The UK’s competition watchdog is to investigate Microsoft’s huge acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it had until 1 September to make its phase 1 decision on whether the deal between the US software giant and video-game holding goliath Activision would reduce competition in the UK.

The phase 1 investigation will either result in the deal receiving UK approval, or if concerns are found, it will trigger a more in-depth phase 2 probe.

Microsoft takeover

As part of the inquiry, the CMA will solicit public input on the deal until 20 July.

It was back in January this year when Microsoft announced its biggest acquisitions to date, by acquiring Activision Blizzard for $95.00 per share, in an all-cash transaction valued at $68.7 billion, inclusive of Activision Blizzard’s net cash.

Redmond said at the time that the deal would accelerate the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud and will provide building blocks for the metaverse.

Microsoft of course has had a foothold in the gaming sector since 2001, via its Xbox console and gaming brand.

The planned acquisition will give Microsoft access to a huge library of classic games that span the Playstation, Xbox and PC platforms.

These games include Call Of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Candy Crush, and of course Starcraft.

Click here to read Silicon UK’s Tales in Tech History piece about Microsoft’s gaming adventure.

The acquisition will also provide Microsoft with immediate access to the global eSports activities through Major League Gaming.

Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard was formed when Activision and Vivendi Games (Blizzard) merged their operations in July 2008.

The gaming giant has studios around the word including the likes of Treyarch and Infinity Ward, and the firm has nearly 10,000 employees.

That said, the firm has previously been rocked by staff walkouts over alleged sexual harassment and employee discrimination.

This has triggered investigations by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

But Microsoft is ready for official investigations of its deal.

“We expect and think it’s appropriate for regulators to take a close look at this acquisition,” Lisa Tanzi, corporate vice president & general counsel at Microsoft, told CNN in a statement Wednesday.

“We have been clear about how we plan to run our gaming business and why we believe the deal will benefit gamers, developers, and the industry,” said Tanzi.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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