Microsoft has received the final approval from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the maker of popular games such as Call of Duty, Warcraft and Candy Crush. The deal, which was announced in January 2022, is one of the largest tech transactions in history.
“The CMA has decided to give Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) consent to acquire Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Activision) (the Parties) excluding Activision’s cloud streaming rights outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) (the Merger) subject to the condition that the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights completes prior to completion of the Merger”, a statement from CMA read.
The CMA had initially blocked the deal over concerns that it would reduce competition in the nascent cloud gaming market, where games are streamed over the internet rather than downloaded or played on a console. To address CMA’s concerns, Microsoft agreed to sell the cloud game streaming rights for all current and new Activision Blizzard games to Ubisoft Entertainment SA. This basically allowed Microsoft to acquire a narrower set of rights. Further, all the titles that will be released by Activision over the next 15 years will be available on Ubisoft+, the game studio’s cloud gaming service.
The CMA notes that Microsoft’s compromise will act as a “gamechanger that will promote competition” in the growing cloud gaming market. “With the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft, we’ve made sure Microsoft can’t have a stranglehold over this important and rapidly developing market,” says Sarah Cardell, CEO of the CMA.
Meanwhile, Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President at Microsoft posted on X and said,” We have now crossed the final regulatory hurdle to close this acquisition, which we believe will benefit players and the gaming industry worldwide”. Microsoft has made multiple concessions throughout the 20-month journey to make the deal happen, including those to EU and American regulators.