back to article Microsoft, Activision Blizzard have days to show merger won't harm competition

Following the launch of a merger inquiry into Microsoft's acquisition of video game developer and publisher Activision Blizzard in July, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said yesterday it had identified potential concerns about the tie-up. Away from the world of Windows, Azure, and other more business-like …

  1. Jay 2

    As a Mac/PlayStation gamer I'm still a bit miffed that Bethesda are only releasing Starfield and The Outer Worlds 2 for Microsoft platforms. Though I believe they've said that the next lot of Fallout/Elder Scrolls will still be multi-platform.

    If this goes through then I don't think they'd mess with existing games/IPs, but newer ones are fair game for MS exclusivity I suspect.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "If this goes through then I don't think they'd mess with existing games/IPs, but newer ones are fair game for MS exclusivity I suspect."

      Some years ago, Sky started upping prices and withdrawing channels from Virgin Media. It went to court and, in the interests of fair competition, Sky were told to offer their channels and content to VM at reasonable market rates. A short time later, Sky launched a new channel not named in the judgement and fairly quickly moved all their best stuff from their "prime" channel, SkyOne to to the new Sky Atlantic. You can't create a legal judgment to cover all and any future business, so MS will slowly but surely move stuff around "for strategic reasons" to work around any anti-monopoly rules imposed if this takeover gets approval.

      Remember the brouhahah over Internet Explorer being "built-in to the OS? We seem to be back at exactly that same place with Edge now. Even if you install a separate browser and set it as default, Windows still ruins Edge for its own purposes. MS will always ignore or workaround any legal impediments put in their way. As do most businesses of course.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Ah, it was this spat that meant I could no longer watch 'Lost' and I am eternally grateful, since the ending was a real cop out (no spoilers just in case).

      2. NightFox

        "Windows still ruins Edge for its own purposes"

        Freudian slip?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    "The gaming industry today is robust and dynamic"

    Not sure I agree with that. The gaming industry is constituted of a handful of giant powerhouses and a sea of small shops struggling to survive and thrive.

    When Microsoft acquired Mojang, it absorbed one of the small guys who had become successful, thus diminishing the amount of talent (and competition) that existed in the market. That is not a factor that improves the robustness of the market.

    If Microsoft continues to acquire any and every house of any success, then the market will be down to whatever the top three are today. That won't make for a very dynamic industry.

    1. pimppetgaeghsr

      Re: "The gaming industry today is robust and dynamic"

      But wouldn't breaking up corporations in one industry create a precedent for many other industries.

      Lots of lobbying money to gain to ensure that doesn't happen.

    2. Jay 2

      Re: "The gaming industry today is robust and dynamic"

      Me neither. The larger studios/publishers/groups are not entirely what I'd call robust and dynamic.

      For one point the big boys have a nasty habit of buying up smaller studios, squishing their ideas, getting them to work on stuff that really isn't their forte and finally just closing them down.

      The same big boys also churn out the same stuff year after year (or close to it), usual suspects being FIFA, CoD, Assassin's Creed, etc.

      And whilst they're doing all that they're busy copying each other in an effort to squeeze every last penny out of gamers via dubious means. $70/£70 games (because they can), microtransactions, loot boxes, making games "live services", NFTs, releasing unfinished/half-baked/buggy games.

    3. ChoHag Bronze badge

      Re: "The gaming industry today is robust and dynamic"

      And they're definitely not putting all their pressure to bear in locking it down to their own platform. No way. Or charging over the odds for an unfinished £5 game.

  3. Falmari Silver badge

    World of Warcraft

    There are serious competition concerns with the Microsoft Activision Blizzard merger for one highlighted in the article MS is a major cloud provider.

    But World of Warcraft is a poor example to use. World of Warcraft is only on two platforms Windows PC and Mac (I do not think it is even on Mac Arm). So for World of Warcraft there really is no competition concerns. If it also appeared on XBox that would increase the platforms it is on.

    1. GiantKiwi

      Re: World of Warcraft

      It was one of the first to natively support Apple Silicon. Even 2 years later the vast majority are still using the compatibility layer or not even bothering (Valve).

      1. Joe Gurman

        Re: World of Warcraft

        It was very good of AB to port WoW to Apple Silicon, but how do we know that Redmond will be as generous?

        Then again, since AB have only kept WoW going on the Mac because there are a substantial number of punters willing to pay for it by the month, we can at least hope MS won’t scoff at the added lucre.

    2. Grooke

      Re: World of Warcraft

      The fear over World of Warcraft is about the independent subscription vs Gamepass.

      Not sure how much it could change things, but it could make WoW cheaper on Windows than Mac.

      WoW players on the other hand fear what could happen if WoW through the Gamepass isn't profitable enough for MS, and what that does to the in-game shop (which is currently only cosmetic).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One plus I see to this is that when gaming studios get acquired by larger, established corporates, that also brings with it a degree of governance over the sometimes shocking personnel management (or lack of) of the studio - this being a potentially good example of that by all accounts.

    1. Jay 2

      ...unless it's the big studios that have the ethical/HR problems. EA and Ubisoft being recent prime examples.

  5. Joe Gurman

    Dirty pool, what?

    Dumping a five-day response order on MS right at the start of a major, long holiday weekend in the US (Labor Day).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who cares what the UK thinks

    It's a US company taking over a other US company, this will go through, regardless.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who cares what the UK thinks

      Exactly and us UK plebs will still suckle on Microsoft's teet like little fat children regardless.

    2. MrReynolds2U

      Re: Who cares what the UK thinks

      When you are talking about companies like Microsoft, they do business in the UK, so the UK government has a right to interject if they think competition or consumers could be adversely affected.

      Yes they are a US HQ company (unless they have Irish or other tax bases) but you have to work responsibly in a country if you want to be allowed to operate there.

      Theoretically, there could be some spin-off geographical or division-based companies if the CMA finds against this merger.

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