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UK Provisionally Approves Microsoft's Activision Blizzard Acquisition

UK Provisionally Approves Microsoft's Activision Blizzard Acquisition - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 03 October 2023 / 6,019 Views

The UK regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has provisionally approved Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition.

The CMA had blocked the deal in April, however, Microsoft has since restructured the deal by selling the cloud gaming rights for current and new Activision Blizzard games to Ubisoft. 

"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," reds the press release from the CMA.

"In particular, the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft will prevent this important content – including games such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft – from coming under the control of Microsoft in relation to cloud gaming. The CMA originally found that Microsoft already has a strong position in cloud gaming services and could have used its control over Activision content to stifle competition and reinforce this position. The new deal instead results in the cloud streaming rights for Activision’s games being transferred to an independent player, Ubisoft, maintaining open competition as the market for cloud gaming develops over the coming years.

"While the restructured deal is materially different to the previous transaction and substantially addresses most concerns, the CMA has limited residual concerns that certain provisions in the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft could be circumvented, terminated, or not enforced.

"To address these concerns, Microsoft has offered remedies to ensure that the terms of the sale of Activision’s rights to Ubisoft are enforceable by the CMA. The CMA has provisionally concluded that this additional protection should resolve those residual concerns."

This is a preliminary decision by the CMA and they have now opened up feedback until October 6th. A final decision is expected before the final extended deadline of October 18.

"We are encouraged by this positive development in the CMA’s review process," said Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith. "We presented solutions that we believe fully address the CMA’s remaining concerns related to cloud game streaming, and we will continue to work toward earning approval to close prior to the October 18 deadline."

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick in a statement sent to employees stated, "Today the UK regulatory authority, the CMA, issued a preliminary approval of our merger with Microsoft based on the solutions Microsoft presented in connection with its new merger application. This approval is critical to completing our merger.

"The next step is for the CMA to gather third-party feedback, after which the CMA will reach a final decision.

"As I said when we announced the deal, this transaction will help us accelerate our ambitions for the future of gaming and enable us to better serve our players. Microsoft recognizes the commitment to excellence and creative independence that has served us well for the last 30 years. I am confident that their resources, technology, and tools will provide us even greater opportunities to create even better games.

"This is a significant milestone for the merger and a testament to our solutions-oriented work with regulators. I remain optimistic as we continue the journey toward completion and am very grateful to each of you for your dedication and focus throughout this process."

The acquisition has been approved in New ZealandTurkeySouth AfricaSouth KoreaChina, the European UnionUkraineJapanChileBrazilSaudi Arabia, and Serbia. Microsoft also won its case against the FTC in the US, which was trying to block the deal.

A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012 and taking over the hardware estimates in 2017. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel. You can contact the author on Twitter @TrunksWD.

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Imaginedvl (on 22 September 2023)

Finally :)

  • +9
aTokenYeti (on 22 September 2023)

This is actually, for real this time, a deal. Deal will be finalized mid October.

Kind of incredible that this lasted nearly 2 years and managed to be in the news cycle almost daily for that whole time. The residual effects (all the court documents and leaks) will also profound effects on the industry.

I think this merger is going to be remembered as a major inflection point in the industry.

  • +6
shikamaru317 (on 22 September 2023)

"It's been a long road, getting from there to here"

  • +5
trunkswd shikamaru317 (on 22 September 2023)

Are you quoting Star Trek? That made me think of the Enterprise intro song.

  • +2
shikamaru317 trunkswd (on 22 September 2023)

Yep, glad somebody got the reference, those are indeed the opening lyrics of Enterprise's theme song from Rod Stewart.

  • +1
trunkswd shikamaru317 (on 22 September 2023)

I grew up watching Star Trek. Voyager was my first Trek then Enterprise as I was a little too young for TNG or DS9. Though I have watched all the series of Trek at least once.

  • +7
shikamaru317 trunkswd (on 22 September 2023)

Same here, I grew up watching Star Trek in the 90's, my dad got me hooked on it by the time Voyager released in 1995 when I was 6. I even collected Star Trek action figures from like ages 6-11 (alongside Star Wars figures), lol. Voyager was also my favorite as a kid and still is to this day, but I've watched all of the other TOS-ENT series and movies, as well as the 3 JJ movies. Not a big fan of the current Kurtzman-verse Trek though, Picard season 1 and Discovery season 1 both seemed like duds, and Strange New Worlds season 1 was better, but still worse than anything from the TOS-ENT era of Trek. I hear Picard season 3 is better, but feel like I'd need to watch the first 2 seasons to appreciate it, which I don't really want to watch those, lol.

  • +5
trunkswd shikamaru317 (on 22 September 2023)

I'd say just watch Picard season 3 and not bother with watching the first 2 seasons and just read a synopsis of them. I've enjoyed Strange New Worlds so far. Definitely the best of the new Trek shows. Lower Decks is a fun show, but only if you enjoy stuff like Rick and Morty.

  • +3
S.Peelman shikamaru317 (on 22 September 2023)

Yes! Watch Picard Season 3. It's amazing.

  • +1
Machina trunkswd (on 22 September 2023)

Worst Star Trek intro 'theme' ever. Absolutely cringe-inducingly awful, and not at all in-keeping with the tradition of past themes. I'm re-watching all the non-Kurtzman series atm and have to rush to skip Enterprise's intro before it starts every time.

  • 0
shikamaru317 Machina (on 23 September 2023)

You know, for a long time I felt that way too. Probably the first 2-3 times I watched Enterprise all the way through, I REALLY hated that theme, I thought that Braga and Berman had made an awful choice, picking a lyrical pop song as an opening for Star Trek, when all of the earlier Trek's had instrumental themes.

