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Is Microsoft about to buy Activision?

Xbox firm among rumoured potentials for Call of Duty company deal

Remember when news broke that Vivendi was thinking of selling Activision Blizzard? Seems Microsoft is among those tipped to pick up the Call of Duty household's cheque.

A Reuters source reports that the heavily debt-laden Vivendi is "testing the waters" by proxy. "It's nothing official yet, but they've asked a bank to go and talk to possible buyers for Activision."

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Tencent (recently engaged to publish a free-to-play Call of Duty service in China), Time Warner, Microsoft and private-equity outfits KKR, Providence and Blackstone are apparently among those contacted. The sale of Activision could raise up to $10 billion for Vivendi, which owns a 60 per cent share in the company.

The Reuters insider expressed reservations as to the likelihood of Microsoft agreeing to such a deal, with next generation consoles in the offing. "They probably don't want to distract themselves too much, but they are the ones who, if they want to stay in games, would think about owning some of these big franchises, not just providing the consoles."

Activision, of course, enjoys a very close relationship with Microsoft and Xbox 360 already, having signed over early access to countless Call of Duty DLC packs. Could the two become closer still? We/I approached the mighty Jon "OXM Editor" Hicks for insights.

Among other things, Jonty has this to say: "I can't see it working inasmuch as they couldn't just buy it up and say, 'right all Activision games are Xbox exclusive'. Because they're buying a stake rather than individual studios, you'd be wiping huge value off the company. It's not like 'Activision buys Treyarch'." He also points out that Nintendo and Sony would probably "get leery" about a rival console manufacturer involving itself with the production of multiplatform games.

What are your thoughts?

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