Microsoft Finally Cleared to Buy Activision After UK Green Light

The $68.7bn deal is said to be a “game changer” by those who approved it.

UK regulators have this week approved Microsoft’s $68.7 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard. Following Microsoft’s recent revamp of the deal, which will transfer cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard games over to Ubisoft, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) confirmed that it is good to go.

This is sure to be positive news for the tech giant who this week have been tussling with the IRS over a giant tax bill.

CMA Welcomes “More Choice” for Gamers

The CMA was initially concerned that the proposed deal would negatively impact cloud gaming competition, so blocked it back in April. 

Microsoft appealed this decision but the whole process was paused when it began to restructure the deal instead. After addressing the CMA’s concerns and making the transfer of rights over to Ubisoft, the UK regulator has now confirmed it’s happy for the merger to go ahead.

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“The CMA has decided to give Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) consent to acquire Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Activision) (the Parties) excluding Activision’s cloud streaming rights outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) (the Merger) subject to the condition that the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights completes prior to completion of the Merger,” – the Competition and Market Authority’s statement

CEO of the CMA, Sarah Cardell, called the restructured deal a “gamechanger that will promote competition” in the cloud gaming market.

“With the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft, we’ve made sure Microsoft can’t have a stranglehold over this important and rapidly developing market. As cloud gaming grows, this intervention will ensure people get more competitive prices, better services and more choice.” – Sarah Cardell, CEO of the CMA. 

In an email to all Activision Blizzard employees, CEO Bobby Kotick shared the news and stated “We’re excited for our next chapter together with Microsoft and the endless possibilities it creates for you and for our players.”

Not Smooth Sailing for Microsoft

The somewhat controversial deal was originally announced back in January 2022, catching the eye – and scrutiny – of regulators across the world. In fact, EU regulators have only just approved it following 20 months of battles resulting in a restructure from Microsoft.

Closer to home, the Federal Trade Commission is waiting on its own appeal – due this December – of its failure for a preliminary injunction to block the Activision Blizzard acquisition. Without the injunction in place, Microsoft looks set to close on the deal ahead of its December deadline. 

Microsoft Vice Chair and President, Brad Smith welcomed the CMA’s decision through a message on X (formerly Twitter) “We’re grateful for the CMA’s thorough review and decision today. We have now crossed the final regulatory hurdle to close this acquisition, which we believe will benefit players and the gaming industry worldwide.”

Gaming Industry's Biggest-Ever Takeover

Not only does the deal confirm Microsoft’s status as a video game giant, it will no doubt be a blow to rival Sony who actively opposed the acquisition with concerns that popular games could become Xbox exclusives.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is hopeful the takeover will create a surge in demand for Xbox, allowing it to add more titles to the Xbox Game Pass streaming service – a subscription service that allows gamers to access titles from the cloud.

By joining forces with Activision, Microsoft will also now own a studio solely for the creation of mobile games. This is likely highlighting its intent to expand upon the success of titles such as Candy Crush.

The finalization of the acquisition is likely to go through by the end of today, Friday 13 October.

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Written by:
Ellis Di Cataldo (MA) has over 9 years experience writing about, and for, some of the world’s biggest tech companies. She's been the lead writer across digital campaigns, always-on content and worldwide product launches, for global brands including Sony, Electrolux, Byrd, The Open University and Barclaycard. Her particular areas of interest are business trends, startup stories and product news.
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