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UK decision on $68.7bn Microsoft Activision Blizzard deal due this week

CMA ruling key to overall success.

The UK will finally issue its ruling on Microsoft's $68.7bn attempt to buy Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard this week, following months of deliberation.

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is one of three key regulators around the world still scrutinising Microsoft's deal, alongside the US Federal Trade Commission and the EU's European Commission.

A final ruling by the CMA must arrive before the end of its deadline day - this Wednesday, 26th April - and Microsoft has recently had reason to hope its efforts to win over the UK authority will ultimately prove successful.

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Last month, the CMA issued its provisional conclusion on the deal, and said it now considered Microsoft's bid to take over Activision Blizzard would "not result in a substantial lessening of competition in relation to console gaming in the UK".

It marked a sea change for the CMA's attitude on whether the deal should pass, after an earlier provisional report raised significant concerns over the deal going ahead, and sternly warned such a deal "could harm UK gamers" and potentially result in "higher prices, fewer choices, or less innovation".

In particular, the CMA had been concerned over the possibility Microsoft could limit access to Call of Duty to PlayStation once the deal passed. Microsoft has always argued that doing so would not make business sense - that it would lose access to a lucrative market of PlayStation Call of Duty players, and that the game would suffer as a result. It's an argument that Microsoft has seemingly now convinced the CMA of.

"New data (which provides better insight into the actual purchasing behaviour of Call of Duty gamers) indicates that this strategy would be significantly loss-making under any plausible scenario," the CMA wrote last month.

That said, the CMA's last update wasn't all plain sailing. It was still considering the deal's impact on cloud gaming services, and would continue to "carefully consider the responses provided".

Sony reacted angrily to the development, slamming the CMA's recently-softened stance as "surprising, unprecedented, and irrational".

Microsoft has rolled out its marketing budget to win over hearts and minds around its Activision Blizzard deal passing. Earlier this year, Microsoft president Brad Smith made headlines when he waved around a 10-year Call of Duty contract for PlayStation to sign which he claimed to keep in his pocket. More recently, Microsoft has been advertising its Activision acquisition on the London tube.

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