After the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority blocked Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Call of Duty and Diablo maker Activision Blizzard earlier this year over cloud gaming concerns, Microsoft brought a new deal to the table. In this new deal, Ubisoft will get Activision Blizzard cloud game streaming rights in the UK for 15 years, theoretically allaying the CMA’s concerns. The CMA gave preliminary approval to Microsoft last month and now, a few weeks later, the UK regulatory body has finally given Microsoft the full approval it needs.
With the CMA’s approval, Microsoft now has everything it needs to close the deal and make Activision Blizzard part of Xbox’s first-party umbrella. The approval comes just days before Microsoft’s Oct. 18 deadline to complete the acquisition, and prior reports indicate that Microsoft plans to do so today.
Here it is What CMA has to say About Microsoft’s new deal approved:
“The new deal will stop Microsoft cloud gaming locking out competition in this market, preserving competitive prices and services for UK cloud gaming customers. It will allow Ubisoft to offer Activision’s content under any business model, including multigame subscription services. Cloud gaming providers will be able to use non-Windows operating systems for Activision content. It helps ensure that, reduces costs and increases efficiency.
CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cordell said the CMA is determined to prevent mergers that harm competition and deliver bad outcomes for consumers and businesses, and to make decisions free from political influence and not subject to corporate lobbying.
“We sent a clear message to Microsoft that unless they comprehensively address our concerns and stick to our guns, the deal will be blocked,” Cordell says. “With the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft, we have ensured that Microsoft cannot control this important and fast-growing market. As cloud gaming grows, this intervention will ensure that people get more competitive prices, better services, and more options. Globally the only competitive player to deliver this result We are the agency.
“But there is no doubt that the tactics Microsoft used by businesses and consultants was no way to engage with the CMA. During our initial investigation Microsoft had the opportunity to restructure but instead continued to insist on a package of measures that we simply told them would not work. Dragging out processes in this way is a waste of time and money.”
The CMA says the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft would prevent Microsoft from gaining control over cloud gaming, preventing distribution of major, popular titles such as Call of Duty, Overwatch and World of Warcraft.
“The restricted agreement substantially addressed the concerns raised by the CMA following its original investigation concluded earlier this year,” the CMA writes in its decision. “The CMA has identified limited remaining concerns with the new agreement, but Microsoft has given undertakings that ensure that the terms of the sale of Activision’s rights to Ubisoft can be enforced by the CMA. The CMA has been consulted on these undertakings and is satisfied that they provide a safety net to ensure that this agreement is properly implemented.”
Microsoft President and Vice President Brad Smith says, “We are grateful for the CMA’s thorough review and decision today. We have now cleared the final regulatory hurdle to close this acquisition, which we believe will benefit players and the gaming industry worldwide.”
We are grateful for the CMA’s thorough review and decision today. We have now passed the final regulatory hurdle to close this acquisition, which we believe will benefit players and the gaming industry worldwide.
— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) October 13, 2023
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, who was recently hired to interview James Corden at an all-hands employee meeting about Guitar Hero and other topics, sent the following email to the entire company:
Today the CMA, the regulatory authority in the UK, approved our transaction with Microsoft.
We now have all the necessary regulatory approvals to close and we look forward to bringing joy and connectivity to even more players around the world.
Our Board Chair Brian Kelly and I are incredibly proud of all of you and your accomplishments over the past four decades. We are excited for our next chapter with Microsoft and the endless possibilities it will create for you and our players.
Following the news that the CMA had approved Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft released the following statement, making Ubisoft the official rights holder for cloud game streaming of Activision Blizzard games in the UK:
“We’re excited to share that Ubisoft has now acquired the perpetual cloud streaming rights for Call of Duty and all Activision Blizzard titles released over the next 15 years. Ubisoft has been a long-time believer in the power of cloud gaming and streaming. The rights will enable us to deliver even more experiences to players in more places than ever before. The agreement now Completed, we can start working on the operational aspects of bringing these games to our subscription offering, Ubisoft+.”
To catch up on everything that’s happened so far, first read about the revelation that Microsoft is acquiring Activision Blizzard for a massive $69 billion, and then check out this story about how the CMA blocked the acquisition in the UK over cloud gaming concerns. After that, read about how a California judge this summer denied the FTC’s preliminary injunction request and then read that Microsoft plans to negotiate something satisfactory with the CMA. Also read about Microsoft’s proposed Ubisoft deal, then read about why the CMA gave Microsoft preliminary approval of the deal.
Which Activision Blizzard games do you think will be added to Xbox Game Pass soon? Let us know in the comments below!