back to article Microsoft cries foul over UK gaming deal blocker but it's hard to feel sorry for them

If IT was a perfume market, there'd be little to touch Petulance du Big Tech for a strong and unmistakable fragrance. Amid overtones of sour grapes and crocodile tears, the bitter almonds of injured innocence and aromatic arrogance linger long on the nose. Microsoft and Activision Blizzard are shipping gallons of the stuff. UK …

  1. Electronics'R'Us

    Not just crocodile tears

    I think there are some real tears being shed (and much gnashing of teeth) at the missed bonus that several of the main people were expecting which were probably measured in 10s of $M and quite possibly far more.

    Icon for Microsoft and Activision reaction.

    1. Motty

      Re: Not just crocodile tears

      Poor little Microsoft. If only I could post the tardigrade with a violin meme here.

  2. ParlezVousFranglais

    I find it interesting that a few days ago, it was widely reported (primarily by the BBC and quoted elsewhere) that Sir Ian Livingstone said that actually the UK games industry was widely in favour of the merger going ahead. Unfortunately, with mainstream journalism being in it's current pitiful state, it seems nobody has bothered a) verifying that statement from other leaders of the UK gaming community, or b) letting anyone know WHY this is the case, if it is in fact true.

    Anyone care to comment?

    1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

      I'm a gamer and I already think MS has too much influence; the fact that they're back to their nasty old habits doesn't do anything to inspire confidence. At present, GamePass subscriptions are still optional but I wonder how long that will last; I'm also uncomfortable about MS also trying to railroad me into a very expensive PC upgrade because of the risk of them deciding to mandate some new version of DX or whatevs that may only run on Windows 11. As it is, I'm not that interested in anything Activision does but I am peeved that MS bought the likes of Bethesda/Zenimax, who in turn went on a buying spree that wasn't really in the interests of gamers. I suppose the most positive thing I can say is at least they're not EA, but they're not a whole lot better. Then again the mainstream games market is looking pretty desperate so if this crashed it completely I guess it'd make more room for the indie developers who are about the only people doing anything interesting these days.

      1. David 138

        MS saved us from Bethesda! That company was awful. Let's face it Activision isn't a nice company either.

        1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

          Zenimax was bloody awful. Bethesda is/was okay except for the complete absence of QA.

        2. 43300 Silver badge

          I'm not a gamer so have no idea what reputation the specialist games companies do or don't have, but whatever the case, the answer is never going to be that it's good for yet more companies to be absorbed into the Microsoft blob (or that of any of the other Big Tech companies) - they already have far too much influence as it is.

      2. AsinineWazzo

        As a gamer also, the other huge aspect of M$ buying out developers and publishers at the rate they are and specifically the targets they have in mind, is that they ARE distorting the market.

        Bethesda, quality aside, produced games for multiplatform markets. The most recent news was that Bethesda Redfall was due to be released on Playstation, but after the M$ buyout, this was cancelled. Whether this is true or not I'm not sure we'll find out.

        What this and other related news does is unsettle the consumer and distorts buying confidence in buying one platform over another due to the perception that developers are no longer free to release multiplatform titles, and that you will have to buy M$ hardware products in order to have the choice to play games released by M$ owned (either now or targets for the future) developers and publishers.

        And with M$ deep pockets and appetite perhaps to dominate the games market, it should be a worry that they could corner or distort the console market and at least be perceived by consumers into thinking they need to buy M$ in order to play popular and well funded titles.

        I for one want independent games developers and publishers producing titles for whatever platforms they feel they are able to optimise for, not for who their owners decide is a strategic hardware push to grapple consumers into buying tie-in hardware.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          As a fan of Arkane work

          I am pleased that Redfall is disappointing as missing it is OK.

    2. veti Silver badge

      "The UK games industry" is sufficiently diverse, and so vaguely defined, that I don't doubt you could find a fair number of "prominent figures" in it prepared to argue either way.

      If you thought anyone had done some kind of serious statistical sampling to find a real majority view... I have a cloud to sell you.

    3. hoola Silver badge

      I noticed that as well.

      The only point I can think of on the Games Industry side is the billions that will go to those at the top of the companies ripe to be purchased.

      Pretty much the same reason why so many excellent UK companies have been allowed to be purchased by foreign investors.

