That’s it, after more than a year and a half of struggle before administrations around the world and sometimes before the courts, Microsoft seems on the verge of obtaining the green light to absorb Activision Blizzard, one of the largest publishers of video games. As a reminder, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in January 2022.
The United Kingdom validates the Ubisoft solution
Today, Friday September 22, the British competition authority opens the door to validation of the takeover project. This is the latest obstacle for Microsoft since the initial blocking by the United Kingdom in April 2023. The firm has, in fact, obtained validation of its project in the European Union, in China and defeated the FTC in United States in court.
The UK had raised concerns about the future of the cloud gaming market, where Microsoft could become too powerful by taking over franchises like Call of Duty. In August 2023, Microsoft announced a new takeover project for Activision Blizzard where the rights to cloud gaming games would be resold to Ubisoft.
The British competition authority believes that this new takeover project “brings significant changes which largely address the concerns expressed about the initial transaction earlier this year”.
The only downside: the quality of the contract with Ubisoft and Microsoft’s ability to circumvent this contract for the sale of cloud gaming rights. To remedy this, Microsoft agreed that the CMA, the UK competition authority, would have the right to monitor and act on the contract.
Unsurprisingly, Activision and Microsoft officials are delighted with the news: “This is an important step for the merger,” Bobby Kotick said in a letter to Activision Blizzard Group employees. For his part, Brad Smith of Microsoft believes that “we are encouraged by this positive development in the CMA review process”.
Is this validated?
At this stage, the takeover project has not yet really been validated by the United Kingdom. The authority is now allowing Microsoft’s competitors to react to this news by opening a consultation until October 6. Barring any incredible surprises, Microsoft should then obtain its final green light and announce the definitive merger with Activision Blizzard.