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UK Watchdog Says Microsoft-Activision Deal Could Hurt Competition

 |  September 4, 2022

The United Kingdom’s antitrust watchdog said Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard could hinder competition and warrants further investigation.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said in statement Thursday (Sept. 1), the deal — the largest ever for both gaming and Microsoft — could harm the industry if Microsoft were to block competitors from accessing Activision’s popular games.

“We are 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,” the authority said.

Microsoft President and Vice Chair Brad Smith told PYMNTS: “We’re ready to work with the CMA on next steps and address any of its concerns. Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about ‘Call of Duty,’ but we’ve said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation. We want people to have more access to games, not less.”

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer underscored this point in a company blog post: “We know players benefit from this approach because we’ve done it with ‘Minecraft,’ which continues to be available on multiple platforms and has expanded to even more since ‘Mojang’ joined Microsoft in 2014. As we extend our gaming storefront across new devices and platforms, we will make sure that we do so in a manner that protects the ability of developers to choose how to distribute their games.”

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