The UK’s competition regulator finally cleared a big money Microsoft move to acquire gaming peer Activision Blizzard after the tech giant restructured the deal to appease its concerns, clearing the way for the deal to close.
In a statement, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) described the concessions provided by Microsoft in an amended version of the deal as a game changer with positive implications for competition.
Under the revised agreement, Microsoft agreed to transfer various cloud streaming rights for Activision Blizzard PC and console games to publisher Ubisoft Entertainment. It covers areas outside of the European Economic Area, and includes existing titles and those released over the next 15 years.
The regulator has been in a long-running row with Microsoft over the deal, with the CMA blocking it in the original form.
Dragging out proceedings in this way only wastes time and money.Sarah Cardell, CEO CMA
Taking a last swipe at Microsoft, CMA CEO Sarah Cardell indicated by forcing them into a new deal “we’ve made sure Microsoft can’t have a stranglehold over this important and rapidly developing market. As cloud gaming grows, this intervention will ensure people get more competitive prices, better services and more choice”.
“Businesses and their advisers should be in no doubt that the tactics employed by Microsoft are no way to engage with the CMA,” she added. ”Microsoft had the chance to restructure during our initial investigation but instead continued to insist on a package of measures that we told them simply wouldn’t work. Dragging out proceedings in this way only wastes time and money.”
On social media, Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith predictably welcomed the decision. “We have now crossed the final regulatory hurdle to close this acquisition, which we believe will benefit players and the gaming industry worldwide.”