Well, that’s one hurdle that Microsoft just cleared.
In a statement, the Competition and Markets Authority announced its provisional findings concerning console competition with Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The CMA says that it has reached a conclusion that the acquisition will not hurt console sales, potentially clearing one aspect of the acquisition for the companies.
The CMA says that it reached this conclusion because of its finding that making console titles like Call of Duty exclusive to the Xbox would actually hurt Microsoft financially and that the company stands to benefit more by continuing to offer titles on other platforms like PlayStation and Nintendo.
Martin Coleman, chair of the independent panel of experts conducting this investigation, said in a statement that, while today’s provisional findings find no issue with the acquisition when it comes to console gaming market competition, it has not yet made a call when it comes to cloud gaming services.
“Provisional findings are a key aspect of the merger process and are explicitly designed to give the businesses involved, and any interested third parties, the chance to respond with new evidence before we make a final decision. Having considered the additional evidence provided, we have now provisionally concluded that the merger will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in console gaming services because the cost to Microsoft of withholding Call of Duty from PlayStation would outweigh any gains from taking such action. Our provisional view that this deal raises concerns in the cloud gaming market is not affected by today’s announcement. Our investigation remains on course for completion by the end of April.”
The CMA says that it will complete its investigation and submit its final report by April 26. Sony, which has been fighting to prevent the acquisition, still has the opportunity to present more evidence pertaining to console competition.
The announcement is a big win for Microsoft which has been fighting to get its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activation Blizzard past regulatory approval. While it doesn’t reflect the UK’s final decision, it is a major indicator that the deal could go through, setting up a potential domino effect with other governments like the European Union or the United States.