Microsoft believes that they will finalize their deal to acquire Activision Blizzard sometime next week.
As reported by The Verge, a source from within the company claims that they are preparing for October 13, 2023, to be the actual date they sign the contract with Activision.
Microsoft can’t be 100 % certain of the final date, as they would still be waiting for the CMA to announce their final decision. While the CMA initially ‘prevented’ the deal from going through, after Microsoft added Ubisoft has the caretaker for the cloud rights to Activision Blizzard King’s video games, the CMA gave provisional approval to the deal.
Microsoft actually saw their deal steer quite easily through most of the world. Among the three most important regulators investigating the deal, the EU approved the deal unconditionally, making them the only region willing to accept the original deal.
The FTC went further than the CMA, bringing two lawsuits to attempt to block the deal. The federal case against the deal lost under Judge Chappell’s decision. The FTC is appealing that decision, and are also reviving their internal FTC court case against the deal. Without an injunction, however, they cannot meaningfully stop Microsoft from finalizing the deal.
With the EU and FTC accounted for, it’s only the CMA remaining that is holding up the deal. Microsoft could have chosen to close over the regulator. Their choice to work with CMA and find a solution that they would be happy with, is commendable. It does allow the CMA, and by extension, the UK government, to save face in this situation. The seeming motivation for this would be for Microsoft to continue to work harmoniously with the UK government, as they are major partners outside the context of this deal.
While the deal initially faced stiff criticism from several stakeholders, the last two years of regulation have led to the public learning some surprising things about the video game business.
For example, Sony never had a case to stop the deal to protect competition between themselves and Microsoft. As it turns out, even non-gamers understand that making video games exclusive isn’t enough to raise anticompetition or antitrust concerns.
We also learned that the deal actually has a lot of support from unions and union organizers. This is because they do see Microsoft owning Activision more favorable for unionization and labor than if they stayed under the company’s current ownership.
Microsoft will have capped off a very important and eventful year for Xbox if they close the deal next week. In a sense, they truly were the main character of the game industry for 2023.