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UK antitrust regulators eye Microsoft and Activision Blizzard deal

Kerry Flynn
Sep 1, 2022
Illustration of a gaming control with a dollar sign cable

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Microsoft's planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard is facing added scrutiny from British antitrust regulators.

Why it matters: British regulators' move to demand commitments from the companies to address concerns within a five-day window could delay the close of the $68.7 billion deal and add complications.

Driving the news: The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Thursday it's concerned the deal "could harm rivals ... by refusing them access to Activision Blizzard games or providing access on much worse terms."

  • The CMA also said the deal could "damage competition in the nascent market for cloud gaming services."
  • Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have five working days to submit proposals to address the CMA's concerns. If regulators are still not satisfied, the investigation enters a second phase.

What the CEOs are saying: In a Thursday memo, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick shared his confidence that the Microsoft deal is still on track to close by June 2023 as the company goes through regulatory approvals.

  • In a separate blog post, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer elaborated on the larger competition in gaming and said Microsoft will make sure games like "Call of Duty" are available on competitors' consoles.
  • "We will continue to engage with regulators with a spirit of transparency and openness as they review this acquisition. We respect and welcome the hard questions that are being asked," Spencer said.
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