Microsoft is now ready to complete its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which remained the barrier, has finally approved the record-breaking deal.
The CMA announced its decision to clear the Activision Blizzard deal on October 13. After completing its latest investigation, the agency concluded that the merger wouldn’t harm the cloud gaming market and called Microsoft’s concession a “gamechanger that will promote competition.”
Despite initially blocking the deal earlier this year, the regulator changed its stance after Microsoft restructured the deal and decided to sell cloud gaming rights for all existing and new Activision Blizzard games released over the next 15 years to Ubisoft.
Under this agreement, the French publisher will be able to offer this content to UK customers under any business model, and Microsoft won’t be able to foreclose products on its Xbox Cloud Gaming platform or control licensing terms for rival services.
“With the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft, we’ve made sure Microsoft can’t have a stranglehold over this important and rapidly developing market,” CMA CEO Sarah Cardell said in a statement. “As cloud gaming grows, this intervention will ensure people get more competitive prices, better services and more choice.”
However, Cardell warned other businesses and their advisors that the tactics employed by Microsoft are no way to engage with the CMA: “Microsoft had the chance to restructure during our initial investigation but instead continued to insist on a package of measures that we told them simply wouldn’t work. Dragging out proceedings in this way only wastes time and money.”
According to the regulator’s conclusion, the restructured deal addresses the main concerns that it had following its original investigation.
“We now have all regulatory approvals necessary to close and we look forward to bringing joy and connection to even more players around the world,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in an email to employees, adding that “we’re excited for our next chapter together with Microsoft and the endless possibilities it creates for you and for our players.”
Microsoft president Brad Smith noted that the company has crossed the “final regulatory hurdle to close this acquisition.”
We’re grateful for the CMA’s thorough review and decision today. We have now crossed the final regulatory hurdle to close this acquisition, which we believe will benefit players and the gaming industry worldwide.
— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) October 13, 2023