we look in detail at 5 of Activision Blizzard’s most important acquisitions, beginning with key deals by Activision before the merger. With the exception of its Activision, Blizzard and King segments, the company does not provide a breakdown of how much profit or revenue each acquisition currently contributes.

Raven Software

  • Type of Business: Video Game Developer
  • Acquisition Price: Not Available
  • Date Purchased: August 1997

Raven Software is a video game developer founded in 1990 and known for the popular games named Heretic, and Hexen: Beyond Heretic. This company is first on our list because it represents an early acquisition for Activision in what would become a series of major purchases the company made after CEO Bobby Kotick took the helm in 1990. While Kotick has been vilified by video game purists for his obsession with profits over art, his early string of acquisitions of video game developers helped make Activision Blizzard an industry leader. Raven remains a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard and played a significant role in the development of the recent game in the Call of Duty franchise, the sequel "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War," released in late 2020.

Infinity Ward

  • Type of Business: Video Game Developer
  • Acquisition Price: Undisclosed. Estimated at $5 million
  • Date Purchased: Oct. 30, 2003

Infinity Ward, developer of the early Call of Duty games, is one of Activision Blizzard’s most important acquisitions. Infinity Ward was founded in 2002, and Activision provided early financial support in exchange for a 30% stake in the start-up. After Infinity Ward released its first game, Call of Duty, in October of 2003, Activision responded by buying the remaining 70% stake in the company. Activision did not reveal the price when it announced the deal, but a lawsuit filed against Activision in 2010 by Infinity Ward’s two fired co-founders said that Activision paid about $5 million for a franchise that had brought in billions of dollars in revenue since the deal. In fact, Call of Duty became one of the most popular video game franchises, and by late 2009 had brought in $3 billion in revenue for the parent.

Treyarch Invention

  • Type of Business: Video Game Developer
  • Acquisition Price: Estimated $20 million
  • Date Purchased: Announced Oct. 2, 2001 

Treyarch Invention is a video game developer founded in 1996. While the company did not have a major flagship game of its own, it secured Activision’s leadership position in action and action-sports games. The deal played a crucial role in developing games for the Tony Hawk series and the Call of Duty franchise.

Activision-Blizzard Merger

  • Type of Business: Merger between video game developers
  • Acquisition Price: Combined companies valued at $18.9 billion
  • Date Purchased: (Announced Dec. 2, 2007) (Completed July 10, 2008)
  • Most Recent Yearly Revenue (2020): Activision $3.9 billion and Blizzard $1.9 billion
  • Most Recent Yearly Profit (2020): Activision $1.9 billion in operating profit and Blizzard $693 million

After several years of rapid expansion through acquisitions of smaller game developers, Activision merged in 2008 with Blizzard Entertainment to create Activision Blizzard, forming one of the world’s largest video game companies. Prior to the acquisition, Blizzard was owned by a division of French media conglomerate Vivendi. A key reason for Activision’s interest in the merger was Blizzard’s World of Warcraft franchise, which represented the emerging multiplayer, online gaming market, and the potential for subscription models and other revenue streams. Under the merger, Vivendi bought 52% of Activision and would boost its stake to 68%. The combined companies were valued at $18.9 billion as Vivendi folded its gaming operations into Activision’s. Kotick remained CEO of the new Activision Blizzard. In 2013, Activision Blizzard bought back a major portion of the company’s shares from Vivendi for about $5.8 billion, helping to sharply reduce Vivendi’s stake in the company. In 2016, Vivendi sold its remaining stake to Activision Blizzard, thus exiting the original merger entirely.

King Digital

  • Type of Business: Video Game Developer
  • Acquisition Price: $5.9 billion
  • Date Purchased: Feb. 23, 2016
  • Most Recent Yearly Revenue (2020): $2.2 billion
  • Most Recent Yearly Profit (2020): $857 million

After the giant Activision Blizzard merger in 2008, the combined company slowed the pace of its acquisitions. However, one major deal has allowed Activision Blizzard to expand into a new market segment. By purchasing mobile game developer King Digital, maker of the popular Candy Crush series, Activision Blizzard stepped into the rapidly growing world of mobile gaming. With the completion of the acquisition in early 2016, Activision Blizzard became the largest game network in the world by total user base. The King acquisition is one of several deals in recent years that Activision Blizzard undertook in an effort to expand into new markets.