The CMA has accepted the amended Microsoft – Activision deal, that adds Ubisoft into the equation for cloud gaming.
This decision comes roughly a month since Microsoft put forward this amended deal to the CMA for approval. Under the new deal, the cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard King’s games will fall to Ubisoft, who is being added to the deal as the sole arbiter of these rights.
Gamers who want to stream Activision’s games through the cloud will now have to go through Ubisoft’s cloud services to do so. Microsoft will also have to negotiate with Ubisoft terms so that they can add cloud streaming of Activision games to their services.
The CMA has shared a brief statement on the decision on their website. We’ll cut straight to the CMA’s explanation of why they accepted this deal:
“ the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft will prevent this important content – including games such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft – from coming under the control of Microsoft in relation to cloud gaming. The CMA originally found that Microsoft already has a strong position in cloud gaming services and could have used its control over Activision content to stifle competition and reinforce this position.
The new deal instead results in the cloud streaming rights for Activision’s games being transferred to an independent player, Ubisoft, maintaining open competition as the market for cloud gaming develops over the coming years.”
However, the CMA also explains they still have some remaining concerns. In their words:
“While the restructured deal is materially different to the previous transaction and substantially addresses most concerns, the CMA has limited residual concerns that certain provisions in the sale of Activision’s cloud streaming rights to Ubisoft could be circumvented, terminated, or not enforced.
To address these concerns, Microsoft has offered remedies to ensure that the terms of the sale of Activision’s rights to Ubisoft are enforceable by the CMA. The CMA has provisionally concluded that this additional protection should resolve those residual concerns.”
With that in mind, the CMA has scheduled a consultation to last until October 6, 2023. That perfectly ties in with Microsoft’s deadline to close the deal by October 18, 2023.
And so we may finally be at the end of a saga that’s lasted nearly 2 years, starting with Microsoft’s announcement of intent to acquire Activision last January 2022. And when that deal closes, the industry is set to be genuinely disrupted.