  3. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

    I find it fascinating that Microsofts response was "EU good, UK bad" for the simple reason that they believed that that (paraphrased) quote would cause the BBC et al to use it as an attack against the government, pushing Microsoft's agenda.

    So transparent that even the Gruaniad sided with the CMA.

    1. Motty

      Yes, but ironic, because they actually praised the UK for coming out of the EU for this very issue. They've had a problem with EU oversight/regulations for ages, and thought it might make the UK more amenable to big business.

      1. CowHorseFrog

        Why would any public statement from a megacorporation have any value to anyone ?

        They will lie or say anything if they think it will give them what they want.

    2. localzuk Silver badge

      Its funny really, as I highly doubt the EU would green light the acquisition either. When you've got countries like France who *strongly* fight against major corporations damaging their home-grown companies involved, the EU have a high bar to cross to allow such a merger. Add in the UK's ruling, which they will have a look at as well...

      I think giving the EU praise is premature on MS's part.

      1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

        It's not giving the EU praise as such - Microsoft is trying to piggyback on the fanatical support of the EU shown by the likes of the BBC, Sky and a lot of the newspapers too ( Times, Graun, etc ).

        Their hope is that the BBC et al would have said something about how brexit and the Tories are terrible, the government opposed this merger therefore the merger *must* be a good thing.

        The interesting thing is that it didn't get the reaction it thought it would.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          The CMA are not the Government and predate Brexit by many years. Decades, really.

          They're constitutionally required to be independent, and were created by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, as a rebrand/merger of the OFT and the Competition Commission, which was set up in 1999.

          I'm having a really hard time coming up with a reason why anyone vaguely sane might think that.

          Try again.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > I'm having a really hard time coming up with a reason why anyone vaguely sane might think that.

            Well, as you imply, someone sane wouldn't.

            But to be kind, maybe it's simply because they are so routinely used to lying to make their point, that they are incapable of seeing facts. Like Trump, they have convinced themselves that their bullshit is true.

            Expect a reply from them to you posting facts and logic to be along the lines of "FAKE NEWS" and "bendy bananas with the crown symbol"

          2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

            That doesn't matter. It's not about facts, as I said. It's PR.

            It's about giving the left wing media something which they can fashion into a blunt instrument to beat the government with, basically telling people "Tories, Brexit Bad, Microsoft Good". It doesn't have to be strictly accurate for the tactic to work.

        2. sebacoustic

          Brexit and the Tories are terrible but the "my enemy's enemy is my friend" logic doesn't always work. "Brexit", "Tories", and "Microsoft" all score high on the "terrible" scale, but playing one off against the other is a transparent ploy.

          It was funny hearing the MS big cheese cry crocodile tears on the Today programme though.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Is it fanatical to support freedom? Is it fanatical to decry making us poorer and more restricted?

          The only fanaticism has been from the right wing media that fanatically uses lies to push through their agenda. It's hard to believe you gullible gammons STILL can't see the truth, even now.

          Sigh... And to think, "codejunky" accuses the remainers of trying to shoehorn brexit into everything.

          You won - yet you're still moaning.

          DON'T LOOK UP!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why would that happen? Your Boris stuffed the BBC full of his donors, and those corporate types who want to (and are doing a good job of) dismantling impartiality.

      And presumably The Guardian sided with the CMA because it was the right decision. I know that reporting the truth is a hard concept for you Daily Mail readers to understand.

      As for your attempted EU jibe, you won. You restricted our movement, made us poorer, and reduced your standing in the world. It's what you wanted. Get over it.

      1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

        I see that you didn't read my post.

        I'm not even sure what you mean by my "EU jibe". I was merely talking about the attempted association by Microsoft in the publics mind of "brexit, Tories bad, So Microsoft must be good, right?"

    4. Rathernicelydone

      I remember hearing Brad Smith's interview on BBC R4 and laughing at how melodramatic he was being. This dude was senior legal counsel of MS when they were subject to the largest fine in tech history for anti competitive behaviour so I found his complaints a bit rich. I have both a gaming PC and a PS5 so have no skin in the game when it comes to this takeover but MS should be focusing on making and publishing great first party games rather than attempting to buy everyone because they have few good exclusives for their platform.

  4. BrownishMonstr

    I am in two minds, here.

    On the one hand, I understand CMA's decision as Microsoft are far ahead on Cloud gaming, and this merger could prevent or hinder other cloud services from ever taking hold.

