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New Zealand gives its approval of Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard

The Microsoft and Activision Blizzard logos

Microsoft has received approval from yet another country to purchase Activision Blizzard. The Commerce Commission of New Zealand announced today that it has cleared the $69 billion deal, with no conditions.

In its press release, the Commerce Commission stated that its main focus was on whether nor not Microsoft's purchase of the game publisher and its library of titles like Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft "would be likely to stop rivals like Sony and NVIDIA from offering those games on consoles and on cloud platforms."

In the end, the regulator ruled that Microsoft's purchase of the publisher and its games "is unlikely to substantially lessen competition in any New Zealand market." It added a comment from its chairman Dr John Small:

While Activision games, in particular Call of Duty, are popular with New Zealand gamers, our enquiries did not find that they are likely to be ‘must have’ in order to compete with Microsoft in New Zealand.

Microsoft president Brad Smith issued a statement on X (formerly Twitter), stating:

With today’s approval from New Zealand, we’re cleared to move forward with our acquisition of Activision Blizzard in 41 countries. We will continue to work to resolve outstanding concerns and bring this deal to a close.

With New Zealand's approval, all eyes now turn to the United Kingdom. The UK's Competition and Markets Authority previously blocked the deal in April. Microsoft quickly filed an appeal of that decision, but since then both Microsoft and the CMA decided to pause that appeals process.

The CMA has received a new submission from Microsoft about changes to this situation since April, including the conditional approval of the Activision Blizzard deal by the European Union, the failure of the US Federal Trade Commission to block the deal in court, and a recent agreement with Sony to keep providing Call of Duty games to the PlayStation platform for at least 10 years.

The CMA currently has a deadline of August 29 to finish its new investigation of the Microsoft/Activision deal, although it has stated it wants to make a decision much sooner than that date. Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have until October 18 to close the deal.

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