While the Federal Trade Commission has been openly vocal about its intention to block Microsoft from acquiring mega-game publisher Activision Blizzard, the company remained hopeful that other regulators would be more favorable to the deal but it looks like that optimism is fading.
According to a New York Times report, four anonymous sources that have been briefed on the CMA’s investigation into the Activision deal, are saying that even Microsoft believes the UKs regulatory body is preparing to issue a block to the acquisition.
Microsoft has been public about its intentions to work with regulatory bodies to grease the wheels of an approval for its Activision bid, but has yet to receive a list of concessions from concerned authorities.
Despite Microsoft’s eagerness to work with antitrust regulators, authorities remain critical of the implications of such a high-profile merger as the Activision deal could result in with FTC bureau of competition director Holly Vedova stating, “today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”
Game industry competitors have also voiced their concerns about Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard both publicly and in Sony’s case, directly with antitrust regulators, meanwhile Microsoft continues to maintain that it believes many of those concerns are overblown hypotheticals that simply don’t make business sense.
Sony is the console market leader and it would defy business logic for us to exclude PlayStation gamers from the Call of Duty ecosystem. Our goal is to bring Call of Duty and other games—as we did with Minecraft—to more people around the world so they can play them where and how they want. – Microsoft communications lead Frank Shaw.
When questioned about the New York Times report by the publication Game Developer, a Microsoft spokesperson says that its legal team hasn’t indicated the deal will be blocked in the UK and that the company has a “strong case” in the country.
Microsoft and Activision had hoped to have the deal approved by all the necessary regulatory bodies by June of 2023, but it’s looking like they may need to readjust their calendars soon.