    On the other hand, cloud gaming could be an expensive investment so the only players would be the big ones, really. Microsoft should not be punished for investing early into cloud gaming, I see them as trying to ensure content will be available on their platform. Otherwise, like Netflix and Windows Phone, a lack of content could really hinder their own platform.

    I think the right decision would be to allow the merger, but force Microsoft to develop these games on other big cloud gaming platforms, when they arrive. Microsoft should also be forced to allow anyone they have done deals with to use alternative service providers other than Microsoft (Linux servers, Azure cloud, etc).

    As a gamepass subscriber, I would like the merger to go ahead, however I rarely play games these days so I don't have that much skin in the game.

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      I have to disagree with you a bit. If Microsoft want to ensure content for their platform, they can do that by a) making the best platform, b) pricing it right (not just for the consumer, but by reducing their cut from sales, thus encouraging game developers to come to their platform - i.e. like Epic Games has done), and c) making it open to everyone.

      You know just like the majority of non-cloud gaming platforms do (see Steam, gog, Epic, etc.).

      But looking at it from the other direction, when you need to go out and make promises that you will continue to support other platforms for at least the next 10 years, what does that say about you? It says that no one trusts that you are being honest about wanting to open up gaming to everyone. Past behaviour from Microsoft makes any such promise highly questionable. And there are soooo many ways they could still degrade the presence of their games on other platforms. We've all seen really bad ports of console games to the PC space (or vice versa), if it's a really bad almost unplaybale port, is that still meeting that requirement of supporting other platforms? If it lacks all of the DLC of the PC version, so that people feel like their only get half the game, but the basic functionality is there, is that still meetng the support requirement? If the pricing for consoles is significantly higher, is that still meeting the support requirements? There are so many ways that they could drive people to their platforms at the expense of everyone else, and past experiences says Microsoft would do every single one of them. Why would you want to give them that opportunity in the first place?

      Activision Blizzard on it's own is a games maker. They must remain relatively platform agnostic - I know there are costs associated with porting between platforms - but as a general rule they want to sell to everyone on every platform, in order to net the highest profits. Microsoft is a platform maker. It primarily makes it's money from everyone using it's platform, therefore it would not have let Activision remain platform agnostic. Oh well it might have still allowed some inferior versions to trickle down to the other platforms, after exclusivity periods, and bad ports, but it would be pushing for it's platform to be master and it's platform alone. That doesnt sound like a great deal for us consumers, does it?

      1. BrownishMonstr


        w.r.t the platform, I understand your reasoning, but I don't think that always works, otherwise Windows Phone would have done better. I recall MS offering incentives to devs to create the apps, but without the users few devs could bother. Without the apps few users could bother switching. Likewise, I think without the content the users won't come, and without the users few devs would be arsed to port games over. I think Good Old Games offers something amazing (games, particularly old, without DMA) and it's quite niche.

        Not sure about Epic or Steam, tbh. Please can you explain more about these? Steam was something I saw as windows-specific, but they also have their own steam deck stuff.

        "10 YEAR PROMISES":

        I understand what you are saying and I agree Microsoft can't be trusted, but the 10-year promises are something they thought would satisfy the market authorities because of Sony's concerns. I also think Balmer-era MS is different to Nadella's, as we can see from the way MS has reacted to Open-Source. I don't believe this is any charity from their side, but a business decision for increasing profit/reach/influence, but I can't imagine .NET core would be a thing under Balmer's influence.

        Degradation on other platforms

        Yes, this is a concern, and I don't know what the solution is. But as we are talking about Cloud platforms the only concerns are bugs, lack of DLC, and difference in cost on other platforms, assuming they are still forced to offer their games on other platforms. However, I still cannot see Microsoft these days employing the same practices they did before---especially since they're not as loved as before and won't be able to get away with mich.

        Activision Blizzard

        I dunno. Perhaps I'm not really into gaming as much as when I was in my teens, but this company has come under so much bad press that I don't think they're all that important as they once were. I don't think it would be good for gamers but only because I think, like in the past, Microsoft gobbling up a company kills it off. AVB would essentially just end up producing terrible knock-offs of its own IP, giving the opportunity for another company to take the place it once had. Microsoft taking AVB under its own wings and smothering it can only be good.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Steam is primarily a marketplace

          They support Windows, macOS and Linux.

          Windows is where Valve make most of their money, but they don't want to be beholden to Microsoft so have done a huge amount of work making it easier to port games to Linux.

