Microsoft has reportedly shown interest in acquiring the Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment gaming division, according to The Information.
Reports surfaced last month that AT&T would potentially sell off the division in a deal that would pull in around $4 billion. In addition to Microsoft, reported potential suitors include Take-Two Interactive, Electronic Arts, and Activision Blizzard.
Whichever company does acquire WB Interactive Games will effectively purchase studios like Avalanche Software, Monolith Productions, NetherRealm Studios, Rocksteady Studios, TT Games, and others.
It is important to note that even if a deal does get done, the purchasing company will not get licensing rights to Warner Bros. intellectual properties such as Batman or Harry Potter. If NeatherRealm Studios is included in any deal, however, the new owner would have access to the Mortal Kombat IP.
Any deal that is made will likely include some additional agreement to provide licensing rights for those studios to continue to work on WB-related properties for a set amount of time before further negotiation is needed.
AT&T acquired Time Warner in 2018 in a deal that closed at $109 billion. According to The Information, AT&T, hasn’t decided whether to sell the business yet and is still looking at all options available to pay off its $154 billion in debt.
Former WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey replaced Randall Stephenson as the AT&T CEO on July 1. According to a statement made at Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, Stankey says the company is focusing on “a lot of work around portfolio rationalization.”
If Microsoft is able to squeeze its way into the conversation and make a deal happen, it could bolster its studio number with massive names like NetherRealm and Rocksteady, while also potentially securing dozens of new exclusive titles for the Xbox Series X. That will help them combat Sony’s lineup of PlayStation-exclusive titles, which includes Marvel’s Spider-Man.