Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick is targeting post-Brexit Britain as it looks increasingly likely that the UK’s anti-competition regulator will try to block Microsoft’s ambitious $68.7 billion buyout.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will soon rule on the proposed deal, which has already attracted objections from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and EU regulators.
Activision’s controversial CEO was asked by CNBC how he would react if the UK joined other regulators in opposing the deal — and Kotick didn’t hold back.
The new season of Call of Duty Warzone 2.0.
“You think about post-Brexit UK, it’s probably the first country where you see a recession and the real, serious consequences of a recession,” Kotick said (thanks, GamesIndustry.biz).
“You have an incredibly well-educated workforce with a lot of technical talent. Places like Cambridge where there are the best AI and machine learning. I would think you’d want to embrace a transaction like this where you’re going to see job creation and opportunity,” he continued. “It’s not about Sony or Microsoft’s platform at all, it’s really about the future of technology.
“Rishi Sunak has said they would like to be the Silicon Valley of Europe or the continent, and if deals like this don’t come through, they won’t be Silicon Valley, they’ll be Death Valley.”
It’s unclear what job creation and opportunities the UK would see if Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard goes through, as the publisher doesn’t operate any major development studios here.
Bobby Kotick weighs in on post-Brexit Britain.
Kotick went on to suggest that regulators simply didn’t understand the video game industry landscape and should be more concerned about competition on a more global scale — specifically Western companies versus those already established in Asia.
“The FTC, the CMA and the EU don’t know our industry, so they try to stay informed and better understand the industry,” he concluded. “I don’t think they fully understand that it’s a free-to-play business, that the Japanese and Chinese companies are dominating the industry with Sony and Nintendo having these huge libraries of intellectual property… I think [the regulators] are a little confused about where the competition is today.”
Activision Blizzard recently ended its long-running relationship with NetEase, the Chinese partner that publishes games in the country, making games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch 2 inaccessible.
Microsoft and Activision have previously said they expect the proposed $69 billion takeover offer to close this summer. Microsoft is expected to give the FTC and the EU so far non-detailed concessions to try and ease its passage.