After months of legal proceedings, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK has finally granted Microsoft the approval needed to take over Activision Blizzard. The $68.7 billion-dollar deal was initially blocked by the regulatory commission earlier this year, due to worries about competition disturbances in the cloud gaming market if the deal went through.
Microsoft recently reworked a new deal to fix these issues which the CMA temporarily approved two weeks ago. The new deal includes selling all cloud gaming rights of Activision Blizzard’s game library to an independent third party, Ubisoft. This also includes any new titles for the next 15 years.
The CMA released its final verdict this morning and concluded that the sale of Activision’s cloud gaming rights is enough to prevent Microsoft from monopolizing future competition in the cloud gaming market and will ultimately preserve fair prices for cloud gaming customers in the UK.
Ubisoft will also be permitted to distribute Activision’s games through whichever cloud gaming format they wish. As well as Xbox Game Pass, this can also include any other multi-game subscription services on any other platform. Furthermore, other cloud gaming platforms will also be able to play Activision games on non-Windows operating systems.
All that is left now before the acquisition can go ahead is for Ubisoft to consent to the terms and complete the divestment agreement. The CMA also had some secondary concerns about the modified deal, but these too have now been settled as Microsoft has ensured that all the terms in the new deal will be upheld.
A public discussion had also been launched by the CMA to assemble a collection of unbiased external opinions on the modified deal. These included industry experts and members of the public, but no substantial negative feedback or sufficient reason emerged to say why the deal should not be approved.
The CMA is confident that with the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft, there is no chance that Microsoft can hold a monopoly in the rapidly growing cloud market. According to the CMA, the modified deal will guarantee better prices, services, and choices moving forward.
With that said, Microsoft should not receive too much praise over the modified deal, as according to the CMA, it had the chance to restructure the deal during the initial investigation, but instead continued to push on the original proposal and only agreed to make changes when there was no other choice.
Nevertheless, Microsoft has since publicly stated its gratitude for the CMA’s thorough review and final decision. With this final regulatory hurdle having now been crossed to close the acquisition, Microsoft has asserted that it will benefit both gamers and the gaming industry as a whole.
Activision Blizzard has also expressed its exuberance at the news of all the regulatory issues now being approved. With the deal now so close to being finalized after so many ups and downs, Activision shares Microsoft’s sentiment in now being able to bring more great games and a greater connection to more players than ever before.
With the merger having first been announced back in January 2022, Microsoft is now finally cleared to purchase Activision Blizzard. They will have to act fast though, as the deadline for the completion of the deal is October 18. Rumor has it that Microsoft is reportedly working to complete the final steps by as early as today.
Even though the merger has now been approved in the UK, Europe, as well as 40 other countries, there is still some resistance from the US Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is planning an internal administrative hearing but does not have the power to block the deal directly.
The hearing is currently on hold until the appeals process has been completed. This appeal disagrees with the District Court’s decision earlier this year that denied the FTC’s preliminary injunction against the acquisition. Ultimately, it looks like the deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will go ahead and will finally be wrapped up very soon.