December 3, 2023

Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard appeared near being useless not way back, however it simply took a giant step towards clearing its final main impediment. The UK’s Competitors and Markets Authority (CMA) has introduced that Microsoft’s revised settlement “considerably addresses earlier considerations and opens the door to the deal being cleared.” The settlement remains to be in session, however remaining approval now appears to be like extremely seemingly.

“The CMA considers that the restructured deal makes necessary adjustments that considerably deal with the considerations it set out in relation to the unique transaction earlier this yr,” the regulator wrote. “Particularly, the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft will stop this necessary content material — together with video games comparable to Name of Responsibility, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft — from coming underneath the management of Microsoft in relation to cloud gaming.”

The UK regulator initially blocked the merger over fears it could hand Microsoft a 60 to 70 p.c share of the cloud gaming market, making it a monopoly participant. That in flip would give it “incentive to withhold video games from rivals and considerably weaken competitors on this necessary rising market.”

In response, Microsoft introduced final month that it could promote Activision Blizzard streaming rights to Ubisoft in an try to win UK approval. It mentioned that if the merger goes by, it could switch “cloud streaming rights for all present and new Activision Blizzard PC and console video games launched over the following 15 years to Ubisoft Leisure… in perpetuity.” Ubisoft mentioned in a separate launch that the titles could be obtainable throughout a variety of companies.

The revised deal “considerably addresses most considerations,” the CMA wrote, however it nonetheless needs to make sure that provisions within the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft cannot be “circumvented, terminated or not enforced.” It added that Microsoft has provided treatments to make sure that these rights are enforceable, and people ought to resolve any residual considerations.

Microsoft managed to show the deal round after taking a whole lot of blows from regulators. Late final yr, the US Federal Commerce Fee (FTC) sued to dam the merger, however was later rebuffed by a federal courtroom. The UK’s CMA rejected the deal a couple of months later, however Microsoft appealed the choice and was later given extra time to submit an amended deal. It made a significant concession with the sale of streaming rights to Ubisoft — and that looks like it could have performed the trick. We must always know quickly, because the CMA’s session on Microsoft’s proposed treatments closes on October 6.

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