          1. CowHorseFrog

            Re: Steam is primarily a marketplace

            How or what has Valve done to make gaming platform agnostic ?

            Most of the work for a gaming platform are the graphics abstractions, and im pretty sure Valve dont contribute anything to those APIs.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Steam is primarily a marketplace


        2. lglethal Silver badge

          I think comparing the PC market to Windows Phone is a bit different. Windows Phone required you to buy a specific piece of hardware. Which gaming platform you use (outside of the consoles) simply requires a PC, Mac, or Linux box. You can clearly mix and match using cloud gaming, or a locally installed game, depending on what you want to do, which is something you cant do when your locked into a specific piece of hardware.

          Anyway you asked about Steam and Epic, so I'll try and answer.

          The PC gaming market is basically split in 3 ways to get your games:

          1. What I'll call the Primes - Steam, Epic, EA's Origins, Ubisoft's Uplay, and to some extent Gog

          2. Key Resellers

          3. Cloud Gaming/Streaming/Subscriptions

          The Primes offer effectively an online library (and naturally a store attached to that).

          Steam for example is pretty much the de facto PC gaming library. It offers tens of thousands of games in its store, which when you buy appear in your library. It offers easy ways to sort the library, as well as things which interest a lot of gamers, such as reviews, achievements, networking (chat with friends or groups (in game and out), screenshots, even live streaming), mod workshop, guides, etc. It is where most people keep their games.

          Epic is Steam's biggest competitor. It also has a library and a store with thousands of games. It's not as big or as well stocked with features as Steam, but it's won a lot of customers through things like exclusivity deals, free games (there's a new free game available every couple of weeks), and taking a lower percentage from sales than Steam. It lacks a lot of the features of Steam like mods, most networking, etc. But yeah it still has a large userbase.

          EA's Origin, and Uplay, both exclusively sell their own published games. For a while both of them stopped selling their games anywhere else, but both are now back selling their games on Steam and Epic, although often opening a game through Steam, opens up (for example) Uplay, before it launches the game. A little annoying, but thats where it's at.

          Gog sits in a space between The Primes and the Resellers. They sell directly old Games (GOG stands for Good Old Games), and DRM free versions of games. They also sell Steam keys (often you get both a DRM free version and a steam key). This means you can have both a downloadable installer, and also have the game in your steam library for download whenever you want. Gog also has it's own library Gog Galaxy, which actually can be linked to Steam, Epic, and Uplay, to let you see (and download) all the games you have in your other libraries. A very handy feature.

          The resellers, both offical and otherwise, sell keys which let you add games to your Primes library. The vast majority are Steam key resellers, although some sell Epic keys, and often any game from Ubisoft will actually be a key for Uplay. Some official Resellers are Fanatical, Humble, Green Man Gaming, Game Billet, and Instant Gaming.

          Subscription/Cloud Gaming is basically things like the Xbox game pass, Playstation gaming pass, ubiconnect,. etc. Things like Stadia used to be in this category, but have effectively shut down. Basically, for these you pay a monthly subscription, and get access to a rotating selection of games.

          As a general rule, all of these services on PC are platform agnostic, as in they exist on PC, Mac, and Linux. Epic is I think very limited on Linux, and I dont think Origin exists at all on Linux. But steam has done a lot to try and get more games available there. However, a lot of that comes down to the game publisher, and whether they want to make it easier to port or not.

          I could then go into things like the Steam Deck which is a bit of a game changer in the hand held market (previously dominated by the Nintendo Switch), where games you own on Steam already are free to played on the Deck as well (no need to buy again, although assuming it runs on the hardware of course). But that's a whole other discussion.

          To bring this back to the Microsoft Discussion - Xbox Game Pass already is the dominant player in subscription. It isnt the dominant player overall (that would be Steam), BUT it's easy to see how bringing the CoD's or other massive games from Activision Blizzard to Game Pass with exclusivity periods or making it the "optimum" experience would drive massive uptake of the subscriptions, and that would drive a massive cash cow into Microsoft's hands at the expense of everyone else. The thing with subscription services is that you dont actually own any of the games you're playing, so once it's removed from rotation that's it, it's gone. If you want to keep playing it, you have to go buy it somewhere else. Admittedly, legally speaking it's thankfully not been tested what would happen if one of the Primes shut down their libraries, but there still is a tangible sense of ownership with the Primes.

