Microsoft’s latest move in an attempt to secure approval for its record $69 billion USD Microsoft Activision Blizzard acquisition deal is to downplay its game industry success. Currently, the UK’s primary competition watchdog the CMA is examining Microsoft’s deal to pick up the Call of Duty publisher, whose biggest games right now include Modern Warfare 2, Overwatch 2, World of Warcraft, Diablo 4, and mobile game Candy Crush.
The CMA – the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority – is expressing concerns that the deal will harm “multi-game subscription offerings” including those of major rival Sony PlayStation as it believes Microsoft may withhold Activision Blizzard games from those services in an attempt to dominate the subscription and game streaming markets.
As reported by GamesIndustry.biz, the regulator states that “There is a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition in gaming consoles, multi-game subscription services, and cloud gaming services.” It adds that “The CMA recognises that ABK’s newest games are not currently available on any subscription service on the day of release but considers that this may change as subscription services continue to grow.”
Microsoft has responded by attempting to downplay its current position in the market as much as possible, in an attempt to reassure regulators that it will not be close to creating a market monopoly should this deal go through. It says that “There is no advantage – indeed, Xbox considers that it faces a number of significant disadvantages as compared to rival providers of infrastructure for game streaming.”
Microsoft says that “Xbox, as a platform which is in last place in console, seventh place in PC and nowhere in mobile game distribution globally, has no incentive” to harm or degrade rival cloud gaming services because “consumer adoption of cloud gaming remains low” and that any move to block potential competitors in the streaming space “would significantly set-back adoption of this technology – protecting market-leading incumbents (i.e., Sony on console, Apple and Google on mobile, as well as Steam on PC).”
The UK CMA is set to issue its preliminary findings from the second phase of its current investigation into the Microsoft Activision Blizzard acquisition in January. The final report is expected to be delivered by March 1. Meanwhile, simultaneous investigations are being conducted by the Federal Trade Commission of the United States. The deal has already been approved by anti-competition authorities in Saudi Arabia and Brazil.
Microsoft has previously stated that it will not block any attempt to form an Activision Blizzard union. Meanwhile, it has been rolling out trials for an Xbox and PC Game Pass family plan in an attempt to drive more users to its subscription service. Activision’s Modern Warfare 2 PC trailer shows off the upcoming game’s huge customisation potential on the platform.