Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard has reportedly hit another obstacle, with the UK’s regulatory body set to oppose the deal.
Last year, Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard in a deal that was estimated to cost approximately £50billion ($68billion USD) however, the move has faced ongoing criticism from numerous regulatory bodies and fans.
In September, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) voiced concerns that the merger may “harm rivals” and “damage competition” in the gaming industry. The CMA then confirmed it would consider “an in-depth Phase 2 investigation,” following on from a probe it launched in the summer.
It’s now been reported by the New York Times that Microsoft is anticipating the UK’s CMA to formally oppose the deal. “Microsoft’s legal team also expects the antitrust authority in Britain to oppose the transaction,” reads the report (via VGC).
Earlier this year, it was reported that it was “likely” Microsoft would receive an EU antitrust warning, with the European Commission drawing up its “statement of objections” to the deal. These objections will need to be addressed before the deal can go ahead.
However, in November, Microsoft confirmed it was set to offer “remedies” to EU antitrust regulators in response to their formal objections.
The New York Times report claims Microsoft is hoping those same remedies will satisfy the UK’s CMA. According to four people “briefed on the matter who were not authorised to speak publicly”, Microsoft wants “to convince both Britain and the European Union to accept its concessions and approve the deal, which could make it easier for the company to reach an agreement with America’s Federal Trade Commission before the scheduled administrative trial starts in the summer”.
In December, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) confirmed it would be trying to stop Microsoft’s takeover of Activision Blizzard.
In their statement the FTC claimed that Microsoft would “gain control of top video game franchises, enabling it to harm competition in high-performance gaming consoles and subscription services by denying or degrading rivals’ access to its popular content.”
Sony has also claimed that Xbox’s ownership of Call Of Duty could lead to gamers switching consoles but Microsoft made it clear that it intends to keep the long-running franchise on PlayStation and available across different platforms.
Phil Spencer, Microsoft Gaming CEO, has claimed several times that the company’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is more about mobile gaming, than restricting AAA titles like Call Of Duty.
In other news, Spencer has addressed the “painful” layoffs Microsoft announced last month that saw 10,000 members of staff losing their jobs.
“This is a challenging moment in our business,” he explained. “The Gaming Leadership Team had to make decisions that we felt set us up for the long-term success of our products and business, but the individual results of those decisions are real. I know that hurts. Thank you for supporting our colleagues as they process these changes.”