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Activision Goes Indie

It's finally happened. Activision-Blizzard has bought out the majority of its shares from Vivendi, leaving Bobby Kotick as the CEO of a basement-dwelling bedroom-coding indie studio. Will Call Of Duty: Sepia Ops claim next year's IGF Grand Prize? Can the next WarCraft's block-based image change see it taking on the might of independent mega-hit Minecraft? Will Spryro return as a pixellated retro-dragon, starring in a side-scrolling puzzle-platformer about pacifism, divorce and the decline of the LP in an age of easily consumable digital music? Yes, yes, yes.

Nathan points out that this news may make it acceptable for people to admit how much they love Skylanders. I don't know a great deal about that, but I do know about all the numbers involved in the deal because I am good at reading press releases.

The company itself has spent around $5.83 billion to reclaim 429 million shares that were held by Vivendi following the 2008 merger between the companies. Kotick will stay on as president and CEO, and along with chairman Brian Kelly, he led a separate purchase of 172 million shares for $2.34 billion. A lot of money has changed hands - or accounts, I guess, since I doubt they actually handed it over in a large stack. Imagine if they had though - a picture of Kotick sliding two and a half billion dollars across a table toward some men in suits. The internet would generate enough of its accursed memes to keep reddit afloat for six hundred years.

The Financial Times points out that "the agreement came soon after Vivendi gained new powers to force Activision to take on debt and pay out a sizeable dividend". Sounds like a good reason to cut the cord.

At some point after completing the transaction, Kotick morphed into a PowerPoint presentation and projected these words into the sky:

"We should emerge even stronger, an independent company with a best-in-class franchise portfolio, and the focus and flexibility to drive long-term shareholder value and expand our leadership position as one of the world's most important entertainment companies."

There was also mention of "attractive financing markets", at which point everybody in the room made their excuses and headed straight for the coldest of corporate showers.

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