UK's CMA approves Microsoft Activision Blizzard deal

UK's CMA approves Microsoft Activision Blizzard deal

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority has finally given the nod to Microsoft's $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

The government body has approved the deal having previously blocked it in April of this year owing to concerns related to the Xbox giant's current dominant position in the cloud games space. To appease the regulator, Microsoft modified the deal, selling the streaming rights to Activision Blizzard's titles to French publisher Ubisoft for a one-off fee.

This appears to be the thing that cinched the deal for the CMA, which wrote that this would "stop Microsoft from locking up competition in cloud gaming as this market takes off, preserving competitive prices and services for UK cloud gaming customers."

This comes in the wake of a public consultation to get views from the industry.

"With the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft, we’ve made sure Microsoft can’t have a stranglehold over this important and rapidly developing market," CMA CEO Sarah Cardell said.

"As cloud gaming grows, this intervention will ensure people get more competitive prices, better services and more choice. We are the only competition agency globally to have delivered this outcome.

"But businesses and their advisors should be in no doubt that the tactics employed by Microsoft are no way to engage with the CMA. Microsoft had the chance to restructure during our initial investigation but instead continued to insist on a package of measures that we told them simply wouldn’t work. Dragging out proceedings in this way only wastes time and money."

Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick added: “The CMA’s official approval is great news for our future with Microsoft, and we look forward to becoming part of the Xbox Team." 

This is the single biggest acquisition in the video games space to date. 

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.