Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard will face ‘in-depth’ UK investigation

Microsoft may want to give up hope of an early merger with Activision Blizzard. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is assigning the acquisition to an “in-depth” investigation (phase 2, in CMA jargon). The regulator is still concerned the takeover could lead to a “significant reduction” in competition in the country after launching a thorough investigation in July.

The agency signaled its intention to launch a deeper investigation on September 1. Microsoft was given until September 8th to propose acceptable concessions. Microsoft declined, and the CMA stepped up their review. In a statement to Engadget, Microsoft President Brad Smith said his company is “ready” to work with the CMA and wants people to have “more access to games, not less.” You can read the full statement below.

The investigation will not necessarily block the deal. However, it could significantly delay the planned unification and require further compromises from Microsoft. With that in mind, both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard said they will be working with regulators. Microsoft gaming lead Phil Spencer said his company will keep Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles, for example. Unless the CMA has strong objections, the issue may be more about when the merger will complete than if it will happen at all.

“We stand ready to work with the CMA on the next steps and address any of their concerns. Sony, as an industry leader, says it’s worried about Call of Duty, but we’ve said we’re committed to making the same game available on Xbox and PlayStation on the same day. We want people to have more access to games, not less.”

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