Almost two years after announcing its plans to buy Activision Blizzard for almost $70 billion, Microsoft may finally be at the finish line. Today, UK regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) revealed that it has provisionally agreed to allow the proposed acquisition, possibly clearing the final major hurdle that the deal has been stuck on for many months now.
Originally, the CMA blocked the acquisition deal earlier this year saying Microsoft's dominance can cause harm to cloud gaming competition within the UK. Following this, Microsoft appealed the decision, and presented a restructured offer that saw it selling its cloud gaming rights to Ubisoft. This included access to all current and future Activision Blizzard PC games for the next 15 years.
All in all, the CMA's statement today says it is satisfied with Microsoft selling its cloud gaming rights to Ubisoft, because the company can no longer withhold games from rivals nor limit access to other providers. While the approval is not a fully done deal yet, all that's left for the CMA to reach a final decision is to consult with Microsoft for some "limited residual concerns."
“This is a new and substantially different deal, which keeps the cloud distribution of these important games in the hands of a strong independent supplier, Ubisoft, rather than under the control of Microsoft," says Colin Raftery, CMA's senior director of mergers and Phase 1 decision maker.
“With additional protections to make sure that the deal is properly implemented, this will maintain the structure of the market, enabling open competition to continue to shape the development of cloud gaming in the years to come, and giving UK gamers the opportunity to access Activision’s games in many different ways, including through cloud-based multigame subscription services.”
Microsoft Vice chair and President Brad Smith also commented on the new development, saying "We are encouraged by this positive development in the CMA’s review process. We presented solutions that we believe fully address the CMA’s remaining concerns related to cloud game streaming, and we will continue to work toward earning approval to close prior to the October 18 deadline."