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‘Not a green light’: UK examines fresh Microsoft-Activision deal

Microsoft Activision Blizzard Image credit: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock

Microsoft has submitted a fresh deal to the UK’s competition regulator for its $69bn (£54bn) acquisition of gaming company Activision Blizzard after its initial proposal was rejected.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was an “unusual step” to revisit its original decision, made in April, that blocked the deal over concerns it would hinder the cloud gaming market.

The restructured deal prohibits  Microsoft from acquiring cloud streaming rights to any future Activision Blizzard games for 15 years. Activision’s cloud streaming rights outside of the EEA will be sold to rival Ubisoft under the new terms.

The revamped bid will now be reviewed under a new phase one investigation, with a deadline of 18 October. The deal has already been cleared in the EU and US.

“This is not a green light,” said Sarah Cardell, chief executive of the CMA. “We will carefully and objectively assess the details of the restructured deal and its impact on competition, including in light of third-party comments.

“Our goal has not changed – any future decision on this new deal will ensure that the growing cloud gaming market continues to benefit from open and effective competition driving innovation and choice.”

Microsoft moved to challenge the initial decision made by the CMA and received a seal of approval from the European Commission and struck a licensing deal with gaming rival Sony.

While the CMA has come under fire from some corners for blocking tech deals, this week it waved through Broadcom’s $69bn acquisition of VMware.