Xbox’s Phil Spencer releases statement addressing UK regulator’s Activision Blizzard acquisition concerns

Robert Collins

UK CMA Office Logo

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has authored an official statement in response to a press release from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The press release comes as the CMA concludes the initial phase of its review of Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition. In its statements the CMA expressed concerns that the deal could potentially stifle competition in the console gaming market.

Activision Blizzard has some of the world’s best-selling and most recognisable gaming franchises, such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. The CMA is concerned that if Microsoft buys Activision Blizzard it could harm rivals, including recent and future entrants into gaming, by refusing them access to Activision Blizzard games or providing access on much worse terms.

The CMA also addressed concerns that Microsoft could “leverage” Activision Blizzard’s high-profile games to garner a stranglehold on the nascent cloud gaming market.

The CMA concluded its statements by announcing that it may proceed to a Phase 2 investigation if Microsoft and Activision Blizzard’s proposals addressing stated concerns aren’t found to be satisfactory.

A mosaic image showing Activision Blizzard franchises

Now on to the official response from Microsoft and Phil Spencer. The crux of Spencer’s argument is that Xbox is all about bringing new ways to play and expanding player choice, meaning the company’s efforts to bring Xbox to other platforms—PC, mobile, even smart TVs— via the Xbox app.

We are expanding choice in two ways: through the creation of Game Pass, which gives players a subscription option; and by bringing more games to mobile platforms.

Bringing more games to mobile platforms, however, requires new capabilities. The expertise that the teams at Activision Blizzard bring in developing games for mobile platforms will help us understand how to create games that engage players around the world.

Spencer added that the company “will pursue a principled path” in this endeavor. He reiterated clearly that Microsoft still has no intention of taking Call of Duty off PlayStation consoles, as stated when the deal was first announced. He cited the fact that Minecraft, now an Xbox Game Studios IP, remains available on almost all platforms out there.

Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have five working days at this point to submit proposals addressing the CMA’s concerns, before a Phase 2 investigation by a CMA-appointed independent panel is launched.