Microsoft has received preliminary approval from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The CMA had previously expressed concerns that the deal could result in a substantial lessening of competition in the console gaming market, particularly with regards to the popular game Call of Duty becoming an Xbox exclusive.
However, after reviewing new evidence and information, the CMA has updated its provisional findings and concluded that the transaction will not harm competition in the UK.
One significant development is the CMA’s change of view on the potential profitability of making Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox. It now believes this would be “significantly loss-making under any plausible scenario.” Microsoft has made several commitments to keep Call of Duty available on other platforms, including PlayStation, and to bring it to the Nintendo Switch.
In addition to these commitments, Microsoft has made deals with several cloud gaming platforms to expand support for Call of Duty and other games beyond Xbox Game Pass’ cloud gaming service.
These deals include a 10-year agreement with Nvidia GeForce Now, as well as deals with Boosteroid and Ubitus. However, these deals were contingent on Microsoft receiving approval for its acquisition of Activision, so the CMA’s decision is expected to give cloud gaming a significant boost.
The CMA’s investigation is expected to continue until the end of April, but this preliminary approval is a major milestone in Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.