Microsoft completes acquisition of Activision Blizzard with UK approval


Official approval from the British competition authority this morning, Microsoft formalized the finalization of the acquisition in a press release. “We officially welcome Activision Blizzard and its teams to Xbox,” commented Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming. And continues: “For the millions of fans who love games from Activision, Blizzard and King, we want you to know that today is a good day to play. […] Whether you play on Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, PC or mobile, you’re welcome here – and you will stay welcome, even if Xbox isn’t where you play your favorite franchise.”

Ubisoft also released an official communication, announcing the arrival of Activision Blizzard titles on its Ubisoft+ subscription service. “All the games that will be produced by Activision Blizzard in the next 15 years and the games that already exist, we have the streaming rights in perpetuity, commented Chris Early, vice-president of the French publisher. So, even after “When this agreement ends, we will still have these rights and we will still be able to provide these games to people and businesses around the world, which opens up a lot of possibilities.”

Original article: “Today, the CMA, the UK regulator, approved our transaction with Microsoft.” In an e-mail written at 2 a.m. this Friday, October 13, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick announced the news to his employees: the giant Microsoft is finally authorized to finalize the record acquisition of one of the publishers of the most important video games in the video game landscape today.

The British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) was indeed the last obstacle to stand in Microsoft’s way. She considered that the $68.7 billion buyout proposal, carried out for the first time in January 2022, contravened the most basic rules of competition in the cloud gaming market. But after several months of negotiations and a restructured offer issued at the end of August by Microsoft, the fate of Activison Blizzard and the British studio King seems sealed for good.

Ubisoft to save the takeover

The French studio Ubisoft played a major role in the approval of the United Kingdom, which should result in a few hours in the finalization of the takeover. According to its restructured offer, Microsoft will have to sell its cloud distribution rights for previous and future Activision Blizzard video games to Ubisoft, for 15 years outside the European economic area. “Ubisoft will thus be able to offer Activision content according to any commercial model, including through multi-game subscription services,” specifies the CMA in a press release.

Sarah Cardell, its general director, justified the importance of this constraint in view of her concerns in terms of preserving competition. “By selling Activision’s rights to cloud streaming to Ubisoft, we ensured that Microsoft could not have a stranglehold on this important and rapidly growing market,” she says. As cloud gaming expands develops, this intervention will allow consumers to benefit from more competitive prices, better services and greater choice.”

The end of a (too) long soap opera

After several failed attempts to block the takeover, notably in the United States by the Federal Trade Commission, Microsoft now has free rein. Like Bobby Kotick, the president of the Redmond firm Brad Smith expressed his relief. “We are grateful to the CMA for carrying out a thorough review and issuing its decision today,” he wrote on X a few hours ago.

Although the British competition authority has identified “limited residual problems with the new agreement”, today’s decision effectively puts an end to a long and important soap opera for the world of video games. However, she denounces “the tactics employed by Microsoft” throughout the process: “Microsoft had the opportunity to restructure itself during our initial investigation, but continued to insist on a set of measures which we told it would simply wouldn’t work. Dragging it out like this just wastes time and money.”

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