          I actually have no problem with Microsoft dominating the Subscription market, but it should do it by creating the best platform, with the best features, not by gobbling up game makers, and then playing dirty with them. Which lets face it, is the Microsoft playbook...

          (sorry for the long explanation)

  5. Annihilator

    "The European regulators are looking into how bundling Teams and OneDrive as practically compulsory components of Office and Windows might be distorting the market"

    No sht. I don't think you even need the word "practically" in there. Teams and OneDrive seemingly reappear on every single new Windows 11 release.

  6. Dave Null

    Congrats for an article that entirely avoids any detail

    An entirely history based article, that covers precisely none of the issues of competition right now. You could have at least done some basic homework, compared market size and sales data across platforms etc etc - but no, just a "M$ is bad" article that could have been written in the 90s. Sigh.

    1. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: Congrats for an article that entirely avoids any detail

      Those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat its mistakes.

      1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Re: Congrats for an article that entirely avoids any detail

        (And those who fail to clear history are doomed to explain it.)

    2. MrDamage Silver badge

      Re: Congrats for an article that entirely avoids any detail

      They did do their basic homework. They looked at every other sector MS made serious acquisitions in, and determined they suffered as a result.

      If MS didn't want to be treated like career criminals, then perhaps they shouldn't have embarked on a criminal career.

  7. Franco

    I'm far from an avid gamer, and have an Xbox only because I won it from Microsoft, but it's clear they're trying to slowly wean everyone on to Game Pass and then will stop making it so easy to get it for free. Also more than one title from Bethesda had it's PS5 version canned and became Xbox/PC exclusive, so likely they would do the same with Activision titles.

    1. Jay 2

      Yeah as a PS5/Mac gamer the entire MS/Bethesda thing hasn't done me any favours. I'm really looking forward to Starfield, but have to hope it runs OK on a Steamdeck as I'm not going to build a dedicated gaming PC and neither am I going to jump ship to Xbox. Similarly I forget who owns Obsidian now, but Outer Worlds 2 is also an MS exclusive.

      To give MS some credit I think Game Pass is a good idea (Sony's variations are somewhat lacking in comparison I feel)... but it's only a matter of time until they start ramping up the prices etc. Though like all these things it seems to be a never-ending round of (increasingly expensive) subscriptions. Oh you want to go online; subscription. Oh you want to play/rent these games; another subscription.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        You do realize it's possible to own BOTH an Xbox AND a Playstation at the same time, right? A hole in reality won't form and destroy the universe, the secret gaming police won't come and arrest you, and it's not like your Playstation will suddenly stop working if it detects an Xbox within 100m of it. I can say that with certainty since I have both of them sitting right next to each other behind me right now. Before that I've had an Xbox One and PS4, as well as 360 and PS3 right next to each other. Not a single thing has happened as a result. I've even tempted fate by adding a Switch to the mix... still no calamitous events.

        You're deliberately cutting yourself off from a lot of good games if you let fanboism get in the way of owning both consoles.

        1. Mooseman Silver badge

          "You're deliberately cutting yourself off from a lot of good games if you let fanboism get in the way of owning both consoles."

          Well done for totally missing the point. You may sit there smugly with your xbox and PS5 but to many people the question is, why should we have to buy a whole new console/PC just to play the games we want? It's not "fanboiism".

          1. aerogems Silver badge

            What point is that you're trying to make again? Because last I checked, Sony was the "generations matters" company that was trying to draw a large line in the sand between the PS5 and PS4. Meanwhile, Microsoft has made the Xbox Series X|S backwards compatible all the way to the OG Xbox. Not every game works, mostly due to them not being able to secure the rights, but you can have a single console that lets you play most of the games from the past three generations.

            I agree with your larger point that it would be nice if every game was available on both the PS and Xbox platforms, but sadly exclusives are what really move hardware units. Don't blame me, Sony is the major offender here, going so far as to pay companies like Squenix to not make their games available for the Xbox. I'd love to see exclusivity deals outlawed the world over, and I'd love to see both Microsoft and Sony forced to divest themselves of the game studios they've swallowed up over the years, but it's never going to happen. So, the only option is to either be the dutiful little fanboi and stick to whatever offerings your master gives you, or buy both systems.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          not being a fanboi, but these days even a relatively well paid person isn't going to spunk out £400/console plus the accessories and additional costs for BOTH consoles like I used to with playstation and xbox.

