Activision Blizzard: Biggest gaming deal in history set to be cleared by UK regulator

Progress follows months-long battle between Competition and Markets Authority and Microsoft

Activision Blizzard is behind the Call of Duty video game series. Photo: Activision Publishing
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Microsoft's $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the company behind the Call of Duty video game series, is set to be cleared by UK authorities after a months-long battle with the US tech company.

The biggest gaming deal in history was announced in early 2022, but it was quickly blocked by the UK's competition regulator amid concerns Microsoft would gain too much control of the cloud gaming market.

But in August, Activision Blizzard agreed to sell its streaming rights to French gaming company Ubisoft Entertainment, clearing the way for the deal being cleared, the Competition and Markets Authority said.

"While the CMA has identified limited residual concerns with the new deal, Microsoft has put forward remedies which the CMA has provisionally concluded should address these issues," it said.

Microsoft said it was "encouraged by this positive development in the CMA's review process".

"We presented solutions that we believe fully address the CMA’s remaining concerns related to cloud game streaming, and we will continue to work towards earning approval to close prior to the October 18 deadline," Microsoft vice chairman and president Brad Smith said.

The regulator halted the deal in April, while the US Federal Trade Commission also called for an investigation over competition concerns.

The companies have worked hard to push the deal through since then.

It would give Microsoft access to Activision Blizzard's most popular titles, including Crash Bandicoot, Diablo, Guitar Hero, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush Saga.

While cloud gaming is still a nascent industry, analysts say it could eventually make consoles less relevant. The $69 billion deal would put Microsoft in a strong position to lead the sector.

Updated: September 22, 2023, 8:15 AM