Microsoft pleads for its Activision Blizzard deal as UK regulator signals in-depth review

From The Verge: Microsoft is publicly pleading for its Activision Blizzard deal to go ahead, just as the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has expressed concerns. Microsoft surprised the gaming world earlier this year with its plans to acquire Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion deal, by far the biggest ever in gaming. Now regulators are starting to take notice.

The UK’s CMA says it’s “concerned that Microsoft’s anticipated purchase of Activision Blizzard could substantially lessen competition in gaming consoles, multi-game subscription services, and cloud gaming services.” After an initial research phase, the CMA is signaling it will move to what it calls a Phase 2 investigation if Microsoft isn’t able to answer its concerns within five working days.

A Phase 2 investigation will see an independent panel examine Microsoft’s deal in more detail and whether control over games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft will harm rivals. In response, Microsoft Gaming CEO and head of Xbox Phil Spencer has spelled out Microsoft’s position in a blog post today.

Detailing Microsoft’s plans for gaming beyond just Xbox consoles, Spencer says the company will pursue a “principled path” in its approach to Xbox Game Pass and Call of Duty. Microsoft says it will make Overwatch, Diablo, and Call of Duty all available in Xbox Game Pass but not prevent games like Call of Duty from being available on PlayStation.

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