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Microsoft now advertising Activision acquisition on the tube

Monument to victory?

Microsoft is now running adverts for its $68.7bn Activision Blizzard acquisition on the London tube network.

Digital advertising branded with Xbox and Microsoft logos have been spotted with the following message: "Call of Duty. For 150 million more players."

As spotted by Tom Warren, the advert comes a month after Microsoft previously published full-page adverts in the UK's Financial Times and Daily Mail with the same phrasing, and a claim Microsoft's bid to "unite Activision Blizzard and Xbox" would deliver "more games, for more players on more platforms".

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So, where does that "150 million" people claim come from? It's a number we've heard before - back in Brussels, when Microsoft president Brad Smith used it to refer to the 150m more devices he claimed would gain access to Call of Duty, due to Microsoft's twin announcements that it would work with Nintendo and Nvidia to release COD on their platforms.

At the time, "150 million" appeared to be a rough figure for the total number of Nintendo Switch consoles sold worldwide to date, added to the number of Nvidia GeForce Now streaming subscriptions. But this does not take into account how many Switch owners/Nvidia subscribers may/may not actually be interested in playing Call of Duty, or indeed whether a new Call of Duty might actually still launch on Nintendo's existing Switch hardware.

It seems likely the UK is being targeted with advertising in particular because of the country's regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is still considering whether to let the deal go through.

Last month, the CMA issued its provisional conclusion that the deal would "not result in a substantial lessening of competition in relation to console gaming in the UK" - something seen as a strongly positive sign for Microsoft by analysts of the deal. However, the CMA also stated it still harboured some concern over the deal's impact on cloud gaming.

The UK regulator is due to announce its final decision on the takeover in just a couple of weeks, on 26th April.

Earlier this week, Microsoft responded to a re-filed "gamer's lawsuit" lodged against its Activision acquisition, branding it as full of "unsupported and implausible claims".

Recent developments in the case have also caught the eye of Sony, which has angrily responded to the CMA's provisional findings, dubbing them "surprising, unprecedented, and irrational".

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