Uncharted: EU Accepts Activision Merger
The Activision-Microsoft merger has been accepted in the EU, and that means we’re in uncharted territory. It’ll be the first of many to approve the purchase – and nobody knows for certain what that means at this stage.
The CMA – the UK’s market authority – recently blocked the deal. And there’s very little way to circumnavigate that. You can appeal, but that most likely means that it’ll just come back around to the CMA again. Who, presumably, will have the same concerns about cloud gaming as they did the first time around.
That doesn’t mean the deal is dead in the water. And presumably if it is approved by every other country on Earth – except the US, who has already moved to block it – then the pressure mounts considerably. Bad reasoning is bad reasoning, and both the CMA and the US has given very bad reasoning.
The EU approving is huge in that it allows the deal to continue. I think if it had failed in the EU, it would have been way harder to move forward. Now, Microsoft have the backing of nearly 30 countries. And more look set to approve over the coming weeks.
I spoke over Christmas about how this deal was so huge that it took all the air out the room. It was announced back in January 2022, and it has consistently been the biggest gaming news story since. Now that the merger must face the US and CMA, it seems unlikely that is going to chang any time soon.
Once thing is certain though: there’s no way that Microsoft are going to pull out of the UK.
The Activision-Microsoft Merger Fantasy
So, firstly, the US isn’t really a stumbling block for this deal. They don’t have the powers to block the deal. They would sue if it is completed, and inevitably lose. It is a delay tactic at best.
The CMA is, as I said above, trickier. They are effectively all-powerful, with very little in the way of wiggle room. Microsoft have common sense on their side. Xbox isn’t going to become the ruler of cloud gaming because of Call of Duty, although it is right and sensible that things are put into place to prevent that from happening. That basically means allowing other cloud gaming services to stream Activision (and Xbox) games. And that’s exactly what has been happening.
The fantasy is something you might have seen online these last few days. It’s been floating around for a while, but it has increased in popularity. What happens if Microsoft just leaves the UK? “How dare you block our gaming deal, feel our wrath”. Imagine Office and Windows and Teams all just losing support overnight.
Well, first of all every country in the world would panic about the idea of a billion-dollar company throwing its weight around in such a blatant fashion. But also, what happens if the UK calls their bluff? We’re good at screwing ourselves over – this will just be another day.
Finally, it’s completely unnecessary. The UK needs business, we need tech. I don’t believe for a second this relationship will be soured because of a gaming acquisition. The cards will fall, Activision will be approved.