Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard has seemingly been stopped, but the company could fight back


It was meant to be the biggest buyout in video game history. Redmond giant Microsoft had its sights on Activision Blizzard last year and announced that it would be buying the company for a whopping $70 billion US dollars.

Such a move would make Microsoft the owner of the Call of Duty franchise, one of the most-played and most-loved in the video game world, and of course, a top-seller, making billions for Activision each year.

It now seems, though, that Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision won’t be taking place, as it has has been blocked by the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK. This means that Microsoft’s attempt to buy Activision Blizzard has seemingly been ground to a halt…

This is something that Microsoft’s president Brad Smith has bemoaned about lately, telling BBC World News that “we’re of course very disappointed with the CMA’s decision”, as was recently covered on PC Gamer.

Smith also added that this sends a “strong message”, and that he thinks “the impact of this decision is far broader than on Microsoft or on this acquisition alone”.

The acquisition needed approval from regulators in three major regions: the EU, the UK and the US, so it being blocked by the CMA in the UK means it cannot move forward for the time being.

“Activision is intertwined through different markets: it can’t be separated for the UK. So this decision blocks the deal from happening globally”, said the CMA in a statement.

But it’s not like Microsoft had not tried hard to get regulators to bow to its desires, trying to assuage fears that it scooping up the company behind the best-selling video game franchise of all time would be bad for competition in the video game industry.

Is Microsoft’s bid for Activision dead in the water?


Actually, the Redmond giant had gone as far as offering 10-year Call of Duty contracts to other companies like Nvidia and Nintendo as a show of goodwill and to signal its intention to keep the franchise multiplatform (much like it had done with Minecraft). This had regulators in the EU close to approving the deal, even if the US’ Federal Trade Commission had decided to take legal action, while the UK’s CMA ended up blocking the takeover altogether.

So it seems that Sony’s campaigning to prevent its top rival in the video game space from acquiring Call of Duty company Activision has worked out, at least for the time being…

Microsoft can, of course, appeal the CMA’s decision in the UK, and could still defeat the US FTC’s challenge in court. As PC Gamer points out, if Microsoft ends up not being able to acquire Activision Blizzard it’ll have to pay several billion US dollars to the company, something it may want to avoid at all costs.

For the time being, though, it seems that Microsoft now has an uphill battle if it wants to achieve its goal of bringing Activision Blizzard under its wing this year.

Read more: Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard raises questions

Microsoft headquarters(link) [Creative Commons (link)]
Activision booth (E3 2012) (link) [Creative Commons (link)]