After a lengthy process of regulatory approvals and legal battles, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) reviewed the deal and approved its finalization, as Microsoft recently restructured the agreement, transferring the cloud gaming rights for existing and new Activision Blizzard games to Ubisoft.
The CMA’s statement reads, “The CMA has decided to give Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) consent to acquire Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Activision) (the Parties) excluding Activision’s cloud streaming rights outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) (the Merger) subject to the condition that the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights completes prior to completion of the Merger.”
The CMA has described Microsoft’s concession as a “gamechanger that will promote competition” in the rapidly growing cloud gaming market. As CMA CEO Sarah Cardell notes:
As cloud gaming grows, this intervention will ensure people get more competitive prices, better services, and more choice. We are the only competition agency globally to have delivered this outcome.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s Vice Chair and President, has expressed the company’s welcome for the CMA’s decision, mentioning that it clears the final regulatory hurdle to close the acquisition. The deal is seen as benefiting players and the gaming industry worldwide.
As part of the deal, Microsoft agreed to obligations set by the European Commission, allowing consumers in EU countries to stream any current and future Activision Blizzard PC and console games that they have a license for through “any cloud game streaming services of their choice.” Microsoft will not control the cloud gaming rights to Activision Blizzard content outside of the EU, as Ubisoft will acquire these rights for 15 years, enabling the publisher to license titles back to Microsoft for inclusion in Xbox Cloud Gaming.