UK vetoes Microsoft’s $69B Activision acquisition

Kerem Gülen
Apr 26, 2023
Companies, Microsoft

The proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft Corporation for $69 billion has encountered a major setback, as Britain's antitrust watchdog has rejected the deal citing potential negative impacts on competition within the cloud gaming market. This veto marks a significant blow to the gaming industry's largest-ever acquisition. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has expressed concerns that the deal could restrict competition in the rapidly expanding cloud gaming sector, which has become a key battleground for the world's biggest technology companies.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) declared that it could not address its concerns regarding the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal through remedies such as selling the popular game Call of Duty or behavioral remedies that involve allowing competitors to offer the game on their platforms.

Microsoft had been facing increasing pressure as it sought to persuade regulatory bodies in both Europe and the US to approve the acquisition, which is one of the 30 largest deals in history. The CMA's decision is particularly significant as it has been made before similar rulings from the European Union and the US Federal Trade Commission, which is currently awaiting a hearing in the summer after formally challenging the proposed transaction.

Image source: Unsplash

“Microsoft already enjoys a powerful position and head start over other competitors in cloud gaming and this deal would strengthen that advantage giving it the ability to undermine new and innovative competitors,” stated Martin Coleman, the panel's chair.

The CMA's decision was based on the view that the merger could lead to an increase in prices, a reduction in choices, and less innovation for gamers in the UK. However, following a careful review of new evidence, the CMA recently revised its original focus on consoles to concentrate solely on cloud gaming.

“We remain fully committed to this acquisition and will appeal. The CMA’s decision rejects a pragmatic path to address competition concerns and discourages technology innovation and investment in the UK,” stated Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft.

The CMA's investigation revealed that the acquisition would enable Microsoft to consolidate its dominant position in the market by obtaining control of some of the most popular and lucrative games in the industry, including Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft. The watchdog further determined that, without the merger, Activision would have been in a position to offer its games on cloud platforms in the future.

“The CMA’s report contradicts the ambitions of the UK to become an attractive country to build technology businesses. We will work aggressively with Microsoft to reverse this on appeal,” an Activision spokesperson said.

What happened before?

The proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft Corporation has been facing several hurdles recently, with the UK's Competition and Market Authority vetoing the deal due to concerns about competition in cloud gaming.

Additionally, Sony and authorities fear that if the acquisition goes through, Microsoft may withhold Call of Duty from PlayStation, forcing game enthusiasts to turn their attention to Xbox. The lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice against Activision Blizzard regarding salary limits in esports leagues has also complicated matters. These obstacles have made the future of the acquisition uncertain, leaving the gaming industry waiting to see what happens next.


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  1. Duke Nukem 3d said on April 27, 2023 at 4:56 am

    M$’ bread and butter is gaming. They know this. They know as long as they have the games people want to play and are forced to use Windows in order to play them, they’re locking in a ton of people, including people who use Linux and dual boot.

    I hope more people turn away M$, we’ve had enough already.

  2. Anonymous said on April 26, 2023 at 10:21 pm

    Good! Microsoft should not be allowed to buy up everything like other large companies.

  3. TelV said on April 26, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    I’m glad to learn that the UK competition watchdog has reached this decision. I’m sure the EU will follow suit when the time comes.

    Similarly, Microsoft’s intention to require a Microsoft account to login to Windows 12 should also be flushed down the toilet. They have too much power already without allowing them to rule the world into the bargain.

  4. John said on April 26, 2023 at 3:21 pm

    UK has never been a supporter of Microsoft. The only technology golden boy is Apple. Even Google get’s its fair share of UK hassles.

  5. Roger W. said on April 26, 2023 at 2:42 pm

    F*ck the UK

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