Microsoft’s $70B Activision Blizzard deal faces competition probe in UK

Microsoft’s deal to buy game company Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion is facing an in-depth probe in the United Kingdom after a competition watchdog on Thursday said that the deal could lead to competition concerns.

The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it is concerned the deal could harm rivals by combining Microsoft’s leading game console, Xbox, leading cloud platform, Azure, and leading PC operating system, Windows OS, with Activision’s popular games. 

“We are concerned that Microsoft could use its control over popular games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft post-merger to harm rivals, including recent and future rivals in multi-game subscription services and cloud gaming,” Sorcha O’Carroll, CMA’s senior director of mergers, said in a statement. 

The CMA said the concerns found in the first part of the review warrant an in-depth second phase investigation, which will allow an independent panel of experts to probe the risks identified. 

Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have five days to submit proposals to address the concerns. If “suitable proposals” are not submitted, the deal will be referred to the investigation. 

Microsoft President and Vice Chairman Brad Smith said the company is “ready to work with CMA on next steps and address any of its concerns.”

“Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about Call of Duty, but we’ve said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation. We want people to have more access to games, not less,” Smith said. 

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