The UK's competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has released a statement confirming that Microsoft’s plans to sell Activision's cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft “substantially addresses most concerns” it had about the company’s proposed acquisition of Activision.
In April, the CMA prevented the acquisition from going ahead, citing its concerns that the deal could harm competition in cloud gaming in the United Kingdom. In response to this, last month, Microsoft announced that should the merger be closed, it would transfer “the cloud streaming rights for all current and new Activision Blizzard PC and console games released over the next 15 years to Ubisoft Entertainment SA”. The CMA has now responded favorably to this proposition.
While the CMA has said that the new proposal “makes important changes that substantially address the concerns it set out in relation to the original transaction”, it revealed that it has still identified “limited residual concerns that certain provisions in the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft could be circumvented, terminated, or not enforced”.
“To address these concerns, Microsoft has offered remedies to ensure that the terms of the sale of Activision’s rights to Ubisoft are enforceable by the CMA,” the regulator wrote. “The CMA has provisionally concluded that this additional protection should resolve those residual concerns.”
“This is a new and substantially different deal, which keeps the cloud distribution of these important games in the hands of a strong independent supplier, Ubisoft, rather than under the control of Microsoft,” Colin Raftery, the CMA’s senior director of mergers and Phase One decision maker said.
Raferty continued: “With additional protections to make sure that the deal is properly implemented, this will maintain the structure of the market, enabling open competition to continue to shape the development of cloud gaming in the years to come, and giving UK gamers the opportunity to access Activision’s games in many different ways, including through cloud-based multigame subscription services.”
A consultation for the updated proposal has now been opened by the CMA - it will run until October 6. The deadline for the merger agreement (which was extended earlier this year) is October 18.
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Catherine is a News Writer for TechRadar Gaming. Armed with a journalism degree from The University of Sheffield, she was sucked into the games media industry after spending far too much time on her university newspaper writing about Pokémon and cool indie games, and realising that was a very cool job, actually. She previously spent 19 months working at GAMINGbible as a full-time journalist. She loves all things Nintendo, and will never stop talking about Xenoblade Chronicles.