Microsoft calls UK regulator concerns over Activision Blizzard deal misplaced

The UK's CMA detailed concerns about game availability and subscriptions to which it feels the Activision Blizzard (ATVI) deal poses a threat.

Image via Microsoft

As Microsoft (MSFT) and Activision Blizzard (ATVI) continue to work towards closing a deal that would see Microsoft acquire the Call of Duty and Overwatch company, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority is one of the few things that presents problems for the deal going through. The CMA has voiced concerns in addition to not allowing the Activision Blizzard deal to pass initial approval, concerns of which Microsoft has criticized as misplaced.

The CMA’s concerns and Microsoft’s response to them were detailed in a recent report from Eurogamer. After the initial approval phase failed, the deal will go on to a second phase, which Microsoft claims is uncalled for. Subscriptions were a core element of the CMA’s reservations about the deal, claiming Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard may dissuade the availability of games on services outside of the Xbox, Windows, and Game Pass ecosystem.

Activision Blizzard 5-day stock chart as of October 12, 2022
Activision Blizzard's (ATVI) stock has bounced around in the wake of UK authorities stalling approval of the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard merger.
Source: Google

“The CMA recognizes that ABK's newest games are not currently available on any subscription service on the day of release but considers that this may change as subscription services continue to grow,” representatives of the CMA wrote. “After the Merger, Microsoft would gain control of this important input and could use it to harm the competitiveness of its rivals.”

To this, Microsoft representatives responded that the company doesn’t believe the CMA’s concerns are sufficient enough to warrant a Phase 2 for approval of the deal, specifically citing complaints from Sony over concern for the Call of Duty series.

“The suggestion that the incumbent market leader, with clear and enduring market power, could be foreclosed by the third largest provider as a result of losing access to one title is not credible,” Microsoft responded. Going on to say that Sony has enough market power to respond and adapt to the deal. “In short, Sony is not vulnerable to a hypothetical foreclosure strategy, and the Referral Decision incorrectly relies on self-serving statements by Sony which significantly exaggerate the importance of Call of Duty to it and neglect to account for Sony's clear ability to competitively respond.”

Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard would not only give it control over Call of Duty, but also Overwatch, Warcraft, Diablo, Crash Bandicoot, and many other iconic gaming franchises. Parties were expecting to close the $68.7 billion USD deal by Spring 2023 at the latest. It will remain to be seen if the CMA continues to roadblock the merger’s progress.

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TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 12, 2022 11:15 AM

    TJ Denzer posted a new article, Microsoft calls UK regulator concerns over Activision Blizzard deal misplaced

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      October 12, 2022 11:51 AM

      I hope this deal doesn't go through. It's bad for gaming

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        October 12, 2022 11:53 AM

        Letting Activision Blizzard remain run how it has been by the people that have been running it is bad for gaming and the employees. If this deal helps improve that situation then I can't see it as a bad thing.

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          October 12, 2022 12:11 PM

          Corporate consolidation is bad for any industry.

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            October 12, 2022 3:36 PM

            I agree with this as a general statement but it seems like this is a case where it's probably overall better for consumers and employees of the company being acquired. Only because ActiBliz is so fucked up that they could use direction from a company that's got a better culture and somewhat better focus. As flawed as MS is, they're definitely better than ActiBliz.

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              October 12, 2022 3:40 PM

              This is where I side also. I do not like the massive trend of consolidation that has been happening but something needs to happen at Acti Blizzard for them to not be a shit company and get some new leadership in place. It's apparent the only way that is going to happen is with someone buying them so if that is what it takes to change the culture there I support it.

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        October 12, 2022 12:19 PM

        It's good for Activision's back catalog

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        October 12, 2022 1:33 PM

        Yes because what we need as gamers is about 7 studios only producing Call of Duty stuff, $70.00 games, gutting Blizzard of funding and all the while employees are being sexually harassed and being sacked for trying to join unions.

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        October 12, 2022 3:38 PM

        I see both sides. There is a lot of dead IP that Activision is sitting on that MS will probably hand to other studios to make content for GamePass. On the flip side consolidation is bad for the industry and I hate seeing Bobby fucking Kotick get a huge payday. But I have more faith in MS is install a better culture to replace the toxic shit that is currently there.

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          October 12, 2022 6:10 PM

          Imagine if in the 90s you were told that MS was buying someone to improve their corporate culture.

          A wild turnaround for them

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        October 13, 2022 4:57 AM

        it's good for me, and i'm less concerned about "gaming" (considering it's one of the largest non-industrial industries in existence) than i am about my own bottom line.

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      October 12, 2022 6:25 PM

      Microsoft and Activision should do it the other way around where Activision buys out Microsoft.

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        October 13, 2022 12:26 AM

        I think that would be the biggest loan a bank would have ever made in the history of banking

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      October 12, 2022 10:15 PM

      Well Borozi, looks like you were right. Europe is set to take a much harder look at this merger. It's no longer a sure thing. Phil Spencer indeed should have just kept his fucking mouth shut.

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      October 13, 2022 1:17 AM

      Let them fight.

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