The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has given the green light to Microsoft’s purchase of video game developer Activision Blizzard, owner of franchises such as ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘World of Warcraft’, initially valued at $69 billion (€65,177 million), after the parties reformulated the initial merger agreement in August to assign Activision’s cloud gaming business to Ubisoft.
“As a result of this concession, the CMA agreed to review the agreement and launched a new investigation in August. That investigation was completed today with the CMA’s authorization of this smaller-scope transaction,” announced the British regulator, which last April decided to block the transaction under its original conditions.
Thus, after the transfer to the French company Ubisoft of the rights to Activision’s cloud gaming business, the CMA considers that the new agreement will prevent Microsoft from blocking competition in that market segment, preserving competitive prices and services for users. UK cloud gaming customers.
“We sent a clear message to Microsoft that the deal would be blocked unless they addressed our concerns comprehensively,” said Sarah Cardell, executive director of the CMA, who stressed that the regulator makes its decisions free of political influence. “We will not be influenced by the business lobby,” she added.
In this sense, the British regulator has stressed that, with the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft, it is guaranteed that Microsoft cannot have absolute dominance over this market. “We are the only competition agency worldwide that has achieved this result,” he boasted.
After learning of the CMA’s decision in favor of the merger under the new conditions set, Microsoft president Brad Smith has expressed his gratitude for the exhaustive review and decision of the British regulator.
“We have now overcome the last regulatory hurdle to close this acquisition, which we believe will benefit players and the gaming industry around the world,” he added.
Microsoft and Activision proposed a new merger agreement for approval by the CMA in August, after the British regulator determined that the original pact, valued at about $69 billion, would be blocked to protect innovation and choice in gaming in Cloud.
Under the restructured deal, Microsoft will no longer acquire cloud rights for Activision’s existing PC and console games, nor for new games released by Activision over the next 15 years (this excludes the European Economic Area).
Instead, these rights will be sold to French company Ubisoft Entertainment ahead of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision.
In this way, Ubisoft will be able to license Activision content under different business models, including subscription services, in addition to providing the French company with the ability to require Microsoft to offer versions of games on operating systems other than Windows.
On July 19, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard agreed to extend until October 18 the deadline for closing the purchase by the Redmond giant of the studio responsible for video games such as the ‘Call of Duty’ saga.
The transaction, agreed for around $69 billion in January 2022, was initially set as a closing date of July 18, 2023.