Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard, valued at $69 billion, has been blocked by Britain’s antitrust regulator. The unexpected decision is based on concerns that the acquisition would impede competition in cloud gaming. Despite Microsoft’s commitment to providing access to Activision’s “Call of Duty” franchise to top cloud gaming platforms, the regulator believes that it would not adequately address these concerns.
Microsoft has expressed its full commitment to the acquisition and plans to appeal the decision. Activision has also voiced its intention to work with Microsoft to overturn the decision, stating that it will reassess its growth plans for the UK. However, Activision’s shares have already suffered, falling by more than 10% in pre-market trade.
Last month, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had dropped its concerns about the deal’s potential impact on the console market, dominated by Sony’s PlayStation. The remaining hurdle was cloud streaming services, which Microsoft attempted to overcome by signing licensing deals with the owners of streaming platforms, including Valve Corp, Nvidia, and Boosteroid.
In an effort to win Sony’s support, Microsoft had offered the company a 10-year license for the “Call of Duty” franchise. The European regulatory authority is set to make a decision on the deal by May 22, and the United States Federal Trade Commission is also attempting to block it.