In the biggest video game industry deal ever, Microsoft’s nearly $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been approved by the UK’s competition regulator.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced on Friday that it had cleared Microsoft to proceed with the purchase, subject to the condition that Activision sells its cloud gaming rights outside of Europe prior to the deal’s completion.
This consent from the CMA was the final regulatory hurdle needed for the tech giant to acquire the Call of Duty publisher after securing approval from antitrust authorities in the EU and other jurisdictions earlier this year. The deal was first announced in January 2022, but faced scrutiny from regulators concerned about Microsoft gaining too much market power, especially in the emerging cloud gaming space.
Quieting the issues, Microsoft agreed to divest Activision’s cloud gaming rights to Ubisoft
Microsoft agreed to divest Activision’s cloud gaming rights to Ubisoft to address these concerns. Microsoft President Brad Smith also expressed gratitude to the CMA, tweeting that the company has “now 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
With all approvals secured, Microsoft and Activision are now taking the final steps to complete the massive deal before the October 18 deadline. Once closed, the acquisition will make Microsoft the third-largest gaming company in the world by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.
It marks a significant expansion of Microsoft’s Xbox gaming business as it competes with Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo. Microsoft gained popular franchises like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch, which it plans to offer on its Game Pass subscription service.
The tech giant believes the deal will benefit gamers and the industry by spurring more competition and innovation. But Sony has criticized the acquisition, fearing Microsoft could make Activision’s titles exclusive to Xbox and PC. Still, the two companies found common ground and signed a binding 10-year contract to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.
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