Microsoft's bid to purchase Activision Blizzard King for an enormous $69 billion is now closer than ever to finding approval from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority. Thanks to a change in the proposal, whereby the rights to stream Activision's games via the cloud would be entrusted to Ubisoft, the CMA looks to have changed its tune.
The government body has been one of the largest obstacles Microsoft has had to overcome in order to let its proposed purchase go through. The CMA blocked the initial deal, primarily over concerns about a monopoly in the cloud gaming sector. The deal was approved in most other countries, but the UK has remained a thorn in Microsoft's side through months of back and forth. However, with the aforementioned change to the proposal, the CMA's main concern has been assuaged.
A press release on the UK government's website essentially says the revised deal addresses the CMA's main concern by putting the rights to cloud stream Activision's software catalogue — and the next 15 years of its games — in the hands of a third party (Ubisoft). "The prior sale of the cloud gaming rights will establish Ubisoft as a key supplier of content to cloud gaming services, replicating the role that Activision would have played in the market as an independent player," the statement reads.
Essentially, Ubisoft will control Activision's games when it comes to cloud streaming services, ensuring impartial distribution, rather than Microsoft controlling things itself. "The CMA considers that the restructured deal makes important changes that substantially address the concerns it set out in relation to the original transaction earlier this year," the statement continues.
However, Microsoft isn't completely in the clear yet. The CMA still had some reservations that "certain provisions in the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft could be circumvented, terminated, or not enforced". In response, Microsoft has "offered remedies to ensure that the terms of the sale of Activision’s rights to Ubisoft are enforceable by the CMA".
In what seems to be the final steps, the CMA has begun two consultations — one to test the aforementioned remedies about its last few concerns, and another to make an overall decision on whether to approve the deal. The deadline on both of these is 6th October 2023.
We're not out of the woods yet, then, but it seems the acquisition is now closer than ever to going through. We'll have to see what the CMA decides in a couple of weeks, but we're this close to never having to write about this whole ordeal ever again.