Xbox Activision Blizzard deal faces further scrutiny in UK/EU

By Sean Carey,

Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard is reportedly set for a further in-depth investigation from the UK's competition watchdog and an "extensive investigation" from EU regulators.

Update #2:
Sony has responded to the Competition and Markets Authority's decision to further interrogate Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

In a statement given to GamesIndustry.biz, Sony said, "By giving Microsoft control of Activision games like Call of Duty, this deal would have major negative implications for gamers and the future of the gaming industry.

"We want to guarantee PlayStation gamers continue to have the highest quality gaming experience, and we appreciate the CMA’s focus on protecting gamers."

Microsoft has now responded to Sony's comment in regards to Call of Duty. In a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, a Microsoft spokesperson said, "It makes zero business sense for Microsoft to remove Call of Duty from PlayStation given its market-leading console position."

Update #1:
The Competition and Markets Authority has now officially launched a "Phase 2" investigation into Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

Original Story:
Earlier in September, the UK's competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), announced that it had "concerns" surrounding Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard following its probe of the deal and that it might launch a "Phase 2 investigation" should Microsoft not address those concerns. Now, the Financial Times reports that the CMA is expected to launch this in-depth investigation this week.

Competition and Markets Authority reportedly set to launch in-depth investigation into Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard


Microsoft was given five business days to provide evidence that would alleviate the CMA's concerns, but according to the Financial Times' sources, Microsoft decided not to do so. Sources told FT that Microsoft opted not to offer any evidence at this stage as there were no obvious commitments the CMA would likely accept. FT says the watchdog "does not generally accept behavioural remedies, such as commitments to maintain access to a product or service, at the end of a phase 1 probe apart from in rare circumstances."

As a result, the CMA is now expected to launch its in-depth phase 2 investigation, which will allow an independent panel of experts to probe the risks of the deal further and see if the acquisition will harm other companies such as Sony, who could potentially miss out on big franchises such as Call of Duty and Diablo coming to the PlayStation platform.

Xbox chief Phil Spencer recently revealed that Microsoft gave Sony a signed agreement guaranteeing Call of Duty on PlayStation "for at least several more years." However, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan described this proposal as "inadequate on many levels," saying it "failed to take account of the impact" on PlayStation gamers.

As for Europe, FT reports that regulators expect a "prolonged" EU investigation once Microsoft files its case in Brussels. FT's sources say regulators will take their time to examine the deal because of its size and potential impact on the industry. "It is a big deal, a difficult deal," a source told FT. "It needs an extensive investigation."
Sean Carey
Written by Sean Carey
Sean graduated from Southampton Solent University with a first-class honours degree in Journalism, which he uses to keep TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies topped up with gaming and industry news. When not scouring the web for the latest big story, you’ll find him tearing up the streets in Forza Horizon 5, or failing miserably in Call of Duty: Warzone.