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UK competition regulator sets March deadline for Microsoft Activision Blizzard ruling

CMA starts second phase of investigations.

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has laid out a timeline for its second phase of investigations into Microsoft's proposed $68.7bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard, following concerns this deal could be deemed anti-competitive.

New documentation from the CMA states that its statutory deadline to publish the final report will be 1st March, 2023. As such, the final deadline for all parties' responses regarding this investigation will be in February.

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Between that time and now, the CMA will be conducting meetings with the main and third parties involved with this acquisition, issuing questionnaires and verifying the information provided.

Meanwhile, in January (and only if required) the CMA will notify all relevant parties of its provisional findings and possible remedies.

The CMA concluded its first phase of investigations into Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard last month.

At this time, the regulator stated it believed this deal could have a large impact on the success of rival platforms, highlighting Activision's Call of Duty series as being both "important and capable" of making "a material difference" to rival platforms.

"ABK invests significant time and capital in creating regular Call of Duty releases, which consistently rank as some of the most popular games," the CMA wrote. "These titles require thousands of game developers and several years to complete, and there are very few other games of similar calibre or popularity."

Microsoft's president Brad Smith went on to respond to the CMA's decision, stating: "We're ready to work with the CMA on next steps and address any of its concerns. Sony, as the industry leader, says it is worried about Call of Duty, but we've said we are committed to making the same game available on the same day on both Xbox and PlayStation. We want people to have more access to games, not less."

The CMA has not been alone with its investigations into this industry-shaking deal.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also examined the details of Microsoft's proposed deal to buy Activision Blizzard, after four politicians, including former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, signed a letter to the FTC alerting it to the issue.

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