Microsoft Gaming head Phil Spencer popped onto the stage during today’s BlizzCon 2023 Opening Ceremony to greet the fans of his latest conquest. After clearing considerable regulatory resistance, Microsoft closed its landmark acquisition of Activision Blizzard last month.
Spencer’s appearance starts near the beginning of the show, at about an hour and a half into the broadcast above, which included a countdown. He didn’t drop any big announcements, and has previously said that we shouldn’t expect Activision Blizzard games to appear on Game Pass right away (they are coming, though). It was, rather, your standard new boss greeting, in which Spencer promised that he gets and supports the things that make Blizzard good.
“Blizzard occupies a special place in the gaming industry, for me as well,” said Spencer, before launching into a brief ode to Blizzard’s catalogue of series.
It was nice to hear StarCraft and StarCraft 2 mentioned on BlizzCon’s stage, even in a retrospective context, and Spencer has previously said that Microsoft is open to revisiting old and forgotten games with its new acquisitions. So, StarCraft: Ghost… back on? OK, probably not, but Microsoft’s acquisition will surely be felt by Blizzard employees and fans, as it has been at Bethesda—Starfield’s big delay was a Microsoft decision, as we understand it, and the Windows-maker recently appointed a new Xbox overseer for Bethesda parent ZeniMax.
“Our commitment at Xbox is to bring more great games to more players in more places, and now that Blizzard is part of Xbox, we will nurture the essence of what has made Blizzard unique,” Spencer said during his BlizzCon appearance.
“We’re going to empower our new colleagues in a culture of trust, inclusion, and collaboration to continue what they do best: redefining existing genres, creating new, never before seen experiences, and uniting players globally in new ways.”
Speaking of Activision Blizzard’s culture, current CEO Bobby Kotick is staying on until the end of this year, and we haven’t yet heard who will take over after that.
Kotick has been unpopular with many employees—his response to the 2021 Blizzard sexism allegations led some to call for his resignation—and the cheers for Spencer today really underline the difference in their public personas and leadership styles. (It’s no surprise that Kotick didn’t also show up on stage to say goodbye, in other words—although the show isn’t over yet, so who knows? Anything can happen.)