Microsoft is being quite bold, as they have scheduled an appearance at 10 Downing Street on the same day as the CMA decision deadline.
The UK Competition and Markets Authority is finishing up their investigation of the Microsoft Activision deal. They originally placed objections to the deal, accepting Sony’s argument that it would harm competition in the video game industry if they acquired Activision franchise Call of Duty.
However, they later revised their provisional decision, turning around completely and now no longer accepting Sony’s arguments. They now no longer believe that acquiring Activision Blizzard King as a whole, or acquiring Call of Duty, will harm competition in the industry as a whole.
In fact, they are now only focused on investigating the deal’s potential effects on the cloud gaming market. The CMA has set itself a deadline of April 16, 2023, for the release of their final decision.
As reported by Sky News, Microsoft will also be attending a video game industry event in the UK on that day. This event is being organized by the UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE), the UK equivalent of America’s ESA.
Sky cited a source who expressed bemusement at the timing of the event. They claimed that Microsoft faced embarrassment if the CMA happened to reject the deal, and subsequently, that it would harm Microsoft’s relationship with the UK government if that came to pass.
We tried to independently verify this event and it seems to be an event called the Ukie Mobile Games Growth Programme Demo Day in partnership with Barclays. The event won’t exactly be held at 10 Downing Street itself, but it will be nearby, in Barclays headquarters in 1 Churchill Place.
So this isn’t some scenario where the sitting Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would be talking to Phil Spencer when someone walks into the room to tell him Rishi’s government just rejected their deal. In any case, the CMA could release their decision far ahead of this event, in between today and April 26.
The event also seems to be comparatively minor, with Microsoft’s presence being as a circumstantial observer and not a presenter themselves.
When it comes to the Activision deal, Microsoft really is more concerned now about the two lawsuits they are facing in the US, one from the FTC, and another filed by a group of gamers in San Francisco, California. The UK CMA will at most seek more remedies to keep competition fair on the cloud gaming side of the industry.