The UK market authority is concerned that Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard will harm competition. If the two companies fail to answer questions within five working days, the investigation into the acquisition will move to a second phase.
The UK Competition and Markets Authority fears that Microsoft will deny current and future competitors in the gaming market access to the Activision Blizzard game catalog or grant access to that catalog on less favorable terms. The market authority also fears that Microsoft will be able to leverage its influence on the console, cloud and PC markets even more in combination with the games from the Activision Blizzard catalog that it will then own. The CMA specifically references the nascent cloud gaming and game subscription services market in its motivation.
Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will have five business days to answer questions from the UK Market Authority. If they don’t, the CMA’s investigation moves into a second phase. During that phase, an independent panel of experts will consider the questions that have arisen so far. That panel must, among other things, determine whether the acquisition of Activision Blizzard will lead to less competition in the gaming market.
Microsoft already has responded on the news. Phil Spencer, the CEO of the Xbox division, stated that games from the Activision Blizzard library, such as Call of Duty, will be available on PlayStation from Day 1. Spencer also refers to Minecraft and Mojang in his response; games that also belong to Microsoft’s game catalog and can be played on multiple platforms. Brad Smith, an executive at Microsoft, joined Spencer. According to Smith, the aim is to “have more people access to games, not less”.