Microsoft president Brad Smith softens stance on the CMA, describing them as ‘fair’ following Activision Blizzard acquisition

Activision Blizzard headquarters in Santa Monica, California, US, on Monday, May 15, 2023.
(Image credit: Eric Thayer / Bloomberg / Getty Images)

 Microsoft president Brad Smith has softened his stance on the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) following the completion of the Activision Blizzard acquisition by Microsoft.

In a new interview with the BBC’s Today Program, Smith described the CMA as “tough and fair” before going on to say that they “created a pragmatic path forward for innovation and investment.”

This is a dramatic change in tone compared to some of Smith’s previous comments when news broke of the CMA’s initial move to block the acquisition last year.

In an earlier interview with the BBC back in April 2023, he lambasted the decision as “bad for Britain” and argued that the government should “look hard at the role of the CMA and the regulatory structure” in order to avoid any potential negative impacts on the growth of the UK technology sector.

Much of the CMA’s concern surrounding the deal related to Microsoft’s apparent market-leading position in the cloud gaming space, which it argued could harm competition and hamper innovation and choice for consumers in the long run.

This has since been addressed, with Microsoft transferring the cloud streaming rights for Activion’s titles to Ubisoft. This, in addition to some further minor remedies, eventually allowed the deal to close on October 13, 2023.

Despite the initial disagreement, it’s really not that surprising to see Smith adopt a more positive attitude given that Microsoft has now managed to reach an acceptable compromise with the CMA.

The completion of the deal was, of course, great news for Microsoft but it could also benefit you if you’re an avid Xbox gamer. The wider impact of the deal has yet to be seen due to its relative recency, but consumers can expect to see some Activision Blizzard titles start to appear on Xbox Game Pass (Microsoft’s popular Netflix-like game subscription service) over the course of this year.

For all things Xbox, see our guides to the best Xbox Series X racing games or the best Xbox Game Pass games.

Dashiell Wood
Hardware Writer

Dash is TechRadar Gaming's Hardware Writer. Before joining TechRadar, he was a print journalist writing articles for some of the UK's biggest gaming magazines including PLAY, Edge, PC Gamer, and SFX. Now, when he's not getting his greasy little mitts on the newest hardware or gaming gadget, he can be found feverishly devouring the latest Nintendo Switch otome.