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UK regulators expected to give Microsoft a thumbs down on their Activision Blizzard acquisition

UPDATE: Microsoft believe they have a strong case in Britain

Update: The NYT's report has now been updated with a statement from Microsoft saying they believe they have a strong case in Britain, and they have not predetermined or been advised by their lawyers that the merger will be blocked.

Original story: A new week means one thing: another update on Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. According to a report from The New York Times, Microsoft is expecting the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to oppose the deal, after EU regulators issued their own antitrust warnings last week. Microsoft reportedly believes it can convince EU and UK regulators to accept their concessions and eventually approve the acquisition.

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While some other countries have approved the buyout, the three most important regulators (US, UK, EU) are all on the same page with a thumbs down. Last December, the US Federal Trade Commission moved to block the deal, arguing it would suppress competition in the console market alongside emerging business models like cloud gaming and subscription services such as Game Pass. Microsoft were hoping to finish the deal by the end of their fiscal year in June, but that seems unlikely as the FTC hearings are scheduled to begin on August 2nd.

Regulators’ concerns stem from a number of giant IPs attached to ActiBlizzard including Diablo, Overwatch, and mainly, Call Of Duty. Sony and Microsoft have been in a seemingly eternal back-and-forth over CoD for months. Most recently, Microsoft’s comm lead Frank X. Shaw publicly fired shots at Sony, claiming that PlayStation execs were speaking to EU regulators dishonestly.

According to Shaw, Sony were “claiming Microsoft is unwilling to offer them parity for Call of Duty if we acquire Activision." He continued to say that “Nothing could be further from the truth” as Microsoft were willing to sign a 10-year CoD deal “enforceable through a contract, regulatory agreements, or other means.” This is likely a similar 10-year deal as the one Nintendo and Valve were offered a couple of months ago. We can expect Microsoft to offer more concessions in an attempt to appease global regulators.

An acquisition of this size isn't a good look for Microsoft, considering they recently laid off 10,000 employees. The layoffs affected Bethesda, another recent-ish MS acquisition, alongside their in-house Halo studio 343i, who are struggling to get back on track.

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Kaan Serin avatar

Kaan Serin


Kaan Serin has been floating around as a games media freelancer ever since graduating with an English/Film degree. He now spends his free time campaigning for Banjo-Kazooie’s return