When Microsoft announced its intended acquisition of Activision Blizzard in 2022, it was the biggest deal of its kind in gaming history. Turns out, deals of that magnitude don’t get over the finish line easily. While Microsoft continues to wait for its appeal from the US and EU governing bodies on whether they’ll allow the proposed merger to go through, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has finally published the findings of its investigation and they don’t look good for Microsoft.
The CMA, which works to ensure that markets are fair and competitive in the UK, ruled that the $68 billion deal could result in higher prices and less competition for gamers in the UK. Its investigation, which began back in September, found that the deal would give Microsoft’s Xbox console an unfair advantage over Sony’s PlayStation and would likely result in gamers having “higher prices, fewer choices, and less innovation.”
This report is provisional, with the final version expected to be published on April 26. The crux of the issue appears to be the Call of Duty franchise. In its report, the CMA offered some solutions that would convince them to approve the deal. One of these included divesting the portion of Activision Blizzard that handles the Call of Duty franchise. Considering that this is one of the jewels in the Activision Blizzard crown, it seems unlikely that Microsoft would want to go forward with the purchase if that title isn’t part of the deal.
Thus far, Microsoft has made multiple statements that they would continue to make Call of Duty available for Sony, Nintendo, and PC players, but that doesn’t seem to have been enough to satisfy regulators in the UK. With the recent news that Jim Ryan has met with the EU trade regulators regarding the deal and the FCC is pushing ahead with its lawsuit to block it, things are looking dicey for the merger.