The UK regulator investigating the attempted $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard from Microsoft has expressed deep concerns about the deal going through.
In a preliminary report published today, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Microsoft, which owns Activision, could “harm gamers in the UK” and could potentially result in “higher prices, fewer choices or less innovation.” “.
While the findings are preliminary, they paint a bleak picture for Microsoft — against a similar backdrop of concerns raised by the US Federal Trade Commission and the EU’s European Commission.
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However, today’s report is not a final verdict on whether the deal is dead. The CMA will still inform Microsoft and Activision Blizzard of “possible solutions” and options to address its concerns, with a deadline later this month.
The CMA’s final report is expected on April 26.
In response to the CMA’s preliminary report, Microsoft said in a statement that it would provide “100 percent equal access to Call of Duty” across all major platforms, including PlayStation — something that has previously been highlighted as a major sticking point.
Microsoft’s full statement on today’s decision is below:
“We are committed to providing effective and easily enforceable solutions that address the concerns of the CMA,” Rima Alaily, Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel, said in a statement to Eurogamer.
“Our long-term commitment to provide 100 percent equal access to Call of Duty to Sony, Nintendo, Steam and others preserves the benefits of the deal for gamers and developers and increases competition in the marketplace. the CMA’s public consultation agrees that this deal is good for competition in gaming in the UK.
“What does 100 percent mean? When we say equal, we mean equal. 10-year parity. By content. By price. By features. By quality. By playability.”
The CMA’s findings come from a five-month investigation that it says analyzed more than 3 million internal documents from both Microsoft and Activision, in addition to a survey of UK gamers, plus evidence from rival console makers, publishers and cloud service providers.
Much of today’s report focuses on Activision’s games and the potential to make them exclusive to Xbox, lessening the competition between Microsoft and Sony.
As for cloud gaming, the CMA argues that Microsoft’s ownership of Activision would strengthen Microsoft’s “strong position” in the industry and “significantly reduce competition.”
“Strong competition between Xbox and PlayStation has defined the console gaming market for the past 20 years,” wrote Martin Coleman, chair of the CMA study. “Exciting new developments in cloud gaming give gamers even more choice.
“It’s our job to make sure UK gamers don’t get caught in the crossfire of global deals that over time could hurt competition and result in higher prices, fewer choices or less innovation. We’ve preliminarily determined that this is the case may be here.
“We also sent the companies an explanation today of how our concerns can be resolved, inviting them to express their views and any alternative proposals they wish to submit.”
Activision Blizzard’s controversial boss Bobby Kotick previously said that by blocking the deal, the UK would make post-Brexit Britain look like “Death Valley” rather than Silicon Valley.