ESPORTS:GO, As Microsoft Activates Call Of Duty
The esports ecosystem was rocking today with the news that Microsoft’s US$75 billion (£61.3bn) bid to buy Call of Duty developer Activision Blizzard–the biggest video games deal in history–was back on.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the proposed merger in April on monopoly fears but it has now effectively green- lighted the deal after Microsoft agreed to licence Activision’s catalogue — including the blockbuster–and esports competition favourite–Call of Duty franchise.
Microsoft and Activision, both US-based companies, originally mooted the merger some 18-months-ago.
But the planned tie-in soon excited the oversight of American, European and UK competition watchdogs on the grounds that it would form an illegal monopoly of the booming video games market, projected to hit world revenue of US$334 billion (£273bn) this year, and some US$467 billion (£381.72bn) by 2027.
An attempt by the US Federal Trade Commission to block the deal has failed in court.
And EU trade competition regulators, for their part, previously cleared the acquisition on similar assurances given the UK that Microsoft will licence the Activision games–among them World of Warcraft and Diablo–to competitors of their native Xbox Cloud Gaming.
“In response to our original prohibition, Microsoft has now substantially restructured the deal, taking the necessary steps to address our original concerns,” CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell announced today (September 22).
Among others, Microsoft has said that it will licence Activision games’ rights to the French company Ubisoft.
“Microsoft has offered remedies to ensure that the terms of the sale of Activision’s rights to Ubisoft are enforceable by the CMA,” added Cardell.
“The CMA has provisionally concluded that this additional protection should resolve [our] residual concerns.”
The final CMA ruling is now expected by October 6, before the historic Microsoft Activision acquisition is finalised on October 18.
“We are encouraged by this positive development in the CMA’s review process,” responded Microsoft President Brad Smith.
“We presented solutions that we believe fully address the CMA’s remaining concerns related to cloud game streaming, and we will continue to work towards earning approval to close prior to the October 18 deadline.”
Meantime, in further moves to assuage monopoly fears, Microsoft has struck a series of video gaming licensing deals with other competitors – even with Sony, parent of its fiercest rival, PlayStation.