Microsoft is buying "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in the biggest gaming industry deal in history as global technology giants stake their claims to a virtual future.
The all-cash deal announced by Microsoft on Tuesday, its biggest-ever acquisition, will bolster its firepower in the booming videogaming market where it takes on leaders Tencent and Sony.
It also represents the American multinational's bet on the "metaverse", virtual online worlds where people can work, play and socialize, as many of its biggest competitors are already doing.
"Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms," Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella said.
Microsoft's offer of $95 per share represents a premium of 45% to Activision's Friday close. Its shares were up 27% at $83.35 in early trading, still a steep discount to the offer price, reflecting concerns the deal could get stuck in regulators' crosshairs.
Microsoft has so far avoided the type of scrutiny faced by Google and Facebook but this deal, which would make it the world's third largest gaming company, will put them on lawmakers' radars said Andre Barlow of the law firm Doyle, Barlow & Mazard PLLC.
"Microsoft is already big in gaming," he said.
The tech major's shares were down 0.7% in early trading.