Britain’s antitrust regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has opened up a public consultation to gather responses regarding Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard, the renowned maker of the popular video game “Call of Duty.” The CMA had previously blocked the deal in April, but Microsoft is now urging for a reevaluation based on legally-binding commitments made to the European Commission and a licensing agreement with Sony.
Microsoft presented its case on Monday, asserting that its agreements with NVIDIA, Boosteroid, and Ubitus to license Activision games for a decade after the merger have already improved competition in the cloud gaming market. The tech giant also emphasized that any breach of these commitments would invalidate European approval and expose them to potential fines of up to 10% of their global turnover, amounting to a staggering $19.8 billion based on their 2022 earnings. Moreover, Microsoft’s partnership with Sony to ensure “Call of Duty” remains exclusive to its PlayStation console for a decade played a significant role in addressing concerns raised by the most vocal opponent of the merger.
The CMA has invited the public to express their views on the revised proposal by August 4, with the final decision on the deal scheduled for August 29. If approved, this gaming industry’s largest-ever deal would likely move forward, as the completion deadline has already been extended to October 18.
Previously, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in London was set to review the CMA’s decision to block the acquisition. Still, Microsoft’s argument about the binding commitments made to the European Commission since the deal’s initial rejection has altered the situation. This appeal process was temporarily halted to provide more time for the parties involved to resolve the dispute.
Despite the initial opposition from the CMA, Microsoft’s case has been bolstered by evidence emerging from the United States, particularly concerning market definition in relation to cloud gaming. As the regulatory scrutiny continues, the gaming industry and stakeholders eagerly await the final outcome of this high-stakes takeover bid.