Since Microsoft originally announced its plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, the publisher of Call of Duty and Overwatch, for $68.7 billion, it’s been grappling with legislators around the world to gain permission to close that deal.
In recent months, the company has faced scrutiny from the American Federal Trade Commission in court, with the proceedings having concluded via a ruling in Microsoft’s favour, shortly followed by the announcement of a new deal between it and Sony over Call of Duty.
One of the few hurdles the deal still faces is earning the approval of UK regulators, who blocked the deal back in April. With this in mind, Microsoft has just announced some restructuring plans for the deal in a bid to get the green light from the CMA.
Microsoft agrees to sell cloud streaming rights in hopes of getting UK approval for Activision deal
As spotted by The Verge, Microsoft has announced the plans, which will become effective if the deal is closed and see Ubisoft acquire the cloud streaming rights for “all current and new Activision Blizzard PC and console games released over the next 15 years,” via a blog post.
In said blog post, Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote:
Under the restructured transaction, Microsoft will not be in a position either to release Activision Blizzard games exclusively on its own cloud streaming service—Xbox Cloud Gaming—or to exclusively control the licensing terms of Activision Blizzard games for rival services.
As a result of the acquiring the rights, which Microsoft states “will be in perpetuity,” Ubisoft would have the option to licence the games to cloud gaming services not controlled by Microsoft, as well as licensing titles back to the publisher so they can be added to Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Following this development, CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell has confirmed in a statement that “Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, as originally proposed, cannot proceed,” with the restructured version of the deal now set to be considered under a new investigation.
This is not a green light. We will carefully and objectively assess the details of the restructured deal and its impact on competition, including in light of third-party comments. 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.
The deadline for the CMA’s investigation of the restructured deal has been set as 18 October.
Regardless of what you think of this latest development, make sure to check out the rest of our coverage of the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal saga, as well as our array of guides to the latest developments in Call of Duty Warzone and Modern Warfare 2, as well as the upcoming Modern Warfare 3.