by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 3rd 2007 4:28am
The big news in the tech world this weekend, of course, is the slightly complicated merger between video game firms Blizzard and Activision to form the not-particularly-creatively-named Activision Blizzard. You can read the link above to figure out the complicated parts, including Vivendi's role, as well as the various amounts of cash going into the deal from both sides. As for the rationale behind the deal, it's one of those deals that seems to make sense on paper. It makes the combined company somewhere around the size of EA, the major player in the space. It also aligns the complementary strong points of each firm. Activision is big in console games like Guitar Hero while Blizzard is big in multi-player online games like World of Warcraft. Blizzard also has a strong presence in Asia. So, on paper, it sounds like a great deal. The tricky part will be actually making it work. Even with such clear complementary successes, it's not always so easy to merge two large players like this with different approaches to the market. What almost always happens when two large companies merge is that one side ends up taking over and the other group fights for a while and then leaves -- taking much of the reason for the merger away. Even more complicated in this case is that both companies are pretty dependent on coming up with new "big hits" on a regular basis to keep bringing in the revenue. EA's success (whether on purpose or not) has largely been driven by the ability to release "franchise" games that people will buy the next version of every year -- particularly in the sports arena. If the merger makes the company take its eye off the ball, leading to a weak set of products, it could be quite damaging. Maybe the companies will pull it off. Maybe they can figure out a way to actually build on their separate strengths without fighting themselves -- but it's a big bet to take.
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