UK antitrust enforcer is probing Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition

The investigation will “consider whether the deal could harm competition and lead to worse outcomes for consumers"

Today (July 6) the U.K.’s Competition And Markets Authority (CMA) has started to investigate Microsoft’s record-breaking acquisition of Activision Blizzard

The report comes from business news publication CNBC, which notes that this is one of the first probes of the acquisition by a major antitrust enforcer. It’s stated the investigation will “consider whether the deal could harm competition and lead to worse outcomes for consumers – for example, through higher prices, lower quality, or reduced choice.”

Xbox Game Pass
Credit: Microsoft

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The CMA has a September 1 deadline set for its initial decision, with a consultation lasting until July 20, 2022 while it takes feedback from third parties.

Prior to this, the CMA has been in a ‘prenotification period’, which is a period prior to the launch of a formal investigation where necessary information is gathered. The Phase 1 of investigations typically lasts for 40 days, however in this case it’s running until September 1.

The deal was announced back in January of this year for £58billion ($69billion), and is currently by far the most expensive acquisition in industry history. For comparison, publisher Take-Two Interactive acquired mobile gaming company Zynga for $12.7billion (£9.3billion) earlier in the same month, and at the time that was the most expensive gaming acquisition. Needless to say, it’s an unprecedented move and one that will have massive ramifications on the industry at large.

With the acquisition, Microsoft would take ownership of several of the biggest gaming IP in the world, including the likes of Call Of Duty, Candy Crush and World Of Warcraft, alongside other iconic franchises such as Crash Bandicoot, Diablo, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and many more.

World of Warcraft Classic
World of Warcraft Classic. Credit: Blizzard Entertainment.

Microsoft’s previous largest gaming acquisition came in 2020 with ZeniMax Media in a deal that cost £6.8billion ($8.1billion). This has led to upcoming titles such as Starfield and Redfall being first-party exclusive titles for Microsoft platforms, with the two also being available on Game Pass at launch.

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In other news, it’s been reported that Rockstar was planning on releasing remasters of Grand Theft Auto 4 and Red Dead Redemption, but the two projects have since been shelved.

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