But at some point I guess age changed my point of view, because I actually appreciate the Enterprise theme now. The lyrics combined with the imagery of some of the past ships named Enterprise and showing all of mankind's milestones of exploration leading up to NX Enterprise and it's warp 5 drive, it just hits different now, I appreciate it's uniqueness among the series and I think it really fits with Star Trek's main theme of exploration. It may not have won an Emmy like Voyager's opening theme (deservedly) did, but I still like it. And honestly the song is catchy, which is precisely why I thought of those lyrics when I saw this ABK news after 21 months of twists and turns with this acquisition. The remix of the ENT theme from the later seasons is definitely better than the original version though, has a much more exploratory feel too it.

  • 0
gtotheunit91 (on 22 September 2023)

The last thing I was expecting was for this deal to come back from the grave. FTC continues to waste taxpayer dollars on a losing fight though lol

  • +4
CaptainExplosion (on 22 September 2023)

So this means they temporarily approve the acquisition but will permanently approve before or by the deadline?

  • 0
Ayla (on 22 September 2023)

Diablo 4 on gamepass this year?

  • 0
Imaginedvl Ayla (on 22 September 2023)

It will probably be in 2024. Impatient de see how they are going to integrate the Battle.Net account, too. Interesting times ahead :)

  • 0
EpicRandy Imaginedvl (on 22 September 2023)

It'll probably be a slow process, Minecraft account, though the merge option have been available for a long time, are only now forcing it 9 years after the acquisition.

  • 0
SecondWar Ayla (on 23 September 2023)

IIRC with Bethesda they put a number of games on gamepass the day the acquisition closed but for whatever reason a few were held back and hit gamepass a few months later in a second wave.

  • 0
Qwark (on 22 September 2023)

Well this deal is trough onto the next

  • 0
firebush03 (on 23 September 2023)

Love to see a corporate juggernaut cannibalize another corporate juggernaut! This will surely spur some great changes to the landscape of gaming.

  • -2
rapsuperstar31 (on 22 September 2023)

Do they wait a month or two a or year before they announce the Sega purchase, and than the Valve or whatever else comes next?

  • -2
gtotheunit91 rapsuperstar31 (on 22 September 2023)

Don't look too much into any of that lol. Sega accepted the deal that Activision didn't want, adding their libraries into GP which is what Xbox wants, and Valve would get turned down by every regulatory body even if by some miracle MS convinced Gabe to sell.

  • +12
SecondWar gtotheunit91 (on 22 September 2023)

Yeah, and unlike the ABK deal where these forums were up in arms that the FTC/CMA tried to block it I’d wager there would instead be uproar if they didn’t try to stop MS buying Valve.

  • +2
gtotheunit91 SecondWar (on 22 September 2023)

Definitely! Also, all the leaked documents pre-date the ABK deal, where ABK wasn’t even listed as a potential acquisition. There’s no way MS has the same potential acquisition list after ABK.

  • +2
zero129 SecondWar (on 24 September 2023)

Indeed since you cant compare Valve to ABK. Its a much bigger thing since Valve pretty much does have a monopoly on PC gaming and if Ms was to own them would than allow them to have that Monopoly. Clearly this would be a much bigger deal to everyone and rightfully should be. ABK was pretty much a nothing burger with people trying to make a big deal out of it since Ms was paying so much. But Valve would be that big deal as it would allow Ms to have a monopoly in the PC gaming space.

  • 0
H3ADShOt3 rapsuperstar31 (on 22 September 2023)

Idk whos gonna get bought out next but the leaks pointed out someone bigger than activision. Obviously it isn't nintendo as we know now but they're gonna have a real hard time closing a deal bigger than this one.

  • -3
SecondWar H3ADShOt3 (on 22 September 2023)

By revenue, the only publishers larger than ABK are Tencent, NetEase, Nintendo and Sony.
I can’t see MS even trying to buy the former two as they seem like weird fits and the latter two are non-starters.

  • +4
zero129 SecondWar (on 24 September 2023)

This 100%.

  • 0
Machina rapsuperstar31 (on 22 September 2023)

Highly unlikely Valve sells to anyone, let alone the company Gabe and co. intentionally left in part because they didn't like its structure. And almost zero chance it would be approved either.

I expect the wrangling that AB has caused with regulators makes this the last big purchase; they'll focus on small and medium-sized devs from now on.

  • +1
ClassicGamingWizzz (on 25 September 2023)

2027 is coming in fast phill.

  • -3
DonFerrari (on 22 September 2023)

Seems like the merge is very near to conclusion. I will only disagree with Bobby when he says that ABK have great freedom right now =p

  • -4
EpicRandy DonFerrari (on 22 September 2023)

Fair enough, I will pretty much only agree with Bobby when he announce he's leaving.

  • 0
Signalstar (on 22 September 2023)

Corporations are more powerful than countries.

  • -7
gtotheunit91 Signalstar (on 22 September 2023)

It would help when the country puts together a competent case. Both the CMA and FTC put forward cases that made everyone role their eyes. The CMA just has so little oversight that they were able to get away with as much as they did. If they didn't, they would've been just as humiliated as the FTC was.

This is not as black and white as you're trying to make it out to be.

  • +9
DonFerrari gtotheunit91 (on 22 September 2023)
  • -11
EpicRandy gtotheunit91 (on 22 September 2023)

What's funnier is the FTC did have all the leaked documents including the one showing MS valuing Nintendo and what did they do? They defined a Console market that tossed out Nintendo, a definition that would make any attempt by MS an easy vertical merger instead of a difficult horizontal one.
Of course, no one expects the FTC to just abide by their own definition in that eventuality, even those that were quick to agree with it for the convenience in the ABK case.

  • +6
tslog (on 22 September 2023)
  • -11