UK competition regulator pours cold water on £57 billion Microsoft Activision deal

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Watchdog says merger ‘could harm UK gamers’


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Britain’s competition regulator has poured cold water on Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Call of Duty maker Activision, saying the deal could harm UK gamers.

The Competition and Markets Authority warned that restricting other platforms’ access to Activision games could substantially reduce competition between Xbox and PlayStation in the UK.

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The watchdog said the move could change the future of gaming, potentially hurting UK gamers, particularly those who don’t own or don’t want to buy expensive gaming consoles or gaming PCs.

It follows a 5-month investigation into the deal by the CMA, in which it analyzed more than 3 million internal documents from the two businesses and commissioned an independent survey of UK gamers.

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Martin Coleman, chair of the panel of experts conducting the CMA investigation, said: “Our job is to make sure UK gamers are not caught in the crossfire of global deals, which over time could harm competition and result in higher prices.” less choice, or less innovation. We have tentatively found that this may be the case here.

“We have also sent an explanation to the companies today on how our concerns can be addressed, inviting their views and wish to submit alternative proposals.

A spokesperson for Acetivision said in response: “These are provisional findings, meaning that the CMA sets out its concerns in writing, and both sides have had a chance to respond.

“We hope that between now and April we will be able to help the CMA better understand our industry to ensure that they can achieve their stated mandate of fostering an environment where People can be sure they are getting good choices and fair deals, where competitive, fair-dealing businesses can innovate and flourish, and where the UK economy as a whole can grow productively and sustainably.

In a memo to employees, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said: “We … are convinced that the law – and the facts – are on our side.”

The regulator first launched an investigation into the acquisition in September on grounds that the deal could harm the video game market by blocking access to Activision’s games or providing access on unfavorable terms. It said the Seattle-based X-Box maker failed to provide assurances to address competition concerns.

PlayStation, the maker of Xbox rivals, has also sounded the alarm over the merger’s potential to hurt competition in the games industry.

Jim Ryan, boss of PlayStation’s owner Sony Interactive Entertainment, said: “I feel the need to set the record straight … Microsoft will only hold off on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement between Activision and Sony expires.” Offered to stay on duty.”

Microsoft vice president Brad Smith hit back at those concerns, telling Reuters news agency: “We want people to have more access to games, not less,” adding that he sees Activision’s latest Call of Duty release as “the same.” days available”. on both Xbox and PlayStation.

Xboss boss Phil Spencer said in December that if the merger is approved, he would bring the Call of Duty franchise to Nintendo consoles to address concerns by competition watchdogs.

The £57bn deal, which was first announced in January, is due to close in June 2023 if it clears regulatory hurdles. It is understood that Microsoft could face a break-up fee of up to $3 billion if the deal fails.

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