UK regulators clear Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard

  • The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has finally approved Microsoft’s newly restructured deal to purchase Activision Blizzard.
  • Under the new deal, cloud gaming rights for current and new Activision Blizzard titles will be transferred to Ubisoft.
  • Microsoft will pay $68.7 billion for the acquisition, making it one of the biggest tech deals in history.

After the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) granted Microsoft preliminary approval near the end of September to acquire Activision Blizzard, many (ourselves included) expected the deal to be finalised this week.

Unfortunately that does not look like it will happen, but now any and all seeming hurdles to the deal have been negotiated as the CMA has cleared Microsoft’s purchase.

The regulator confirmed this news in a press release, noting that the acquisition can go through under the newly restructured terms of the deal, which sees the cloud gaming rights of all current and future Activision Blizzard titles being transferred to Ubisoft.

“The new deal will stop Microsoft from locking up competition in cloud gaming as this market takes off, preserving competitive prices and services for UK cloud gaming customers. It will allow Ubisoft to offer Activision’s content under any business model, including through multigame subscription services,” the CMA noted in its release.

“It will also help to ensure that cloud gaming providers will be able to use non-Windows operating systems for Activision content, reducing costs and increasing efficiency,” the regulator added.

Further unpacking some of the implications of the new deal, the CMA highlighted the fact that cloud gaming was a particular sticking point, especially when the first version of the deal was tabled before it.

Cloud gaming was viewed as such an important element, that the CMA deemed it necessary for Microsoft to come up with an alternative arrangement in order to get the acquisition approved.

“The sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft will prevent the distribution of important, popular content – including games such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft – from coming under the control of Microsoft in relation to cloud gaming,” it noted.

“The restructured deal substantially addressed the concerns that the CMA had following its original investigation, which concluded earlier this year.,” the regulator clarified.

Now Microsoft has the green light to finally get the deal over the line, with the agreed upon fee of $68.7 billion being one of the largest tech deals in history, eclipsing the figure Elon Musk paid for Twitter (now X).

It remains to be seen when the deal will be completed, but there are no real obstacles in Microsoft’s way, something its vice chair and president, Brad Smith, was quite happy about.

“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,” he posted on X following the CMA’s announcement.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how this deal impacts the global gaming landscape.


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