Microsoft’s $68.7 billion takeover of gaming powerhouse Activision Blizzard just cleared a major hurdle. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gave it the go-ahead after a recent revamp of the deal, which saw cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard’s current and upcoming games move over to Ubisoft. This reshuffling aims to bring more competition to the swiftly expanding world of cloud gaming.
The CMA considers Microsoft’s concession a “game-changer” for the industry. The revised agreement allows Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard, excluding cloud streaming rights outside of the European Economic Area. These rights will be sold to Ubisoft before the merger is finalized.
The road to approval wasn’t all smooth. Initially, the CMA had concerns about Microsoft’s potential dominance in cloud gaming. But the deal’s restructuring tackled those worries, leading to the regulator’s green light. Microsoft and Activision Blizzard extended their merger agreement deadline to October 18, indicating their commitment to resolving any concerns.
Microsoft’s Vice Chair and President, Brad Smith, was thrilled by the CMA’s decision. He believes the acquisition will benefit gamers worldwide and looks forward to finalizing the deal.
With UK CMA’s approval in hand, the finalization of the acquisition is likely to happen soon, with reports suggesting it might close on Friday, October 13.
Activision Blizzard’s CEO, Bobby Kotick, shared the good news with employees. He noted that all regulatory approvals were obtained and anticipated an exciting chapter with Microsoft, promising to bring joy and connection to a broader audience of gamers.
This acquisition’s journey has included various legal challenges. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) initially tried to block the deal due to competition concerns. While the FTC’s efforts failed to secure a preliminary injunction, legal battles continue. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will decide in December.
The completion of this deal marks a 20-month journey of regulatory approvals and legal disputes. European Union regulators approved the deal with additional concessions from Microsoft, ensuring that EU gamers could access their favorite titles through various cloud gaming services. Microsoft’s commitment makes it possible for players to stream all of Activision Blizzard’s current and future games for PC and consoles.
Ubisoft plays a crucial role in this acquisition, securing the cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard outside the EU market for the next 15 years. This allows Ubisoft to license titles back to Microsoft, expanding Xbox Cloud Gaming.
In conclusion, the UK CMA’s approval is a significant step for Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. As the merger is wrapped up, it’s expected to bring significant changes to the gaming industry.