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Microsoft Attempted to Buy Blizzard Twice, Xbox Former Boss Recalls

In a recent podcast, former VP of Xbox Ed Fries remembered how the company tried to purchase Blizzard back in the 90s and told about the reasons for the company's failures.

During the recent XboxEra podcast, former Xbox vice president Ed Fries shared that he attempted to purchase Blizard multiple times before he left the company in 2004.

"I was a huge Blizzard fan. If you think about the roots of our PC gaming business, it was a real-time strategy...Warcraft, of course, was their biggest product," shared Fries.

According to the former Xbox boss, he first tried to acquire Blizzard back in 1996 – the studio was then owned by Davidson and Associates, which put it up for sale. However, at the time, Microsoft's bet was interrupted by CUC International, the company that later merged with a hotel, real-estate, and car-rental franchiser, HFS Corporation, forming Cendant in 1997. Fries recalled it laughing: "I just got outbid by a time-share camping company?"

Although in 1998, CUC ran into difficulties and decided to sell Blizzard. Microsoft again tried to purchase the studio, however, it failed again – the Warcraft creator was acquired by the French publisher Havas which was later purchased by Vivendi, the company that originated from being the water supply firm. "Blizzard gets put up for sale a second time. And I bid again, and this time I get outbid by a French water utility," Fries said.

He went on to explain that when Blizzard created World of Warcraft, the studio became impossible to buy. However, Microsoft finally signed an agreement to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68 billion in January 2022. The deal is planned to be concluded before June 2023, and when it is closed, it will be the largest acquisition in the history of the gaming industry.

Elsewhere in the podcast, Fries also mentioned that Microsoft was also close to buying Westwood Studios, the company behind Command & Conquer. Shortly before this attempt, Microsoft started working on strategies and released Age of Empires which made the potential acquisition of Westwood Studios quite promising.

You can find the original interview with Ed Fries here. Also, don't forget to join our new Reddit pageour new Telegram channel, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, where we are sharing breakdowns, the latest news, awesome artworks, and more.

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