The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has released its provisional findings (via VGC) in its investigation of Microsoft’s attempted acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The regulator has stated that data it received indicates that the acquisition will not reduce competition in the console gaming market.
The CMA was originally investigating the acquisition under the idea that making Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox platforms would be a big way for Microsoft to make money and harm competition in the console gaming market. In its latest statement, the regulator has stated that new data “indicates that this strategy would be significantly loss-making under any plausible scenario”.
The CMA has also pointed out that these are just provisional findings, and its investigation will be going on until April.
“Provisional findings are a key aspect of the merger process and are explicitly designed to give the businesses involved, and any interested third parties, the chance to respond with new evidence before we make a final decision,” said chair of the panel conducting the investigation, Martin Coleman.
“Having considered the additional evidence provided, we have now provisionally concluded that the merger will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in console gaming services because the cost to Microsoft of withholding Call of Duty from PlayStation would outweigh any gains from taking such action.
“Our provisional view that this deal raises concerns in the cloud gaming market is not affected by today’s announcement. Our investigation remains on course for completion by the end of April.”
Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have released statements celebrating the CMA’s announcement. Speaking to CNBC, a Microsoft spokesperson said, “We appreciate the CMA’s rigorous and thorough evaluation of the evidence and welcome its updated provisional findings.”
“This deal will provide more players with more choice in how they play Call of Duty and their favorite games. We look forward to working with the CMA to resolve any outstanding concerns.”
A spokesperson for Activision Blizzard stated that the CMA’s announcement means that the regulatory body is now displaying an “improved understanding of the console gaming market”.
“Sony’s campaign to protect its dominance by blocking our merger can’t overcome the facts, and Microsoft has already presented effective and enforceable remedies to address each of the CMA’s remaining concerns,” said Activision Blizzard’s spokesperson. “We know this deal will benefit competition, innovation, and consumers in the UK.”
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