          It's just too expensive for most people. You have to make a decision and hope that the games you like will be on the platform you're using. And with games rapidly approaching £100 each, thats additional cost, especially for many families where £100 might be teh monthly food budget

          1. aerogems Silver badge

            The point I was making is that it remains an option. If you can't afford it that's one thing, but if you can and simply choose not to, that's fanboism. With the obvious exception for a significant other not allowing two consoles in the house or things along those lines. If you can afford one or the other, then the "I can't afford a second one" argument tends to fall flat as an argument, especially since they're one-time expenses.

            The OP goes out of their way to say they have a PS5 and a Mac (premium priced hardware) so I don't think arguments about the cost of the Xbox really factor in.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        I know what my next console is

        There are a few decent games that have been demultiplatformed recently, all MS acquisitions with PS versions cancelled.

        I do need a new console to play some newer games, but still have a small back log to clear.

        The games I most want to play are on PS, so I will get a 5. Still getting a LOT of use out of my 4, enough to put 3 controllers through stick hospital.

        Now every recent console has stick issues, will the three main companies sort that out first!!!!

        As to Sony and their exclusives.

        NDI and GG were bought when small, both were heading to 2nd party exclusive anyway. Insomniac still do the odd other one.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why was this even a thing?

    Why did Microsoft want to buy Actiblizzard anyway, if not to monopolise its production?

    There's nothing Actiblizzard could do as part of Microsoft that they couldn't do as an independent entity, and there's nothing Microsoft could ask of Actiblizzard that Actiblizzard wouldn't do, given the right incentives.

    1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      Re: Why was this even a thing?

      "There's nothing Actiblizzard could do as part of Microsoft that they couldn't do as an independent entity"

      Apart from having an extra $68.7 billion you mean?

      1. Drat

        Re: Why was this even a thing?

        The $68.7 billion goes to the stockholders of Activision Blizzard, not to the company itself.

        Of course, it is possible that MS will invest more into Activision Blizzard to make new games than the company could have done on its own, but certainly the $68.7 billion makes some people very rich rather than going into games

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Why was this even a thing?

          The $68.7 billion goes to the stockholders of Activision Blizzard, not to the company itself.

          In this context "company" means the company of stockholders.

    2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      Re: Why was this even a thing?

      In their defence, they could have wanted to buy it defensively ( to stop Sony buying it ) or as a counterweight to Sony perhaps buying up multiple smaller firms.

      Although Activision is too big to be owned by a console manufacturer and its purchase would clearly have harmed consumer choice.

      1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

        Re: Why was this even a thing?

        One rule that sorely needs to be reinstated is that the market platform owner/operator must not also be competing in it. Because that's not inviting corrupt behaviour at all is it?

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          I think it must be said that Activision is at fault here - never should have accepted the deal in the first place.

          But obviously, it's the shareholders that were ready to accept the deal. They're not gamers, they're in it for the money.

          And Borkzilla promised plenty of that.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Why was this even a thing?

      Apart from having cloud gaming on Azure at cost price and pushing crossbuy and crossplay on PCs/XBox in ways an independent publisher couldn't, you're right.

    4. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: Why was this even a thing?

      To get Activision out of the rather tight spot they've found themselves in regarding sexual harassment. With the deal dead, there could now be more regulatory involvement in the company to ensure they're improving. MS taking over effectively would've ended that attention - as they can simply say "we're fixing the problems by making them MS".

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Why was this even a thing?

        That's just... no. Not how those things work. When you take over a company like that, you assume EVERTHING. All the assets PLUS all of the legal liabilities. Those don't just magically disappear. Twitler over at Twitter is finding that out the hard way with the FTC as we speak. Microsoft would still have to demonstrate that they've taken steps to clean up the mess the previous management left, and make sure that operations within that business unit are complying with the law. It doesn't just magically go away because a sugar daddy company came along and bought the company. All the former executives are still potentially on the hook legally for their prior actions too.

        1. localzuk Silver badge

          Re: Why was this even a thing?

          The issue isn't about legal liabilities. It is about heading off regulatory involvement. Governments are less likely to get involved if an entirely new organisation comes along and says "we've taken over, we've got rid of XYZ, have restructured, have implemented our own, known to be excellent, policies and procedures regarding the problematic policy areas, there's no need for thorough involvement". Sure, MS would need to provide that evidence. But cutting off the investigation at its early stages with this fairly easy to produce evidence due to the takeover, vs not doing anything and having the full force of the regulators come along and start kicking over rocks. Very different things.

