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Activision and Blizzard parent merge in $18 billion deal

File this under "straight out of left field" -- Activision, the publishing powerhouse behind the Call of Duty and Tony Hawk series; and Vivendi Games, owner of Blizzard Entertainment, which you probably don't need us to tell you is behind the Warcraft and Starcraft series, are coming together to form "the world's most profitable games business," cleverly named Activision Blizzard.

The reports we've read so far seem to confuse the matter of Vivendi's role in the merger, and who will be "wearing the pants" in the relationship, so to speak. As we understand it, Vivendi and Activision will be the ones who are merging, despite Blizzard's name being in the company's new moniker. Vivendi will own approximately 52% of the ownership stake in Activision Blizzard, though Activision's current CEO, Bobby Kotick, will take the chief executive position in the new company.

Jean-Bernard Lévy, Vivendi's chief executive, expressed his excitement about the supercollision -- "We look forward to being an active and supportive majority stockholder in a company that is poised to lead the worldwide interactive entertainment industry in the years ahead."

We'll be sure to keep you updated as soon as we get a clearer understanding of the details of the merger. No doubt the internet will be abuzz with industry analysts chiming in about the ramifications of this huge business deal. We predict to see elves on skateboards by first quarter 2008, but we'll leave the conjecture up to the big dogs.

Update - 6:00PM EST: Worried about WoW? Blizzard wants to brush your hair and tell you everything is going to be alright. Also, the Vivendi Games/Activision management team will hold an investor conference call tomorrow at 8:30 in the morning, EST. We'll make sure to keep you updated on the full details of the merged company's future plans, should they arise during the meeting.

Update - 8:15PM EST: GameSetWatch's Simon Carless analyzes the combination of the two gaming colossi.

12/3/07 - 11AM EST: We've written up our notes from this morning's Activision Blizzard conference call.

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