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Published: October 13, 2023

Written by: Stefan Velikov

  • The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority finally lifts block on Microsoft’s plans
  • This comes after Microsoft made a new deal with Ubisoft in August
  • Said deal would give Ubisoft Activision’s cloud gaming rights

Having blocked Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard in April over concerns about monopolizing the cloud gaming sphere, the UK’s CMA lifted the ban after the corporation proposed a new deal with Ubisoft.

UK Regulator Lifts Ban

At a tune of $69 billion, Microsoft’s deal to acquire Activision Blizzard is one of the biggest mergers in the tech world and by far the largest one in gaming. Although the deal was proposed back in January of 2022, it has not yet been completed. This should not be surprising considering such large deals often take months, or even years to complete.

However, considering the huge amounts of money involved, many national and international regulatory organs have been standing in the way of Microsoft’s ambitions. One of these is the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority which blocked the deal earlier this spring on concerns that the merger would result in a large hindrance of competition in cloud gaming. Considering Microsoft already controls a very large portion of that market, the addition of Activision’s part would give the purchasing company an even larger share.

However, a solution was found in August when Microsoft proposed a new deal that would see Ubisoft purchase Activision’s cloud gaming rights. This effectively solves the UK’s CMA’s main concern, as a large portion of the cloud gaming sphere should not come under the influence of one entity. Because of this, the regulatory organ finally gave the deal the green light.

“This new deal will put the cloud streaming rights (outside the EEA) for all of Activision’s PC and console content produced over the next 15 years in the hands of a strong and independent competitor with ambitious plans to offer new ways of accessing that content,” the CMA’s statement reads. “As a result of this concession, the CMA agreed to look afresh at the deal and launched a new investigation in August. That investigation has completed today with the CMA clearing this narrower transaction.”

The CMA further explained that the deal would stop Microsoft from locking up competition in cloud gaming, which would preserve competitive prices and services for UK cloud gaming customers. Ubisoft will be able to offer Activision’s content under any business model, including through multigame subscription services, while cloud gaming providers will be able to use non-Windows operating systems for Activision content.

Naturally, this decision was met with open arms by Microsoft, whose vice chair and president thanked the regulatory organ for their thorough review. “We have now crossed the final regulatory hurdle to close this acquisition, which we believe will benefit players and the gaming industry worldwide,” he wrote on Twitter.

It will likely take many more months before Microsoft’s acquisition of the gaming giant Activision Blizzard is complete, but as the corporation’s president said, the biggest hurdle is likely already behind them.

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