The software giant made the bid for the video game developer behind Call of Duty, Guitar Hero and Overwatch in January 2022, but the U.K.’s Competition Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the deal in April this year claiming the acquisition was “bad for Britain.”
Back then, the CMA said it found that the transaction may be expected to result in a “substantial lessening of competition” in cloud gaming services in the U.K., and Microsoft would find it “commercially beneficial to make Activision’s titles exclusive to its own cloud gaming service.” In response, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick vehemently attacked the decision and issued a warning about future investment in the U.K.
On Friday, the CMA said that it had concluded that the acquisition could proceed after Microsoft recently agreed to restructure the deal. Microsoft agreed to transfer cloud gaming rights for current and new Activision Blizzard games to France’s Ubisoft.
“We’ve cleared the new deal for Microsoft to buy Activision without cloud gaming rights,” the CMA tweeted. “In August, Microsoft made a concession that would see Ubisoft, instead of Microsoft, buy Activision’s cloud gaming rights.”
The CMA added, “This new deal will stop Microsoft from locking up competition in cloud gaming, preserving competitive prices and services for U.K. cloud gamers.”
With an end in sight for Microsoft’s long and rocky pursuit of Activision Blizzard — the acquisition agreement is set to expire on Oct. 18 — the tie-up will create the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.
The deal, the largest in Microsoft’s history, would bring together the owner of the Xbox game platform and Xbox Game Studios (owner of Starfield developer Bethesda Softworks and 343 Industries, among other game publishers) and Activision, maker of the massively popular Call of Duty, Warcraft and Tony Hawk franchises, among others.