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BlizzCon Returns to ACC; Diablo IV Boosts Blizzard

Video game developer Blizzard Entertainment, the largest software company in Orange County by headcount, just put tickets on sale for its autumn fanfest BlizzCon while the recently released Diablo IV fantasy role-playing game set a company sales record.

Irvine-based Blizzard on July 8 started sales for the Nov. 3-4 event at the Anaheim Convention Center at a price of $299 apiece for general admission.

A second wave goes on sale on July 22.

Several thousand fans are expected to attend the in-person event, after four years away due to the pandemic and other corporate issues.

“Gaming is about making connections with others, creating memories, and above all else, having fun—BlizzCon is our celebration of that,” said Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard Entertainment.

Diablo IV, an action-filled, role-playing game, had the best-selling opening in Blizzard’s history, crossing $666 million in global sales in the first five days following its June 6 launch. The game starts at around $70.

The long-awaited game features demons, nightmarish dungeons and legendary loot.

276 Million Hours

As of June 12, Diablo IV players had already clocked more than 276 million hours with the video game.

Diablo IV features cross-platform play and cross-progression on a variety of platforms, plus up to four player co-op, including two player couch co-op on consoles.

The overall success of Diablo IV may brighten the fortunes of parent company Activision Blizzard Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) of Santa Monica.

Its next quarterly earnings report is expected at the end of this month or in early August. Analysts estimate nearly $2.4 billion in second-quarter revenue, up 43% from the same period a year ago.

Microsoft Deal

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) said in January 2022 it planned to buy Activision Blizzard, which also develops popular games including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Hearthstone.

The $69 billion deal remains tied up in legal and regulatory wrangling, as a July 18 contractual deadline for completion looms, though an extension is possible.

Microsoft sought regulatory approval for the acquisition, the biggest deal of its kind the gaming industry has seen.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed suit against it. A federal judge on July 11 let the deal proceed, though an appeal has been filed. Shares in Activision Blizzard jumped 10% to $90.99 apiece after the judge’s decision.

The FTC has argued the transaction would give Microsoft’s video game console Xbox exclusive access to Activision games, to the detriment of Nintendo consoles and Sony Group Corp.’s PlayStation.

The U.K.’s antitrust regulator had blocked the deal, but said July 11 it was open to reviewing the decision based on whatever changes Microsoft may propose.

The European Union has approved the acquisition, subject to conditions.

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