Soon the end of the saga for the takeover of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft? Xbox has just had a new answer that will make a big splash again.
Microsoft announced the acquisition of Activision Blizzard in January 2022, but at the time of writing, the acquisition has still not been finalized. The American competition regulator (FTC) and that of the British regulatory authority (CMA) have strongly opposed it until now. But a major step has just been taken. So good or bad news? Will Xbox officially own Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Diablo 4 and all of the publisher’s flagship licenses within a few weeks?
Xbox gets crucial response for Activision takeover
The affair of the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Xbox continues to have new twists and turns. In August 2023, Microsoft surprised the video game world by selling the streaming rights for Activision games to Ubisoft. The aim behind this compromise was to raise the doubts of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The British regulator was afraid of the dominant position of Microsoft and Xbox in the cloud gaming sector.
But we are seeing a complete turnaround today since the CMA has given provisional approval to the acquisition. This is a big paradigm shift given the previous position of the authority. The efforts made by Xbox prompted the CMA to launch a new investigation which ended with a temporary agreement.
“Although the CMA has raised concerns that remain, Microsoft has made rectifications that should resolve these issues. This is why the CMA has given its provisional agreement”. When will the final decision be made? A consultation is open until October 6, 2023. During this period, competitors, like Sony which was one of the main opponents, can try to turn the tide. But given the turn taken with this decision, it is difficult to imagine a negative turnaround. Therefore, after October 6, the CMA will be able to confirm its agreement for the takeover of Activision Blizzard. This will then be a huge blow for Xbox that will shake the industry.
Call of Duty, Diablo, WoW and others exclusively at Microsoft?
Provided the CMA ultimately approves the acquisition, there should no longer be any obstacle preventing Microsoft from owning Activision Blizzard. So what are the consequences for the future? For example, can the Call of Duty license become exclusive to Xbox platforms? As we speak, this is not in the plans of the manufacturer who would also have a lot to lose. It is in fact on PlayStation and PC consoles that the franchise is a hit and generates the most revenue.
Last July, the two parties came back to the table to conclude a contract which guarantees the release of Call of Duty games on PlayStation consoles (PS5, PS6). “We are pleased to announce that Microsoft and PlayStation have signed a contractual agreement so that Call of Duty can remain on PlayStation consoles following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. We look forward to a future where gamers have more choices to play their favorite games” announced Phil Spencer from Xbox. After 10 years, however, anything is possible. The other thing to remember is that this engagement is only for CoD. If the buyout is accepted, Microsoft can very well make exclusives on a case-by-case basis on other franchises.