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Microsoft’s Activision buy could face probe

September 1, 2022

Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard could substantially lessen competition in consoles, multi-game subscription services and game streaming, a UK watchdog has warned.

Microsoft had aimed to buy the maker of Overwatch, Candy Crush and Call of Duty for $68.7 billion. But now the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says its concerns mean it may now carry out an in-depth probe. Microsoft said it was ready to work with the CMA on the “next steps”.

The CMA said that it was concerned that if Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard it could harm rivals “by refusing them access to Activision Blizzard games or providing access on much worse terms”.

This decision marks the end of the CMA’s initial investigation, Phase 1 as it is called. At Phase 2, the CMA appoints an independent panel to examine the deal in more depth.

Microsoft President, Brad Smith, said “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.”

Currently Activision games can be played on both Xbox and rival PlayStation consoles, but the proposed takeover have led some to speculate that more games might become Xbox exclusives.

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