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Microsoft says it will sell Activision streaming rights to Ubisoft to unblock its takeover bid

A giant, circular light display that says "Activision Blizzard"The Activision Blizzard Booth appears during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

  • Microsoft has been trying to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion since 2022.
  • But UK and US regulators are concerned that the deal could stifle competition in gaming.
  • Microsoft has restructured its deal to hand Activision cloud gaming rights to rival Ubisoft.

Microsoft really wants to get its takeover of Activision Blizzard over the line.

The tech giant has substantially restructured its deal to try and appease the UK regulator’s concerns that a takeover would hurt competition in cloud gaming.

The new deal involves selling Activision cloud-gaming rights for countries outside the European Economic Area to video-game publisher Ubisoft. That would cover both current Activision games and those released over the next 15 years.

Activision owns game franchises such as “Candy Crush,” “Call of Duty,” and “World of Warcraft.”

The revision means, should the deal close, Microsoft can’t stream Activision’s cloud-gaming titles solely to its own Xbox Cloud Gaming service, nor can it control the licensing terms to stream Activision’s games to rival services.

Microsoft announced its intent to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in January 2022, but the deal has been entangled in competition concerns ever since. While the European Commission approved the deal, British and American regulators have been more wary over concerns it would hand Microsoft outsized influence in cloud gaming.

Announcing its block in April, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it could lead to “reduced innovation and less choice for UK gamers over the years to come.” The CMA confirmed Tuesday that the original deal was still blocked.

The UK regulator will separately investigate the revised deal, with an initial decision due October 18.

“This is not a green light,” Sarah Cardell, the CMA’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Our goal has not changed — any future decision on this new deal will ensure that the growing cloud gaming market continues to benefit from open and effective competition driving innovation and choice.”

Microsoft’s vice chair and president, Brad Smith, said in a blog post: “As we continue to navigate the review process with the CMA, we remain as committed as ever to bringing the incredible benefits of the acquisition to players, developers, and the industry.”

“Today’s development brings us one step closer to bringing the joy of gaming to players everywhere,” he added.

Activision did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, sent outside US working hours.

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