Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition faces increased scrutiny in UK

The CMA is concerned Microsoft's acquisition "could harm rivals [...] by refusing them access to Activision Blizzard games"

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has voiced concerns that Microsoft‘s ongoing acquisition of Activision Blizzard may “harm rivals” and “damage competition.”

In a statement released today (via VGC), the CMA said that it is “concerned that if Microsoft buys Activision Blizzard it could harm rivals, including recent and future entrants into gaming, by refusing them access to Activision Blizzard games or providing access on much worse terms.”

The report added that the CMA has “received evidence about the potential impact of combining Activision Blizzard with Microsoft’s broader ecosystem,” which it believes could be used to “damage competition” in console, cloud and PC markets.

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Due to this, the CMA is considering “an in-depth Phase 2 investigation,” following on from the probe it launched in July. This means that Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will have five days to address the watchdog’s concerns, otherwise a Phase 2 Investigation will be launched.

A Phase 2 Investigation involves bringing on an independent panel of experts to explore the CMA’s concerns and potential risks in more detail.

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Credit: Microsoft

Following the announcement, Sorcha O’Carroll, senior director of mergers at the CMA, said the watchdog is “concerned that Microsoft could use its control over popular games like Call Of Duty and World Of Warcraft post-merger to harm rivals, including recent and future rivals in multi-game subscription services and cloud gaming.”

Over in the US, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues to review Microsoft’s acquisition due to antitrust concerns.

In August, Xbox head Phil Spencer revealed that Activision Blizzard’s presence on mobile and PC platforms were “driving” factors that sparked Microsoft’s interest in acquiring the company.

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In other gaming news, Ubisoft has delayed plans to shut down online services for several older games, which was meant to take place today (September 1).

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