Per the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK governing body has said that if the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard goes through, it may “harm gamers.”
After spending several months investigating the deal, the CMA posted provisional findings. In the report, it is revealed that Microsoft’s deal would “result in higher prices, fewer choices, or less innovation for UK gamers.”
The same report states that Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and other franchises are important to the growth of cloud gaming and that Microsoft could remove competition by making them exclusive to its own cloud services.
Specifically, the CMA said: “Given we have provisionally found that Microsoft already has a strong position in this market through its ownership of Xbox, a global cloud computing service, and the leading PC operating system (OS), we are concerned that even a moderate increment to its strength may be expected to substantially reduce competition in this developing market to the detriment of current and future cloud gaming users.”
Microsoft has until March 1, 2023, to respond to the notice.
Call of Duty is considered to be a flagship series, one that according to the CMA, is “driving competition between consoles.”
Microsoft in the past has gone on to purchase studios and then made their content exclusive to Xbox before, so it would make sense that history may repeat itself with the acquisition. We’ve seen this happen when ZeniMax Media was acquired for $7.5 billion in 2020, leading to Bethesda now being exclusive to Xbox.
Over the last few months, Microsoft has attempted to work with Sony on a deal that would ensure Call of Duty stays on PlayStation consoles. It hasn’t been going as smoothly as expected and currently it is uncertain what the state of the deal is.
Xbox is looking to offer a 10-year deal of parity across both consoles. This entails pricing, content, features, quality, and playability.
The CMA discovered that 24 percent of Call of Duty players on PlayStation would leave the ecosystem if the series became exclusive to Xbox.