As part of Microsoft’s plan to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, the software giant has created a Microsoft Gaming division. Phil Spencer, former head of Xbox, will now lead this team as it focuses on gaming across Xbox, PC, mobile and the cloud. It’s a big promotion for Spencer, described by Xbox fans as the Xboss.
Spencer initially took over as the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division in 2014, reporting to former Windows chief Terry Myerson. Showcasing how gaming at Microsoft has changed under Spencer, he quickly transitioned to Microsoft’s senior management team in 2017, reporting directly to Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, as corporate vice president of gaming. After more than 30 years with the company, Spencer is now CEO of Microsoft Gaming, as it aims to tackle mobile gaming, the metaverse and cloud gaming with more than 20 game studios.
Microsoft is now willing to spend billions on acquisitions to bolster its gaming efforts after its $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda last year. Activision Blizzard won’t be a particularly easy acquisition for Microsoft, though. The troubled company is struggling to assuage employee concerns about a host of allegations of sexual misconduct. Spencer and his Microsoft Gaming team will certainly have to put in a lot of work to ensure that the culture within Activision Blizzard is addressed.
Here’s what Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer had to say to staff in an email today about his new role and the company’s gaming efforts:
Welcome back from the holidays. First off, I would like to thank everyone for all the hard work and dedication that have built this company and community. Clearly, today’s agreement to acquire Activision Blizzard is incredibly exciting. In fact, it is a milestone for our company, our company and our industry. Me and the entire Gaming Leadership Team are extremely excited about this opportunity. We also announced this morning that we’ve crossed 25 million Game Pass subscribers across console, cloud and PC, a great achievement for all of Team Xbox.
As players and partners, we all know how talented and committed the teams and studios in Activision Blizzard are. That company’s legendary games and franchises have captivated millions of people for decades. Working together, we can accelerate our mission to extend the fun and community of gaming for everyone. We have the ability and the ability to build the best, most engaging and funniest entertainment ecosystem anywhere.
Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among employees and players alike. We value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand in hand with treating each person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams and all leaders to this commitment. We look forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams in Activision Blizzard.
We expect this acquisition to close in FY23, pending regulatory approvals. Once the acquisition is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me. In the meantime, we know you will have many questions. The Gaming Leadership Team and I look forward to answering as many as we can during our next monthly gaming update on January 26. You can now submit your questions anonymously or post them on our Team Xbox Yammer. Also, update our social media guidelines for businesses.
As Satya mentioned, I am now CEO, Microsoft Gaming. This change is a reflection of the incredible work each of you is doing to create the best entertainment ecosystem anywhere. As a leadership team, we know how much exciting but difficult work we have ahead of us, so it’s critical that we operate as a single team. Therefore, I am excited to announce today effective today that Jerret West, CMO of Gaming, and his marketing team will be moving from Chris Capossela’s organization to report directly to me. Jerret will continue to be a member of Chris’s leadership team, leveraging key areas of Microsoft’s marketing strengths, including communications, media and consumer sales.
We will be webcasting at 6 p.m. PT for investors and media to discuss the Activision Blizzard transaction and our plans as Microsoft Gaming. Join if you can.