The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) narrowed the scope of its investigation into a proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft by ruling it no longer believed the deal would lead to less competition in the game console market.

Following receipt of a “significant amount” of feedback from industry participants on the deal, the CMA announced on 24 March it no longer believed the transaction would hamper competition in the console games market.

The regulator previously expressed concern Microsoft would make Activision Blizzard’s games including The Call of Duty franchise exclusive to its Xbox console.

Martin Coleman, chair of the independent panel of experts conducting the CMA investigation, stated the merger “will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in console gaming services because the cost to Microsoft of withholding Call of Duty from PlayStation would outweigh any gains from taking such action”.

He noted the CMA remained concerned the deal would give Microsoft an edge in the cloud gaming market and stated the investigation was on track for completion by 26 April.

Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith told Mobile World Live the CMA’s move “underscores a growing consensus by those with access to the most current data that this deal will create more competition in the console market, not less”.

The software giant still needs to gain approval from European regulators and resolve an antitrust lawsuit filed by the US Federal Trade Commission in late 2022.