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Is The Microsoft/Activision Merger Dead?

Is the merger between Microsoft and Activision dead? The short answer might just be yes, but things are never that simple.


There’s always been one major threat to this purchase, which has been going on nearly 18 months now. That was the UK’s CMA finding a reason to block it.

Well, the CMA found a reason to block it.

The CMA cannot really be challenged. At best Microsoft might get them to look at it again, and the same conclusion may well be reached. And that conclusion was that the purchase would give Microsoft far too much power in the burgeoning cloud gaming business.

This is fair, although whether it’s fair enough to block the deal is yet to be seen. Microsoft run the servers a huge amount of cloud businesses, and if they then have a bunch of hugely popular content too, that makes them a very powerful competitor before the competition has even begun.

And we can argue the toss all day about whether or not that gives them any real power. Cloud isn’t a thing right now, and if Google and Amazon pulled out their bank cards, there’s nothing stopping them from competing at the same level. PlayStation need only put their content out on the cloud day one, and that would give them a huge advantage too, although Sony isn’t setting up their own servers anytime soon.

But whatever else, it’s true that being Call of Duty King would give people around the world a reason to subscribe to Game Pass over whatever other streaming services can offer. At least without further blocking off content. If you want to play the next Final Fantasy exclusively on Amazon’s cloud service, this is the way you go.

Is The Microsoft/Activision Merger Dead?

Microsoft has said they’re going to keep on with the merger, and have said how disappointed they are by the block. Perhaps not especially surprising.

Is it possible that somehow the merger still goes ahead? Absolutely. There has been some wild fan speculation about Microsoft pulling out of the UK entirely. Take THAT Rishi.

But that’s not going to happen. There will be some political posturing for sure, but what exactly that will mean for the future of this merger is unknown. Microsoft is in a pretty good position for this. There is a big tech scare here right now. Investors across business are running. That doesn’t mean a gaming merger is going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it’s getting pretty damn heavy up there.

Between the CMA appeal process, the political pressure, the uselessness of our government and the pressures of other businesses, there’s still a chance that this will go through.

But if I were a gambling man, I’d be calling it closed right now.

The EU still has to approve or block. The US has already blocked, although it will lose when Microsoft challenges it. And so the biggest thing right now is what the EU is going to do. That will spell what might happen next, and how likely things are to progress.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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