From PC World: United Kingdom regulators were effectively the last hurdle stopping Microsoft from purchasing Activision Blizzard, in the biggest merger the video game industry has ever seen. That hurdle was cleared this morning as the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority relented to adjusted terms. With the nearly $70 billion purchase now officially complete, Microsoft unveiled a victory blog post, complete with an extended showcase of its now-combined intellectual property with Activision, Blizzard, and King.
The CMA’s sticking points included Microsoft’s prospective dominance in the unfolding game streaming market, and Microsoft’s concessions were deep. When it initially blocked the merger early this year, regulators said that the combined publishing giant could effectively monopolize games streamed to consumers without the need for local PCs or consoles, as is already the case with Xbox Game Stream and the all-you-can-eat Game Pass subscription.
Microsoft’s concessions to the UK include a block on exclusivity for cloud streaming for all existing Activision games, crucially including the massive Call of Duty shooter franchise. The block will continue for 15 years, with streaming rights sold (or surrendered, depending on your point of view) to French mega-publisher Ubisoft. Significantly, this will allow Call of Duty to be streamed to players on the PlayStation for the foreseeable future.
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