But that doesn’t make it any less real for staff at Vivendi UK and across its worldwide empire, who are now facing major upheaval.
Our interview with Activision Blizzard CFO Thomas Tippl a couple of weeks ago confirmed that jobs will be cut – and while the phrase ‘exterminate’ was unfortunate, I’m sure you’ll join MCV in hoping that the new publishing superpower does this ‘fairly and respectfully’, as promised.
While it’s a shame that it seems we’ll be seeing the end of Sierra as we know it – save a few more appearances from Crash and Spyro – the rise of big business mentality can’t be stopped.
And it may not be the end of the M&A activity. EA’s relentless pursuit of Take Two could still result in Riccitiello (finally) getting his way – or Strauss Zelnick could even opt for the alternative ‘business combination’ that he’s referenced several times.
Ubisoft’s long-rumoured interest in an Activision-Blizzard-style merger is confirmed by exec director Alain Corre’s comments to MCV this week – another big name to stick in the M&A melting pot.
In conversation with several analysts this week, a number of further names cropped up.
From the UK, Eidos’ continued re-structuring will put it in good shape for a deal; Codemasters seems determined to either float or get sold.
But globally, the major trend is likely to be the combination of traditional and online companies. The template has been set by the Activision Blizzard deal, in that Activision’s boxed product and franchise-building expertise has joined forces with a strong online brand in Blizzard. There’s no doubt that traditional publishers have missed out when it comes to grasping the initiative online – it’s the kind of business model that can’t be done half-heartedly, so the best option is to buy in that knowledge.
While we may not see an acquisition on the scale of Activision Blizzard’s $18.9 billion agreement again any time soon, there’s no doubt that it has caused many in the trade to play devil’s advocate and ask: Who’s next?
While executives continue to kick the tyres of potential targets, I’m sure you’ll join us in raising a glass to friends and acquaintances moving on or being ‘realigned’ at Vivendi – I’m sure we’ll being seeing you again soon.