Microsoft (NASDAQ:)’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:), a deal that faced global regulatory challenges since its initiation in January 2022, has been approved by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), marking the final regulatory hurdle for the tech giant. The approval came on Friday, after Microsoft agreed to transfer distribution rights for all Activision Blizzard games outside the European Economic Area to Ubisoft for a period of 15 years. This agreement was included to prevent monopolization in the burgeoning cloud gaming market.
The CMA’s decision solidifies Microsoft’s position in the gaming industry, mirroring their previous acquisition of Bethesda, and intensifies competition with Sony (NYSE:), who has voiced opposition to Xbox exclusivity for key Activision games. Microsoft’s growing influence over game development is highlighted by this acquisition, which is set to have a significant worldwide impact on the gaming industry.
Sarah Cardell, Chief Executive of the CMA, confirmed the approval but criticized Microsoft for not restructuring during their initial investigation. She accused the company of wasting time and money by prolonging the proposal of a revised deal. Cardell also warned against such tactics and corporate lobbying while dismissing any potential political influence in their decision.
The agreement permits Ubisoft to offer Activision’s content via multigame subscription services and non-Windows operating systems, ensuring competitive prices and services. The move underscores the CMA’s commitment to protecting the market against anti-competitive mergers.
Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, welcomed the decision. The approval is seen as a testament to cloud gaming’s transformative potential and the subscription model it promotes.
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