          Its the same behaviour as MS has just tried to do with its olive branch to unbundle OneDrive and Teams from Office. Try and offer enough to make regulators go "eh, they seem to be doing good things, we won't dig any further... Don't let it happen again MS".

          Investigations can and do go away when a company is effectively taken over and its parts absorbed. It has happened before, and no doubt will happen again.

          Twitter isn't a good example to use as the takeover there has done the exact opposite to what MS was doing. The new owner has taken a company that was working hard to try and fix its issues, thrown away all those efforts, and doubled down on the problems as its new business model...

          Former executives may be on the hook but that has absolutely nothing to do with a new owner.

  9. Sekhen


    I was hoping Bobby Kotick would get fired so I can start buying Blizzard games again. But I can't bring myself to sponsor that shitstain of a person with my money.

    No Diablo4 for me then...

  10. aerogems Silver badge

    While personally I would prefer this merger not to happen, just because I don't like industry consolidation in general, the reasoning for blocking this merger seems pretty weak. Cloud gaming is barely a thing right now because it sucks. You need a ridiculously good Internet connection, and to be blessed by the Internet gods with low latency connections all the way through to the gaming server, to be able to play most games. While it's always possible someone may invent some new technology tomorrow that solves that particular problem, odds are we're looking at multiple decades of slow incremental improvements before it's viable for most people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      cloud is shit due to that little problem called the "speed of light"

      NO tech is going to fix latency, jitter or the other shitty problems that cloud gaming has.

      if you are any distance from the cloud source, the experience sucks ASS.

      input latency, degraded image (blurry, blocky, low res crap), video latency causing controls to be out of sync.

      makes anything but chess like games unplayable.

  11. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    I think

    the reason m$ blew up on this is because the CMA is just the first to give the verdict.... which will have influence on the various other governmental bodies looking at this merger.

    The EU guys will be thinking "Ok the british oppose it... and they're fanatical big business types....."

    The feds will be going "Well we can stand up against it now without being all alone"

    But I suspect the feds will approve it after m$ 'donates' to enough congress critters to vote in new laws and m$ will unbundle teams from win 11 to give the EU the sense of 'doing something even if its f all, and the british..... who cares

    1. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: I think

      Actually, most other regulators have already approved it. The UK was just the first to say no, and for probably the dumbest of all possible reasons they could have chosen from.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I think

        See this from 5 days ago:

        "US and EU regulators have yet to decide"

    2. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: I think

      There have already been some US politicians coming out recently to bash Sony and their business practices. You can probably guess which state they represent.

  12. CowHorseFrog

    Idont understand why Microsoft wants to pay $60B or $70B for Activision, given the profits, thats nearly a 100 years before they get paid back.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well that's exactly the point of the article and why the regulator is concerned - you don't pay more than something is worth to you. Activision's profits don't explain the price. But if it allows Microsoft to dominate the next big entertainment platform (Cloud gaming) for 10 or 20 years - now you're talking value!

    2. Blank Reg Silver badge

      It's also enough money to fund the development of about 150 AAA games. But then MS have shown that they aren't very good at running game studios, so most of those games would likely flop

  13. Wayland

    Fog of Cloud Gaming

    There is a fundamental problem with Cloud Gaming as shown in in the 2009 movie Gamer. It's ping time or latency. It's probably the case that most latency is caused by the IP packets moving through buffers than the physics of the speed of light but it's an insurmountable problem.

    Yes it's possible to play games remotely via a terminal, which is what cloud gaming is but it's much better if the game is running on the local hardware.

    Google tried to do this with Stadia and have now given up. As far as I can tell they did it well but it was ping that defeated them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fog of Cloud Gaming

      MS are big enough to be thinking decades ahead.

      I personally hate the idea of cloud gaming and I think ISP's contention ratio will kill it at the moment, however in 5 years time? 10 years time?

      Could MS become big enough to drive Sony/Amazon et all out of the business?

    2. sten2012 Bronze badge

      Re: Fog of Cloud Gaming

      A big selling point of 5G was edge computing. But I don't actually hear of it widely used. I guess low latency applications like this could make it fundamentally useful in future generations and wonder whether traditional broadband will move toward similar models eventually.

