Activision Blizzard Industry Legal CMA UK Regulators
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Update: Activision Blizzard has released a gleeful response in relation to the UK regulators’ softened stance today. “The CMA’s updated provisional findings show an improved understanding of the console gaming market and demonstrate a commitment to supporting players and competition,” it said. “Sony’s campaign to protect its dominance by blocking our merger can't overcome the facts, and Microsoft has already presented effective and enforceable remedies to address each of the CMA's remaining concerns. We know this deal will benefit competition, innovation, and consumers in the UK.”

Original Article: In a stance softening that’s almost certain to conclude in Microsoft’s unobstructed buyout of Activision Blizzard, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has changed its opinion on the impact the eye-watering $69 billion acquisition could have on console competition, referencing “new evidence” which suggests it’s likely to be minimal.

According to a statement released earlier today, an inquiry has “reached the provisional conclusion that, overall, the transaction will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in relation to console gaming in the UK”. It seems the regulators now do not believe there’s a financial incentive for Microsoft to make Activision’s games, including Call of Duty, exclusive.

“While the CMA’s original analysis indicated that this strategy would be profitable under most scenarios, new data – which provides better insight into the actual purchasing behaviour of Call of Duty gamers – indicates that this strategy would be significantly loss-making under any plausible scenario,” it says.

The document adds: “On this basis, the updated analysis now shows that it would not be commercially beneficial to Microsoft to make Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox following the deal, but that Microsoft will instead still have the incentive to continue to make the game available on PlayStation.” The paper goes on to express concerns about competition in cloud gaming, which are yet to be fully resolved.

Earlier this week, a developer at Arkane confirmed vampire FPS Redfall was at one point in development for Sony’s system, but after Xbox’s acquisition of Bethesda, his team were told, “No PS5.” In a response released today, Microsoft claimed that it has “expanded our footprint of games that we've shipped on Sony’s PlayStation” despite this not really standing up to scrutiny.

Either way, it looks like Sony has lost the ear of UK regulators, and with the European Commission also predicted to greenlight the deal, we’re nearing Game Over in this sorry corporate saga.