The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is reportedly expected to hand down a preliminary judgement on Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard by next week, per sources speaking to The Verge. While a firm judgement is not due until 18 October 2023, the organisation is expected to reveal its early findings shortly, painting a picture for Microsoft’s future.
Following approval from the FTC, the final hurdle for Microsoft is clearing CMA judgement. Initially, the organisation chose to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, based on its potential domination in the cloud gaming market – but Microsoft has since appealed the decision, providing new evidence and caveats to address concerns about a potential market monopoly.
New caveats include partnerships with an array of cloud gaming providers to ensure Microsoft will not be the sole player in the market, as well as a potentially major deal with Ubisoft to provide Activision Blizzard games to the company for cloud streaming purposes.
While currently unconfirmed by official sources, The Verge believes the CMA is now on the cusp of making its initial decision about these caveats, and whether they address concerns about the future of cloud gaming. The deadline for a decision extends well into October, but the CMA is reportedly preparing for an earlier announcement.
Should the CMA choose to refuse the terms and caveats laid out by Microsoft, it could create major complications for Microsoft going forward. With merger approval granted in nearly every other global region – including the United States – tough decisions about Microsoft’s presence in the UK market may follow.
Should it be approved, however, we could start to see major progress on the acquisition, as Microsoft would essentially be cleared to start making changes, as required by the merger progress. These changes are likely to be incremental, but would become more obvious by 2024.
For now, we can expect to hear more from the CMA later in September 2023. At the very least, we expect a formal decision from the CMA to be handed down by the agreed deadline of 18 October 2023.