      I don't see what's in it for the telcos to go through all that though, particularly that the hardware requirements are pretty specialised.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fog of Cloud Gaming


        that sounds like more idiotic bollocks.

        so M$ is going to fill mobile operators datacenters with cloud shit, to be a tiny bit closer to 5g network? not going to happen.

        That's fucking stupid the latency is a feature of the fucking network, you would get fuck all benefit. (unless they are building a cloud at every 5g base station which would be fucking insane. you might as well give the user a local computer for free!)

        1. sten2012 Bronze badge

          Re: Fog of Cloud Gaming

          May want to reread my comment.

          I didn't say MS would. Original comment is saying the model is fundamentally broken but it really isn't. The current implementations may be fundamentally broken, but the model can absolutely work.

          However it needs lots of disparate companies to come together or a massive company willing to invest an absolute fortune (most likely a Telco as opposed to a software house)

          Latency isnt a fundamental issue in any network its a fundamental issue in talking to datacenters hundreds of miles away through congested networks. But fine, I'm the "moron" here.

  14. AIBailey

    Sorry if I'm playing the Idiot card here, but as this is fundamentally one US company buying another US company, how does the UK CMA have any control over whether or not this happens?

    1. Aladdin Sane


      Reference decision

      15 September 2022: The CMA has referred the anticipated acquisition by Microsoft Corporation of Activision Blizzard, Inc. for an in-depth investigation, on the basis that, on the information currently available to it, it is or may be the case that this Merger may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within a market or markets in the United Kingdom.

  15. Philip Stott

    Of all life's little pleasures I like nitpicking the best

    Surely that should be metric tonne of bad karma to undo?

  16. Alan Mackenzie


    Just what sort of jurisdiction does the UK Competition and Markets Authority have over such a proposed takeover?

    For the purpose of argument, just what would happen if Microsoft and Activision ignored the CMA and went ahead with the transaction anyway? It was surely not about to proceed under English law. Just what sort of sanctions could the UK apply to Microsoft afterwards?

    What is stopping the two companies simply ignoring the CMA? I'm not in favour of this takeover, but I'm puzzled.

  17. Groo The Wanderer

    There has never been a clearer case of monopolistic behaviour and abuse than this merger, save for the current one happening here in Canada between Rogers and another ISP that is now defunct, having been gobbled up by one of only THREE big players. In the case of gaming, it is down to Sony vs. Microsoft if this deal goes through, and both control the gateways to their platforms.

    I remember when Microsoft developed gaming APIs and a few pathetic games to show off those APIs. Now they just gobble up anything and everything in sight, Disney-like. Seeing as they can't invent anything or come up with any novel ideas anymore, they're resorting to buying market share. To me, that is the very definition of a monopolist that needs to be broken up, not just to have a merger blocked.

  18. Old Man Ted

    Ye shall reap as ye sows

    All power to the people it is about time the small men united against the monopolies even the conservative governments are beginning to feel the wroth of the small men through-out the so called democratically governed societies. Monopolists are starting to think that they are above any law other the ones which they have written.

    Corporate power is worse than dictatorial states strong men who are non elected and corrupt, Be it business with large share holder have the governing power over their companies and their lackeys who do what they are told lest the 30 pieces of silver are withdrawn.

  19. Teejay

    Great article!

    Thanks for the great article. A wonderful counterweight to the BBC's commentaries along the lines of 'the EU do it so much better, because we hate the UK, because Brexit'. They basically quoted Microsoft verbatim, those good billionaires from the US and those woke Londoner's going hand in hand. Globalist big money and globalist neomarxists really seem to love each other, and, no, the young 'uns around here really don't get it because they've been brainwashed from the cradle onwards.

    1. Mooseman Silver badge

      Re: Great article!

      "the EU do it so much better, because we hate the UK"

      Poor little thing. Still, I'm sure somewhere inside that word salad you can point out all the benefits we have gained from brexit?

  20. Snowy Silver badge


    Sony does what it likes?

  21. MJI Silver badge

    Console choice

    As I explained it ages ago.

    I want another games console, old cartridge ones out of date.

    Do I go for the console from the company who fucked over lots of other companies, making my job hell, constant changing of network clients because the latest update broke the previous weeks, who force out better NOSes for their own crap?

    Or do I go for a console made by the same company as my TV and video camera?

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