UK regulator changes tune on Microsoft Activision deal

UK regulator changes tune on Microsoft Activision deal

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has changed its opinion on Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

In a post on its website, the government body said that the deal would likely not have a negative impact on competition within the UK's console games market. The CMA also doesn't believe that Microsoft would make Call of Duty exclusive to its platform as it would likely damage its business.

"While the CMA's original analysis indicated that this strategy would be profitable under most scenarios, new data – which provides better insight into the actual purchasing behaviour of CoD gamers – indicates that this strategy would be significantly loss-making under any plausible scenario," the CMA wrote.

"On this basis, the updated analysis now shows that it would not be commercially beneficial to Microsoft to make CoD exclusive to Xbox following the deal, but that Microsoft will instead still have the incentive to continue to make the game available on PlayStation."

There are still concerns about the impact on cloud gaming, which we will no doubt hear more about in greater detail ahead of its April 26th final decision.

“We appreciate the CMA’s rigorous and thorough evaluation of the evidence and welcome its updated provisional findings," a Microsoft rep said.

"This deal will provide more players with more choice in how they play Call of Duty and their favourite games. We look forward to working with the CMA to resolve any outstanding concerns."

An Activision Blizzard spokesperson added: "The CMA's updated provisional findings show an improved understanding of the console gaming market and demonstrate a commitment to supporting players and competition," the company said.

"Sony's campaign to protect its dominance by blocking our merger can't overcome the facts, and Microsoft has already presented effective and enforceable remedies to address each of the CMA's remaining concerns. We know this deal will benefit competition, innovation, and consumers in the UK."

This is definitely a change in pace from the CMA's February comments, which suggested that Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard would harm competition.  

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.