Microsoft looks set to finally acquire Activision Blizzard, as the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has officially approved the deal. Back in April, the CMA blocked the deal over concerns around cloud gaming, which eventually led Microsoft to sell the cloud gaming rights for the next 15 years of Activision Blizzard games outside of the European Economic Area to Ubisoft.
“In August this year Microsoft made a concession that would see Ubisoft, instead of Microsoft, buy Activision’s cloud gaming rights,” the CMA said in a statement. “This new deal will put the cloud streaming rights–outside the EEA–for all of Activision’s PC and console content produced over the next 15 years in the hands of a strong and independent competitor with ambitious plans to offer new ways of accessing that content.”
According to the CMA, this will “stop Microsoft from locking up competition in cloud gaming” as this market gains more ground, allowing for a more competitive environment. In response to the CMA’s approval, Microsoft persident Brad Smith said that the company was grateful for the UK watchdog’s thorough review and decision, and Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick congratulated staff ahead of the company’s “next chapter” under the ownership of Microsoft. The controversial CEO is expected to leave the company following the expected closure of the Microsoft deal.
Trading in Activision Blizzard shares have been temporarily halted on Nasdaq exchanges, signaling that Microsoft is looking to officially close the deal soon. While Microsoft still has to deal with a new case from the Federal Trade Commission that seeks to halt the deal with an in-house trial, it’s unlikely that the FTC will prevent the acquisition from going through after it suffered a big legal defeat back in July.
Once Microsoft formally acquires Activision Blizzard, the company will officially own a wide range of IPs, including Call of Duty, Diablo, Overwatch, and Candy Crush. Activision president Rob Kostich believes that the Call of Duty franchise will benefit greatly in this new era, as it’ll be able to draw upon Microsoft’s vast resources to deliver more immersive experiences. The Call of Duty series will continue to be released on PlayStation consoles for at least 10 more years, but for Game Pass subscribers, don’t expect a deluge of Call of Duty on that subscription service right away as that might not happen until 2025.
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