- A new report from Bloomberg has implied that Activision games could be pulled out from the UK market in an extreme measure. Titles like Call of Duty could become very hard to play.
- Regardless, third-party distributors could still bring games into the UK market in case Microsoft made such a drastic decision. There are very low chances of such a prospect becoming a reality.
- Microsoft‘s president Brad Smith will hold a private meeting with Microsoft’s legal agents next week to talk about the contentious buyout and how to counter CMA in the next hearing.
- Microsoft’s appeal against CMA’s decision to block the Microsoft-Activision merger from going through will be held next month in the new hearing.
A new report from Bloomberg has suggested that Activision games could be withdrawn from the UK market in an extreme measure. In other words, entries like Call of Duty and other IPs could become very difficult to acquire and play in the United Kingdom for gamers. Microsoft is considering the following prospect should the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) reject the merger between Microsoft and Activision again.
As per the report, Microsoft’s president Brad Smith will hold a private meeting with the United Kingdom’s chancellor Jeremy Hunt. He will also sit with Microsoft’s legal agents next week to talk about the polemical buyout and how to counter CMA. The meeting will focus on many things, like the measures for the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, if the next hearing between Microsoft and CMA does not go smoothly.
Bloomberg has heard from people acquainted with the talks that one of the extreme measures could be Microsoft pulling Activision’s presence out of the United Kingdom completely. There is a strong possibility that things do not come dwindling down to this extreme, but it is certainly being discussed if the CMA refuses to comply with Microsoft’s demands in the next hearing.
One extreme option could be to bypass the UK order and press ahead with the deal, or withdraw Activision from the UK market, one of the people said, confirming earlier reports by regulatory news outfit Mlex,” mentions Bloomberg’s new report.
In case such a scenario becomes a reality, Activision’s long roster of IPs would need to be bought through third-party distributors if its services were repositioned in another European country. Regardless, it would likely only be games published by Activision and not necessarily ones by Microsoft, but exact specifics still need to be cleared. Microsoft’s appeal against the CMA’s decision to block the deal from passing will be heard in court next month.
In the past, CMA has rejected the Microsoft-Activision merger from passing in the United Kingdom, with concerns over the Cloud gaming market. However, the deal seemed clear in other aspects, as CMA commented that it would not result in a substantial lessening of competition. Regardless, the UK watchdog has potentially blocked the acquisition from passing through for ten years.
On the other hand, the European Commission has recently approved the deal in the EU, allowing it to pass ahead after some stiff research by the watchdog. CMA responded to the European Commission’s decision and did not appreciate the approval. The European Commission analyzed the Cloud gaming concerns, but the conditional remedies by Microsoft were enough for the organization to approve the deal.
According to the Bloomberg report, the European Commission also believes the deal could kickstart the Cloud gaming market, calling it pro-competitive. The EC has also argued in the past that the Microsoft-Activision merger represents a positive development in the market, holding a widely different opinion than the CMA. Nearly 40 different countries, including South Korea and China, have approved the giant $69 merger.
All in all, it remains to be seen how the next appeal against the CMA’s decision will go for the controversial and influential Microsoft-Activision merger. The watchdog could reverse its initial decision, which would prove to be a smooth sailing venture for the deal, or it could reject it again. However, Microsoft likely intends to fight the rejection through and through.
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