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Microsoft CEO "very confident" Activision Blizzard acquisition will be approved

"If this is about competition, let us have competition".

Artwork from Crash Bandicoot, Call of Duty, Tony Hawk, and Overwatch, displayed in four columns running left to right.
Image credit: Activision Blizzard

As Microsoft starts to feel more heat from regulatory bodies over its $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard, CEO Satya Nadella has said he's "very confident” the deal will go through.

Governmental scrutiny of Microsoft's acquisition has grown in recent weeks, with the UK's Competition and Markets Authority announcing it was moving to a more in-depth "phase 2" of its investigation, having determined the acquisition would give rise to the "realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition in gaming consoles, multi-game subscription services, and cloud gaming services."

Sony, too, has grown increasingly vocal over the proposed deal, particularly as it pertains to potential console exclusivity around the likes of Call of Duty. Early this month, for instance, PlayStation head Jim Ryan called Microsoft's reassurances that the hugely popular shooter would remain on PS5 post-acquisition "inadequate".

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It's in this climate that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has once again discussed the acquisition, brushing off recent developments as the norm. "Of course, any acquisition of this size will go through scrutiny," he told Bloomberg, "but we feel very, very confident that we'll come out".

Nadella also argued Microsoft was the No. 4 or No. 5 competitor in the video games industry, noting that Sony, who he called the largest, had recently made a number of major acquisitions of its own. "So if this is about competition, let us have competition", he said.

Since last year, Sony's video game acquisitions have included Returnal developer Housemarque, Jade Raymond's Haven Studios, Demon's Souls remake developer Bluepoint, PC port specialist Nixxes Software, UK studio Firesprite, mobile game developer Savage Game Studios, Valkyrie Entertainment, and, perhaps most notably, Destiny studio Bungie. Although as business lawyer and noted host of video game industry legal podcast Virtual Legality Richard Hoeg observed following Nadella's comments, "It's possible that you could fit every acquisition in the history of gaming within the size of the ABK deal."

Expect plenty more back and forth while regulatory scrutiny of Microsoft's acquisition continues. If all goes well, the deal is expected to be approved by next summer.