It’s been mercifully quiet on the Microsoft front these past two weeks, and may we underline how beautifully blissful it’s been! But of course, the Redmond firm’s well imbursed legal team hasn’t stopped putting in the overtime, as it seeks to overcome the final hurdle in its unfathomable $69 billion buyout of Activision Blizzard: the UK’s regulator, the Competition & Markets Authority.
The last we heard, the duo had postponed plans for a hearing, while it attempted to hammer out some kind of deal. This follows the regulator’s decision to block the acquisition on the basis of the emerging cloud gaming market. Since then, the European Commission has given it the greenlight and the Federal Trade Commission has lost in court, leaving the buyout on the precipice.
Sony, perhaps sensing the direction the wind is blowing, has since signed a decade-long deal to keep Call of Duty on its platforms – although at this stage, we can probably assume the likes of Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater will soon be lost forever. That, unfortunately, is just the way the cookie crumbles.
Even though the CMA never blocked the deal on the basis of consoles, Microsoft has pointed to Sony’s signature as a reason it should now allow the deal to pass. In a document submitted to the department, it said that the buyout “ensures that perhaps the most powerful player in the video games industry will have access in the long term to the Activision game it considers most important”.
The Redmond firm also noted a deal it signed with cloud gaming company NWare, which was inked days after the CMA’s decision. For these reasons, it’s urged the division to reconsider its conclusion. Personally, these strike us as weak incentive to reconsider based on the regulator’s original conclusions, but it seems increasingly obvious to us that everyone involved is just looking to save face here.
Microsoft now has until 18th October to close the acquisition, after extending its deadline with Activision Blizzard earlier in the month. Clearly it still has hurdles to work through with the UK’s regulator, but it looks like it’s only a matter of time before this deal closes now.